photo: courtesy of Bridget Cicenia; pictured: Hideout
What turns a night of going out to meet friends for a beer into a surprisingly fun-filled groove party? It's called dance energy. This inexplicable force often comes as an unexpected treat, oozing from the walls of a gritty ol' bar where you'd least expect to find it. Some of the watering holes below don't even have dance floors and boast better grooving environs than most clubs in the city. It helps that the majority of them host deft DJs playing everything from Brit pop to funk, sell cheap drinks, don't enforce a dress code and never have a line. Wait, how do clubs stay in business again?
The Hideout is fun, ya'll! This live music venue and bar may look like a run-down old house (complete with nasty wood paneling), but it hosts some of the best bands, spanning from jazz by the Nick Broste Quartet to the bluesy Devil in a Woodpile. If the music for the evening happens to accommodate dancing, the Hideout draws a crowd that isn't afraid to do so. Better yet, on most Saturdays after 10 p.m., rotating DJs turn this spot into a hard-liquor-induced dance party that keeps people moving until 3 a.m.
Young hipsters who love to give their livers the middle finger flock to this dimly lit corner bar for decently priced drinks, late-night imbibing and to meet their next crush (or hook up). DJs spinning Wednesday through Sunday (like Misa, who occasionally stops in to play an electro-pop set) get people moving, even though the "dance floor" is nothing more than a patch of floor without tables. Being one of the only 4 a.m. bars left that shuns shady characters, this place gets insanely packed, which can make finding a nook for dancing a bit tough. With that in mind, you'd be wise to come during the week or come prepared to get friendly with strangers.
The exterior of Liar's Club looks about as inviting as a boarded up liquor store, but it still draws a big crowd. The music caters to people who love to rock, attracting the tattooed, tight-jeans-wearing set. All different rock sounds, from Johnny Cash to the Pixies, pulse through the speakers, depending on the DJ of the moment. Drink specials Sunday through Thursday (including $1 PBR on Monday and Wednesday) keep the crowd hydrated enough to take full advantage of the small but lively dance floor.
Look no further than this dive for a killer dance scene. The musical programming rivals some of the most progressive dance clubs in the city. Regulars, many of whom arrive on their Schwinns, order up $4 gin and tonics and chill out on one of the old beat-up couches in back. Music fans can shake it to everything from glitchy techno to rare 45s on its notorious soul night; it's a wonder how the floors in this small Bucktown house-turned-bar keep from giving in. Part of Danny's draw is that it stays pretty mum about its weekly events and drink specials, so you'll have to take a chance and stop in on a whim.
People get down to dance favorites and hipster party hits on the weekends here, especially on Fridays when Major Taylor gets behind the decks. The bar's laid-back vibe will keep you at ease while you slam $3 Guinness pints, building up your confidence to bust out the tootsie roll you've been hiding in your groove arsenal since middle school. No one will care. Seriously, you could go barefoot here and maybe only three people would notice. (Of course, if you plan on cutting a rug, expect frequent smashed toes).
The Hidden Shamrock, supposedly the oldest Irish bar in Lincoln Park, draws the type of crowd that normally hangs at sports bars or is currently enrolled in Psych 101. Expect only top 40 and '90s hits here; the crowd can't get enough of grinding to the likes of Fergie and JT all night long—and there's not even a dance floor. So if you want to get down to the new Timbaland song one second and hear an Aerosmith tune the next, head here, grab a bottle of Miller Lite and wait for the dancing to ensue.