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No New York trends fluctuate quite as much as the club scene. So remember: Finding and going to the latest hot spot is not worth agonizing over. Clubgoers spend their lives obsessing over “the Scene.” But this is New York, and there are so many choices no one club is the empirical best.

By the way, “clubs” as actual, physical spaces don’t mean much anymore. The hungry-for-nightlife crowd now often follow their favorite dance party, who keep trendsetting by switching nights and venues regularly.

The tracking game is best left to the perennial party crowds who know the guy at the door (who lets them in for free) and someone at the bar (who comps them drinks). So the best advice is to find a club you like and enjoy the crowd that enjoys it with you. And ladies, be prepared for that inescapable meat-market vibe.

Now then, here is rundown of popular dance clubs, most of which are accessible more than elite—since the elite clubs often lead to let-downs in many ways. Naturally, you can find more listings for the most current hot spots and touring parties in the publications and online sources listed in the "Nightlife" intro -- many will point you to the nightclub nexus of NYC, the Meatpacking District, where the cobblestone streets are littered with scenesters nightly.

Additional online sources that might score you reduced admissions or get on a guest list to select clubs include www.clubplanet.com and www.sheckysnightlife.com. Many clubs offer the guest-list sign-up service on their websites, too. No matter what, call ahead, because schedules change constantly and can do so at the last minute.

New York nightlife starts late, of course. With the exception of places that have scheduled performances, dancefloors stay almost empty until about 11pm. Don’t depend on plastic—bring cash, and plan on most of it disappearing. Cover charges go up every year ($20 on average, and often mandatory $5+ coat check), and party producers usually increase the covers later in the evening to get more people in early.

Getting Beyond the Velvet Rope

If you are somewhat masochistic, and are determined to get into that oh-so-trendy club you heard about back home, here are a few pointers that may help tip the scale in your favor:

  • Dress well and fashionably. Like it or not, the doorman is sizing you up to decide if you’re hip enough to make the scene. If you want to get in, work it. Bribes can help too, whether it’s a cool $50 or show/ballgame tickets. 
  • Call ahead. A lot of places have Facebook pages and websites that make it easy to get your name on the list. 
  • Arrive early. The bouncers just aren’t as vigilant at 10pm when the place is half empty. Weeknights are also a better bet. Some may say that eager beavers are disdained for showing up too early, but it’s the safer bet—plus you get to find a good spot inside and people-watch the night away. 
  • Be cool. No matter how obnoxious the doorman may be (after all, it’s their specialty), charm him. Giving attitude will always hinder your chances, but a nice smile and a little charisma won’t. And remember to be on the down-low with your coaxing; it comes across more seasoned. 
  • Don’t try to fast-talk your way in. These guys have heard it all, so don’t drop names or make up some story to get in the door. If you’re not wanted, why bother? If it’s like this outside, imagine inside. Take your business to a friendlier establishment, where you’ll be happier in the long run.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.