The New Philadelphia Nightlife

From cooking classes to dance parties, Philly nightlife isn’t just for drinking anymore. Here, our guide to everything worth doing after dark.

Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Photo by Jeff Fusco.

River Boat Tours

Misc. Nocturnal Frivolity | Docks at Rittenhouse and Penn’s Landing
Whether you prefer your cruise of the Schuylkill or Delaware to be narrated or self-guided, boozy or low-key, privately chartered or filled with new friends, Patriot Harbor Lines has your ticket to ride. Our fave: the seasonal “Different Night, Different Lights” tour, highlighting the evening glow of Boathouse Row and the downtown skyline—the city at its prettiest.

Bluegrass at Fiume

Music | 45th and Locust Street
If you think all music must be amplified, you need to get to Fiume, a tiny (and we do mean tiny) bar on the second floor of West Philadelphia restaurant Abyssinia. The bourbon-scented room gets packed (and we do mean packed) every Thursday including the devoted followers of the Citywide Specials. If you close your eyes, you might swear you’re in Kentucky circa 1921. Alas, the drink prices will remind you that you’re not.

Pep Bowl

Games | 1200 S. Broad Street
Say goodbye to snooty upscale bowling alleys and behold the stripped-down glory of Pep Bowl: six lanes, 1950s furnishings, beer coolers encouraged. (It’s BYOB and BYOFood.) And just like fans of The Big Lebowski, the clientele ranges from blue-collar to hipster, everyone abiding each other just fine as they drink and roll through the night, till as late as 1 a.m. on Saturdays.

First Friday at the Arden

Arts & Culture | 40 N. 2nd Street
Not the sort of person who goes to the theater? Not even for free beer? Every First Friday, the Arden Theatre Company presents edgy, top-notch acts—Bearded Ladies Cabaret, the Dali Quartet, Headlong Dance—at both its headquarters and a nearby performance space, to lure those who are “not our typical demographic,” says marketing manager Leigh Goldenberg. Did we mention free beer?

Blues at the Twisted Tail

Music | 509 S. 2nd Street
Sixty bourbons. Twelve bars of blues. Six nights a week. One cool night out. All that and more at Twisted Tail.

Art Alliance Cave Casts

Dance | 251 S. 18th Street
Part music master class and part intimate club night, DJ Brian Cassidy’s live podcasts at the Art Alliance are performances unto themselves. The host interviews an expert on a genre, artist or era, who provides the soundtrack for the evening’s live podcast. Then the dancing begins, sometimes going all night. This season’s lineup focuses on surf rock, Philly soul and sampling.

The Happy Rooster

Karaoke | 118 S 16th Street
Where is everyone in Rittenhouse getting drunk on Thursday nights? At the Happy Rooster, where the crowd skews young and fun. Expect to hear Madonna, “Sweet Caroline” and No Doubt.

Art After 5 at the Art Museum

Arts & Culture | 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Kick off the weekend at the Great Stair Hall as international and local artists turn the otherwise staid space into a live-music party. Nibble on Starr snacks, hit the bar, and take guided tours of select galleries. Just exercise moderation—if you break it at Art After 5, you can’t afford to buy it. Fairmount, 215-763-8100; Fridays.

Grace Tavern

Food | 2229 Grays Ferry Avenue
Why in-the-know up-all-nighters prefer Grace Tavern: The kitchen serves the entire menu until 2 a.m., not just some puny list of snacks. Open till 2 a.m. Monday to Sunday.

Hot Yoga After Dark

Misc. Nocturnal Frivolity | 1520 Sansom Street
Yoga gets cool—and really, really hot when this Bikram studio hosts a special evening session set to amped-up music, with refreshing nonalcoholic drinks, like mint-infused coconut water, to cool you down afterward. The class officially ends at nine, but sticking around to hang with your sweaty new friends is encouraged (and inevitable).

Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret

Arts & Culture | 624 S. 6th Street
Dig, if you will, the picture: Jared Leto in a linebacker’s body, wrapped in a flapper frock, strutting across the 624 S stage, leading his band through a samba version of “Paint It Black” and “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” R&B-style. He’s the genre-bending, gender-bending Martha Graham Cracker. Two guarantees: a Prince cover and a funky good time.

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  • Denise Rambo

    Those aren’t just any drag queens at Gay Bingo … they’re the BVDs! (Bingo Verifying Divas)

  • Will Jenkins

    I’m surprised at how many clubs are missing from this list. There are a lot of good clubs in Philly, and some great lounges too. Other than the few night life lounges here, the rest of the article is full of good info for those looking to get out at night.

    Will Jenkins | http://www.partyatpearl.com