During these cold and dreary winter months, our small mountain city offers an escape. Local bars, clubs and the Downtown Dance Collective have classes and shows every night of the week for when you need to let loose. Here’s our expert guide to dancing in Missoula.
DOWNTOWN DANCE COLLECTIVE:
Located on West Main Street, the Downtown Dance Collective (DDC) offers classes in many styles of dance. Drop-in classes do not require registration and run every day of the week except Saturday. The DDC offers hip hop, ballet, yoga, jazz and dance church. Social Dance classes such as swing and tango are six-week sessions and can be taken for school credit. The only downside is these classes do cost $50 to $60.
While the DCC is convenient, weekdays can quickly become busy for students. Luckily, there are several bars around town that provide just as much fun and are (mostly) open to people ages 18 and over.
The Top Hat on West Front Street has cute twinkly lights and an open atmosphere. There’s always food and drinks available for those 21 and over, and on show nights it often opens up to everyone older than 18. Shows at the Top Hat are relaxed, intimate and benefited by plenty of space to dance. During some concerts, performers will walk into the crowd and order drinks.
The Wilma on South Higgins Avenue is a totally different experience. There is a mosh pit, a first level and a balcony with seating. The mosh pit allows for an insane amount of energy, squeezing people in shoulder-to-shoulder. During intense shows such as Griz or Black Tiger Sex Machine, watch out if you’re behind the first row. People can go so hard with the head-banging that they accidentally hit you. Artists crowd surfing is not out of the ordinary and always an unforgettable time. Careful: Water and drinks are overpriced, so take care of that stuff beforehand.
The only space in Missoula resembling a club, The Badlander sits on Ryman Street. This place has everything: the Dead Hipster dance party (everyone’s favorite nightmare 21st birthday spot), an annual KBGA birthday bash, a stage that DJs get pissy about you standing on and strobing lights! The Bandlander doesn’t really need stage access to count as a dance spot since the whole bar is a dance floor. Again, be prepared to sweatily stand shoulder-to-shoulder.
Across the street from The Badlander, a set of stairs leads to Monks. This underground dreamworld includes a small area in front of the stage for gathering and dancing. The tables throughout the bar make Monks a dark horse dance spot contender, but the atmosphere nearly makes up for it. Also, no one goes here, so the service is fast!
THE UNION CLUB:
A few blocks away is a two-for-one dance opportunity at the Union. The Union Club Bar’s main level has a large wood paneled dance floor. There is often an old school country band playing on stage and dads from Libby in town for parents’ weekend dancing on it. Upstairs, the Union Club Ballroom is a smaller, sweatier space. Don’t let this faze you, this is a great place to hear new music from local bands, and you’ll be jamming with the crowd in no time.
The Zootown Arts Community Center, commonly called “The ZACC,” is on North First Street West (a bit of a walk). Local and regional traveling bands often play in the basement, and the atmosphere is reminiscent of a classic ‘80s hangout spot. Decked out with couches, lights and a great area in front of the stage to rock out, the ZACC is a hub for a supportive, fun community. Also, shows are often free!
Not only does Missoula offer plenty of opportunities for students to jam out for relatively cheap, but you’re sure to meet some new friends while you’re dancing.