Make Friends Around Town: An Intro to San Francisco Nightlife
Maybe you’re new to the Bay Area & want to connect with your surroundings. Maybe you just finished another week at the next great startup and need to shake off the stress. Either way, you’re probably trying to beeline to the nearest bar or club.
You wouldn’t be hard pressed to find what you’re looking for, but not every option is a winner, and the costs that come with getting around the city mean that you can’t afford to bounce around too much.
Thankfully, even when you find the ones worth going to, you still have options for every type of night, whether you’re trying to talk with some locals, see some live music, get lost on the dance floor, or keep things going till dawn.
To get you started, we found some of the spots that make the San Francisco nightlife scene one of the best places to meet new people.
Everyone knows the best ways to get to know someone usually involve alcohol and having something to talk about. You can get the alcohol at any bar, but Madrone helps out with the display of many types of art on the walls, which can be a perfect place to begin conversation.
These artworks are also switched out on a regular basis, so even regular visitors can take advantage of this icebreaker. If that’s not your thing, you could probably talk about how cheap the drinks are compared to the last bar, and almost any bar, you’ve been to.
You don’t want to talk about art & money forever, though, and at a point in the night it wouldn’t hurt to get up and hit the dance floor. You don’t get a regular soundtrack at Madrone, though; there’s a wide assortment of themed nights, events, and performers that keep things spicy.
Every Saturday, for instance, they host the Prince & MJ Experience, where crowds from all walks gather to strut their stuff & honor two of the most important figures in the history of music.
There are also open mics, performances from up & comers across all genres, and art exhibits that are put on regularly.
Lastly, for those that have been diagnosed with End of Weekend Denial Syndrome, Madrone promises its signature Motown Mondays are worth sacrificing a few measly hours of sleep.
When pretty paintings & quirky events don’t fit your mood, you could try opting for an experience where you can (and want to) do little else but dance & take in everything around you.
The place is designed to keep you moving & enveloped in the music; the dance floor is spring-loaded, which you probably didn’t know you wanted until now, and a sound system from the highly reputable British-based audio company Funktion-One.
Those speakers get put to good use, too, with some of the most prominent DJs from around the world coming to spin. To complement them, dazzling light displays like LED tunnels, infinity mirrors, and robotic fixtures are standard across the venue.
You won’t get very much talking done in here, but if you manage to lock eyes with someone and make the move, the music & lights can be all you need to have that connection form.
To quote the modern revolutionary Barry B. Benson, “Ya like jazz?” If so, there’s only one real way to end the night in San Francisco, and that’s in the Boom Boom Room.
It’s one of the oldest clubs of its kind in the west, & the history is palpable today. Sure, the crowd tends to be whiter, older, and give off a La La Land vibe, but that doesn’t stop the venue from hosting some of the most captivating and talented musicians in jazz, blues, soul and funk.
The cover charge isn’t the cheapest you’ll find in the city, but you get what you pay for & a good deal more. From the quality of the venue, to the caliber of artistry present on stage, you have few options that are as lively yet classy as this famed establishment.
Since the main draw is the genres of music being played that night, you already have a starting point for conversation, whether it be with a fun group nearby or someone specific that piques your interest.
When you can’t really decide what type of bar or club to go to and just want a bunch of different ones combined together, DNA Lounge is likely to be your destination.
The venue allows you the choice between seven bars, four dance floors (different music on each), and two different stages when live acts come along, and they come along often.
You can get caught up in the glamour of a burlesque shows, rock out at all sorts of concerts, or expand your mind by catching a lecture. Any are tried and true ways to spark a conversation between some new friends.
This place keeps things going late too, not closing until 3:00 AM, and you can even grab one of their famous pizzas, along with a wide array of other foods and beverages, right next door at any time of the night.
As one could guess from the name, this establishment brings a refined energy that’s made it famous in the area, although it doesn’t tell the whole story of what goes on inside.
One of the main attractions of Monarch is the steampunk and Art Nouveau-inspired upstairs bar, where patrons enjoy eccentric surroundings and a complementary photo booth. With a quirky yet pleasant environment, it’s one of the better social spaces you could ask for in a bar.
For those who want an especially exclusive experience, the Emperor’s Drawing Room offers finely crafted cocktails, 16th century elegance, and acrobatic performers showcasing their abilities overhead. What bar isn’t complete without some Cirque du Soleil-style action?
In the basement, however, there’s a whole different party happening, specifically a dance party. Attendees of this revelry enjoy lounge areas, a bar of their own, and EDM played all night long.
Let us know which of these spots you loved the most, and be sure to stay safe & have fun no matter where you decide to go out.