201 Ninth St. (at Howard), 255-ASIA
In the old days, this building housed an illegal abortion clinic and a seedy bar where drunk sailors were properly shanghaied. Its more recent history as a nightclub has been no less colorful. When it was the Pit, people frequently had sex on the dance floor; when it was the Underground folks passed out or OD'd. But now that the producers of "Club Asia" have taken over, decades of suspect stains and memory have been completely washed away. There is an elegant, Pan-Asian restaurant and bar on the street level, with multicolored fiber-optic shoji screens and a gender illusionist waitstaff. Downstairs, the subterranean dance floor has been transformed from a dingy, seeping hole into a classy, intimate nightclub. Despite the owners' clear penchant, the two best club nights are Latin, not Asian. "Pan Dulce" occurs every Thursday, and draws a super-stylish mixture of gay men and hetero women who want to show off their short skirts and hot dance steps. "Club Mamie" occurs only sporadically, but features some of the very hottest Latina go-go dancers and a sexy mix of lesbians dancing to cumbia, salsa, merengue, hip hop, and Latin house (248-1340).
2367 Market (at 17th Street), 861-3846
Since the neighborhood Flashdance edict, this is the only place folks are allowed to shake their butts in the Castro, so it's always packed with a fairly good mix of men and women, though there are fewer women than there used to be. The music is primarily dance of the electronic variety, and the decor is typical 1980s Castro fare -- black walls and neon -- but you won't see much of it for the crush of bodies. If you're early or lucky, you might snag a seat on the balcony, which offers a perfect catcalling perch overlooking the intersection of Market and Castro.
550 Barneveld (off Industrial), 289-2001
This is the newest, maybe the only new, big dance club to hit town. On the first Friday of every month, the producers of "Love-Haight Lounge" present "Earth," a homo-electric party for men with a shuttle running from Castro and Market every hour between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. (705-0585). On the second Saturday, "Backstreet" draws over a thousand very hip, beautiful, cosmopolitan ladies who dance to hip hop, dancehall, house, disco, funk, salsa, and merengue (339-8310). On the third Saturday, Gus -- the colossal master of mass -- presents "Metropolis," a military-themed circuit party for men in uniform (646-0890).
177 Townsend (at Second Street),
This is an enormous, one-level warehouse-style dance club with a state-of-the-art sound and light system and fabulous operators. Nights change, but there are some long-standing favorites. "Club Q" is a large hip-hop and house club for lesbians held on the first Friday of the month. It is a 12-year institution, presented by another institution -- DJ Page Hodel -- that draws a hip, multicultural, urban, lesbian crowd of no less than 2,000. "Club Universe," held every Saturday, offers a sea of shirtless, muscular men who come to dance on the largest dance floor in the city, among other shirtless, muscular men. The Sunday "Pleasuredome" crowd is usually a little more toned down physically, but typically more kinetic mentally, since your average joe has to work on Mondays; by 3 a.m. this is still a turgid, sweaty affair.
139 Eighth St. (at Minna), 626-2337
Housed in an old speak-easy, this subterranean enclave has an intimate, clandestine salon atmosphere with red walls and twinkling candles. While the crowd can be quite diverse, the booking has very heavy lesbian leanings with spoken-word nights for female performers, dance parties for women of color, live girl-rock bands, and a fabulous erotic cabaret for "gals and their pals." Hosted by a Her-culean sex-advice columnist, "In Bed With Fairy Butch" offers theme nights with sex-toy raffles, female strippers, comediennes, monologues, drag king performances, lovemaking advice, and queer "Singled Out," among other things. The next installment will be held on June 11, and should not be missed.
401 Sixth St. (at Harrison), 543-7700
Because of this club's ceaseless weekend hours and multifaceted environment, a person could theoretically go out dancing on "Fag Fridays" (high-energy house dance party for young, cute gay boys and their friends) and stumble into work Monday morning directly from the dance floor. "Other Whirled" takes over from "Fag Fridays" at 5:30 a.m. and keeps you busy until 4 p.m. Hopefully, by this time you've found someone to kill a little time with because "G-Spot" doesn't open until 9 p.m. (a very diverse cross-section of urban and suburban lesbians and dykes, produced by the woman who brought us "Club Skirts" 888-5-SKIRTS). By Sunday morning at 5:30 a.m., when the "Endup Tea Dance" kicks off (a very mixed crowd that refuses to let the party die), you'll either be getting your third wind or looking very frayed around the edges. Either way, the Endup is your spot: You can play pool; hang out by the fireplace engaging in deep, sleep-deprived conversation; watch the sun rise while drinking a Bloody Mary next to a waterfall on the sprawling, fern-festooned back patio; or shake your live-fast-die-good-looking little ass on the dance floor until 2 a.m. Monday morning.