Regular readers of Reno.net have probably noticed that whenever possible, we avoid directing visitors to major casinos. Often, this is because even first-time visitors should have little trouble finding the Silver Legacy, Peppermill, John Ascuaga's Nugget and other longtime local resort and casinos. (When in doubt, ask any concierge, cab driver or random passer-by for directions.) But another reason for avoiding the big boys comes from this site's mission as a local travel guide: The fact is, most locals don't spend too much time in the major casinos unless they work there or happen to have a favorite hangout inside one.
There is an exception, however. Most of the area's dance clubs are located inside resorts, and these attract at least as many locals as visitors every weekend. So this week's list of nighttime hotspots will feature some big names simply because that's often where the biggest crowds, latest parties and loudest beats can be found. As a rule, the following clubs have at least minimal dress codes, so be sure to give them a look before setting out in your cut-offs.
(210 N. Sierra St., www.myspace.com/210north): And after all that talk about casinos, the biggest nightclub in Reno is an independent venue. Billed as "Reno's only true nightclub experience," 210 is a multilevel dance club with numerous bars, games and themed rooms and dance floors. While the majority of the clientele is under 35, 210 is also popular with older folks looking for a night out, a lively place to do business or just to be seen. If you are looking for a popular place to dance and drink, there's really no competition. As with all crowded nightclubs, it's wise to keep an eye on your wallet and your drink.
Nikki Beach Club
(2500 E. Second St., www.nikkibeach.com/reno): Nikki Beach would beat out 210 North as the biggest club in town if only it weren't closed half the time. This seasonal, outdoor club located at the Grand Sierra Resort brings the Caribbean to Reno with sand, swimming and a bathing suit-clad staff. Short of strip clubs, this may be the most expensive nightlife venue in town, but it's worth doing at least once. Hotel guests and loyal gamblers can often arrange VIP service or a break on the $20 admission charge, so check before you go.
Pearl Champagne Lounge
(2500 E. Second St.): When Nikki Beach is dark, Pearl shines. Also located at the Grand Sierra Casino, the space is aggressively chic and often busy. The dancefloor is the definite focus of the club, along with a rotating cast of go-go dancers. With limited seating and only one large room, this is not a place to go if you want privacy.
Aura Ultra Lounge
(407 N. Virginia St.): One of Reno's many "Jekyll and Hyde" bars, Aura offers Silver Legacy Casino visitors a hip place to relax during the day and a jumping place to dance after hours. The elliptical room and sculpture centerpiece recall similar clubs in Las Vegas, while the martini menu offers a variety of unique mixes.
(701 S. Virginia St.): This small Latin lounge is absolutely packed on concert nights, and live DJs keep the party going strong on off nights. The venue may be less polished and indeed less approachable than some of the casino clubs, but is a great stop for people looking to meet locals or serious dance-all-night types.
(2707 S. Virginia St.): Over the past year, longtime Reno casino the Peppermill has transformed from a blocky hotel into a Las Vegas-style themed attraction, complete with faux-Italian architecture and art. Edge represents the casino's new vibe perfectly, featuring dancing and drinks in a large, softly lit space featuring a deck and other flourishes.
(555 E. Fourth St., www.renounderground.com): If you simply show up at The Underground looking for a party, you will probably be disappointed. The venue ostensibly caters to live rock bands, but lately has become a favorite of club music DJs, hip-hop acts and performance artists. While anything going on usually involves some kind of dancing, it could be anything from an '80s revival to moshing, so it's best to check the schedule. If you're a nightowl, The Underground really heats up after-hours -- as in after 1 a.m. on weekends.
(303 Kietzke Lane, tronixreno.com) Though known around town as a center of LGBT nightlife (if you're not familiar with that term, this may not be the club for you), Tronix welcomes anyone who wants to dance. The dance floor features laser shows and a smoke machine as well as a full stage, and drink specials are constant. Drag shows and other special events are also held regularly.
Divine Ultra Lounge
(95 N. Sierra St., www.divineultralounge.com/) Among the most distinctive clubs in town, Divine offers a full menu including sushi and pizza. Upstairs, a small but well-appointed dance floor features mirrored walls, VIP booths, a light show and live DJs. Decor is modern and metallic, and the club is located downtown on the Truckee River.
(345 N. Virginia St.) Though not a traditional dance club, this brewery-themed room inside the Eldorado Casino is home to one of the most consistent dance parties in Reno. Every weekend, a mixed, up-beat crowd shakes it to live bands. The space hosts a lot of modern rock and pop cover bands, but the familiar material only encourages drunken sing-alongs and wild dancing. While Brew Brothers isn't the most prestigious club in the city, it's tough to beat in terms of quick, inexpensive fun for folks of all stripes.
Article written by Matt Farley. Farley is a Nevada native who has worked for the Reno Gazette-Journal and Nevada Magazine and been syndicated by The Associated Press, Gannett News Service and the Las Vegas Review Journal.