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. Buddy Guy's Legends

    South Loop | Music Clubs

    Relocated from its original location a few doors down, Buddy Guy's Legends has a superb sound system, excellent sightlines, and more space to...Read More

  • 2. Chicago Blues Festival

    Music Clubs

    The Chicago Blues Festival leaves no doubt about it: Chicago still loves to sing the blues. Each June, the city pulses with sounds from 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. House of Blues

    River North | Music Clubs

    Though its name implies otherwise, House of Blues actually attracts big-name performers of all genres, including jazz, roots, gospel, alternative...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. Rosa's Lounge

    Logan Square | Music Clubs

    On a given night at Rosa's Lounge, near Bucktown, you'll find Tony, the owner, working the crowd, and his mother, Rosa, behind the bar. What...Read More

  • 7. The Empty Bottle

    Wicker Park | Music Clubs

    This place, in the Ukrainian Village near Wicker Park, may have toys and knickknacks around the bar (including a case of macabre baby-doll heads...Read More

  • 8. The Hideout

    Bucktown | Music Clubs

    The Hideout, which is literally hidden away in a North Side industrial zone, has managed to make country music hip in Chicago. Players on the...Read More

  • 9. Andy's Jazz Club

    River North | Music Clubs

    A favorite after-work watering hole with a substantial bar menu, Andy's Jazz Club has live music ranging from swing jazz to bebop. The early...Read More

  • 10. B.L.U.E.S

    Lincoln Park | Music Clubs

    The best thing about B.L.U.E.S. is that there isn't a bad seat in the joint. The worst thing? The crowds—come early if you want to score a seat...Read More

  • 11. Baton Show Lounge

    River North | Music Clubs

    At Baton Show Lounge, boys will be girls. The lip-synching revues with female impersonators have catered to curious out-of-towners and bachelorette...Read More

  • 12. 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

  • 13. Blue Chicago

    River North | Music Clubs

    In an upscale part of downtown, Blue Chicago has none of the trademark grit or edginess of the older South Side blues clubs. What is does offer...Read More

  • 14. Blues Heaven Foundation

    South Loop | Music Clubs

    For a walk into history, stop by the Blues Heaven Foundation, which occupies the former home of the legendary Chess Records. Breathe the same...Read More

  • 15. 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

  • 16. Double Door

    Wicker Park | Music Clubs

    Double Door is a hotbed for music in Wicker Park. The large bar books up-and-coming local and national acts from rock to acid jazz. Unannounced...Read More

  • 17. 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

  • 18. FitzGerald's Nightclub

    Music Clubs

    Although it's a 30-minute schlep west of Chicago, FitzGerald's draws crowds from all over the city and suburbs with its mix of folk, jazz, blues...Read More

  • 19. Kingston Mines

    Lincoln Park | Music Clubs

    In 1968, Kingston Mines went down in Chicago history as the first blues club to open on the North Side. Though it's since moved to bigger digs...Read More

  • 20. Lincoln Hall

    Lincoln Park | Music Clubs

    The owners of Lincoln Hall transformed a former movie theater into an intimate concert space with great sight lines, an excellent sound system...Read More

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