10. CLUB TROPICANA If the word alone makes you thirsty, you can quench that parched palate at Tropicana every weekend. Now's your chance to try out those dance moves you learned in Zumba class, or coax your quiet friend into shaking her "bum bum." Tropicana is known for its great Latin music, and Saturday's the day to go if you want to hear it. Plus, there's a live band that plays pretty great salsa, too. 3222 Fondren, 713-977-4188, clubtropicanahouston.com
9. DRINK HOUSTON Yes, Drink Houston hosts a motley crew of attendees, and yes, it enforces a severe dress code and cover charge, but it attracts a diverse crowd of people -- not hard to imagine, with five separate nightclubs under the same roof -- almost every night for one reason: Drink Houston is a fun place to be, with both great hip-hop music and drink specials. 7620 Katy Freeway, 713-290-0041, www.drinkhouston.com
8. NUMBERS Numbers is best-known, of course, for "Classic Numbers," DJ Wes Wallace's Friday-night institution of all things '80s and alternative. Open since the late '70s, as seemingly eternal (or is that undead?) as Dracula himself, Numbers also hosts local necromancers Underworld's monthly bash, and live music from synth-pop to rap several times a month. (Depeche Mode and Erasure co-founder Vince Clarke was a recent visitor.) This coming Thursday, look for a DJ set from Glasnost, 2011 Houston Press Music Award winner for Best Electronic Act, and then the Houston Burlesque Revue on February 15. 300 Westheimer, 713-526-6551, www.numbersnightclub.com
7. SOUTH BEACH "Make a left at the palm trees; you can't miss it..."
South Beach has been known as one of Houston's leading gay bar for many, many years, but everyone -- gay, straight, cat, dog -- winds up having an awesome time on the Montrose discotheque's spacious dance floor. On Thursdays through Saturdays, South Beach turns into a delicious cocktail of pulsating music, grinding bodies and sexy drinks -- not to mention the hunky dancers pumping their pecs all around the venue. 810 Pacific, 713-529-7623, www.southbeachthenightclub.com
6. LUMEN LOUNGE Lumen Lounge is smaller and quieter than the other clubs on this list, which for some is perfect. With a mix of hip-hop, hits, Latin and EDM, Lumen caters to Upper Kirby dwellers who enjoy strong drinks and the VIP treatment, down to the velvet-rope entrance. 5020 Kirby, 713-807-7567, Facebook page
5. VENUE HOUSTON "Urban" and "upscale" don't generally go together when it comes to clubbing, but this 11,000-square-foot "venue" is an exception. Located right on the MetroRail line, it boasts a great location and a diverse selection of music, meaning there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to boogie your booty down there on Fridays and Saturdays for free drinks until midnight, hot hip-hop, "Latin Grooves" Friday nights and cover bands. 719 Main, 713-236-8150, www.venuehouston.com
4. STATUS LOUNGE Recently relocated to across from Toyota Center, the color-changing Status advertises itself as Houston's "premier club for those with discerning taste." Texas Dub has found a new home here on Tuesdays, and Thursdays DJ T Gray spins new beats. DJ Big O takes over the tables Fridays and Saturdays. 1410 Bell, 713-659-5400, Facebook page
3. HUGHES HANGAR The name Hughes Hangar is perfect for this Washington Avenue bar. Though it's named after billionaire recluse Howard Hughes, the upscale decor and extended happy hour lures the business elite, making it great for "hang"-ing out. (Ha.) While the inside is a wee bit small, the outdoor patio provides enough room for a great crowd to strike up a great conversation, especially on days and nights when the weather fares well.
"That's great, but what about the music?" Hughes features all kinds of dance-worthy sounds, from vintage Latin Wednesdays to a CD release from Houston's DJ Red this Sunday. 2811 Washington, 281-501-2028, Facebook page
2. RICH'S NIGHTCLUB Cheap drinks. Multiple floors. Unisex bathrooms. Eye candy. Occasional celebrities. Good sound. Great lighting. DJ alumni including Steve Aoki and Morgan Page. College Night Thursdays. Freaky Fridays. Sound Factory Saturdays.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Rich's has all that and then some. 2401 San Jacinto, 713-654-9900, richsnightclub.com
1. STEREO LIVE Best of Houston winner, 2012 While some of us weren't looking, guitars became obsolete. Everybody else was over at Stereo Live. The spacious discotheque at 6400 Richmond -- once home to the legendary Club 6400, whose alumni still hold reunion nights -- has actually been booking some of the world's top DJs for a few years now.
Remixer-turned-superstar David Guetta played in November 2009 when it was still called Planeta Bar-Rio, and trance overlord Paul Oakenfold split an October 2010 bill with Scottish wunderkind Calvin Harris. Then everything exploded, EDM (electronic dance music) and its grimier cousin dubstep came crashing into the mainstream with the strength of Guetta or Oakenfold's brain-busting beats, and Stereo Live found itself in the catbird seat, upgrading the sound and light systems to world-class status and effectively becoming a self-contained operation.
After several months of simply producing shows at the venue, Houston EDM promoters Nightculture bought Stereo Live in May 2012, a move that has already paid off in a revolving-door succession of top talent (Rusko, Porter Robinson, Flux Pavilion, Zomboy) and all but ensures the venue will keep ruling Houston's EDM roost for the foreseeable future. 6400 Richmond, 832-251-9600, stereolivehouston.com
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