Nightclubs and Nightlife in Chicago

Chicago is a great city if you’re in the mood for some nightlife. The Windy City is full of incredible bars and nightclubs which can fit almost any type of partier.

Andy’s Jazz Club & Restaurant

Chicago is known for its jazz scene so if you’re in town then you’ve just got to stop at Andy’s Jazz Club & Restaurant to check out the local jazz scene. Andy’s Jazz Club & Restaurant is known as one of the best jazz clubs around with local performers packing the club every night, that is unless there’s a headliner coming to town. The variety of jazz ranges from traditional and swing to bop, fusion, Latin and afro-pop. Remember that Andy’s is one of the most popular places in town for Jazz so if you want to be sure to get a seat you should reserve one in advance, and then come early and enjoy dinner as well.

The Joynt

For a different take on the jazz scene in Chicago The Joynt gives you what they call a new paradigm for nightclub entertainment, and they might be right. The Joynt is two stories and four rooms and an outdoor café full of exciting entertainment Chicago style. The rooms are divided into The Grand Bar a chill hangout, The Swing Bar with live nightly entertainment featuring the Kendall Lewis Trio and other top local bands and ever so often a headliner, The Retro Club gets a little more action with dance mixes by DJ Carmine, and The Lounge where VIPs relax in a comfortable living room of their own, there’s even a private entrance for the elite. The Outdoor Café has cropped up for people who want to sit outside and enjoy the weather or take a break from the club, it also gives smokers a place to congregate as smoking indoors is no longer allowed in Chicago.


If jazz isn’t your thing but you’d still like to hear some live music then Metro’s rocking live music scene may be what you’re looking for. Metro has a unique talent for selecting live acts that are on the cusp of hitting the big time so you get to see the up and comers before they make it big. After the show you can head to their downstairs location, the Smart Bar (free admission with ticket stub) for an after concert party with more drinking, music, dancing and fun. If you’re lucky the stars of the show will head downstairs to take advantage of the vibe created by their energy.

Elbo Room

The Elbo Room actually rarely has any. This club jam packs the crowd in for incredible high energy live rock music shoes seven nights a week. The acts range from popular local groups to national acts that receive regular radio play. Although a diverse range of music is said to be the goal at the Elbo Room, you’ll pretty routinely hear rock and roll.

Transit Nightclub

For those who are looking to dance their asses off then Transit Nightclub is a trendy hotspot that’s sure to deliver. The club is actually an old warehouse tucked beneath the el train. The huge club is simple with a décor that focuses on geometric shapes and sparse furniture with postindustrial metal staircases. Follow the staircases upstairs at your own risk, at the top are exclusive VIP rooms. But if you’re there for the dancing then who wants to hang out in a VIP room. The dance floor is always rocking and shaking with a heavy bass beat spun by the best DJs in town. Be prepared, this old warehouse may not seem like the place to wear your best but that’s what is expected, the Transit Nightclub is a place where dressing to impress has its benefits.

The Funky Buddha Lounge

In the River North gallery district is a hidden little gem, The Funky Buddha Lounge. You know it’s hot and happening if the outside looks like a factory or a warehouse and even more excusive and trendy if it’s hard to find. The exterior of The Funky Buddha Lounge does not disappoint but the large Buddha sculpture on the door cues you in to what is happening inside. But be prepared the inside is likely to knock your socks off. The Funky Buddha Lounge takes everything thing that’s cliché and gauche about nightclubs and throws it all together, red lighting, black leather, faux fur, candles and hidden alcoves. The crowds at The Funky Buddha Lounge are quite different as the old weekday crowd likes things a little more mellow and traditional but Thursday nights has become something totally different, filled with youngsters barely of legal drinking age, and weekends are filled with those looking to create a visual stir with their outlandish style.

Martini Ranch

To wind down your night and have a late nightcap then the Martini Ranch has your name all over it. With a menu featuring more than 60 martinis there is a pretty good chance that you’ll find something that suits your deepest martini yen. But be warned, the martinis at the Martini Ranch are surprisingly strong, don’t be surprised if the punch hits you when you least expect it. One reason the Martini Ranch is the perfect place to wind down the evening is their hours, open until 4am every night except Saturday when the club doesn’t close until 5am. In addition, if you want to give yourself a good base to take care of that extra kick from the martini, the Martini Ranch serves traditional American tavern fare on their late night menu. For those who still want to dance, the Martini Ranch keeps music spinning through the night, creating quite a buzz of activity. And for the smokers in the crowd, the outdoor beer garden features heated tables for some quiet reflection on the night.

There are few cities in the world that are known for their happening hotspots and night time entertainment and Chicago is one of those cities. But remember, what’s happening one minute in a big city like Chicago may be old news by the time the lights go on and everyone heads home. Keep your ears to the pavement to hear what’s shaking the Windy City on your visit.
Creative Commons License Photo credit: Jamie McCaffrey