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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.

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.

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.

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.

A recently reinvigorated hip-hop and dance club located near UC Berkeley campus that attracts a youthful, party-forward audience. Berkeley Underground is located beneath a pizzeria and offers bottle service.

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.

Just five minutes from the Oakland Airport, the lounge keeps classic R&B, jazz, and doo-wop alive with live bands each weekend. Its website proclaims it a destination for "mature adults."

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