Boogie Town: Boston's Swingin' Sweet Spots Of Dance

So you think you wanna dance? Boston is the place for you, from Afro-funk to zouk and back again.

Winter's coming, and Bostonians tend to prepare for shiver season by diving headlong into vast stockpiles of firewood, comfort food and craft beer. Before following that lead, try an alternative: Dance! It’s healthy, it keeps you warm and—to be frank—it’s way more elegant than stuffing your chops with yet another leftover slab of double-creamy pumpkin pie between flagons of artisanal cider.

As it turns out, Boston is a true boogie wonderland. From the Tango Society of Boston to The Grand and Bijou Nightclub and pretty much everything in between, there’s a venue to match your groove. Whether you’re a beginner hoping to learn new moves, a connoisseur seeking out something spectacular or just a party-monster planning to cut loose at the weekend, this city will look after you. So limber up—and get down.

The Grand

Four on the Floor

For those nights when your dancin’ feet want to plant themselves midway between the groove-laden jukebox and the bang-bangin’ hi-energy superclub, Good Life (28 Kingston St., 617.451.2622) is the perfect solution. The Financial District location guarantees a mixed crowd, and you can bust verily and merrily to golden era hip-hop, cumbia, Afro-funk and more. When you fancy getting funky in truly epic style, Chinatown’s Bijou (51 Stuart St., 617.357.4565) should head straight to the top of your superclub list. Even if you’re not splashing out for the VIP bottle service, there are plenty of dance vibes to explore between the pumped-up Onyx Lounge and the chill-based Gold Lounge.

Dancing the night away at Tunnel (100 Stuart St., 617.357.5005) has a couple of clear advantages over the local competition—first, its 3,600 floating LED light fixtures give the impression that you’re boogying into the future aboard some kind of laser-powered interstellar submarine; and second, you’re actually in the W Hotel, which means you can crash out in comfort. New arrival to Seaport, The Grand (58 Seaport Blvd. 617.322.0200), features cutting-edge sound and visuals, a wrap-around LED wall and a jazzed-up feeling of glitzy opulence. Superstar DJs have already started filling up the club-night roster—why not start the week with a bang at The Grand's I Love Mondays?

The Tango Society of Boston

Dance Classes

Salsa is the default dance setting at Havana Club (288 Green St., Cambridge, 617.312.5550) with some bachata (a social dance from the Dominican Republic) blended into the mix, but the bottom line is fun for everyone. A diverse, friendly crowd is guaranteed, featuring all levels of ability, from spirited bump-and-grind to “wowza, that’s slick!” This year marks two decades in business for the Tango Society of Boston (16 Bow St, Somerville, 617.699.6246), the region’s finest purveyor of the Argentine tango, dance’s equivalent of a passionate-but-doomed fling in Buenos Aires. Here you’ll find weekly Wednesday dances (following a lesson), as well as socials and seminars.

If Boston is a hub of dance (and it is) then the Dance Complex (536 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617.547.9363) is a hub within a hub. Every style of dance under the sun is taught, learned, created and celebrated right here, thanks to its unique collection of movers, shakers, resident artists, instructors and dancer-lovers. When your achy heart needs some added breaky, head on down to Loretta’s Last Call (1 Lansdowne St., 617.421.9595) which offers free line dancing lessons Tuesday and Sunday followed by extended party sessions of fully coordinated cowboy boogie—so strut like a Texan, make a beeline for the Fenway and embrace the mullet.

The Beehive

Live and Kicking

Headquartered in the South End but resident for performances at the Boston Opera House (539 Washington St., ballet tickets 617.695.6955), the Boston Ballet presents some of the world’s greatest dancers in a seasonal repertoire that spans the classics and the most spectacular contemporary works. Winter highlight: “The Nutcracker.” Unless you consider stroking a beatnik goatee while tapping the occasional toe to be a form of dance, then The Beehive (541 Tremont St., 617.423.0069) is not strictly a dance venue. However, this gorgeous, artsy, jazz-centric venue hosts world-class live music every day of the week, ranging from R&B to electronica and Latin. Finally, every good rustic, Italian neighborhood restaurant should have a boogie-licious surprise in the basement, if the standard set by Southie’s Capo (443 W. Broadway, 617.993.8080) is to be upheld. For here, in the subterranean Supper Club, the preferred digestif is that tried-and-tested combo of rhythm n’ booze.