Those of you who live in Manhattan may never have to venture across that small, alienating bridge to Brooklyn. You have your go-to pregame spot just down the street, clubs in every direction and corner bodega after a long night out. But there is still a certain staleness and desperation in Manhattan, like the four-block Uber ride or the sight of freshly-mopped bathroom puke under pretentious lighting. Of course, not all places in Manhattan have this air, but if I want to dance — I’m going to Brooklyn. If you’ve never gone to Brooklyn on a weekend night, begin your journey by checking out one of these places.
Aviv — 496 Morgan Ave
Although it’s easy to breeze past this gem located behind an unmarked door among blocks of warehouses, Aviv is worth the hunt. All events at Aviv are either all ages or 18+, and several NYU bands have performed there — so you may even run into someone you know. The music performances vary greatly in genre, from the neo-soul jams of OSHUN and Mal Devisa to the club beats of Juliana Huxtable. Aesthetically, Aviv resembles a smoky house party basement with surreal, dim lighting. But despite the familiar, homey setting, Aviv hosts a full bar, serviced by some who actually live in the venue in exchange for working there.
Silent Barn — 603 Bushwick Ave
Venue, gallery, marketplace and radical education center, Silent Barn constantly hosts events to either enlighten the masses or get them dancing. Some nights, bands like Krill and LVL UP perform at Silent Barn, while other nights, reading discussion groups gather to discuss topics like policy brutality and intersectional feminism. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to snag a haircut from a hair dresser who makes occasional appearances and offers quick trims.
Baby’s All Right — 146 Broadway
Attracting possibly some of the most well-known bands in the Brooklyn music scene, Baby’s All Right always promises good jams and a danceable environment. Not to mention their full bar and cocktail assortment. They even have a drink called the Ai Weiwei, which of course gets its name from the political Chinese artist, and supposedly emulates his outspoken spirit with tequila, jalapeño, lime and agave. Baby’s All Right also offers brunch on the weekends, so if dancing isn’t your thing, you can explore the venue during daytime with a side of eggs and a mimosa.
Bossa Nova Civic Club — 1271 Myrtle Ave
My first drink in New York City was here, Bossa Nova Civic Club. Although the club’s popularity has increased substantially in the past three years, it still retains some of the same charms I fell in love with when I visited the first time: the electric green wallpaper resembling the Windows 95 pasture landscape and the small crowd rolling blunts in the small backyard of the venue. Be sure to catch their Tropical Goth DJ sets, and give a shout out to the bouncer — Jay was bestowed the title of “Best Bouncer in Brooklyn” by Brooklyn Magazine.
The Gutter — 200 N.14th St.
Save yourself from the crowds and an empty wallet by skipping Brooklyn Bowl and heading to The Gutter. The bowling alley and bar boasts a large variety of beer, a pool table and live music performances in the bar’s Spare Room. Nothing says fun like drunk people with bowling balls in their hands, so swing through with a friend for the two-for-one bowling deal on Fridays 2 p.m. to 6 p.m or Sunday through Thursday from 1 to 3:15 a.m.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 16 print edition. Email Hannah Treasure at [email protected].