"Come Dancing..." - is the suburban US Dance Club scene fading?

Probably just confirmation bias on my part (due to me being a grumpy middle-aged guy), but the reason I chose that now-vintage Kinks’ song for the thread title is I passed yet another Long Island dance club I once used to frequent that has now been “repurposed” - this time to a chain restaurant. There’s been a die-off of my old favorite Dance Clubs since the 1990s, OK, fine, life is not static - but to my knowledge and from info gain from various web sites, no new clubs are really being created except in a few “Hot Spot” districts -any “new” dance clubs are just rebranded (and remodeled) existing clubs (e.g Spratts --> Glo or Chelsea St. --> Aura), but as other former dance club buildings (either free-standing or in hotels) are converted to bars or restaurants or yet one more branch of a chain pharmacy or chain banks, that site is written off club-wise. Web comments indicates this is also happening in North Jersey and Westchester. This die-off phenomenon of course excludes destinations such as the Hamptons, Island Park, the Jersey Shore, and of course Manhattan/Downtown Brooklyn.

So, am I (and other web-posters) just imagining the great Suburban Dance Club* die-off? Are other Suburban areas of the Country experincing this? Is it possible that the NY Tri-State area had such a big boom in Dance Clubs starting in the late-70s (before my club-going era) and lasting till the late 1990s, while other areas did not, so we had further to fall? Any ideas?

*For reference: a Dance Club almost always uses a DJ to provide the music mix (a live band is a very extra-ordinary event, and publized as such, and alternates with the DJ mix), the venue usually has one big dance-floor, 2 or 3 bars surrounding the floor, one or more lounge areas (which may be as simple as a single couch - one lounge is normally designated a VIP lounge area), and various lighting and decorative elements to produce an energeric and/or romantic mood as needed. Food is NOT normally available for purchase, although sometimes early morning (3:00AM or so) breakfast buffets are put out for patrons as a gimmick. Suburban clubs do have bouncers to keep order, but I don’t really recall any working the door in gate-keepers duty.

I wasn’t aware that suburban U.S. dance clubs were even a thing. And please don’t interpret that as me being a jerk or anything. I just never noticed.

I wasn’t aware that there were any suburban dance clubs in the first place. At least in the way I would think of them, i.e. mixing the music live, as opposed to a more wedding-DJ style of just playing the music. If there are any around here, in the middle of suburbia in Florida, I haven’t heard of them, and there is even a dance music station here in town on which I could hear ads for them.

I’m with Odesio and Ludovic. Was this just a coastal thing? I’ve never heard of anything like it in the Midwest. Seems like all of our dance clubs are located in the center of the cities and pretty much always have been.

Well, I never expected the gist of the three responses the thread received so far.
Since suburban dance clubs in the NY area (and especially Long Island) have been around (and common) since I was a kid, and since they played a major role in my nightlife, I simply assumed (confirmation bias, I guess), that most other populated suburban areas across the nation had numbers of such clubs.

If we can agree that Levittown, NY is the arch-type old-school suburban tract development (as opposed to the post 1980s McMansion on Cul-de-sac style suburb), then the long gone Uncle Sam’s should be considered the arch-type suburban dance club of it’s time (it was one of many) - Nowadays, a dance-club still going strong (actually 2 clubs, near each other in the same strip mall) is Zachary’s in East Meadow, about 3 minutes from Levittown if the traffic lights and traffic on Hempstead Turnpike are with you (they never are) - man, Zach’s must be closing in on 30 year in business, (I spent plenty of time there in the 90s and '00s).

Yes, sometimes these clubs had live entertainment as a special event, yes, sometimes they offered buffets as a gimmick, yes, almost all of them could be rented for special events and private parties but that’s true of Manhattan clubs too (the West side multi-story Copacabana of the 00’s was noted for that, until a few years ago when the City decided that was a great place for the 7 Line extension HVAC equipment and tore it down), but the basic concept was always DJ --no food for sale – just dancing the whole night. I think I once counted maybe 40+ such individual venues (it’s hard to get an exact count, as you don’t want to lump in such places as the Dublin Pub or other grills which are not dance club, and you don’t want to get lost in the venue rebranding)

Back in my heyday, in the early 70’s through early 80’s there seemed to be quite a few dance clubs around (we had an Uncle Sam’s on the boulevard! A huge place, two levels, playing recorded music. There was a drummer up there, keeping time on the drums, in front of a screen that showed movie trailers). I remember dancing to James Brown (Cold Sweat) and drinking Boones Farm wine. There were a couple of modest local bars with a dance floor and live music, but mostly…well, discos. One place was very elegant, made to resemble Rick’s place in Casablanca, white stucco arches and palm trees. Another was a swell place in an old brick ex-factory on a bad side of town. And the best was a copy of Studio 54, neon, money fired from ‘cannons’, a huge sunken dance floor, everyone dressed to kill, and of course the mirror ball. Good times! I haven’t heard about dance clubs in years, I guess young people don’t want to bother getting dressed up and going out. Rather sad if that’s the case.

Growing up in Minneapolis, I went to dance clubs (or what passed for them in the late '70s and '80s) in the central city. We had our Uncle Sam’s, too, now called First Avenue, and several other places in the downtown area, with a few others in other parts of town. Very rarely a band would appear someplace like the Medina Ballroom out in the wilds of the western suburbs, but that didn’t happen often. Interestingly, our favorite band back then was named The Suburbs :D.

As I understand it (don’t live in the Cities now), the most popular nightclubs are still downtown in the warehouse district. In the suburbs there seem to be a lot of sports bars and generic chain bar-restaurants like Applebee’s and Chili’s.

I imagine that changing attitudes towards drinking and driving has contributed to the fading of the suburban dance scene. Urban areas have more options for public transportation and taxis. With suburban dance clubs, you pretty much have to drive.

I think that, very broadly speaking, dancing as a mass cultural pastime went out with disco. When that era became bad taste, dancing itself got to be a little too much, too. It might have hung on longer in the tri-state area because that was the region, with the ethnic and class mix, that made disco a thing.

:confused: Dance music is huge right now.

I’m going to have to say…no. :rolleyes:

Some of the clubs I mentioned may have started in the Disco era (which some sources claim faded in 1979, and seems to have petered out by 1981), but the NY Tri-State Suburban scene was really just getting started then, reaching a peak around the mid-late 1980s IIRC - music in these dance clubs was not Disco, but contemporary danceable pop like Madonna, Michael Jackson, Chaka Khan, Whitney, Corona, plenty of New Wave/Modern Rock (my prefered genre - and yes, this included ‘Rio’ by Duran-Duran) - heck, whatever danceable beat you’d find on those “Now That’s What I Call Music” compliations for any given era The club die-off seemed to get rolling by the mid-1990s, Spit, 007, Montana, et. al - and the one that really was a big WTF, Malibu - and continued on till the once-robust scene now almost resembles a depressing Billy Joel song. But still, no disco (well, at least for the general clubbing populace - over-30s clubs like Cyberia & Maxines would play some Disco, and so I had to learn to dance to that when I aged into that category :frowning: )

If anything, I’d go with even sven’s drunk-driving theory - it makes sense.

But are people going to clubs to dance to it?

You don’t recall the Mermaid in Mounds View? I can think of a couple others as well that I went to in the 80s.

Nope, I don’t recall it, but I gave up hanging out in bars pretty early in the '80s, and even before that my musical tastes were specialized. (IOW, no disco, no pop.) I also doubt Mounds View was even on my radar back then. It was a fair distance out for a bunch of drunks dependent on taxis :D.

Yes. Dancing as a mass cultural pastime is big. Not only clubs, arenas and stadia. Electric Daisy Carnival was filling up the L.A. Coliseum several years ago and now fills the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for 3 nights. Tiësto is playing the Staples Center soon.

We have dance clubs all over town and down at the beach. They’re basically all full, all the time. We’re on the Gulf.

As Yookeroo says, dance music (houce, trance, techno) is actually just starting to get a foothold in the US. This scene is already pretty big in Europe, that’s why most popular DJ’s/producers - they ‘make’ their own songs nowadays - are still European. You see this in the pop charts as well, with many remixes (and ‘original’ songs) involving Pitbull, David Guetta, Afrojack, etc.

A variety of things caused the demise of a number of super clubs in Toronto back in the nineties. They might only have really made money in the first few weeks after opening, but they never gained a following of people that came back week after week, so the crowds started to diminish, while you were still paying rent on a medium size factory floor space, and insurance and electricity, even before getting to the payroll.

For some reason the cops dont want a thousand sloshed patrons spilling out onto the street at 3 am , and the patrons themselves did not want to end up paying a fairly hefty cover, only to find themselves in a dead club.

So all we got left with is a club design that sports 500 people max. Last time I drove by one, there must have been about twenty cop cruisers hanging around, just waiting for the catch of the night, so I would have hated to be DD after paying 10 or 20 bucks cover charge.

So I can see why they are going out of style.


They’ve never been my thing, but there are clubs all over metro Detroit (though often located in or close to what counts as a downtown area in a suburb, instead of being, like, in a mini strip mall with a CVS, Little Caesar’s and tanning salon). There are also “party buses” that basically take people club hopping so they can get hammered and not worry about driving around.

I’ve been to a handful and they’re all similar to the setup described in the OP. Some may be themed (goth, industrial, hip hop, retro), some are multi-level, some have explicit dress codes. I WILL say that hardly anyone I know calls it “going dancing”, though. It’s always been “going clubbing/to the club”.

Also, no offense to some posters in this thread, but… the idea that no one goes clubbing anymore is hilarious. If you don’t go clubbing, it’s really easy to not even notice there are clubs around, I’ll definitely agree with that. But no, dance clubs didn’t suddenly disappear… coincidentally right after you left the club scene (from disinterest, lack of time, whatever). :stuck_out_tongue:

Don’t know if I’m included in that, but I was specifically referring to suburban dance clubs. There are plenty of dance clubs in downtown Orlando.

But the idea that dance music is somehow new to America is pretty funny. I’ve been a fan of remixed dance music ever since the late 90s, and was aware of original house music since the late 80s although I never got that much into it. MTV even had a show dedicated to dance music, and it wasn’t disco or rock, and mostly not rap.