10Best 18+ Orlando clubs: where the underage go to rage
The wonderful world of nightlife opens its doors when you’re 18. Sometimes even younger. But not all of it. So it’s important to do your due diligence before making plans for the night. Orlando has a considerable number of dance/club venues that welcome the under-21 crowd. Some are always 18+, others only on certain nights and if you’re new to the club scene it’s best to learn early that the rules change often. New venues spring up all the time; rules can change. Do your research before making the drive.
That said, the City Beautiful offers many dance dens, small and intimate to loud and wild; EDM to pop, reggae to ’80s; gay, straight, you-name-it, in which to see and be seen with friends who are old enough to drink and those among you who, for now at least, are the mandatory designated drivers. Some on offer live music on some nights, dance nights on others. Favorites like the Independent and Sound Bar are popular with a wide demographic, spinning 80s, alternative, dance, the whole jukebox, while Cowboys is all about C&W.
When it changed over to Gilt, the new incarnation brought with it a pretty impressive upgrade to the space that housed the Roxy for many, many moons. And regulars were pleased. A 1,200 square foot main floor is the center of this nightlife universe with several bars serving as satellites thereto. Its multilevel space keeps things interesting, as does a flashy, high-tech multiscreen video wall. An impressive and ornate chandelier (the club is called Gilt, after all) sets the upscale mood in the club’s VIP area and even if you’re not springing for bottle service, you’ll find some impressive craft cocktail’ing going on at Gilt’s myriad bars.
Recommended for Under 21 Clubs because: Lots of space and versatility, in both design and performance schedule, make Venue 578 popular across the board.
A.D.’s expert tip: Thursday is college night; buses run from UCF to the club. Call or text 954-263-6875 for more information.
Like EDM? The Attic’s been serving electronic beats up in one of downtown’s best parties since 2010 and in an altogether more intimate setting than your usual sprawling, anonymous club. (Translation: it can get PACKED.) With a popular local DJ in residence, the Attic boasts more than a few regulars. Visitors tout staffers who are friendlier than average in this oft-haughty industry and bartenders who really know what they’re doing. Like your clubs sparsely populated? Don’t come here on a Saturday. On this popular night, the music pumps and the dance floor jumps. It’s a good time. Check it out.
Recommended for Under 21 Clubs because: 18+ most Saturday nights with free entry ’til 12:30 a.m.
A.D.’s expert tip: The crowd here skews younger, 20-30, but that doesn’t mean you won’t see older patrons enjoying the vibe, the drinks and the dance floor.
We’ll say it right up front: the “nightclub/lounge” portion of this venue is for the 21-and-over set. But do not count Mango’s Orlando out, because the “Dinner & Show” is really Mango’s’ main attraction, and it’s something you might want to check out. Featuring DJs sets along with live acts in salsa, bachata and even a stage tribute to Michael Jackson, live dancers and choreographed performances, will get you and your friends ready to move. Dinner & Shows occur nightly, seating begins at 8 p.m. and the show begins at 8:15 p.m. Plus it’s over by 11, which means the night is young, so are you and you can move the party elsewhere and take the rhythm with you.
Recommended for Under 21 Clubs because: Nightclub shows are fun, lively and even a little throwback-y! Come dressed for a night on the town and get your dinner show on.
A.D.’s expert tip: Mango’s is right on I-Drive and near a host of other attractions and restaurants. Pop over to the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye or even Universal CityWalk!
The Beacham began its life in the 1920s as a showcase for vaudevillians. These days, following some extensive and relatively recent renovations that preserve its character, it does double-duty as a live music venue and dance club, featuring both national touring acts and DJs alike. House music fans will be happy to know that the likes of Tiesto and David Guetta have entertained the dancing throngs inside this historic building. The Beacham and the Social, one of Orlando’s premier live-music venues, share space on occasion; Friday’s “Official Ladies Night” brings all kinds of discounts for the 21+ females, Saturday night brings hip-hop and club mixes in the main room, or you can breeze in for Barrio & Tropical Sundays, which are all-you-can-drink.
Recommended for Under 21 Clubs because: As a double-duty dance- and live-music venue, the Beacham’s appeal cuts a wide swath through the club-going demographic. Many of the live-music shows are 12+.
A.D.’s expert tip: The Beacham lives right next door to the Social, one of Orlando’s most popular music venues. Check their collective schedules to combine a live set at the latter with all-night dancing at the former.
Dance club doesn’t just mean house music, y’all. Cowboys Orlando has been bringing country music to town for a good, long while, open Thursday through Saturday and featuring everything from live local and national music acts to state-of-the-art sound and lighting and more than 30 TVs on which to get your NASCAR (among other things) on. Oh, and one other thing: it’s huge, a C&W entertainment complex comprised of roughly 20,000 square feet. All the better for line dancing! And if your Boot Scoot’s not what it should be, fear not: this nightclub offers free lessons every night for cowboys and cowgirls aged 18 and up.
Recommended for Under 21 Clubs because: Live music, a spacious dance floor and a breezy outdoor section are among Cowboys Orlando’s main attractions. 18+ on all its prime nights.
A.D.’s expert tip: The lot here is free and patrolled regularly. Park fearlessly and party on!
Want to see what determination in the gym can accomplish? Show up for Southern Nights’ Flex Nights featuring some of the hottest hardbodies north of Miami Beach or #GirltheParty events, Florida’s largest lesbian weekly party with shows, dancing and more! Southern Nights is a tour de force for LGBT nightlife in town, welcoming revelers 18+ for friendly, all-inclusive fun, whether DJ- or drag diva-hosted dance party or casual BBQ-infused happy hours. Multiple bars and indoor/outdoor options make this venue versatile; guests can find their most comfortable space.
Recommended for Under 21 Clubs because: At Southern Nights, fun events abound. What’s more? It’s always 18+ to party, 21+ to drink.
A.D.’s expert tip: Only open certain Mondays and Wednesdays; check website for complete details.
Fans of Backbooth, rejoice. From the longtime Orlando nightspot’s ashes rises Soundbar, offering up the same club/live music mix of events but with some fresh new art and renovations that have opened up the space quite a bit. Whether you’re visiting for a dance party or live band, Soundbar’s atmosphere is clubby but comfortable. Hip-hop to metal, comedy to karaoke, poetry, art and more are on tap here. Taco Bell Tuesdays are devoted to laughs, for example, Saturday night’s DJ will favor hip hop, and Sundays are for fans of dubstep. Check them out on Facebook for updated show information.
Recommended for Under 21 Clubs because: All ages and 18+ live performance in multiple genres, make Backbooth a venue that truly mixes it up.
A.D.’s expert tip: Backbooth was a longtime favorite for live shows. Its post-renovation stage has now been set for more of the same under a new name.
Consistently voted a favorite live-music venue by critics and locals alike, the Social’s laid-back vibe, efficient barkeeps and relatively intimate space draw an eclectic crowd of music lovers, be it blues, folk, rock, metal, reggae… Really, anything goes. With quality sound and an unpretentious atmosphere, the Social hosts big-name acts along with local and regional favorites, making it an ideal venue not only to catch your favorite acts but to discover new ones on the nights your live music craving won’t go unsated. The Social also features regular and semi-regular genre-driven nights. Salsa Sundays, for example, feature DJ Frankie spinning salsa, merengue and bachata with an open premium bar for a flat cover. Salud!
Recommended for Under 21 Clubs because: The Social’s eclectic calendar and liberal minimum-age policy means even kids who need to bring their parents can enjoy the city’s music scene.
A.D.’s expert tip: Not 18 yet? No worries? Bring mom, dad, your cool aunt or awesome older brother. Many shows (not all, so check the calendar to be sure) allow music lovers as young as 12 to attend.
Vintage rock to top 40, indie to 80s new wave, the Independent Bar hits that sweet spot between dance club and dive bar, a place where patrons are welcome to dress to impress or roll in in Chucks and ripped jeans. Seriously, man, no one’s looking, so relax. Multiple bars make getting drinks a non-issue and a friendly atmosphere makes for a relaxing, no-stress night of dancing and people-watching; patrons might be yuppies or rockers, goths or indie hipsters, it really is that eclectic. In fact, it’s even 18+. Special nights like “Mac & Cheese” (when DJ Mac spins the cheesiest music mix) are ever-evolving, but always indicative of the venue’s convivial vibe. Well, specials and cheap beer are essentially a given.
Recommended for Under 21 Clubs because: The Independent has a great scene without a shred of “see and be seen”-ishness. Everyone feels welcome.
A.D.’s expert tip: Thursday’s newest dance party features “Brand-New Retro,” with music from the 90s through the 00s.
You may have seen this “chill” venue on the Travel Channel, where it was featured as a top selection in the Extreme Bar series. And unless youÂ’re a polar bear, ICEBAR is pretty extreme, 50 tons of ice extreme, to be precise. And if you usually keep your vodka in the freezer, you’ll find it tastes even smoother when you drink it in one (and out of sculpted-ice glasses to boot). It’s 27 degrees inside the ice portion of the ICEBAR, they’re happy to provide coats and gloves and you can upgrade to fur for $10. Chilled enough? Head over to the adjacent Fire Lounge, admission here is free, and warm back up as you move to hot beats.
Recommended for Under 21 Clubs because: Between 5 p.m. â” 9 p.m., âagesâ 8â and up are allowed into ICEBAR Orlando.
Michelle’s expert tip: Cold feet: 27 degrees is CHILLY. Consider closed-toe shoes (or cute boots!) to maximize your time at ICEBAR.