Chicago's entertainment varies from loud and loose to sophisticated and sedate. You'll find classic Chicago corner bars in most neighborhoods, along with trendier alternatives like wine bars and lounges. The strains of blues and jazz provide much of the backbeat to the city's groove, and an alternative country scene is flourishing. As far as dancing is concerned, take your pick from cavernous clubs to smaller spots with DJs spinning dance tunes; there's everything from hip-hop to swing. Wicker Park/Bucktown and River North have the hottest nightlife, but prime spots are spread throughout the city.

Shows usually begin at 9 pm; cover charges generally range from $3 to $20, depending on the day of the week (Friday and Saturday nights are the most expensive). The list of blues and jazz clubs includes several South Side locations: be cautious about transportation here late at night, because some of these neighborhoods can be unsafe. Drive your own car or ask the bartender to call you a cab.

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  • 1. Berlin Nightclub

    Lakeview | Dance Clubs

    A multicultural, pansexual dance club near the Belmont El station, Berlin has progressive electronic dance music and fun themed nights (Madonna...Read More

  • 2. Big Chicks

    Far North Side | Bars/Pubs

    In the Uptown area of the Far North Side, Big Chicks is a striking alternative to the Halsted strip, with a funky crowd that appreciates the...Read More

  • 3. Green Mill Cocktail Lounge

    Far North Side | Music Clubs

    A Chicago institution, the Green Mill in not-so-trendy Uptown has been around since 1907. Deep leather banquettes and ornate wood paneling line...Read More

  • 4. Hopleaf

    Far North Side | Bars/Pubs

    An anchor in the Andersonville corridor, Hopleaf continues the tradition of the classic Chicago bar hospitable to conversation (there's not...Read More

  • 5. Old Town School of Folk Music

    Lincoln Square | Music Clubs

    Chicago's oldest folk-music school has served as folk central in the city since it opened in 1957. The welcoming spot in Lincoln Square hosts...Read More

  • 6. Simon's Tavern

    Andersonville | Bars/Pubs

    This classic Andersonville bar honors the neighborhood’s Swedish roots with its signature drink, glögg —mulled Swedish wine, served hot in...Read More

  • 7. The Annoyance Theatre & Bar

    Lakeview | Comedy Clubs

    This is home base for Annoyance Productions, an irreverent group best known for hits like Skinprov and Hitch*Cocktails . ...Read More

  • 8. 404 Wine Bar

    Lakeview | Wine Bars–Nightlife

    Enter through rowdy Jack's Bar & Grill to find the serene 404 Wine Bar, a romantic spot filled with cozy nooks. The librarylike back room...Read More

  • 9. Beat Kitchen

    Lakeview | Music Clubs

    North Side stalwart Beat Kitchen brings in the crowds because of its good sound system and solid rock, alternative-rock, country, and rockabilly...Read More

  • 10. Blokes & Birds

    Wrigleyville | Bars/Pubs

    A departure from the typical Wrigleyville sports bar, this modern public house draws Anglophiles thirsty for a well-poured pint and contemporary...Read More

  • 11. Carol's Pub

    Far North Side | Music Clubs

    Located in the Uptown area of the Far North Side, Carol's Pub showcased country before it was ever cool. The house band at this urban honky...Read More

  • 12. Charlie's

    Lakeview | Bars/Pubs

    A country-and-western dance spot, Charlie's lets you two-step nightly to achy-breaky tunes (club music takes over after midnight). It's mostly...Read More

  • 13. Circuit

    Lakeview | Bars/Pubs

    The biggest dance club in Boystown is a stripped-down hall energized by flashing lights, booming sounds, and a partying crowd. Take a break...Read More

  • 14. ComedySportz

    Lakeview | Comedy Clubs

    ComedySportz specializes in "competitive improv," in which two teams vie for the audience's favor. Book a family-friendly early performance...Read More

  • 15. Elbo Room

    Lakeview | Music Clubs

    Elbo Room, a multilevel space in an elbow-shape corner building, has a basement rec-room feel. Talented live bands add a strong dose of nu-jazz...Read More

  • 16. Gingerman Tavern

    Lakeview | Bars/Pubs

    Up the street from Wrigley Field, Gingerman Tavern deftly manages to avoid being pigeonholed as a sports bar. Folks here take their beer and...Read More

  • 17. Holiday Club

    Far North Side | Bars/Pubs

    Rat Pack aficionados will appreciate the 1950s decor at this self-described "Swinger's mecca." Down a pint of beer and scan the typical (but...Read More

  • 18. Hydrate

    Lakeview | Bars/Pubs

    Hydrate combines a relaxed front lounge with a late-night, high-energy dance floor in the back. Weekly events include drag shows. ...Read More

  • 19. Intelligentsia

    Lakeview | Cafes–Nightlife

    This place was named to invoke the prechain days when cafés were forums for discussion, but the long, broad farmer's tables and handsome couches...Read More

  • 20. Joie de Vine

    Far North Side | Bars/Pubs

    Catering to a lesbian clientele, this wine bar has expanded its focus to include craft beer and cocktails. The space itself is cozy, but good...Read More

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