247 S. Meridian St.
6 Lounge is the newest staple in Indy’s downtown club scene. Patrons and workers praise the bar for its West Coast vibe and upscale atmosphere. The club is pure voyeurism: The VIP room overlooks the dance floor and all the main club seats are fixed to face inward; so you’ll definitely get the feeling that all eyes are on you — which is stellar when you realize those eyes could belong to Reggie Miller or Ashley Judd. Yes, 6 Lounge has the privilege of being the go-to club for the celeb on the Naptown vacation. Reserve a table in time and you can sit in the VIP room amongst Indy’s local socialites dancing on tables and NASCAR drivers throwing back whiskey shots. Even 6’s bathrooms are causing a buzz. The frosted glass doors remind you of a sci-fi movie and keep the “who’s watching” theme alive. Owner Thomas Madgwick has an eye for details and is determined to raise Indy nightlife to a new standard. Your best bet is to arrive early, have some fine cuisine and stay for the party. With its long lines and “who’s who” clientele, 6 is sure to have you California dreamin’. —Matthew Pipes
Guvernment Bar and Lounge
148 E. Market St.
Guvernment B&L is the premier dance club, dominating downtown Indy’s hip-hop scene. The deep beats will draw you through the doors, the glitzy décor, sexy people and drink specials will convince you to stay. Guvernment has received the stamp of approval from many local stars. The Pacers are official hosts of the bar’s Saturday night event, fittingly nicknamed Style. You’ll find clubbers partying on the balcony that overlooks the Indy skyline or folks popping champagne in the Blue Room, a VIP section that only serves top-shelf liquor. Guvernment has successfully created a posh environment without giving off a snobby vibe. There may be expensive chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and the walls may be adorned with vintage paintings, but don’t get it twisted; Guvernment is pure hip-hop and all party. Owner Chris Carothers has teamed up with some of Indiana’s biggest radio DJs to guarantee that people hear the music they love. He also rents the space out for national concerts. Guvernment has hosted events for Russell Simmons and Run DMC, two shows that have solidified this club’s place as downtown’s hottest hip-hop spot. —MP
2449 E. 56th St.
Located one block east of Keystone on 56th Street, Locals Only has filled a valuable niche in the Indianapolis music and social scenes. They not only book experimental music and host showcases, they provide a friendly, good dive-bar atmosphere the way the Alley Cat did before it went Hollywood. This bar isn’t afraid to book, say, a showcase for Muncie bands one night and then a jazz/funk open-stage show the next. You never know what you’ll get from this place music-wise, but it’s always going to be slightly off the wall and adventurous. The clientele is an interesting mix of neighborhood residents, bohemians and working-class Joes and Janes. Close enough to Broad Ripple for easy access but far enough away to avoid the bad elements of the Strip, Locals Only is what its name promises: a valuable resource for discerning Indianapolitans. —Steve Hammer
3720 E. 82nd St.
It would be difficult to find a venue in Indy with a wider range of performing artists. A quick list boggles the mind: Richard Thompson, Kings of Leon, California Guitar Trio, Jem, Will Hoge, Al Di Meola Project and Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi. This non-smoking, 21-and-over club has taken the town by storm with an acoustically-sublime space and plenty of room for dancing when the spirit moves. Also essential to aficionados of music: the lighting system is state of the art. Add to this the eatery next door. As our Cuisine Editor Terry Kirts says, “This Northside music ‘venue’ with regular concert appearances of the likes of the Scissor Sisters and George Clinton plays some great tunes from the kitchen as well. Creative twists on favorites such as panini, hearty salads, steaks and seafood. Try the ‘suzzas,’ Music Mill’s take on thin-crust pizza, and don’t leave without sampling the cheesecake-stuffed Xango Sweet Bar.” I’ll add that the last time I was there I was served by a waiter who looks just like Jack Black’s little brother — if indeed Jack Black has a brother. The waitstaff, in other words, is just as fascinating as the rest of the joint. —Jim Poyser
2200 W. 86th St.
The Pearl Lounge is Indy’s answer to urban hip-hop chic. The brainchild of two anonymous nightlife phenoms, Pearl Lounge’s white room will have you feeling like you stepped into a Jay-Z video. The key intrigue with this club is exclusivity. If you think you can just walk to the front door and be granted entry, think again. Pearl Lounge happens to be the well-guarded VIP club of the already insanely trendy Savoy Room. That’s two sets of bouncers weeding out twice the amount of not very important people. And forget dressing to impress, try dressing to cause severe envy. Pearl Lounge’s dress code is very strict, with most men sporting nothing less than a suit and most women draped like they stepped off the catwalk. If you are one of the lucky few to enter Pearl Lounge, you’re guaranteed to see local celebrities from the Colts, Pacers and Fever teams and, during Black Expo and Circle City Classic weeks, you may catch even bigger names, like comedian Mike Epps, who is frequently caught tasting one of the club’s infamous Pearltini’s. —MP
250 S. Meridian St.
If you’re searching for the rebirth of the ultra lounge, look no farther than the uber-chill Subterra. The lure of this club is all in the name. Located under the streets of downtown Indy, Subterra’s being hailed as the ultimate after-hours bar for the clubber in the know. The dark walnut floors, suede seats and copper bartop give the space a rustic urban feel usually reserved for the happening clubs of NYC. Equipped with two VIP areas and one of Indy’s largest selections of vodkas, cognacs and cigars, Subterra has the type of buzz-worthy vices that bring in the big names. You may see stars like Eminem or Linkin Park playing it cool after a concert or actors like Regina King sipping on one of the club’s signature passion fruit martinis. As for Subterra’s star-pulling power, owner Jason Jenkins attributes it to great word of mouth. He’s already in works for a rooftop lounge that will most likely rival his current nightlife masterpiece, but, for now, Subterra is the place to see, and be seen, if you know anything about the scene. —MP
The Vault Nightclub
120 E. Market St.
The Vault is a large space with a dance floor tucked away in the corner of the main room and a back room that provides a lounge atmosphere where you can chill on couches or at the intimate bar. The large bar is an island in the middle of the main room with plenty of space for people to mingle around while watching bopping bodies on the lit-up dance floor. The crowd is diverse, ranging from “punk” to “glam,” but it maintains a hip-hop urban feel by providing a hot list of visiting DJs. The location is convenient, just south of the circle on Market Street. —Jennifer Dawson