Pre-pandemic moments at cowfish (R.I.P. Nicky Da B). Photo by Rob Sydor.

Dance the Night Away

New to Eugene or looking for the right venue? Here are the details about downtown's club scene.

Contrary to popular belief, Eugene has a pretty vibrant nightlife. If you’ve ever looked for a night on the town, you may have been recommended to hit the “Barmuda Triangle” downtown. Essentially, the Triangle is the group of bars and clubs nestled near each other at the corner of West Broadway and Olive Street. 

With the arrival of The Big Dirty in late July, the club scene is a little livelier. With so many options available, figuring out which location is right for you is tricky. Hopefully this will bring you one step closer to finding your new favorite spot.

Dancing in public in the midst of a pandemic has risks, so remember to mask up since none of these Eugene clubs have a vaccination policy.

The Big Dirty

844 Olive Street. Hours: 4 pm to 2:30 am Tuesday through Sunday 

The self-proclaimed “intergalactic musical odyssey” opened July 23, but if you walk up to the location, you may be fooled into thinking there’s nothing beyond the tinted windows. Enter from the side door, and you’ll be transported to a futuristic, almost spaceship-esque world. You’ll immediately see the bar, which has incredible LED beer towers that light up along with the rest of the bar. And when the venue is in full swing, the entire inside is a vibrant, almost pulsating multicolored space. 

With its wood interior, the Big Dirty has a festival-esque feel, fitting for the wide variety of acts that come in. From EDM DJs to bluegrass bands, the venue’s rotating variety of performing artists make every night fresh from the last. The venue is more EDM and similar pop-electronic artists right now, but more variety is on the way, owner Matt Lang says. 

The Big Dirty is 21-plus all hours, with cover charges starting at 9 pm, the price ranging on the acts of the night, but generally will be $5 and up. Lang says the bar is a full service, and the staff is developing a specialty cocktail menu. The venue doesn’t make food yet, but on the weekends the Sammitch food cart is next to the entrance. 

Come here if: You want a smaller venue with an emphasis on great ambience, and you are open to a wide range of music. 

Cowfish Danceclub and Cafe

62 West Broadway. Hours: 10:30 am to 2:15 am every day

One of the clubbing scene OGs in Eugene, Cowfish has been open for almost 12 years. Its slogan, “7 nights of dancing! YES!!,” still rings true as it did upon opening. 

A mix of futuristic and nautical, the interior is more eclectic compared to the other bars. The mix of locally produced art, among the other interior decorations like the disco ball, reflective room dividers and a fish tank installed behind the bar will give you an experience unlike any other among the other establishments. The place revolves heavily around sci-fi themes and visuals, and even the name of the cafe/lounge/club is inspired by the spaceship-like movements of the cowfish. All of this makes for an almost dizzying experience alongside the smart lighting during the peak of the night. 

The resident DJs primarily play EDM while sprinkling in other genres like hip hop, rock, funk and pop. The DJs include DJ Ella Trash, Action Team, Sapphire Strange and JASNKLZZ, Micheal Human and owner Shawn Di Fiore, who DJs under the name SPOC-3-PO. 

One fun feature Cowfish has somewhat hidden is an Xbox Kinect 360 that allows for heat sensory projections of folks’ silhouettes to be shown over the low res videos displayed on the TV screens throughout the club. To get to this spot, step into the space beside the DJ booth, and over the 1,600 eclectic collection of videos that could potentially play on the TV, and your outline can show up on the monitors.

Besides the full bar, Cowfish has a wide selection of house special shots and cocktails. If you come before clubbing, the cafe/lounge offers daytime cocktails and a wide food menu. The establishment is 21-plus, and clubbing starts at 9 pm. Cover charge varies. 

The club is “not a college bar by any stretch,” Di Fiore says, but welcomes all who are open to different music tastes. 

Come here if: You want an out-of-this-world experience, something that feels uniquely Eugene or have no idea how to order drinks and need a (fully prepared) guide.

The Drake Bar

77 West Broadway. Hours: 4 pm to 2:30 am every day

One of the popular campus bars that’s not close to the university, the sports bar transforms into a dance space at 10 pm, Wednesday through Saturday. The most inexpensive compared to the other spaces, The Drake Bar’s cover is just $5 and only on the weekends. 

The Drake is popular with college students because DJs typically spin Top 40, hip hop and other mainstream hits. Since the venue caters more toward students or those in the 20s and 30s bracket, waiting in a line that runs down Broadway is a common sight if you show up after 11 pm. The average number of folks going to The Drake Bar on the weekend is anywhere between 500 to 700 throughout a night, and now that students are back from summer break it will be much busier, Drake’s general manager Ryan Fenton says. 

The Drake Bar has a full bar with a few signature drinks, including watermelon Jolly Rancher, Capri Suns and Skittles. And there are $2 jello shots, which Fenton says always sell out every night. 

Come here if: You’re a college student, someone who is new to the nightlife scene that doesn’t mind being shoulder to shoulder with other sweaty folks.

The Davis Restaurant

94 W. Broadway. Hours for dance club: 10 pm to 2 am Friday and Saturday

The Davis Restaurant owner Tom Kamis jokes that for many years folks didn’t know the location was a restaurant, just a popping nightclub on weekends. The location itself is a nice spot, with the majority of tables and chairs moved to open up to a comparatively wider dance floor that is less cramped than the other clubs within the Barmuda Triangle. 

The DJ in residence, DJ Sip, has played a mix of R&B, soul, reggaeton and other popular mainstream music tracks for the last four years at The Davis. 

Cover fees vary, but usually are $5. If a patron eats dinner before the restaurant changes to a nightclub at 10 pm, they are exempt from paying cover if they stick around. There’s usually a unique drink special around $4 offered each night, and drinks are on the middle to high price point compared to the other locations. Unlike other locations, The Davis caps folks at five alcoholic drinks and does not offer drop shots. 

The Davis has a focus on safety, so bathrooms have “angel shot” signs for patrons and offer tester strips behind the bar for anyone who asks. Asking a bartender for an angel shot is code for saying a patron needs help. There is also increased security compared to other clubs. 

Despite The Davis being more spacious than other locations, you’ll probably have to wait in a small line if you arrive after 11:30 pm since the staff don’t want to overwhelm the bartenders. The night club is currently closed and The Davis recommends keeping an eye on social media for when the club returns. 

Come here if: You’re new to nightlife, like to occasionally splurge on nicer drinks or don’t want to be completely immersed in an intense dancing environment.

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