Utah's liquor laws no longer require you to join a bar's private club just to have a drink.
The best way to check out the club scene is to pick up a copy of City Weekly, a free and widely available news and entertainment weekly. If you're just looking for a beer and a chance to chat with the locals, try one of the brewpubs.
In the category of high-spirited, only-in-Salt-Lake fun, try out Bar Deluxe (666 S. State St., 801/521-5255), offering live music, karaoke, or other hijinks nightly, and Burt's Tiki Lounge (726 S. State St., 801/521-0572), with live bands six nights a week and the Sunday Night Karaoke Swilldown.
If you just want to dance, SLC offers a number of options. Area 51 (400 West 451 South, 801/534-0819) has theme nights (80s Insanity, Alterna-Mash, etc.). The vast, multi-floored Hotel/Elevate complex (155 West 200 South, 801/478-4310) has enough dance floors and bar areas to fill an entire night's worth of fun.
Soul Lounge (19 East 200 South, 801/350-0950) is one of the beacons of live indie music, with local bands playing hip-hop, reggae, and rock. The Tavernacle Social Club (201 East 300 South, 801/519-8900) is a hipper-than-thou piano bar, with an updated lounge act that features dueling pianos, sing-alongs, and karaoke on Sundays and Tuesdays.
To explore the live-music club scene, start at Mo's Neighborhood Grill (358 S. West Temple St., 801/359-0586). Mo's is a friendly club with a wide range of live music most nights, including jazz, folk, and rock, plus a couple evenings a week of comedy. Urban Lounge (241 South 500 East, 801/746-0557) is another spot to catch local bands and a diffident hipster crowd.
Touring national acts stop at The Depot (in the Gateway Center at 400 S. West Temple St., 801/355-5522), a nightclub in the cavernous Union Station; it's also a good spot for meeting friends when there's no live band.
Gay and Lesbian
Salt Lake City isn't known for its vibrant gay scene, but there are a growing number of gay clubs. A good place to start the evening is The Trapp (102 South 600 West, 801/531-8727), with a nice outdoor deck and a cruisy atmosphere, or Try-Angles (251 West 900 South, 801/364-3203), promising a pleasant patio for drinks and sunning. MoDiggity's (3424 S. State St., 801/332-9000) is mostly a women's club, but everyone is welcome.
© W.C. McRae and Judy Jewell from Moon Utah, 9th Edition