A nightclub (or "night club" or "club") is a drinking, dancing, and entertainment venue which does its primary business after dark. A nightclub is usually distinguished from bars, pubs or taverns, by the inclusion of a dance floor and a DJ booth, where a DJ plays recorded dance and pop music. Some nightclubs have other forms of entertainment, such as comedians, "go-go" dancers, a floor show or strippers (see strip club). The music in nightclubs is either live bands or, more commonly a mix of songs played by a DJ through a powerful PA system. Most clubs or club nights cater to certain music genres, such as house music, garage, Hip-Hop, or salsa.
TypesMajor cities in Europe and North America often have a variety of nightclubs, and some small towns and cities also have nightclubs. Nightclubs often feature lighting and other effects, to enhance the dancing experience. Lighting and effects include flashing colored lights, moving light beams, laser light shows, strobe lights, mirror-covered disco balls, or foam, and smoke machines.
Nightclub hours vary widely; in areas with liquor regulations in place, nightclubs may stay open until 1 a.m. or even 4 a.m. In some cities, illegal "after hours" clubs stay open and serve alcohol after the legal closing time. In non-regulated areas, nightclubs stay open legally all night and into early daylight hours.
Entertainment is the main attraction at some types of nightclubs. One type of club is a concert club, which specializes in hosting performances of live music. In contrast to regular night clubs, concert clubs are usually only open when a performance is scheduled. "Under 18" clubs are nightclubs which hold liquor-free dances for teens from 14 to 18 years of age.
Nightclubs can be built in former warehouses and cinemas, underground buildings, and custom-built buildings, and generally have thick insulated walls and few or no windows, so that the neighboring buildings will not be disturbed by the powerful beat of the dance music and the flashing strobe lights. This style of construction also keeps light and noise from the street from entering the club.
This allows the nightclub to turn the dance floor into an alternate, illusory realm of timelessness. Even if an all-night rave at a nightclub lasts until 6 a.m., when it is light outside, to the clubgoers, it is still dark inside the club, and the partying and dancing continue.
In most cases entering a night club requires a flat fee called a cover charge. Early arrivers and women often have cover waived (in the United Kingdom, this latter option is illegal under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975). Friends of the doorman or the club owner may gain free entrance. Sometimes, especially at larger clubs, one only gets a pay card at the entrance, on which all money spent in the discotheque (often including the entrance fee) is marked. Sometimes entrance fee and wardrobe costs are paid by cash and only the drinks in the club are paid using a pay card.
Early historyDuring US Prohibition, nightclubs went underground as illegal speakeasy bars. With the repeal of Prohibition in February 1933 nightclubs were revived, such as New York's Stork Club, El Morocco and the Copacabana. In Harlem, the Cotton Club was a popular venue for white audiences. Before 1953 and even some years thereafter, most bars and nightclubs used a jukebox or mostly live bands. In Paris, at a club named Whisky à Gogo, Régine laid down a dance-floor, suspended coloured lights and replaced the juke-box with two turntables which she operated herself so there would be no breaks between the music. The Whisky à Gogo set into place the standard elements of the modern discothèque-style nightclub. In the early 1960s, Mark Birley opened a members-only discotheque nightclub, Annabel's, in Berkeley Square, London. However, the first rock and roll generation preferred rough and tumble bars and taverns to elegant nightclubs, and the nightclub did not attain mainstream popularity until the 1970s disco era.
1970s: DiscoBy the late 1970s many major US cities had thriving disco club scenes which were centered around discothèques, nightclubs, and private loft parties where DJs would play disco hits through powerful PA systems for the dancers. The DJs played "... a smooth mix of long single records to keep people "dancing all night long"" Some of the most prestigious clubs had elaborate lighting systems that throbbed to the beat of the music. The largest UK cities like Liverpool, Manchester, London and several key European places like Paris, Berlin, Ibiza, Rimini also played a significant role in the evolution of clubbing, DJ culture and nightlife.
Some cities had disco dance instructors or dance schools which taught people how to do popular disco dances such as "touch dancing", the "hustle" and the "cha cha". There were also disco fashions that discotheque-goers wore for nights out at their local disco, such as sheer, flowing Halston dresses for women and shiny polyester Qiana shirts for men. Disco clubs and "...hedonistic loft parties" had a club culture which had many African American, gay and hispanic people.
In addition to the dance and fashion aspects of the disco club scene, there was also a thriving drug subculture, particularly for recreational drugs that would enhance the experience of dancing to the loud music and the flashing lights, such as cocaine (nicknamed "blow"), amyl nitrite "poppers" , and the "...other quintessential 1970s club drug Quaalude, which suspended motor coordination and turned one's arms and legs to Jell-O". The "massive quantities of drugs ingested in discothèques by newly liberated gay men produced the next cultural phenomenon of the disco era: rampant promiscuity and public sex. While the dance floor was the central arena of seduction, actual sex usually took place in the nether regions of the disco: bathroom stalls, exit stairwells, and so on. In other cases the disco became a kind of "main course" in a hedonist's menu for a night out."
Famous 1970s discothèques included "...cocaine-filled celeb hangouts such as Manhattan's Studio 54 ", which was operated by Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager. Studio 54 was notorious for the hedonism that went on within; the balconies were known for sexual encounters, and drug use was rampant. Its dance floor was decorated with an image of the "Man in the Moon" that included an animated cocaine spoon. Other famous discotheques included The Loft, the Paradise Garage, and Aux Puces, one of the first gay disco bars. By the early 1980s, the term "disco" had largely fallen out of favor in North America.
1980s London & EuropeDuring the 1980s, during the New Romantic movement, London had a vibrant nightclub scene, which included clubs like The Blitz, the Camden Palace and Club for Heroes. Both music and fashion embraced the aesthetics of the movement. Bands included Depeche Mode, Human League, Duran Duran, Blondie, Eurythmics and Ultravox. Reggae-influenced bands included Boy George and Culture Club, and electronic vibe bands included Visage. At London nightclubs, young men would often wear make-up and young women would wear mens' suits.
The largest UK cities like Liverpool, Manchester (The Haçienda) and several key European places like Paris (Les Bains Douches), Berlin, Ibiza (Pacha), Rimini etc also played a significant role in the evolution of clubbing, DJ culture and nightlife
1990s and 2000sIn Europe and North America, nightclubs play disco-influenced dance music such as house music, techno, and other dance music styles such as electro or trance. Most nightclubs in the U.S. major cities play hip-hop, house and trance music. These clubs are generally the largest and most frequented of all of the different types of clubs.
In most other languages, nightclubs are referred to as "discos" or "discothèques" (French: discothèque; Italian and Spanish: discoteca or more common antro (In Mexico and Latin America); German: Disko or Diskothek). In Japanese ディスコ, disuko refers to an older, smaller, less fashionable venue; while クラブ, kurabu refers to a more recent, larger, more popular venue. The term night is used to refer to an evening focusing on a specific genre, such as "retro music night" or a "singles night."
After the fall of communism in the Czech Republic, "nightclub" or "night club" became a common euphemism for a brothel. Therefore this word is not used in its original meaning.
AccidentsAccidents at nightclubs can occur for many reasons. The most disastrous accidents were fires at well-visited nightclubs, so fire safety prevention has to be taken with great care.
- 23 April 1940 - Rhythm Night Club Fire, 209 killed at nightclub fire at Natchez, Mississippi, USA;
- 28 November 1942 - Cocoanut Grove fire, 492 killed in a nightclub fire at Boston;
- 8 March 1973 - Whiskey Au Go Go fire, 15 killed after firebombing at Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, Australia;
- 2 August 1973 - Summerland disaster, 51 killed at fire at Summerland leisure centre at Douglas, Isle of Man;
- 28 May 1977 - Beverly Hills Supper Club fire, 165 killed and 200 injured in fire;
- 14 February 1981 - Stardust fire disaster, 48 killed and 214 injured at nightclub fire at Dublin, Republic of Ireland;
- 5 April 1986 - Bomb attack on La Belle discotheque, Berlin, Germany, 3 killed, 230 injured;
- February 1990 - Stage collapse at a discotheque at Bilbao, Spain, 13 injured;
- 25 March 1990 - Happy Land Fire, 87 killed in a nightclub fire at Happy Land, New York City;
- 20 December 1993 - Kheyvis Fire, 17 killed in a nightclub fire at Buenos Aires, Argentina;
- 18 March 1996 - Ozone Disco Club fire, 162 dead and 92 injured at a nightclub in Quezon City, Philippines;
- 30 October 1998 - Gothenburg nightclub fire, 63 people killed, 200 injured in a nightclub fire at Gothenburg, Sweden;
- 13 October 2001 - Stage toggled at Zapata discothèque Stuttgart, Germany, several people hurt;
- 21 December 2001 - At Club "Indigo", Sofia, Bulgaria, in an early party for minors, the huge crowd pushing their way to get in colapses down the frosty stairs and crushes 7 children (ages between 10 and 14) to death;
- 2002 - several people climb in a nightclub at Oberhausen, Germany, on a 120kg heavy loudspeaker box and fell down with the box, 4 killed;
- 12 October 2002 - 2002 Bali bombings, 202 killed by large bombs;
- 7 December 2002 - Cowgate fire, Edinburgh, Scotland;
- 20 February 2003 - The Station nightclub fire, 100 killed at nightclub fire at Warwick, Rhode Island;
- 8 December 2004 - A shooter in Columbus, Ohio shot and killed guitarist "Dimebag" Darrel Abbott and two other people, also wounding band manager and a fan in the audience;
- 30 December 2004 - República Cromagnon nightclub fire, 194 killed and 714 injured in a nightclub fire at Buenos Aires, Argentina;
- 31 December 2005 - a circular crossbar fell down from the roof of a nightclub at Ibbenbüren, Germany, 4 people hurt;
- 18 June 2007 - Gatecrasher One Fire, Sheffield, England
clubber in German: Diskothek
clubber in Estonian: Ööklubi
clubber in Spanish: Discoteca
clubber in French: Boîte de nuit
clubber in Galician: Discoteca
clubber in Hebrew: מועדון לילה
clubber in Dutch: Nachtclub
clubber in Japanese: ディスコ
clubber in Norwegian Nynorsk: Nattklubb
clubber in Polish: Klub nocny
clubber in Portuguese: Discoteca
clubber in Simple English: Nightclub
clubber in Swedish: Nattklubb
clubber in Chinese: 夜總會