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Best Austin Nightlife

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The best Austin nightlife revolves around—you guessed it—live music. With more than 200 music venues and at least 1,900 musicians who call Austin home, it’s easy to see an established band or up-and-coming talent every night of the week. Clubs run the gamut from quaint wine bars to techno to honkytonks and everything in between. The club scene starts around 9PM, but even that’s a little early. Most opening bands have already started playing, but it’s a good bet to have dinner first, and head out to see live music around 10PM. Wear comfy shoes, ladies—you’ll be doing a lot of walking up and down Sixth Street and the Warehouse District, though there are always pedicabs for tired feet.

Continental Club

Neighborhood: South Congress

Another one of Austin’s acclaimed music venues and open since 1955, the Continental Club is a classic, a top Austin club that should be high on any visitor’s list. What it lacks in square footage (it can get pretty crowded when there’s a good band playing) it more than makes up for with fantastic live acts, a daily happy hour with strong drinks, groovy neon and an Austin cool atmosphere: pretty people, weird people, tattooed people, same-sex kissing people and suits, with everyone getting along. Bands usually start around 9PM and go until 2AM, and there are hot, tattooed doormen who won’t hesitate to toss jerks who ruin the show out onto South Congress.

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Antone's

Neighborhood: Downtown

This is where Stevie Ray Vaughan got his start—and where countless others have made their mark. If you’re a hermit and only go out one night while you’re in Austin, come here. Those lucky to be in town during the week when local favorite and nationally acclaimed singer-songwriter Bob Schneider is in town are in for a treat. Better yet, go see his alter-ego band, The Scabs. They only play at midnight because of the, um, raunchy nature of the show. Note: A ticket to see one show there at, say, 9PM, does not mean you’re also in for the 10PM show, so make sure you get tickets for each because staff clears out the place between shows.

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Six Lounge

Neighborhood: Warehouse District

Longtime resident and cyclist Lance Armstrong is part-owner here, and the club is named for his then six (now seven) Tour de France victories. Six has a dance floor and live-music stage on the lower level, rooftop patio and lounge upstairs with great downtown views, and hot bartenders everywhere (hey, eye candy is important). Our favorite place is the lounge upstairs, which is perfect for making out in the dark with strangers. The Tap Room at Six (next door) is on the mellow side: think cold beer, intimate conversation areas and pool tables.

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Broken Spoke

Neighborhood: South Austin

Bring your boots, grab a Lone Star and get ready to dance, because the floor at the Broken Spoke is second only to the music. The queen of England, Clint Eastwood and Dolly Parton have all cut a rug here. The Spoke is a true honky-tonk with history. It opened in 1964, and country legend Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys were onstage regulars. Now you can catch Dale Watson, Gary P. Nunn, the Derailers and more. The action starts when the band does (anywhere from 8 to10PM)—and goes until closing time at 1:30AM (not 2AM like most bars), but come early for dance lessons (8-9PM) and the food, especially the chicken-fried steak. It’s a favorite of Austinite—and former Spoke performer—Willie Nelson.

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Oilcan Harry's

Neighborhood: Warehouse District

Located in the heart of the Warehouse District at Fourth and Colorado streets, Oilcan Harry’s is an absolute blast. We’ve been there dancing in black bras and leather pants for a bachelorette party and we love it for the hot dance club music—and even hotter boys and girls. It doesn't matter whether you're a man or a woman, gay or straight, everybody fits in here. The big draws are the huge wraparound bar, great dance floor, drag queen shows and special events (Thursdays is the “Fourth Street Strip-Off”—the amateur male strip contest), good drinks and plenty of eye candy. Get here late (after 10PM), and stay until they kick you out at 2AM.

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