Nightclub, in its classic definition, conjures up an image of a swanky ballroom with an orchestra, perhaps a torch singer, and wealthy clientele in tuxedos and evening gowns. In more modern times, however, the term is applied broadly to any place people go to drink and be entertained, be it a dance club, a rock music venue, a beach bar or a dueling-piano saloon.
This is the most popular style of nightclub: a place for men and women to get together, drink, and dance to a buffet of music including hip-hop, R&B, techno, and rock mash-ups (in which classic rock songs are paired with modern grooves). Dance clubs can be expensive; often drinks cost more than they would at an ordinary tavern, and, depending on the club's popularity and the night of the week, there may be a cover charge. Fancier clubs also have coat checks and restroom attendants who work for tips.
Live Music Venue
Many nightclubs base their business on live music; they contain a bar, a floor and a stage with a professional sound system. Some live-music clubs book exclusively local talent, and some book mainly national acts (such as the House of Blues chain), while many book a thorough mixture. The Middle East in Boston, The Door in Dallas, Arlene's Grocery in New York, and Metro in Chicago are examples.
Many live-music clubs host a variety of genres, while others limit themselves to certain styles of music The Mint in Los Angeles, for example, is almost exclusively a low-key jazz club.
Some nightclubs combine drinking and music with other recreational activities such as bowling, billiards, and arcade or video games. The chains Jillian's and Dave & Buster's have capitalized on this market, catering to adults who crave a drink as well as a diversion.
Dueling Piano Bars
Dueling piano bars have cropped up in huge numbers. They often pit one resident pianist against another, each playing to curry the favor (and tips) of the crowd. Dueling piano bars are popular because audiences are encouraged to sing along, en masse, with an evening's worth of popular music.
There are two major types of comedy clubs: standup clubs and sketch-comedy clubs. Both are commonly found in major cities but rarely elsewhere. Standup clubs usually feature a series of comedians performing short sets, then a headliner who takes the stage for a slightly longer time. Many clubs have two- or three-drink minimum requirements.
Sketch comedy clubs, such as The Second City, host troupes of actors who put on short plays and improvisational sketches, during which audience members shout out suggestions that greatly influence the content of the performance.
Adult or strip clubs can be very lucrative; their stock in trade is the desire of men and women to watch dancers perform in varying degrees of undress. These clubs typically charge cover (at least to men) and drink prices tend to run high.