The following are not ordered by any preference, but instead by ease of getting in. The bars are indiscriminate, if you have the cash they’ll serve you. However, some of the clubs are pickier and may deny you entry. To increase your chances of getting into the hottest clubs, read my guide: How to Get into Any Club in New York. One final note, I know there are lots more clubs and bars out there, but I’m only going to speak about places I’ve personally been to at least a handful of times. With that in mind, let’s get started!
German in spirit, Biergarten is located in the middle of Meatpacking. It’s big, it’s popular every single night of the week (in the summer), and there’s rarely a line. So long as you’re 21 and have clothing on they’ll let you in. Once inside you’ll discover hundreds of people seated at the long benches, and dozens more are playing ping-pong or foosball. Beers are $8 apiece and they’re all German.
- Brass Monkey
You can run from Biergarten to Brass Monkey faster than your college roommate can shotgun a Miller Lite. Like Biergarten they’ll let anyone in, so feel free to dress down. Inside you’ll find three different floors. The bottom floor has a sad excuse for a dance floor where you’ll almost never find anyone dancing. The second floor is, in a word, mayhem. And the third floor is a rooftop terrace where the discerning drink. Brass Monkey is like your bar back home, if it charged $13 for a cocktail and had lines 40ft out the door on the weekends.
- Webster Hall
Yes, it’s where the dopey teenagers and twenty-five-year-old live with their parent’s party. Yes, it’s cheesy. Yes, the drinks are overpriced. If you go out a lot though it’s a nice change of scenery. On Friday and Saturday there’s three different levels of party. A basement DJ, a middle floor band, and an upstairs DJ. You can get onto the guest list for free entry and 2-for-1 drinks before midnight. That’s not a bad deal! Occasionally Webster hall even has a big name DJ or band that you may want to check out. Dress code is anything goes, except for Thursdays, when you’ll need a collar, jeans, and some decent shoes.
Slate is that club who people who have never been to a real club think is cool. For the discerning it’s cheesy, but hey, it still has its advantages. There’s never any cover and you can always get in. The dance floor is fun, the DJ is good, and there’s a huge basement area with all sorts of games. Foosball, air-hockey, chess, you name it. If you want to dance, get bottle service, and play a game of checkers all in the same night, Slate is the place.
It’s 1am on Monday morning, it’s raining, but you’re a party animal and you want to go out. To Pianos! Every single night of the week you’ll find something going on. Sunday to Wednesday the line is non-existent and they’ll let anyone in. Thursday to Saturday, the line goes around the corner and you can’t wear sandals or shorts, which you shouldn’t be wearing in New York on a party night anyways. Pianos has a happy hour, but who the hell goes there that early? They have three different areas, three different DJ’s, and you can always find someone to dance with.
People have called it pretentious, people have noted it’s full of old white dudes with their trophy wives, people have said it’s too expensive. Yeah, sure. But it’s still a solid spot to check out if you want to pay three times too much for a drink in exchange for a penthouse view of New York. Unlike other rooftop lounges, Gansevoort actually has comfortable seating and a great vibe. The location in Meatpacking is close to Biergarten and Brass Monkey, but the one on Park Ave is fun as well. Beware the dress code. Guys needs to have collars on their shirts and nice shoes on their feet. Thursday through Saturday night, if you happen to be a male, you can’t get in unless you have a girl with you or you open $100 bar tab.
Coming in at number 6, Output is complicated, and also without a doubt, intensely amazing. It’s like an underground German club had sex with a cocaine lounge from the 80’s, gave birth, then they adopted that lame bar from college that all the freshmen went to. It’s like this. There’s an outdoor, rooftop lounge with a great atmosphere and view of the Manhattan skyline. Go down two flights of stairs and there’s a retarded dance floor that should be nuked from orbit. Go through the walkway, however, and you’re into the thick of it. A two floor club with a transcendent lighting system, a subwoofer the size of a car, and DJ’s who know what the fuck they’re doing. From midnight until six in the morning, this is where the magic happens.
Occasionally Output has a guest list on their website or they offer free entry. If you want to come and play on a Friday or Saturday night you’ll need a ticket. Well worth it! Plan to stay late. Also, it’s worth noting that the Panther Room is the lounge area, and while you can often get into it free, that does not guarantee you access to the ruthless genius of the main dance floor.
Located exactly halfway between Biergarten and Gansevoort, Cielo is the tiny club that can. It’s a simple idea. One dance floor, one outdoor smoking area. That’s it, and that’s what helps to make it so awesome. The DJ’s are divine, the music is loud, the lighting is stellar, and once or twice a night they pump so much fog onto the dance floor that you can’t see the person you’re dancing with. Getting in requires currency though. Typical cover is $20 or $30. However, as of this writing, every Wednesday it’s free to get in before 11pm. Also, if you check out the events page on their website, you can usually find one or two other nights a month where you can get in free.
Jane is the closest thing to a Great Gatsby party you can hope to find. During the day it’s an innocuous lounge in a hotel a few blocks removed from the Meatpacking madness. At night the mood shifts, and sometime around 10 the madness begins. The crowd grows dense, people start dancing on sofas, chairs, and tables. The lights dim, the DJ plays popular music, and everyone drinks way more than they should. By 1am it can be shit-show, which is why you might want to consider coming here on the comparatively less crazy Thursday.
Entrance is completely at the discretion of the doorman. Some people get denied, some don’t. It helps to wear nice clothes and carry yourself like you belong. A note though, if you do get denied, say “Thanks, have a good night” and walk out. Don’t argue, beg, plead, explain yourself, or try to bribe the guy. Twice me and my buddies have been denied, we’ve said Ok, gone to leave, and then they said to come back in. It’s like a test to see if you’re cool, see to it that you pass.
- Le Bain
Le Bain is the club with the strictest door policy of anywhere I’ve successfully gotten into. The doorman is a dick and lives to tell people “Invite only” which is a thinly disguised way of saying not tonight, move along. Once you do get through though you won’t be disappointed. Le Bain is two floors of pure awesome. On the bottom floor is a lounge area with leather couches, a hot tub, and a dance floor which usually has a decent DJ. Up top you’ll find a massive outdoor lounge area that affords you with a brilliant view of Manhattan at night. It’s a solid combo and can make for a great night of partying.
Some notes on getting in. Dress nice, although this may be underrated. Me and my friend have gotten in in t-shirts, and I’ve seen other guys wearing $600 outfits get the boot. More important than dressing nice is carrying yourself well. If you go up nervous and unsure, denied. If you go up confident and smiling, you stand a way better chance of getting in. Also, if you’re a guy and you want to check it out, go on Tuesday night. It’s drag night and they let most guys in. If you still get denied, come back again. It’s a great club where you can experience what it’s like to party 18 stories above the streets of Manhattan.