Boston Nightlife

You glance at your cell phone – sorry, Blackberry – darn it! it’s only been two minutes since last you checked. You’re impatient, but unsure of why. It’s not like you have another place to go even if you could muster up a believable excuse to ditch section drinks early. It’s Boston, and, based on what you’ve seen so far, 11pm is bedtime, or for an upright, outstanding young HBS MBA, time to start reading cases. “Why did I ever leave New York/London/Buenos Aires/Springfield, Illinois?” you curse silently to yourself.

It’s been a month since classes started. Chances are, you’ve been to enough section drinks to all the intimate details of the other ninety people in your section: their resumes memorized, their hometowns, favorite color, most embarrassing moments deeply etched into your memory. It’s time to branch out to enjoy what the rest of Boston/Cambridge has to offer.

Here is a guide to help get you started.

1. I want a wild night that I won’t remember (but will be inevitably reminded of what happened when I see the pictures on facebook).

Rumor, Latin Room Thursday nights will make you forget that. Yes, you are dancing on a table, yes, in front of a crowd of Latins who have natural rhythm in their blood, and no, you can’t dance. And that carefree attitude is exactly what makes the place the place to be Thursday nights. At roughly 1am, you would have snuck your way into the Latin Room, found yourself on one of the low tables, and seduced other people up there with you. You would have forgotten that you waited in line for one and a half hours, even though you arrived there an hour early at 10pm; that you could barely walk when you were in because of the overcrowding; and that the place is basically Section Drinks-lite because it is overpopulated by HBS. When you wake up the next morning, you will awake with a pounding headache and no recollection of the night before, until you check facebook. Instead of shrinking away from embarrassment, you congratulate yourself for fulfilling the business school promise to yourself of partying like Paris in the tabloids, and begin making plans to return the week after.

2. I am in my 30s, unlike the rest of my (juvenile) classmates, and I demand a sophisticated yet hip place for people like me.

Escape to the South End. The $20 cab ride guarantees that it’s not as popular as other areas in Boston, but the food – Toro for arguably the best Spanish tapas in Boston, Oishii for arguably the best Japanese – is worth it. Even during weekday late nights the restaurants and their bars are buzzing. None more so than the Beehive, a two story restaurant-bar-jazz club at the Boston Center for the Arts. There are better restaurants close by, but the live jazz and chic crowd makes a compelling argument for afterwards. Also try the “New York”-esque cocktail lounge 28 Degrees around the corner. The décor with its dark woods and white curtains reflecting candlelight is a sexy place to have a nightcap.

3. It’s Wednesday and I just can’t wait for the weekend to begin.

Begin at Wine Wednesdays at Sel de la Terre. For $45, you indulge in a four course southern French meal (that even my hard-to-please French friends approved of) paired with wine. Take your new friends that you made from sitting at that communal table to Foundation Lounge for “Famous” Wednesdays, where the No Comment magazine paparazzi will clamor for your picture. (This is the difference between HBS facebook notoriety and all-of-Boston notoriety.) Best to arrive late – around midnight – and don’t let the line scare you. It’s fast and the bouncers are friendly. By then everyone will be dancing. And if you wait even longer, no one will notice when you sneak away to the almost-always deserted private room with your favorite new friend.

4. I don’t want to leave Harvard Square because I have class tomorrow morning.

We all know that is a lame excuse for not wanting to go out, yet wanting to go out. Here is a quick tutorial on what Harvard Square has to offer. Daedalus: the rooftop. Hong Kong: top floor, a sticky floored dance club with a very mixed crowd; middle floor, Scorpion Bowls to be shared; ground floor, incredibly delicious greasy Chinese food at 3am. Grafton Street: where everyone goes. Tommy Doyle’s, a total dive with a surprising fun dancefloor. Redline, used to be popular but now there is a cover and the crowd is too mixed. Om, chic lounge that is often empty (though they are trying hard to change this) except on weekend nights. Noir, hotel bar with hotel guests but the back booths can offer privacy though a lot of HBS goes there. Casablanca, almost no HBS goes there, and it can be popular with professor-types, but its Moroccan vibe can be quite seductive. John Harvard’s, great, albeit standard, appetizers and beer; very “Harvard” (as would be suggested based on the name).

If you can bear to venture out to Central Square: Middlesex, hip and geek chic though sometimes the crowd is also not so much. The Enormous Room, a tiny lounge great if you are bringing your own group of friends. (Here, people mix only after midnight where they finally get off the couches and start to dance.) The Middle East, an “alternative” music venue with an upstairs restaurant/bar often with more live music.

No matter what you do, always end the night at Pinocchio’s, a hidden pizza place on Winthrop Street.

5. It is after 2am and everything is closed and I just hate Boston nightlife!

Crash an HBS after-party. There are always after-parties, every night of the week. If you don’t hear anything standing in the OWA court, then walk around SFP. Still nothing? Then cross the river to Peabody Terrace.

Wanting something a bit more removed from HBS? Unfortunately, the only after hours club is the members-only Rise, in the Back Bay. It’s only open on the weekends, it only plays electronic music, and no alcohol is served.

Since by 2am you are undoubtedly starving, Chinatown is the best option. Sushi at Apollo, Chinese at Grand Chau Chow, or American at News offer satiate your appetite for good food and people watching. That hot girl/guy you just met, maybe not so hot under the harsh lighting at a Chinese dive. (Watch out for News though, its dim lights make everyone look good.)

If you have further questions concerning Boston nightlife, Sonya Lai can be reached at