Time Out Chicago’s Top Dance Club Picks

In partnership with Time Out Chicago – and in anticipation of our TENTH year in Grant Park – we’re showcasing the best of the best of the Windy City. Last time we told you how to keep the party going late into the night and this week we’re highlighting the best spots to work it out – on the dance floor!

What, you danced all day and night at Perry’s Stage, and you still want more? Of course you do. Chicago has fantastic dance clubs to keep the dance party going.

Smart Bar

Originally on the fourth floor of the magnificent Wrigleyville building (also home to Metro), this venerated dance club is now in the basement. A makeover in 2006 slicked up the looks a notch and brought back a vibrant young crowd. But more important, the club boasts a world-class Funktion One sound system, which sounds tremendous on the central dance floor. Cutting-edge DJs from Europe, Detroit and Chicago form the bulk of the weekend bookings with house, techno and electro styles; but local mash-up and indie jocks rule on bargain weekday nights.

The Mid

One of the most versatile venues in town, the Mid combines traditional venue options with the bottle-popping club world. Two stories allow for dancing and drinking on weekends, but smaller nights see just the main floor used for everything from indie bands to up-and-coming DJ talent. Brought to us by some of Chicago’s biggest promoters, this Fulton Market area upstart only took a few years to rise to the top. It now nabs many of the big name bookings swinging through town—which can mean huge lines to get in.

Spy Bar

This basement club in the River North gallery district has had the deep, underground techno sound on lock for some time now. It has the illicit feel of an after-hours bottle-service spot and the premium sound for the big-name house, techno and electro DJs who visit weekly.


Between its oversize dance floor, massive LED wall, 30-foot bar and craft cocktail program, Primary is sure to become the envy of its Gold Coast neighbors, and fast. Owned by a posse of nightlife veterans with their ears to the sound of now, it’s a hip alternative to clubs near the “triangle” that have been coasting with the same formula. Look for some of the city’s top up-and-coming DJs spinning house, electro, dubstep, underground disco and indie dance alongside the occasional global talent. What do real clubbers crave? An intimate, music-focused but still stylish night out free of bullshit. This NKOTB puts it all on a top soundsystem. We think this basement club fills the void left by Sonotheque.

Evil Olive

This spot may have changed names more than any other venue in the ‘hood, but it’s become an unlikely young hipster hangout thanks to long-standing weekend dance parties hosted by local jocks Zebo, Marco Morales, Johnny Walker, and the Porn and Chicken posse. It’s making serious inroads on our weekdays as well thanks to the over-the-top exploits of Monday throwdown Porn and Chicken and Thursday’s Let’s Get Weird. No one really loved the Evil Olive space, but through sheer force of party will and audacity (and porn, and fried chicken) it’s the joint.

Still not tired? Check out the rest of Time Out Chicago’s list of the 10 best dance clubs in Chicago.