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Dive into the nightlife 

click to enlarge nightlife.jpg

As the old Willie Nelson song goes, "The nightlife ain't no life, but it's my life." And if you're someone in search of live music, bawdy burlesque, some tasty barbeque, or a place to dance and romance, well hell, it's your life, too. Here's just a choice selection of myriad Rochester nightlife options for you to shake a tail feather and dig as much as we do.

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

You'll need some grub to start out your evening, or end it, for that matter. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (99 Court Street) is the place. With music pumpin' out off the stage and a rack of ribs in front of you, this is an ideal nightstop to lose your blues. Just simply follow your nose.
dinosaurbarbque.com

click to enlarge A live performance at Iron Smoke Distillery - PHOTO BY AARON WINTERS
  • PHOTO BY AARON WINTERS
  • A live performance at Iron Smoke Distillery

Iron Smoke Distillery

Iron Smoke Distillery (111 Parce Ave, #5B) is located unobtrusively in an old canning factory in Fairport. Amid the swag and swill associated with running a still, the powers that be have opened the doors to folks wanting to sample its wares and check out the scene in its big warehouse-with-a-speakeasy feel. There's live music regularly, and if you're lucky you'll catch Iron Smoke founder Tommy Brunett, rockin' the joint himself with his Tommy Brunett Band.
ironsmokedistillery.com

Lux Lounge

Lux Lounge (666 South Avenue) is a hip spectacle to behold as it plays home to barflies and vampires that crowd the South Wedge night. Patrons are one part Pabst Blue Ribbon weisenheimer, one part cognac pugilist. If Charles Bukowskihad got off the train in Rochester, he would have hung out in this gloriously deluxe dive. Oh, and they throw some pretty good rock 'n' roll shows here from bands such as The Televisionaries, Dangerbyrd, The Hi-Risers, and The False Positives, every now and then.
lux666.com

Roar

Roar (621 Culver Road) is the sparkly new kid on the scene. Here, life's a drag and the queen reigns supreme. Located next-door to Sticky Lips BBQ, Roar is LGBTQ-friendly. I suppose you could call it LGBTQ-BBQ. Frankly, it's everyone-friendly, and there's a big 'n' delicious dance floor, too, for you to flex your moves and grooves.
facebook.com/roarroc

Skylark Lounge

Skylark Lounge (40 South Union Street) is a slick and spacious dive where all types of entertainment fill the place and shake the walls. There are frequent visits from the peelin' and squealin' Sirens & Stilettos Cabaret, as well as bands such as heavy metal's Kryst and Canadian alt-country outfit TheSadies. Art on the walls from artists such as El Destructo add to the thrill. Skylark serves meatballs exclusively. Oh, and there's a coupla cool pinball machines just waiting to snatch your quarters.
theskylarklounge.com

click to enlarge A live performance at The Spirit Room - PHOTO BY AARON WINTERS
  • PHOTO BY AARON WINTERS
  • A live performance at The Spirit Room

The Spirit Room

In the spirit of the Fox Sisters, fortune tellers, and talking to the dead, when you cross the threshold of The Spirit Room (139 State Street), you feel a chill. The place is jam-packed with curios and oddities. It's an intimate space that can get crowded quick, but the vapor-esque vibe of jazz, poetry, theremin, and all other manner of performance escaping the stage looms large. Overall, it's as if Anton LaVey decorated this joint.
facebook.com/TheSpiritRoomRochester

Other key hotspots

80W
7 Lawrence Street
80wrochester.com

140 Alex Bar & Grill
140 Alexander Street
facebook.com/140Alex

B-Side
5 Liftbridge Lane, Fairport
fairportbside.com

One Nightclub
1 Ryan Alley
onenightclubrochester.com

Swan Dive
289 Alexander Street
swandiveroc.com

Vertex Night Club
169 North Chestnut Street
facebook.com/vertexnightclub

Via Girasole Wine Bar
3 Schoen Place, Pittsford
viagirasole.com

In This Guide...

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  • Shelf-aware

    A peek into Rochester's literary scene
    Rochester's got many organizations and literary centers that support its crowd of authors, poets, and lit-loving audiences.

  • Exhibit A+

    A survey of Rochester's museums, galleries, art studios, and public art
    Rochester is regularly called a "city of the arts" by politicians and cultural movers and shakers alike.

  • A renters' rights run-down

    Some recent, high-profile cases of negligent landlords, along with an explosion of new high-end apartment complexes with equally high-end rents, have brought issues of housing and renters rights to the fore.

  • A guide for all seasons

    You might think you know all there is to know about your hometown, but you can live in a place your entire life and learn something new about it every day. That's what CITY's Annual Manual is all about.

  • From ale to weisse, Rochester brews it

    The Flower City loves beer and there's no shortage of fresh, local brews.

  • For the kids

    Family-friendly options in Rochester
    If there is one constant theme to greater Rochester, it's that the area is a great place to raise kids.

  • Take me to your leader

    Greater Rochester saw a lot of changes in its political scene in the last year.

  • Moving the needle

    As the third-largest city in New York, Rochester has a rich local media scene, with a daily newspaper, a feisty alternative news weekly, three network television news affiliates, and dozens of radio stations.

  • The sites for sounds

    A curated guide to essential local concert venues
    Location is everything when it comes to seeing music performed live.

  • Welcome to the neighborhood(s)

    When we talk about "Rochester," we're not just talking about the city.

  • Susan B.'s Big Year

    Rochester has grand plans to celebrate its favorite daughter — Susan B. Anthony — and her accomplishments throughout 2020, a year that marks a trifecta of important anniversaries.

  • House party

    Rochester's off-off-really-off-Broadway performance venues
    For a city of Rochester's population size and general distance from the Great White Way, there's an impressive amount of talent and options for theatre lovers.

  • Weed in the Flower City

    Let's make one thing clear off the bat: Recreational cannabis was not yet legal in New York as of this guide's publishing.

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