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.

The Trocadero

Movies | 1003 Arch Street
Cinephiles in search of silver-screen magic in unusual places—and on a budget—need look no further. On select Mondays, the Trocadero opens its balcony for $3 movie nights. (Bonus: The cost of the ticket goes toward your first drink.)

The HeadHouse

Karaoke | 122 Lombard Street
If you’re the kind of person who likes to sing 10 times in one night, The Headhouse is the place. Be warned: The DJ likes to post pics of drunken misbehavior. And he has lots of costumes for you to wear.

700 Club

Dance | 700 N. 2nd Street
The 700 Club is basically a kick-ass house party that takes over a bar Thursday through Saturday. Head up to the “attic” to throw your jacket on a couch, grab a drink—something from the bar’s international beer list or extensive whiskey selection—and get sweaty on the dance floor.

David’s Mai Lai Wah

Food | 1001 Race Street #1
Looking for restaurant crews in their natural after-hours habitat? David’s Mai Lai Wah is where to find them, slurping down noodles and haunting the tables after last call. Open till 3 a.m. Monday to Thursday and Sunday, till 4 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Erotic Literary Salons

Arts & Culture | 1315 Sansom Street
If you pumped Viagra into Gertrude Stein’s erudite gabfests, you’d have something like these erotica readings. Pay $10 and hope it’s a night when regular contributor Frances Seidman, a saucy 96-year-old retired psychologist, is there to share her NSFW stories. Third Tuesday monthly.

Dahlak

Karaoke | 4708 Baltimore Avenue
If you’ve avoided karaoke nights because of a prevalence of frat boys and “Freebird,” go to this Ethiopian fusion melting pot. True to its location, Dahlak‘s crowd and DJ are one-of-a-kind, in a good way.

Free-for-All Stand-Up Comedy

Misc. Nocturnal Frivolity | 741 N. 23rd Street
Lively crowds sampling flights of craft beer at Rembrandt’s while cheering on (or heckling) a rotating cast of comics? A fine end to any hump day. Wednesdays.

University Pinball

Games | 4006 Spruce Street
Venture into University Pinball, and you might just forget you’re in Philadelphia at all. With everything from full-size driving games to basketball shooters and zombie shoot-’em-ups, this spot is family-friendly and every bit as good as anything down the Shore.

Art Show at Architeqt Salon & Gallery

Arts & Culture | 265 S. 10th Street
The mirrors and hair-cutting stations are wheeled away, leaving an open, white-walled space in which a new local artist shakes hands and showcases from 7 to 9 p.m. All the talent (and wine) of a typical gallery, not a whiff of the pretension. Every sixth Saturday at Architeqt Salon & Gallery.

Union Transfer

Music | 1026 Spring Garden Street
Three bars and sight lines to die for make Union Transfer the top choice for live music. The 1,200-capacity space boasts one of the city’s best sound systems and a lineup heavy on just-about-to-break-big acts. You’ll want to say you saw them here first.

Sex Dwarf at Voyeur

Dance | 1221 Saint James Street
If Stefon from Saturday Night Live ever gave Philadelphia nightclub recommendations, he’d have mentioned this New Wave dance party at Voyeur. Named after a Soft Cell song, WXPN DJ Robert Drake’s legendary set isn’t as kinky as it sounds. Expect deep cuts and a diverse crowd.


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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