A nightclub (often shortened to club) is an entertainment venue which does its primary business after dark. In most other languages, night clubs are referred to as "discos" or "discothèques" (French: discothèque; German: Disko; Japanese: ディスコ, disuko or クラブ, kurabu).
Nightclubs are always associated with music and have a dance floor, however small: a drinking establishment without music is a saloon or bar, pub or tavern. Though a nightclub may have a floor show or other entertainment unsuitable for minors, the music, dancing and socializing of a nightclub are secondary in a "strip joint". Music may be live or mixed by a DJ, and can range from blues, country, disco, hip-hop, jazz and rock, to electronic music styles such as drum and bass, house, trance or techno.
Gatherings in nightclubs that primarily involve music mixed by a DJ involve dancing and in most cases alcohol. Illegal use of recreational drugs such as ecstasy are commonplace in many modern clubs featuring electronic dance music. Clubs are often advertised by the handing out of flyers on the street, in record shops, and at other clubs and events, they are often highly decorative and eye-catching.
Nightclubs often feature lighting and other effects: flashing lights of many colors, moving light beams and smoke machines. One common item is a disco ball: a rotating football-sized spheroid at the ceiling, covered with many small flat mirrors, with a light beam directed on it; the reflections form a multitude of moving light spots on the floor and on the people. Some nightclubs will throw foam parties where the dance floor is filled with soap suds.
From time to time, variations enter the market, such as non-smoking and alcohol free nightclubs. Also, restaurants or supper clubs may provide music and entertainment simlar to that provided by a nightclub, the main difference being that food is the main attraction at these establishments, whereas entertainment is the main attraction at a nightclub.
In the U.S., the repeal of Prohibition in February 1933 sparked the revival of nightclubs, which had gone underground as speakeasies. In New York City, three famous Midtown nightclubs from the "Golden Age" were the Stork Club, El Morocco and the Copacabana, while uptown in Harlem the Cotton Club was king.
Before 1953 and even some years thereafter, most speakeasies bars and nightclubs used jukebox or mostly live bands but then in a Paris club named 'Whisky-a-Gogo', Regine Zylberberg laid down a dance-floor, suspended coloured lights and for the first time ever replaced the juke-box with two turntables so there would be no breaks between the music. Setting into place the standards elements of the discothèque (French for Nightclubs) as known in it's modern form.
The first rock and roll generation did not favor nightclubs, but the club returned in the 1970s as the "disco," from the French discothèque (although by the early 2000s, the term "disco" had largely fallen out of favor in North America). Two early discos in New York were "Le Club" and "Regine's." Today in Europe, nightclubs play techno, house music or any sort of dance music from nu-jazz to electro or trance for the most part. Some nightclubs in the U.S. play trance and techno, but it is still not as popular.
- The Alrosa Villa, Columbus, Ohio, USA 1970s–current, heavy metal music, site of December 8, 2004 shooting rampage that left Dimebag Darrell (of Damageplan and Pantera) and four others (including the shooter) dead.
- A5 Karlsdorf, Karlsdorf, Germany
- ARQ, Sydney, Australia Gay nightclub
- Beverly Hills Supper Club, Southgate, Kentucky, USA, 1971–1977, elegant dining with light vocal and popular music, burned to the ground on May 28, 1977 killing 165 of more than 2,000 people in attendance.
- Black Banana,Philadelphia,USA 1970-1995, premier members only club- responsible for bringing most trends and styles to fruition in Philadlephia. Josh Wink started his career there along with the legendary Vagabond parties
- Club Universe, San Francisco, trend setting gay nightclub in the late 1990s.
- Cream, Liverpool-based nightclub, noted in techno and trance
- Culture Club, Ghent,Belgium, 1997–current
- Danceteria, New York
- The Family, Official website, Brisbane, Australia, 4 story nightclub in the centre of Brisbane host too some of the world's greatest Djs
- The Hacienda, Manchester, United Kingdom, 1982–1997. Home to post punk, early acid house, Madchester and electronic music
- Happy Land Social Club - site of a March 25, 1990, fire that killed 87 in the Bronx, New York City
- Klute, Durham, United Kingdom—Officially voted Europe's worst Nightclub by FHM magazine.
- La Boom, Leingarten, Germany
- The Limelight, was the name for two different clubs: one in London (1980s–2003), the other in New York (8 November, 1983–late 1990s), home to goth, industrial, noise, and techno.
- Lunatarium, Brooklyn, 2001–2004. 18,000 ft² (1,700 m²) warehouse club hosting a variety of events—home to New York's underground art party scene.
- Miniscule of Sound, London, 1998–current (smallest in world)
- MYLOS, Platanias, Chania, Greece, 1992–current (Best in Greece)
- Opium Lounge, Columbus, Ohio, USA, site of a January 1, 2006 armed robbery involving controversial football star Maurice Clarett
- Paradise Garage, New York, pioneer of garage music
- Red, Washington, D.C. 1996-2005 The foundation of the DC/MD/VA underground house scene for nearly a decade. Red was known for its high quality music, booming soundsystem, thick vibes and great people.
- República Cromagnon, Buenos Aires, Argentina, rock music. site of December 30, 2004 blaze which resulted in 194 deaths and 714 injuries
- Rockfabrik Ludwigsburg, Ludwigsburg, Germany
- The Saint, New York, (September 1980–1986)
- The Slimelight, London, United Kingdom, (started in the 1980s). Notable London club, its name was a reference to The Limelight and is a home to industrial, noise, techno and goth music.
- Squat Theatre, New York, Rock, Blues & Jazz Club, 1979-1981, 256 West 23rd Street
- Studio 2, Bietigheim-Bissingen, Germany
- Studio 54, New York, 1970s–1980s, disco
- Tresor, Berlin, 1991-April]]
- twentytwenty, 2020 Wilshire blvd Santa Monica California
- Stereo, Montreal, Canada, continually voted one of the top afterhours nightclubs in the world, incredible sound system, hence "Stereo".
- Unity II, Montréal,
- Warehouse , Chicago, 1977–1980s, Home of house music, credited to resident DJ Frankie Knuckles, the "Godfather of House."
- Whisky A Go-Go, Los Angeles, 1963–current
- Zouk, Singapore, 1991–current
- Tonnochy Night Club, Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong
- Today's World 2000 Night Club, Kowloon, Hong Kong
- Club BBoss, Kowloon, Hong Kong
- Sala de Dança Fortuna Night Club, Macao
- Jai Alai China City Night Club,
- onesixone, Melbourne
- Jackie 60, New York, 1990 - 2000, Pioneered New York's Meat Market, served gay, fetish-dressed, straight, transvestite and poets for a decade.
- XXL Filderstadt, Filderstadt, Germany
- South Beach Article with historic photos of the Latin Quarter Nightclub in Miami Beach.
- UK Nightclub guide Comprehensive resource of information on UK nightclubs and clubbing scene.
- Tips on Tables Famous Vintage New York Nightclubs
- Greece Nightclub guide Information of Greek nightclubs and clubbing scene.
- ClubRatingz.com Directory of US nightclubs and bars, with customer-posted reviews and ratings.