Seven Nightclubs in Unexpected Places

There’s nothing wrong with a classic space, but nightlife is about what you don’t see coming.

Some nights, everyone is content to hop in the Standard’s elevator and spend a night carousing at the rooftop-bar-formerly-known-as-the-Boom-Boom-Room-now-known-as-the-Boom-Boom-Room-even-though-that’s-not-its-name. That’s fine. A classic space has its benefits: plush bank seating, well-finished bars, delicate little glasses you can get in trouble for breaking. But, for a certain species of night owl, nothing is more exciting than the unexpected. 

Jay-Z’s 40/40, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

The latest outpost of Hov’s chain for ballers (40/40 refers to scoring 40 home runs and stealing 40 bases in a single season) is likely the only joint of its kind at which economy-class club rats can arrive via airport shuttle. Located in Concourse D of Hartsfield International, America’s busiest airport, this 40/40 won’t want for patrons. On the plus side, you’ll probably never see any of them again. Let loose and more power to you if you can get the bottle on the plane.

The 9, Cleveland

As it stands now, Cleveland is very much off the club circuit. “Tokyo, New York, Ibiza” sounds like a wild international party tour; add “Cleveland” and folks will think you’re ending your walkabout with an insurance-sales convention at an airport Marriot. The 9, though, is working to change that. Housed in hulking old Ameritrust Tower, a massive, largely empty symbol of the city’s economic woes, the Midwest’s least-expected hangout is filled with Victorian wallpaper, buttoned leather couches and couples canoodling in bank vaults. Cleveland remains off the club map, but there’s something to be said for that.

La Esquina, New York

Pretty-good Mexican places are as common as model roommates in lower Manhattan. But find the utilitarian gray door marked “Employees Only” in the right one and you’ll be beckoned into a fluorescent kitchen, then a tight hallway, then another tight hallway, then into a subterranean space with wrought-iron light fixtures, prematurely aged brick and wide-plank flooring. Though it’s a few years old, La Esquina is still one of the coolest places to end up on weekend night. Just make sure to swap out your work shirt if you don’t want to end up stuck in taco land.

China Chalet, New York

From 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., China Chalet is a decent financial-district dim sum spot. Some nights, though, after midnight, the Chalet makes full use of its liquor license, copious floor space, and multitude of private rooms and becomes China Chalet: Dance Club. Often used by hip brands throwing launch parties, this tacky, chandeliered space is near enough to other dim sum spots that you know you can get some drunk bites when you finally climb down off the banquette.

Rosa Bonheur, Paris

While not technically rural, you might as well prepare this sentence for friends back home: “I partied in an old house in the French countryside.” Rosa Bonheur is a laid-back place with high-spirited dancing and amazing drinks, all in centuries old French house in the middle of gorgeous and leafy Parisian park. Take a jet, take a taxi, take a carriage: no one gives a merde.

Good Times at Davey Wayne’s, Los Angeles

A refrigerator isn’t usually a portal to anything other than cold beer, cold leftovers, and old condiments. However, if you find yourself standing in front of dingy white fridge on Vista Del Mar Ave in Los Angeles, open it. It’s the entryway to America’s sweetest 1970s-themed bar in a garage. Good Times at Davey Wayne’s is named for the founder’s father, and its velour couches, sno-cones and old-style pop-top beer cans pay homage to Dad’s heyday.

The Long Island Railroad, Long Island

Anyone who’s taken the LIRR on any Friday afternoon from May to September can attest to this fact: The cars are a buzzing drinking scene, with a soundtrack provided by portable iPod speakers, crunching beer cans, and the mellifluous clinking of soon-to-be-empty André bottles. A nightmare for business commuters, this party express is a boon to any young beach-goers looking to waste no time getting wasted. Skip the Jitney and its no-alcohol policy, the LIE and its gridlock, and helicopters and their no-dancing policy. In the summer, Friday’s first and fiercest party leaves from Penn Station.

Photos by Davey Wayne’s