When it first opened in 2013, Whisky Saigon promised to “set a new standard for Boston nightlife” by offering luxurious décor, a state-of-the-art sound system, and special effects. We headed over there on a recent Friday night to check it out, and we can report that it’s made good on the promise. The 15,000-square-foot space in Boston’s theater district formerly occupied by Gypsy Bar combines bar, lounge, and dance club. The venue was just named “Best Dance Club” by Improper Bostonian magazine.
The club’s Facebook page told us we could sign up for that night’s RSVP list and skip the cover charge (usually $15) if we arrived before 10:30 p.m. There are also occasional specials that admit ladies free before 10:30 p.m. Signing up was easy—we entered name and email address and downloaded the ticket to our phone to be scanned at the door.
We got to Whisky Saigon just before the 10:30 cutoff, prepared to wait in a long line (friends had warned us to expect one). But when we arrived, the line was short and moved quickly. The bouncers checked our IDs (the club is 21+), scanned our tickets, and stamped our hands and that was it.
The first room you enter has several large round booths on the right side across from one of the club’s three bars. Past that we spied a VIP lounge decorated to resemble a library (we couldn’t figure out the criteria for entering, as there didn’t seem to be anyone checking at either door). Farther down the dimly lit hallway we found the dance floor, bookended by the two other bars.
Customers looking for the ultimate VIP experience can buy tables lining the glass wall or the LED wall around the dance floor (maximum capacity 20 per table), in the VIP lounge, or in the front lounge area. Table deposits are $100, and a spending minimum, depending on the table location and party size, is required. For example, a party of 20 must spend a minimum of $1,200. (Find a full price list here.) Front room booths, which comfortably sit six to eight people, are a bit less—a minimum of $335 for a party of eight.
We decided against a table and checked our coats (although the line was long, the coat check was free) before making our way back to the front bar. We ordered two cocktails (a Jim Beam and ginger ale and a Disaronno and Coke, each $12). We got our money’s worth: the drinks were a decent size and weren’t watered down. However, shelling out $12 for a mixed drink may not be in everyone’s price range. Note: one customer ordered water and was told it was $5 for a small bottle.
After we finished our drinks, we explored the dance floor. The DJ was Dirty DEK, well known to Boston and Rhode Island club-goers. The DJ lineup changes nightly, so it’s best to check Facebook for up-to-date information. The music tends to be of a mix of electronic dance music and Top-40 hits.
The dance floor got more crowded as the night went on, sometimes uncomfortably so (the club has a capacity of 700 people, and at one point it felt like all 700 had gravitated to the dance floor). As the music blared, strobe lights pulsed, and people danced, bubbles and smoke fell from the ceiling onto a cheering crowd.
The patrons were mostly in their early to late 20s. The club has a strict dress code (per the website: “stylish attire is appreciated”): no athletic wear, no T-shirts, no baseball hats, no excessively baggy clothing, no shorts, no construction boots, and no gym sneakers. Most of the women the night we went were wearing either dresses and heels or dark pants paired with a nice shirt. The guys were generally wearing khaki pants and collared shirts.
We had a great time at Whisky Saigon and would certainly go back. The music was current, upbeat, and easy to dance to, the staff friendly enough, and the lines at the bars moved quickly. While the crowd sometimes got rowdy, the bouncers were quick to address any possible problem. It’s clear to see why this is an award-winning Boston club.
This weekend’s featured DJs are Costa on Friday, January 29, and Tony Martinez on Saturday, January 30.
Whisky Saigon, 116 Boylston St., Boston, is open Fridays and Saturdays, 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.; phone: 617-482-7799. The club is 21+, ID required. The cover charge is typically $15. Dressy attire is strongly recommended. Take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Boylston.
This is part of a series featuring Boston nightlife venues of interest to the BU community. If you have any suggestions for places we should feature, leave them in the Comment section below.
Jennifer Bates can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.