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Dive into the nightlife



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.

A live performance at Iron Smoke Distillery - 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.

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.


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.

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.

A live performance at The Spirit Room - 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.

Other key hotspots

7 Lawrence Street

140 Alex Bar & Grill
140 Alexander Street

5 Liftbridge Lane, Fairport

One Nightclub
1 Ryan Alley

Swan Dive
289 Alexander Street

Vertex Night Club
169 North Chestnut Street

Via Girasole Wine Bar
3 Schoen Place, Pittsford

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