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Bars, Clubs & Coffeehouses: Dance Clubs

This cavernous SOMA warehouse is one of the best places in SF to catch hot international DJs and boogie down to everything from Eighties raver candy to psychedelic trance while watching cool laser light shows. There are three tiers and four dance floors, lavish VIP room, perfect for showcasing multiple genres on a single evening. The smallest chamber is choky with a low canvas ceiling, while the largest room takes up two floors and features a booming sound system. The clientele is young and potentially meat-marketish, but that might be one of the club’s perks.

Tucked in an alley in San Francisco's SOMA district, 330 Ritch boasts a full-service kitchen and hosts rock bands and hip-hop DJs.

Located below street level in the Old Oakland district, the AIR Lounge exudes that upscale, VIP vibe for the urban hip. Three rooms offer plenty of space to spread out, and the cozy seating within the blue walls invites snuggling. DJs spin downtempo, soul, and world beat every Wednesday through Saturday nights. Open-mic poetry precedes music on Wednesdays.

Amnesia is located right on Valencia Street in San Francisco's Mission District. It offers bluegrass and country music on Mondays. Tuesdays are generally reserved for karaoke. Wednesdays offer live jazz and late-night with Mitch Marcus' pick-up jazz session. Thursdays and Sundays have various live music from the indie scene in the city. Friday and Saturday have DJs and dancing. Some night have covers, so call ahead.

DJs spin everything from German electro to London grime to swank drum ā€™nā€™ bass beats at this SOMA nightclub, which generally caters to the Abercrombie & Fitch crowd, but also attracts a lot of drifters, with the accessible downtown location mostly to blame. Boasting a full bar and small dance floor, the interior is spare, but gorgeous nonetheless; the walls are painted in earthtones and decorated with pop-art-inspired collages and handsome vintage portraits. Irie Cartel spins dubstep every Thursday.

You may miss it if you weren’t looking for it, but the Argus Lounge on Mission Street past Cesar Chavez is actually a hopping little spot. Contrary to how its name sounds, the Argus has nothing to do with sailing: Its peacock theme is based on the Greek legend of Argus, a multi-eyed monster whose eyes end up in peacock feathers. This long, narrow, retro-style bar features DJs and bands nearly every night of the week. However, no more than four band members can comfortably fit in the tiny corner stage area by the front door. This is a great place to bring a date: unpretentious, hip, and cozy enough to still hold a conversation while the music plays.

This club, modeled after an Eastern European wooden synagogue, is a Berkeley institution dedicated to dance and music. The nonprofit venue hosts live music nearly every night, and shows are all-ages. Ashkenaz hosts reggae, bluegrass, Balkan, Brazilian, Cajun, and Caribbean bands, just to name a few. Come early for a dance class or on Sunday afternoon for a kids' concert.

Comprised of a lounge, subterranean dance club, bar, and restaurant and staffed by Asian gender-illusionists, who double as performers hourly. The second Friday of each month DJs Floorcraft, Iyad, and John Andrew spin progressive, tribal, and tech-house with special guests, no cover; Ladies Night Out every third Friday of the month with an all-male revue, $10 before midnight; and drum 'n' bass with DJ M and guests on the fourth Friday, $8 presale. Style Saturdays 10 p.m.-3 a.m. on the green laser dance floor with hip-hop, R&B and top 40's, $10; also on Saturdays is Club Boonda with DJs Pause and Smooth Doctor No, no cover. Kitchen serves Asian fusion with special prix-fixe menus. Keep your eye on the dragon, and reserve your table online.

The 8,000 square-foot space is sectioned into three spaces, allowing patrons to alternate between a mellow lounge area (which has a huge fish tank), a full bar equipped with a billiards table and visited by weekly DJ's, and a spacious second-floor dance area. Opt for a private table setup for VIP service.

Features a full bar with specialty cocktails and an extensive wine list. Azul's multi-level lounge can accommodate private and semi-private parties of up to 150 people.

With eight full bars, a billiards room, smoking lounge, and multiple dance floors, it's easy to believe Bench and Bar's claim to the title of the Bay Area's biggest gay and lesbian dance club. Fridays have a soul happy hour from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., and Saturdays is Club Rimshot, a hip-hop and R&B LGBT party. Other nights are a mix of dance, house, and Latin music. Free wi-fi and a daily happy hour cater to the after-work crowd.

Bruno's offers live music Tuesday and Thursday, featuring Jazz Mafia Tuesdays, Batanga Live! Thursdays, and DJs on other nights. Full-service Italian restaurant open until 10 p.m.

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