It’s Friday night, and, for some reason, you don’t want to go home and put on several sweaters so it feels like you’re being hugged while you fall asleep at 9pm. Instead, you want to go out - but not just to the place on your block where the bartender knows your name. You want to go somewhere fun, with a guaranteed crowd, loud music, and possibly even a dance floor or a disco ball. That’s what you’ll find on this list. It has all the best spots where people are going out right now. Some of them are new, others are old, and every single one is perfect for a late night out.
There are a lot of bars in Bushwick. So many that you could probably get kicked out of one every day for a year, and still not run out of places to drink. But there’s only one tiki bar with a jukebox, tropical wallpaper, and a couple of pool tables in a room with a projector that might be showing things like Baywatch or Crocodile Dundee. That place is called Abe’s Pagoda Bar, and it’s where you should be hanging out late-night in Bushwick. Bring a group (there’s plenty of space), claim a booth, and get a round of pastel-colored frozen drinks in big glass chalices.
Black Flamingo is a vegan Mexican restaurant where you can sit down for an early dinner, eat some jackfruit tacos, and quietly discuss your reading habits with a friend. It’s also a nightclub with a dark little basement where you can spend several hours dancing inches away from about 50 other sweaty people. That’s what this place becomes late-night on weekends, and it’s the main reason why we come here. Stop by at 11pm on a Friday or a Saturday night, and the party should just be getting started. And if you don’t feel like dancing, you can hang out in the upstairs lounge area and network with people who probably won’t remember you when they wake up in the morning.
Ah, the Lower East Side on weekends. It’s sort of like if you took a small state university, placed it below Houston Street, and gave everyone a beer. In other words, it gets busy, and if you stick around late enough, someone who smells like vodka will shout some Post Malone lyrics in your face. That said, it’s a fun area, and Kind Regards is one of our favorite spots to hang when we feel like staying out late, being around other people, and possibly also dancing. It’s a little cocktail bar on Ludlow that gets packed on weekends (get there before midnight), and it has a basement where you can lounge around, dance, and talk to strangers.
Pony Boy feels very much like something you’d find on the Lower East Side - but it’s in Greenpoint, which means you won’t have to stand in a line full of children with fake IDs in order to get in. This bar still gets busy, and there’s occasionally a line snaking down the stairs to the bathroom - but just go to the bathroom before you get here, and spend the majority of your time in the big back room. There’s a dance floor in the middle surrounded by velvet booths, and it’s sort of like a gladiator arena, but with dancing instead of fighting. This is your single best option for a late night out in Greenpoint, and it also works for a date as long as you get here before 11pm, when this place is more of a casual cocktail bar.
Another Greenpoint bar, Magazine doesn’t get quite as busy as Ponyboy, and it’s more of a neighborhood spot where you can either pop in for 10 minutes or spend several hours drinking $11 cocktails while socializing with someone who just took up skateboarding at the age of 33. But if you stick around late enough (11pm or so), a DJ will probably appear, and the long room filled with red string lights will start to feel like the world’s most laid-back nightclub. This place is perfect if you like staying out late but don’t typically enjoy bouncers or bottle service. And if you need a break from the noise inside, you can head to the backyard.
Elsewhere is the embodiment of everything you said you’d do before the weather gets cold and you go back to living indoors like a scared mole person. It’s a huge venue in Bushwick with a few different indoor spaces, plus a rooftop where you can enjoy a nice sunset, listen to a DJ, and dance like you’re on the deck of a cruise ship in the middle of semi-industrial North Brooklyn. Check the website to see the schedule and buy tickets, or just stop by if you’re in the neighborhood, and see what’s going on. Even if there’s a cover, it’s worth it.
This queer-friendly hotel bar at The Standard East Village hosts art events, late-night DJ sets and drag shows a few times a week. But you don’t really need to check the schedule, because you can always expect early 2000s hits and beer-and-mezcal-shot deals. Everything clashes here, but in a good way - specifically the giant disco ball, neon lighting, and delightfully tacky cow-print diner booths. On a random Wednesday night, you might run into your neighbor who plays wind instruments at odd hours - ask her to stop, and then move toward the back of the bar where there’s more room to dance.
The Flower Shop is decorated with vintage photographs, flower-printed booths, and a pink fireplace, but it doesn’t exactly feel like a throwback to the ’70s. That is, unless parties in the ’70s were packed with owners of famous corgis in scoop neck t-shirts drinking vodka sodas. The crowded downstairs area of this two-floor bar on the LES is a good spot to dance in close proximity to strangers willing to hear about “what you do for work.” If there’s a line for the downstairs bar - which is pretty common after around midnight on weekends - get a table or order a drink at the bar in the more casual space upstairs.
Walking into Rocka Rolla is kind of like being transported to an era in Williamsburg before cocktails were $18 and mason jars were used ironically. It doesn’t really matter whether the crowds here are nostalgic for that time, or they’re treating it like a tourist attraction. Most people at this packed dive/metal bar under the BQE are here to drink cheap beers that come in massive chalices, dance anywhere they find room, and buy shots for people who can’t really hear them over the very loud music.
Like grapes fermenting into fine wine, you need to reach the proper alcohol level before you go to Bossanova in Bushwick. This is where you can have an electronic dance club experience that’s as close to your semester abroad in Berlin as you’re going to find in NYC. The dance floor is full of fog, so we honestly don’t know how large it is and who else is ever there. Maybe that’s for the best.
Mood Ring is right across the street from Bossanova, and it’s sort of like Bossanova-lite. That means you can dance and get kind of weird, but there are plenty of seats, opportunities for social interaction with hot Bushwick people, and the ability to distinguish the face of the person in front of you. While the back room is dedicated to dancing and neon laser beams, the front has booths and a big bar. As you might be able to tell from the name, Mood Ring is themed around astrology. So expect a cocktail of the month based on star signs, and people who are both ironically and unironically into the current position of the moon.
True nightclubs in NYC with proper dancefloors and lights are about as rare these days as coffee shops that don’t offer non-dairy milk options - but then there’s Three Dollar Bill, a dark dungeon of a nightclub in East Williamsburg. The huge bar area up front never feels too packed, making it the perfect spot for breaks from dancing, getting your fourth vodka soda, and plotting where to eat nearby at 2am (which is probably the earliest you’ll want to leave). The dance floor here is great for doing the two-step, but the upper platform is where you should be when the DJ plays one of Britney Spears’ greatest hits and you need more space to move.