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A nightclub (or night club or club) is a drinking, dancing and entertainment venue which does its primary business after dark. People who frequent nightclubs are known as clubbers. A nightclub is usually distinguished from bars, pubs or taverns by the inclusion of a dance floor and a DJ booth, where a DJ plays recorded dance and pop music.

The music in nightclubs is either live bands or, more commonly a mix of songs played by a DJ through a powerful PA system. Most clubs or club nights cater to certain music genres, such as techno, house music, heavy metal, garage, hip hop, salsa, dancehall, or soca.



Major cities in the United Kingdom and the United States often have a variety of nightclubs, and some small towns and cities also have nightclubs. Nightclubs often feature lighting and other effects, to enhance the dancing experience. Lighting and effects include flashing colored lights, moving light beams, laser light shows, strobe lights, mirror-covered disco balls, or foam, and smoke machines.

Nightclub hours vary widely across the world; in areas with strict liquor regulations in place, nightclubs may have a legal requirement to close at a certain hour. These cities sometimes have illegal "after hours" clubs that stay open and serve alcohol after this legal closing time. In non-regulated areas, nightclubs stay open all night and into early daylight hours.

Entertainment is the main attraction at some types of nightclubs. One type of club is a concert club, which specializes in hosting performances of live music. In contrast to regular night clubs, concert clubs are usually only open when a performance is scheduled. Other types of clubs include "all-ages" clubs, which allow non-drinking age attendees.

Nightclubs can be built in former warehouses and cinemas, underground buildings, and custom-built buildings, and generally have thick insulated walls and few or no windows, so that the neighboring buildings will not be disturbed by the powerful beat of the dance music and the flashing strobe lights. This style of construction also keeps light and noise from the street from entering the club.

This allows the nightclub to turn the dance floor into an alternate, illusory realm of timelessness. Even if an all-night rave at a nightclub lasts until 6 a.m., when it is light outside, to the clubgoers, it is still dark inside the club, and the partying and dancing continue. In most cases, entering a night club requires a flat fee called a cover charge. Early arriveers and women often have cover waived (in the United Kingdom, this latter option is illegal under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975). Friends of the doorman or the club owner may gain free entrance. Sometimes, especially at larger clubs, one only gets a pay card at the entrance, on which all money spent in the discothèque (often including the entrance fee) is marked. Sometimes, entrance fee and wardrobe costs are paid by cash and only the drinks in the club are paid using a pay card.


Early history

During US Prohibition, nightclubs went underground as illegal speakeasy bars. With the repeal of Prohibition in February 1933 nightclubs were revived, such as New York's Stork Club, El Morocco and the Copacabana. In Harlem, the Cotton Club and Connie's Inn were popular venues for white audiences. Before 1953 and even some years thereafter, most bars and nightclubs used a jukebox or mostly live bands. In Paris, at a club named Whisky à Gogo, Régine laid down a dance-floor, suspended coloured lights and replaced the juke-box with two turntables which she operated herself so there would be no breaks between the music. The Whisky à Gogo set into place the standard elements of the modern discothèque-style nightclub. In the early 1960s, Mark Birley opened a members-only discothèque nightclub, Annabel's, in Berkeley Square, London. However, the first rock and roll generation preferred rough and tumble bars and taverns to nightclubs, and the nightclub did not attain mainstream popularity until the 1970s disco era.

1970s: Disco

By the late 1970s many major US cities had thriving disco club scenes which were centered around discothèques, nightclubs, and private loft parties where DJs would play disco hits through powerful PA systems for the dancers. The DJs played "... a smooth mix of long single records to keep people 'dancing all night long'"[1] Some of the most prestigious clubs had elaborate lighting systems that throbbed to the beat of the music. The largest UK cities like Liverpool, Manchester, London and several key European places like Paris, Berlin, Ibiza, Rimini also played a significant role in the evolution of clubbing, DJ culture and nightlife.

Some cities had disco dance instructors or dance schools which taught people how to do popular disco dances such as "touch dancing", the "hustle" and the "cha cha". There were also disco fashions that discothèque-goers wore for nights out at their local disco, such as sheer, flowing Halston dresses for women and shiny polyester Qiana shirts for men. Disco clubs and "...hedonistic loft parties" had a club culture which had many African American, gay[2] and Hispanic people.

In addition to the dance and fashion aspects of the disco club scene, there was also a thriving drug subculture, particularly for recreational drugs that would enhance the experience of dancing to the loud music and the flashing lights, such as cocaine[3] (nicknamed "blow"), amyl nitrite "poppers" [4], and the "...other quintessential 1970s club drug Quaalude, which suspended motor coordination and turned one's arms and legs to Jell-O".[5] The "massive quantities of drugs ingested in discothèques by newly liberated gay men produced the next cultural phenomenon of the disco era: rampant promiscuity and public sex. While the dance floor was the central arena of seduction, actual sex usually took place in the nether regions of the disco: bathroom stalls, exit stairwells, and so on. In other cases the disco became a kind of "main course" in a hedonist's menu for a night out."[5]

Famous 1970s discothèques included "...cocaine-filled celeb hangouts such as Manhattan's Studio 54 ", which was operated by Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager. Studio 54 was notorious for the hedonism that went on within; the balconies were known for sexual encounters, and drug use was rampant. Its dance floor was decorated with an image of the "Man in the Moon" that included an animated cocaine spoon. Other famous discothèques included The Loft, the Paradise Garage, and Aux Puces, one of the first gay disco bars. By the early 1980s, the term "disco" had largely fallen out of favor in North America.

Clubs Classified as Meat Markets included names such as Peppermint Tiger, Toy Tiger, 2001, Dixie Electric, The Dungeon and Picadilly operated by Alex Findlay. These clubs were wildly popular, built in huge department stores accommodating as many 12,000 people. The clubs were saddled with nick names as Pick a Dick and Pick a Filly and came under fire from many religious communities, but they filled a need which was evident by the shoulder to shoulder crowds. When asked how to design a successful Club Findlay responded " Simply stack in the people in as many different varieties as possible, offer discount store pricing with the class of a Kroger super store, music to motivate stimulate or relax and enough eyes in the sky backed up by highly trained security. People come to shop for partners so make sure they have a good experience and find what they are looking for. Simply put make sure the customer is satisfied by providing unique settings to satisfy all 5 physiological profiles. Never ever think of a Focus Study as a waste of money. It is one of the most prudent investments and provides a hidden view that is not always easily recognized. Findlay went on to say never run out of people and never feel bad about criticism because many critics pass judgment simply because their baptist preacher tells them to do so, however I do not recommend asking for problems because the pastors congregation are much more likely to vote than any Night Club Patron and is wise not to become a vote gathering machine at election issue.

1980s New York, London & Europe

During the 1980s, during the New Romantic movement, London had a vibrant nightclub scene, which included clubs like The Blitz, the Batcave, the Camden Palace and Club for Heroes. Both music and fashion embraced the aesthetics of the movement. Bands included Depeche Mode, The Human League, Duran Duran, Blondie, Eurythmics and Ultravox. Reggae-influenced bands included Boy George and Culture Club, and electronic vibe bands included Visage. At London nightclubs, young men would often wear make-up and young women would wear mens' suits.

The largest UK cities like Liverpool, Swansea, Manchester (The Haçienda) and several key European places like Paris (Les Bains Douches), Berlin, Ibiza (Pacha), Rimini etc also played a significant role in the evolution of clubbing, DJ culture and nightlife.

Significant New York nightclubs of the period were Area, Danceteria, and The Limelight.[6]

1990s and 2000s

In Europe and North America, nightclubs play disco-influenced dance music such as house music, techno, and other dance music styles such as electro or trance. Most nightclubs in the U.S. major cities play hip hop, house and trance music. These clubs are generally the largest and most frequented of all of the different types of clubs. The emergence of the Superclub created a global phenomenon, with Ministry of Sound (London), Idols (Swansea) Cream (Liverpool) and Pacha (Ibiza).

In most other languages, nightclubs are referred to as "discos" or "discothèques" (French: discothèque; Italian and Spanish: discoteca, antro (Common in Mexico only), and "boliche" (Common in Argentina only), "discos" is commonly used in all others in Latinamerica; German: Disko or Diskothek). In Japanese ディスコ, disuko refers to an older, smaller, less fashionable venue; while クラブ, kurabu refers to a more recent, larger, more popular venue. The term night is used to refer to an evening focusing on a specific genre, such as "retro music night" or a "singles night."

After the fall of communism in the Czech Republic, "nightclub" or "night club" became a common euphemism for a brothel. Therefore this word is not used in its original meaning.

A recent trend in the North American nightclub industry is the usage of video. Instead of audio-only, DJ's are now using video and "mixing" music videos and related songs together in an audio/visual presentation. This harks back to the stage shows of 1970s rock tours and also incorporates influences from video art. In contrast, a new trend, developed recently in South Wales, is the use of string to create unusual aesthetically pleasing movements.


Accidents at nightclubs can occur for many reasons. The most disastrous accidents were fires at well-visited nightclubs, so fire safety prevention has to be taken with great care.


  1. Rietveld, Hillegonda C. (July/August 2000). "The body and soul of club culture". Unesco Courier 53. Retrieved on 2007-07-24. 
  2. Lawrence, Tim (2005-06-14). "Reviews of Love Saves the Day". Blog. Retrieved on 2007-07-24. 
  3. Gootenberg, Paul 1954- Between Coca and Cocaine: A Century or More of U.S.-Peruvian Drug Paradoxes, 1860-1980 Hispanic American Historical Review - 83:1, February 2003, pp. 119-150. He says that "The relationship of cocaine to 1970s disco culture cannot be stressed enough; ..."
  4. "Nitrites". DrugScope. Retrieved on 2007-07-24. "Amyl, butyl and isobutyl nitrite (collectively known as alkyl nitrites) are clear, yellow liquids which are inhaled for their intoxicating effects. Nitrites originally came as small glass capsules that were popped open. This led to nitrites being given the name 'poppers' but this form of the drug is rarely found in the UK. The drug became popular in the UK first on the disco/club scene of the 1970s and then at dance and rave venues in the 1980s and 1990s." 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Braunstein, Peter (November 1999). "Disco". American Heritage Magazine 50 (7). Retrieved on 2007-07-24. 
  6. Miller, Daniel (2001). Consumption: critical concepts in the social sciences. Taylor & Francis. p. 447. ISBN 9780415242691. 


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary





Wikipedia has an article on:




nightclub (plural nightclubs)

  1. A public or private establishment that is open late at night to provide entertainment, food, drink, music and/or dancing.



to nightclub

Third person singular

Simple past

Past participle

Present participle

to nightclub (third-person singular simple present nightclubs, present participle nightclubbing, simple past and past participle nightclubbed)

  1. To visit a nightclub (or nightclubs) for entertainment.
    Our first night in the big city we went out nightclubbing, the next morning we stayed in hung over.

Simple English

A nightclub is a type of bar or club for men and women (usually 20 or older) to socialize and meet other adults and consume alcoholic drinks such as wine, beer, and mixed drinks. Most nightclubs are only open in the evening and in the night. Some nightclubs are open during the day, but in these cases, the facility usually provides a different service, such as a restaurant service.


Some nightclubs have a dance floor and a DJ playing pop, rock, and dance music recordings so that people can dance. Some nightclubs have entertainment such as pop bands, rock bands, or comedians. Some nightclubs have a quieter lounge area with couches, sofas, and low tables, so that people can talk together.

Food and drinks

Some nightclubs also serve a small selection of food, usually snacks or finger food. Nightclubs often have a much wider selection of alcoholic drinks than pubs (pubs specialize in beer and ale). Most nightclubs sell a number of different brands of spirits, liquers, wine, sherry, Some nightclubs have a large selection of expensive brands of alcohol (these are called "premium" brands).

The bartenders (also called "barmen" or "barmaids") at nightclubs often make a much larger variety of mixed drinks than pubs. Mixed drinks and cocktails are alcoholic drinks that consist of one or more types of alcohol (e.g., rum, vodka, whiskey, etc.) mixed with flavorings such as orange juice, cream, chocolate syrup, or soda. Many mixed drinks also include ice, crushed ice, or sliced lemon or lime.

Some well-known mixed drinks include the martini, the "Rum and Coke", and the "screwdriver" (orange juice mixed with vodka).


Nightclubs hire a variety of staff to do different jobs. Bartenders (also called "barmen" or "barmaids") at nightclubs serve alcohol and mix drinks. Some nightclubs hire servers to bring drinks to people who are sitting at tables or in chairs. Some nightclubs also hire people to take away empty bottles and glasses.

Security in nightclubs is provided by door staff, often called "bouncers". Door staff check the identification of people entering the nightclub, to ensure that people that are too young to drink do not enter the club. Door staff also prevent drunk or aggressive people from entering the nightclub. They also escort people out of the club if they are too drunk, fighting, or taking drugs. Door staff may also call the police if they cannot deal with a situation.

Nightclubs that serve food have cooks, dishwashers, and servers to prepare, cook, and serve the food. Nightclubs also have coat check employees who hang up the patron's coats, sound technicians to maintain the sound system (the CD players, amplifiers, and speakers), and cleaners (to sweep the floors and clean the bathrooms). Some large nightclubs may hire DJs to work in the club every week as employees.

DJs, bands, comedians who entertain patrons during the evening are usually not usually employees of the nightclub. Instead, the nightclub signs a contract with these entertainers, in which the entertainer promises to come to the club on a specified night, in return for a sum of money.

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