It's 11 p.m., do you know where your dancing shoes are? If not, you'd better find them quick so you can check out these five hot spots that are revving up Buffalo's nightlife. From the 658 Lounge to the Zoo Bar, these clubs offer up the best mixes of music and atmosphere. Here's a look at what makes each so special:
Where to Find It: 658 Main St. (849-0564)
When It's Open: Wednesday through Saturday
Why It's Hot: It offers cutting-edge music in a hip heart-of-downtown locale. "It's the alternative to Chippewa," said Sam Monaco, the club's general manager.
What It Looks Like: A classy Wild West saloon.
What You'll Hear: Jukebox, Wednesday; drum and bass, Thursday; house, Friday; trance, Saturday. "We're doing music that a lot of other people aren't doing," Monaco said.
Who'll Be Dancing Next To You: Musical aficionados who range in age from college freshmen to people who are paying for their children's education. "I've had kids come in and they've brought their parents, and they've all had a good time," Monaco said.
You'll Feel Out Of Place If -- You don't like to pump up your jams. "But if you can stand the loudness of the music, you'll be fine," Monaco said.
Added Bonus: Drinks with quirky names like White Chocolate Martini, Deja Blue, Between the Sheets and Chocolate Banana Banshee.
Where to Find It: 622 Main St. (847-6850)
When It's Open: Wednesday through Sunday
Why It's Hot: It's an ever-changing bacchanal. "Every night we try to do something different, because when I'm bored, everybody's bored," said club owner Joey Marcella. "It's an escape from reality. You come in here and you forget about all your problems."
What It Looks Like: The glitzy big-city dance club image in your head. "It's like a modern New York- or Toronto-style nightclub," Marcella said. "It's not a place from 10 years ago where you just throw up a disco ball and call it a nightclub."
What You'll Hear: Mainstream dance tracks and remixes, sprinkled with the occasional pop or R&B number.
Who'll Be Dancing Next To You: A friendly mix of ages, races, genders and sexual orientations. "It's gay. It's straight. It's black. It's white. You name it, it's all there," Marcella said. "We're considered to be a bar where cool people hang out. We have beautiful straight women who come to the club because they don't want to be bothered on Chippewa. Then we have the straight guy who's having an affair on his wife and he brings his girlfriend here because he won't get caught. We've had it all."
You'll Feel Out Of Place If -- You're narrow-minded. "You can't have hang-ups," Marcella said. "You've got to be able to go with the flow."
Added Bonus: Performances by some of the country's most celebrated drag performers, including the intriguingly named Miss Understood, Zsa Zsa and V and a trendy new oxygen bar where you can breathe oxygen-rich air scented with such "flavors" as peppermint, eucalyptus, tangerine and nirvana.
Where to Find It: 3148 Main St. (836-3756)
When It's Open: Seven days a week.
Why It's Hot: It's the closest you'll get to a trendy Ibiza, Spain, lounge without tracking down a cheap airfare online.
What It Looks Like: A warmly lit den with a cozy brick fireplace. "We don't provide a lot of the bells and whistles like pool tables and dart boards, so you have to be of an intellectual level where you can sit there and talk to people and not have that completely bore you," said owner Tim Stevens.
What You'll Hear: Left-of-center '70s rock, Monday; '80s no wave and classic electro, Tuesday; techno and world music, Wednesday; house, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; Brit-pop, Sunday. "We shy away from any commercial music," Stevens said. "There are a lot of things we could do to completely pack the bar that we refuse to do."
Who'll Be Dancing Next To You: A mixed bag of laidback, casually cool hipsters. "We're very free and open to a lot of different types of people: gay, straight, white, black, any race or religion," Stevens said. "It's all just about coming in and having a very good time."
You'll Feel Out Of Place If -- You have a baseball cap permanently affixed to your skull. "We have a dress code because we feel that the more jock-driven crowd is probably not going to be real happy here," Stevens said.
Added Bonus: Since it's located away from downtown, there are plenty of places to park.
Where to Find It: 228 Franklin St. (852-1164)
When It's Open: Friday through Sunday
Why It's Hot: Great-sounding tunes, great-looking crowd.
What It Looks Like: Dance floor central with three separate platforms and overhead monitors that show what's going on in the DJ booth.
What You'll Hear: Mostly bass-pounding house with some Top 40 and R&B.
Who'll Be Dancing Next To You: Twentysomethings who drop a lot of cash on their clothes. "Our club is based around music and people's appearance," said Scott DeJohn, the club's general manager. "I want the creme-of-the-crop clubgoers in Utopia. People who like to enjoy club experiences and like to get dressed up."
You'll Feel Out Of Place If -- You're a shabbily dressed skirt-chaser. "I think there are a lot of guys in Buffalo who come out just to bother girls," DeJohn said. "But we're not a meat market. We want ladies to come here and be comfortable."
Added Bonus: Attractive bartenders who can mix a mean drink. "All my bartenders can tend bar, and they all look good," DeJohn said. "People don't have to worry about getting a bad drink from someone who looks like a supermodel."
Where to Find It: 73 W. Chippewa St. (853-5555)
When It's Open: Friday through Saturday
Why It's Hot: It's a no-attitude place to party.
What It Looks Like: A futuristic disco cave with state-of-the-art sound and zipping lasers. "The atmosphere of the place is set by the light show," said Scott Giorgini, the club's promotions director. "There's no doubt that we have the most elaborate light show in town."
What You'll Hear: Top of the charts dance hits.
Who'll Be Dancing Next To You: Fresh just-turned-legal faces who are ready to learn what clubbing is all about. "Twenty-one to 25 is the major portion of the crowd," Giorgini said.
You'll Feel Out Of Place If -- You're dead. Otherwise it's the most accessible place.
Added Bonus: If you don't like it, you're close enough to check out three of the other clubs.