Nightlife includes bars, lounges, nightclubs, and party events. Nightlife is often associated with drinking alcoholic beverages, and age limits are common at nightlife venues.
- A hotel bar is usually an upscale, rather quiet, venue for drinks in a hotel's lobby or top floor, usually with a polyglot staff. They usually have a more cosmopolitan/artificial style and more expensive drinks than a local bar.
- A dive bar is a derogatory term for a low-end bar, usually filled up by locals. These places might be a challenging but rewarding place for travellers.
- A sport bar displays sport events on TV screens.
- A nightclub is usually focused on dance and music.
- A discothèque or disco, nowadays mostly referred to as club, is a specific type of nightclub where DJs use vinyl records or CDJ players for mixing music. They can range from commercial venues with a modern interior to more subcultural, deliberately run down places in e.g. former industrial buildings. At some discothèques, only a select few get past the bumper, while at others patrons can also buy pre-sale tickets in advance.
- Gambling: In some countries, nightclubs can offer manned games such as Blackjack and roulette.
- Music: A nightclub is a natural place to enjoy music styles such as jazz and electronic music.
As bars and nightclubs are often frequented by younger, more globalized people, they are usually among the best places to find English-speakers. Don't expect too deep conversations late at night, though.
The revenue model of nightlife differs a lot between countries and venues. While some venues have a high cover charge (paid at entrance or at exit) others might be touted through discounts for newcomers. Some offer free entry but charge an arm and a leg for beverages.
Certain clubs sell costly membership cards, for a discount at subsequent visits.
While alcoholic beverages are one of the main attractions of nightclubs, drinks are usually more costly than they would be in a bar or restaurant.
Often the nightlife scene grows with city size, and many large cities and capitals have some decent nightclubs. A few destinations also stand out for attracting party tourists from around the world, while others may still be an insider tip.
While in most cities nightlife is created and kept alive by locals, there are also places where most nightlife is formed around visitors. This is especially true for resorts and towns that attract an overwhelming number of them, and where many go at least partly because of that nightlife. In these locals may either join, or have their own favourite places, found by few tourists.
Note that nightlife is subject to constant change and in many cities pushed back by gentrification over the years, and some places that are still famous for their legendary nightlife may in fact only celebrate a long past heyday.
Nightlife can involve some risks:
- Drunk brawls may happen especially in front of pubs and nightclubs.
- Opportunistic thieves and pickpockets can prey on distracted or drunk patrons.
- In many discothèques dealers offer illegal and potentially hazardous drugs to other patrons. Some cities and events offer drug checking services and information on hazardous drugs that are in circulation.
- The noise exposure at discothèques and concert venues can cause acute tinnitus, noise trauma and in rare cases even permanent hearing loss. To prevent this, you can use earplugs. Some discothèques also have dedicated areas where patrons can take a rest from the noise.
- The lighting systems at large concerts and discothèques are usually adjusted by professional stage technicians. Still, avoid to look directly and permanently towards certain types of stage lighting, such as laser scanners, to prevent eye damage.
- Methanol poisoning incidents have been reported from many countries in the world, such as Norway, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Russia, Greece, Turkey, India or Brazil. Poisoning by methanol-contaminated alcohol is always life threatening and requires immediate medical treatment. Not only the fraudulent adulteration of alcohol poses a risk, but also unintentionally contaminated self-distilled liquor, often produced in countries where alcohol is very expensive. Thus refuse drinking any alcoholic beverages of unclear origin.
- Depending on jurisdiction, the nightclub security staff can have authorization to eject guests with some degree of force. If you follow staff orders and avoid to provoke other guests, you are less likely to get in trouble.
- Clip joints are venues that prey on ignorant travellers. The scheme is usually that a local tout takes (usually male) visitors to a near-empty backstreet bar where they are let in and served drinks at a hefty cost. Never step into a premise without getting price information.