The 10 Best NYC Clubs of All Time

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1) Studio 54. The be-all and end-all of '70s glitz and hedonism. A crazy salad populated with the bad and the beautiful.

2) Mudd Club. The anti-54, this divey new wave hangout on a side street in downtown's then-wasteland bred skinny ties, attitude, and sheer brilliance.

3) Area. A gigantic '80s club that made its own rules, dedicating itself to art themes and frisky people.

4) Danceteria. A four-floor haunt for big-haired '80s performance types who comprised a monument to boho brassiness, back when there was an underground.

5) Jackie 60. Partying with aesthetics, poetics, war paint, and a dress code. Gorgeous!

6) Happy Valley. Just four years ago, it brought back the club kid explosion on Tuesdays as if recreating a sexier, cross-dressing Brigadoon.

7) CBGB. If you didn't have a pierced nose, they'd gladly give you one.

8) The Roxy. Gay heaven every Saturday night, especially if you had a nice chest (and that included the drag queens).

9) The Palladium. A multi-level colossus that was the height of '80s gall and recreation, from the Mike Todd Room on top to the Engine Room on the bottom.

10) Limelight. A church-turned-decadence-den with a few nice people sprinkled in.

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81 comments
danube
danube

HOTEL AMAZON on LES, The World, Mars and definitely SAVE THE ROBOTS, Island Lounge, Fez, under Metropolis (now Bluewater Grill), Pyramid, CBGB.

doreendileonardo
doreendileonardo

you did  not include the greatest club of all THE SAINT! It was at the old filmore east and it was ground breaking on so many levels especially the sound system and techniques ---it was amazing. 

jcnycsw06
jcnycsw06

In 1980 became a club kid as a pre-teen...introuced to the life by my mother. I carried the torch with my own participation at: The old Ritz, Limelight, the first day of the Tunnel, RHPS @ 8th st playhouse, Danceteria, Palladium, and my fave-The Saint.

Jungletekno
Jungletekno

How is Twilo not on this list?  That was the first nightclub I ever attended where the venue felt clean.  Not sure if that was just down to the white paint or the adiquate ventilation but the place was actually really comfortable.  My only regret is getting the flu the week that DJ Hype played there.

Mattmoskal
Mattmoskal

I was a big club kid from 97 - 04 and my list goes like this:

1) tunnel saturaday at d-tour Danny t was the bomb.. Such a diverse crowd..Great music till the morning..

2) twilo - Sasha and digweed or jr if tunnel died early..

3) limelight.... Nuff said...

4) sound factory jp was the bomb but it was like a meat market ..

5) vinyl - be yourself. Great party after Danny left tunnel..

6) roxy.. On da list..

7) exit.. And this is where it started going downhill..

8) crowbar.. NYC will never be the same like the 90's..;(

Sikh
Sikh

What the fuck? This article is garbage! The fucking tunnel is the best club in the history of this little hick town!

Matt
Matt

Paradise Garage, Save the Robots, Sound Factory (pre 1994 on West 27th), Pyramid - I agree with Tunnel being left off of this, but I'd say it's a close runner up. The parties there were really incredible before it got shut down the week after Super DJ Dimitry played in '96. It never quite recaptured the vibe after that, 

Saxe
Saxe

What do you think are the top 10 clubs in new york for 2011 going to be?

Charles
Charles

Paradise Garage - Best Music, Sound System, and Energy ( Mr. Musto you know that)Garage pioneered their own music genre, has a devout global following still, still serve as the inspiration for most past/current DJ's around the world, and still has a loyal fan base that's going to sell out Le Possion Rouge April 3 and any reunion after that. David Mancuso's Loft Party, although not a club (via invitation only) still inspires a global following today (Loft parties still occur periodically in London/NY), plus the Loft, pre-Garage shaped their own music genre as well.

Studio 54 - Best place to be seen and get HIGH with A list folks. No substance, however, Steve Rubell was a marketing GENIUS! Can't take that away from him. Limelight...honorable mention for getting HIGH!

Palladium & Tunnel - Great additions to the NY club scene in the 80's. Innovative spaces. Loved the Palladium's dance floor and BIG screens coming at you on the floor, and loved Susan @ the door of the Tunnel and the concept of dancing in an old subway station. Acoustics was decent at both.

The World and Danceteria - Best Eclectic Crowd.......and of course that fool James! James at the door was something to experience. Loved him in action at the door.

Better Days and Roxy - Best place to party for each respective Gay community. African-American Gay community loved T-Scott spinning ability at Better Days, and the White Gay community loved the energy at the Roxy. Although NY is a huge melting pot and music connects all races, occassionally we partied separately...Let's keep it real!

Club Shelter & Body and Soul - In the ashes of club Area, rose two global powerhouses @ 6 Hubert St. Timmy Regisford, Francois K, Danny K, Joe C have transformed the BRAND of NY style CLUB MUSIC. They keep NY relevant and at the forefront of a competitive global club music scene.

jjazznola
jjazznola

If you are including rock clubs, you must include Max's, The Ritz and Hurrah's.

Glenn Belverio
Glenn Belverio

Oh Michael, you forgot The World! I remember seeing you there almost every Tuesday night for Dean Johnson's party. Of course I was there with my baby sitter....

Andy Jusuf
Andy Jusuf

I'm surprised on how Michael missed The Paradise Garage, The original legendary Sound Factory and The Saint....Why Michael? And don't get me started on David Mancuso's the loft, Redzone, Club USA, The Tunnel and many others :)

Andy Jusuf
Andy Jusuf

I'm surprised on how Michael missed The Paradise Garage, The original legendary Sound Factory and The Saint....Why Michael, why? There is no way NYC nightlife would be complete without Paradise Garage, The Saint, the original Sound Factory :(

DDB9000
DDB9000

Maybe I'm looking at this all wrong - by club you maybe seem to be talking about DANCE clubs, as opposed to others, like ROCK clubs, but then if that's the case, how did CBGBs get in there? Not really a dance club, is it? I've been to 5 on the list (2, 4, 7, 9, 10) and others not, and a couple listed in other comments (Paradise, World). I guess if you DO count rock clubs then you have to include Max's Kansas City and the Bottom Line. And I also quite enjoyed Tramps, where a band I roadied for opened for Quentin Crisp many moons ago!

And as for one place on the list, I'm proud to say that (with the above mentioned band), I once was at Danceteria where someone told us that Madonna was on the 3rd floor (we were on the 1st), and would we like to meet her (this was about a year after her first album). To a one, all five of us said, no thanks, knowing then that she was crap, and would always be. I've met quite a few famous people in music and film over the years, but NOT meeting Madonna is still one of my proudest moments...

OK, all - fire away...

P.S.: Michael, your piece on Keith was great - he, and your act,will be greatly missed.

Morlock
Morlock

Also, The Building was incredible.

Morlock
Morlock

Missed the best of all, The Saint on 2nd Avenue.

Spbvip
Spbvip

Save the Robots? Don Hills? THE PARADISE GARAGE?????

David
David

Tunnel. it was cool bc you could get lost in it.

blindmalice
blindmalice

Flamingo. Open only on Saturday nites, but there nothing as outrageous as a all-nighter here in the 70s.Anvil

rjc
rjc

Hurrah?

Bibfortuna1
Bibfortuna1

hey michael what year did you do that madonna "sex" picture? i used to look forward to reading your column every week while sitting at my boring desk job.

Bibfortuna1
Bibfortuna1

can't believe the holiday lounge on st marks wasnt included

Gay Movie Fan
Gay Movie Fan

The forerunner to Paradise Garage was The Gallery, when I spent many a Saturday night in the late 70's dancing from midnight until 10 AM, while tripping my brains out. And nobody mentioned Flamingo? For shame!

F. Packer
F. Packer

Great Post, great comments and great photo of the Studio 54 mob scene!

korper
korper

What, no bitter jibes about the fact that there are exactly zero great clubs in the post-Giuliani era? Allow me to break the ice...

Barkley
Barkley

The Chalice, The Mineshaft, The Spike, Crisco Disco, Peter Rabbit, The Ramrod, The Cockring, Ty's, Boots & Saddles

Lindadbryant
Lindadbryant

What happened to The Garage, The Buttermilk Bottom and Better Days?

thing
thing

No squeezebox? For shame.

Back in the Gays
Back in the Gays

The World, Paradise Garage, The Saint, Mars, Coney Island High, The limelight, memories, memories...

Musto
Musto

I went to Paradise Garage a few times, but sorry, I never pugged into the cult of it. And I was only able to put 10, so I had to narrow things down.

GG Barnum Room was truly outrageous, though. That's #11 for me.

Johnny Dynell
Johnny Dynell

Wow Musty, You are gonna really stir it up with this list! It's a great list. I would just add The Paradise Garage but then again, everyone will have their own list.I can't believe that I DJ'd at 9 out of 10 of the clubs.

TJLAGO
TJLAGO

PYRAMID CLUBTHE WORLDSAVE THE ROBOTSREGGE LOUNGELAIGHT STBROWNIESPITT STOPDANCETERIAA7 RULED

Allan
Allan

How about: The Paradise Garage which had the fiercest DJ and sound system EVER! The World had a fab mix of people. The Sound Factory carried the torch for the Garage.

june_martin
june_martin

@Matt Save the Robots...wow!...that brings back the most vague memory in my head.

Saxe
Saxe

what you think the best club is that is still open?

june_martin
june_martin

@DDB9000 I remember her as a coat check girl in the basement.

june_martin
june_martin

@rjc hurrah was the Danceteria before Danceteria!

Victorherbert
Victorherbert

I kinda liked Club USA in Times Square - the one with slide.

Mdtopdad
Mdtopdad

love your list, being from Baltimore. I made it to at least 6 of the ones on your list. Actually had George Maharis chat me up at Ty's. Oh to be young and beautiful again

Savannah Montgomery
Savannah Montgomery

Yes, GG Barnum was freaky and small....and fit perfectly in the "old" Times Sq.

Jungletekno
Jungletekno

There aren't any nightclubs anymore.

june_martin
june_martin

@Jungletekno My old mate Georgie Seville is trying to make The Delancey a throwback to those days.

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