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Lion Guides: Best Clubs for People Under 21

Looking for a good late night hang out spot, but you’re under 21? No fear, The Lion has compiled some of the best options for letting loose and celebrating any event.


East Campus

Location: 118th and Amsterdam

Let’s be serious here — you’re more likely to go here than any other dance club as a freshman. Band parties, frat parties, COOP parties, it’s the place to live as a senior and the place to roam around aimlessly as a freshman.

Other Campus events

Location: Usually Lerner Party Space

Lots of other student groups throw NON-ALCOHOLIC (ie. you should pregame) events every weekend in Lerner and brownstones. Ones to look out for include First Friday (LGBT student groups) and Dollarama (thrown by the Caribbean Students Association).

Frats also throw parties in brownstones and dorms, and you can usually get into those if you’re a girl or a freshman who looks like you want to rush. These are fun, but crowded. With some noteworthy exceptions, all are shut down or die out by about 12:30.


Location: 618 W. 46th St, Manhattan


Music: Dance

It’s crowded, and the cover can be kind of steep (and you might want to get tickets in advance), but this club attracts some of the best DJs in the world and they let in people 19 and over on Fridays (and some Saturdays, but check the calendar first). If you’re a house fan or want to have your mind blown by bass drops, this is the place to do it. This friday is the Electric Zoo official afterparty, so get tickets while you can.

The Knitting Factory

Location: 361 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn


Music: Every kind of act imaginable, with comedy + other acts too

The Brooklyn chapter of Knitting Factory Entertainment is kind of amazing. For an extremely cheap cover (usually $10 and under), you can see a huge number of awesome indie bands, ranging from dance to hip-hop, or just go crazy on B.Y.O.V. (Bring Your Own Vinyl) nights. This weekend has a great batch of shows, including the super chill rock group Sky Captains of Industry, and rap duo Main Attrakionz.

Swing46 Jazz and Supper Club

Location: 349 West 46 Street, Manhattan


Music: Swing and Jazz

For those who prefer a more sophisticated environment in which to get one’s groove on (you came to Columbia for a reason, damn it), Swing46 offers a pretty great option. A cover of between $12 and $15 (The weekends are more expensive.) gets you access to the dance floor, the night’s live music, and even a dance lesson at 9 pm. If you’re a swing fan, or just want to master the Lindy Hop, Swing46 should definitely be on your list. The staff assures us that underaged folk are welcome everywhere except the bar, so don’t worry about getting carded.

Webster Hall

Location: 125 East 11th St, Manhattan


Music: Everything

Webster Hall is NYC’s largest nightclub, and it sees half a million people pass through every weekend. So… if you don’t like crowds, this might not be the place. But if you don’t mind the distinctly mainstream appeal, Webster has a lot to offer. It’s one the city’s most popular clubs for a reason, and everyone from The Killers to Tiesto have stopped by. Every night is 19 and up (sorry 18-year-old fans, this list isn’t much help to you), but make sure to get your tickets in advance or you’ll pay double at the door.

Cafe Wha?

Location: 115 Macdougal, between Bleecker and W 3rd, Manhattan


Music: House band plays everything from rock music to R&B

Cafe Wha? dates back to the 1950s and continues to stay true to its live music roots. Musicians from Hendrix to Van Halen (the latter as recently as 2012) have performed there, and the house band keeps the non-star-studded nights jamming with everything from Bob Marley covers to rock n’ roll. For a change of pace, come in on Monday and see Brazilian-flavored dance band Brazooka, or Tuesday for Funk and R&B aficionados Disfunktion. The site says any underaged party-goers must be accompanied by someone over 21, so this is a great way to bond with your older LLC suitemates.


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