Best Bars for Dancing in Sydney

Updated 9 months ago


Nightclubs are kind of all-or-nothing. Either you’re standing at the bar being jostled, or you’re on the dance floor getting into it. And having a decent conversation? Forget it.

Bars are a little more flexible – when you need it, there’s room to take a break from dancing or have that long-overdue D’n’M with your best mate. Plus, the drinks are almost guaranteed to be better, whether you’re drinking beer from an actual glass, or sipping on a well-made Negroni.

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  • After a makeover inspired by New York’s dive bars, this late-night icon is open till 4am seven nights a week. Head in for after-work drinks and topnotch hot dogs, or party till the wee hours to five-hour sets by local and international DJs.

  • A pumping, Tiki-themed bar and nightclub from the team behind Cantina OK, Tio's and Bar Planet. A weekly line-up of DJs spin R&B, techno and deep house till super late. This place also has a killer cocktail game, with signature creations going for a steal before 9pm.

  • This doesn’t look like a dance-y bar. It doesn’t even look like a bar. Looking in from the street, it looks like another Oxford Street pasta and vino restaurant. What you can’t see though, is one of Sydney’s most heaving hip-hop basements.

  • This 24-hour Chippendale pub was once home to Sydney’s thriving indie scene. Now that it’s back, new owners have ambitions to tap into emerging party crews. Dance late under pulsating lights, or head upstairs for cocktails, a wine bar, a bottle shop and an outdoor terrace with big inner-city vibes.

  • This pub has maintained its LGBTQIA+ identity for decades. You’ll still find drag queens on the mic and queer parties in the downstairs basement, but there’s also a slick bistro menu and hefty selection of biodynamic wines upstairs. If you’re looking for something more relaxed than the downstairs party, the front bar plays disco most nights.

  • Bero Sundays are the stuff of Sydney legend, and one of the best weekend extenders in the city. It starts with a few well-priced drinks in the jungle-y courtyard, before escalating at the dance party upstairs. Up here, a rotating cast of DJs do their very best to melt those Sunday blues away. And they usually succeed.

  • As an ode to Della Hyde, a now-closed Darlinghurst bar that was once home to an legendary R&B night, the Forrey transforms its upstairs into a dancefloor with DJs and good times till late. Keep an eye on the Della Hyde socials for the next instalment.

  • A slice of eastern suburbs history, with a beer garden to rival any in town. Hordes flock to it every day of the week, but Sheaf Wednesdays are a staple. Come for $7 drink specials between 8pm–10pm, then let loose to DJs taking over the garden bar and rooftop. Entry is free.

  • A restaurant, bar and karaoke venue in one. Combine those three elements with a 3am licence and an evening here can go from zero to 100 faster than you can butcher your rendition of The Horses. Adding to the vibe are 20-person karaoke booths and a hip-hop-fuelled dance floor. If you’re feeling brave, try the bar’s signature sake bomb: a pint of Sapporo with a shot of sake.

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  • The Tit is a bar that welcomes everyone and anyone. When the it isn’t hosting a drag show or an exhibition launch, it’s not uncommon for a spontaneous to dance floor to break out. The dancehall, hip-hop and house soundtrack sees to that nicely.

  • The entrance to The Soda Factory is hidden behind a Coke vending machine – and it would actually be a secret were it not for the queues out front every weekend night. The reason people are waiting probably has something to do with the $15 happy-hour cocktails and the affordable American diner fare. Add in regular DJ sets, and this spot can break out into a throbbing dance floor at any moment.

  • For a great night at Harry’s, start by nabbing a Paloma or a beer at the front bar. Enjoy it with the last rays of sunlight in the tiled courtyard. From there move to the booths and order a taco, burger or fried-chicken sandwich from the Cuban-American-inspired menu. Finish on the dance floor – Friday and Saturday nights are when things are at their best.

  • When this grungy gem was taken over in early 2019, punters feared for its soul, as well as its reputation for late-night raucousness. Luckily, those fears were unfounded. There are still regular DJ sets and the occasional live band. Plus, there’s an accessible pub-grub menu to keep you going well into the night.

  • After 150 years, you still can't do the Crown Street crawl without a trip to this Surry Hills icon. On Saturdays there’s a dedicated dance floor upstairs at the pub’s breezy balcony bar, along with exclusive cocktails to keep the good times flowing. Retreat to the wraparound verandah if and when you need a break from the bass.

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  • A swinging ’50s dance floor often breaks out on weekends at this intimate speakeasy, usually towards midnight on a particularly loose Friday. If you happen to be there when it does, don’t be shy. The bartenders will make sure your bowl of pretzels is full by the time you get back.

  • The team behind Maybe Sammy have moved into a heritage Paddington pub and created a Mexican-inspired bar all about good times. There’s a DJ booth, disco ball and a menu that riffs on classic Mexican dishes. Cocktails are a big yes given who’s behind the place.