It's midnight. We get out of the taxi on a street near the Military Circle, very close to the center of Bucharest. The street is flanked by cars parked on both sides and on the sidewalk, in front of a low-rise building, groups of young people talk. It's Tuesday night and we're ready for a night of clubbing in Bucharest, the city famous for unforgettable parties.
Judging by the large number of people waiting to enter the club and the cars that constantly bring groups, we are in the right place. People get here mostly by car - ride-sharing applications are very popular - but some also rely on electric scooters, which stay parked nearby as their drivers enjoy a night out.
We stand in line to enter but it’s moving fast - we pay at the entrance and in exchange we receive the orange bracelet inscribed with the name of the club, which allows us a night of dancing in one of the most popular clubs in Bucharest
In the bright hall, where some check in their clothes in the wardrobe, others withdraw money from the ATM, you can often hear conversations in English - a group of foreigners enter with us in the club room. The bass sound travels far outside. From the light, we enter suddenly into the darkness, where red lights accompany the DJ show. The industrial-style hall is spacious and people dance in groups. Young people move on the rhythm or completely unaware of it.
We find our way to the second, much smaller room, where the bar is. There’s different music here - it happens quite often in Bucharest that in the same club there are scenes and rooms with different musical genres or live concerts in certain rooms of the club, while others run their usual program.
Close to the bar, the crowd is in a continuous move to and from the terrace: an open courtyard. Here, few people sit at tables, while most just stand up, very close to each other. There’s almost no room to move. However, the crowd is fluid and the compact group listens to the music and enjoys the atmosphere. There's no place to dance. The stars whine above, through tree branches. It's almost 1 am.
Clubs in Bucharest are crowded especially during weekends, but sometimes during the week too, when there are promotions - and then, the average age of the participants decreases. On nights like this, there are many students; the rest of the time, there are more young people employed in corporations and young professionals from creative industries.
We stay for a while in the hall where there is still plenty of room for dancing. Then, eager to listen to something else, we elbow out towards the exit. The crowds waiting to enter seem to have grown in the meantime.
We walk to the Old Town, without knowing yet our next stop; we await inspiration. On Calea Victoriei, bars with street terraces are still open, a preamble to what we will find in the Old Town. We turn left through the Vilacrosse Passage, where most of the terraces are closed at this hour. At one of the few open ones, young people enjoy hookahs while listening to ambiental music.
There is no dancing here and the silence of night is rarely interrupted. But a little further down Lipscani, the terraces are crowded, just as they stand in the street and you can hear different types of music playing from inside. It's the end of October - the city’s nightlife is already moving indoors, many clubs even go on winter break. What we see is just a shadow of what happens in the Old Town in the middle of summer, when terraces are full and the clubs, many open here in the city center, are very popular even during the week.
We are looking for a club with karaoke. But on a Tuesday night, already past 1 am, there are only a few people at the tables, downstairs; there’s only karaoke during the weekend. The floor and basement of the Old Town building that houses this club are closed - tonight they’re on a short schedule.
We continue towards Blănari Street and we pass on Șelari, a narrow street between two old buildings that house clubs, bars, a few shops and a tattoo parlor. In the summer, the street is vivid: you can hear music from everywhere and people dance directly in the street. Now, in the beginning of autumn, this is a passage only: we follow a group of young people and we go towards the music that seems to come from around the corner. On our way, we go around an electric scooter parked in the middle of the street, waiting for its passenger.
Another club welcomes us around the corner and lures us in with old music, more to our taste. You can hear it so well from the outside that the groups standing in front of the venue don’t miss a beat. It's well past 1 am and here, fortunately, it's not crowded, although the club is small: in the few rooms, there’s dancing in small groups. Most people are young, dressed casually, some wear skirts and T-shirts with rock bands.
From his box up above, the DJ plays songs that warm up the atmosphere. He looks at the few dancers in the center of the room, as they attract everyone's attention with their inspired moves. The crowd seems more diverse here and the dance moves seem more creative than in our previous club. It seems to be the kind of place where you can just listen to relaxed music for half an hour – just like an older man who carries a shoulder bag and who soon walks away into the night.
The bar is not crowded here - behind it, there’s a long mirror which shows the dance floor- but the club does not seem to be lacking in customers, especially since you do not have to pay an entrance tonight. Trance, oldies, rock, alternative Romanian music, indie, the styles follow one another until close to morning, when groups start finding their way home.
Wherever you go in Bucharest for clubbing - either during the week or on the weekend when thousands of young people have plenty of choices, including the big clubs in the north of the city, open only from Friday - the crowds vibrate in different dance styles and the atmosphere is hot.
Bucharest has clubs for all tastes: Fratelli, Bamboo, FaceClub, Beat of Angels - big, posh clubs, with a wired and bright design, located mainly to the north of the city, where plenty of foreigners go and where prices are higher and the shows are often very elaborated. Or indie clubs, where there are often concerts, including with international artists, such as Control, El Comandante and El Comandante Junior, El Dictador, or Expirat - the latter brings alternative options, indie rock, funk and electro into a multifunctional space.
The city also offers lovers of nightlife and various options in the Old Town, a perfect place for a bar & club crawl: there is a club or bar at almost every step here, some with terraces on the paved, pedestrian streets. Going from one club to the other during one night is not only easy, but often necessary, with intermediate stops at any of the restaurants that serve gyros, shaorma or kebab all night long.
Nightlife in Bucharest generally starts at 11 PM, but there are many who prefer to go to clubs only after midnight. At posh clubs, it is advisable to make a telephone reservation in advance if you want a dedicated seating area.
In Bucharest clubs, smoking is allowed only in specially arranged places.
In the evenings when there are concerts, the entrance will be more expensive than usual in the clubs that host such events.
If you want to enjoy music and dance without a lot of crowding, go during the week, but be ready to start the party early and first find out if they are open on your chosen night. For the full clubbing experience, go on weekends - Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, when you have many more party options.
Around local holidays - such as Orthodox Easter or Christmas - but also on Western European occasions - such as Valentine's Day, Thanksgiving or Halloween, many clubs organize themed parties with costumes or seasonal food or drink.
This text is part of a project under the program of promoting the touristic heritage "Destination: Bucharest", carried out by the Bucharest City Hall through the Public Monuments and Touristic Heritage Administration (AMPT).
Photos by Romania-Insider.com for AMPT