City Guide 2019: Dance After Dusk at These Metro Detroit Nightlife Spots

Around here, things come to life after dark. Dance, drink, and make memories in the city that has a nightlife like no other.
James Johnson (left) and Gaelle Blounga
James Johnson (left) and Gaelle Blounga, Detroit // Photograph by Stephen Koss

There is some heart in Paris, but not like here. Here, the city is alive.

The metro Detroit party scene has been thriving for about as long as metro Detroiters have wanted to party — so, essentially, forever. James Johnson says he remembers sneaking into downtown Detroit clubs at just 16 years old. He continues to venture downtown to enjoy the nightlife, but today, he’s making legal memories with girlfriend, Gaelle Bolunga.

A native of Paris, Bolunga says some might expect a Parisian to turn her nose up at an industrial city like Detroit. The reality though is that she enjoys the mood of the city, which is one you can’t get anywhere else.

Eli Chodock, who has worked at Café D’Mongo’s Speakeasy for four years, agrees. He says he has never found another bar where people are as close to being family as they are at Café D’Mongo’s.

Eli Chodock
Eli Chodock, Detroit // Photograph by Stephen Koss

Even when I’m not working at Café D’Mongo’s, I find myself here working … on drinking.

“There are not many places you can go where everyone is the best of friends, and even if they aren’t, they will be by the end of the night.”

The nightlife scene has been growing in recent years — not just downtown, but in many parts of the area, from Ferndale to Ann Arbor. In fact, there are so many options, it’s almost overwhelming. Not to worry, we’ve hand-selected the very best.

—Ashley Winn

Nightlife Venues That Locals Love

Bad Luck Bar
Photograph courtesy of Detroit Optimist Society

Bad Luck Bar

Mixologists at this upscale bar create some of the most unique cocktails in the city. 1218 Griswold St., Detroit; 313-657-9177;

Bab’s Underground

The wood and leather interior, classic cocktails, and hidden location of this casual lounge will have you feeling like you’ve walked into a 1920s speakeasy. 213 S. Ashley St., Ann Arbor; 734-997-0800;


Sip creative craft cocktails, like Kerry’s Country Breakfast, which is made with bourbon, black walnut bitters, maple syrup, and a mini-waffle garnish, in a sophisticated and vintage-inspired atmosphere. 11601 Joseph Campau Ave., Hamtramck; 313-707-0986;

Brewery Becker

In a beautiful historic building in downtown Brighton, Brewery Becker offers hors d’oeuvres and artisanal beer crafted in-house. 500 W. Main St., Brighton; 810-844-0225;

Café D’Mongo’s Speakeasy

With classic drinks, live music, and vintage novelties plastered on every surface, this eccentric bar is like a window to the past. 1439 Griswold St., Detroit

Cliff Bell’s

This historic Art Deco restaurant and bar regularly hosts jazz, blues, and soul acts to accompany its sophisticated cocktails. 2030 Park Ave., Detroit; 313-961-2543;

Deluxx Fluxx

This psychedelic live music venue is flooded with black lights and graphic neon posters. 1274 Library St., Detroit; 313-788-7015;

Exodus Rooftop

The indoor and outdoor spaces at this lounge come to life with dancing to music from DJs and live performers. 529 Monroe St., Detroit; 313-962-1300;

Fifth Ave

This lively bi-level bar entertains guests with lots of TVs and sports games during the week and live DJs on the weekends. 215 Fifth Ave., Royal Oak; 248-629-9423;

Madison’s Pub

This laid-back tavern with multiple bars offers drinks and pub fare. 15 N. Walnut St., Mt. Clemens; 586-468-7777

Rosie O’ Grady’s

A popular spot among the LGBTQ community, this bar and grill has a patio lounge and large food menu. 279 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-591-9163;