• At clubs rated with a $, you can get in the door, get a drink and the occasional appetizer for less than $10. A $$ rating means about $10 to $20 total.
• Our star ratings, 1 through 5, gauge the overall club experience for a student. Factors: specials and discounts, atmosphere, food, drinks, music, etc.
• We stuck to Tejon Street, or within one block of it. But don't hesitate to venture out of downtown — you can find the Triple Nickel Tavern and the Rocket Room just a bit off downtown's beaten path, as well as places such as Meadow Muffins in Old Colorado City and Copperhead Road off North Academy.
Finding a downtown club with the right vibe and the right drink discounts can be just as difficult as finding parking on a Saturday night. This rundown, we hope, will ease your transition into the local nightlife.
15 E. Bijou St., 635-8303; $$
Nights to go: Anytime it's open. Hours run Monday through Saturday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday, 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Vibe: Sophisticated and artsy.
Who's who: 15c attracts an older crowd because it specializes in martinis and is one of the few places where smoking is permitted. (It sells an assortment of cigars, making it, technically, a cigar bar.) Regulars suffered a scare a couple weeks ago, when an off-hours blaze attracted more than a dozen firefighters. But the club has bounced back just fine; anyone over 21 should try it at least once.
What to drink: The usual variety is offered, but really, you should pick any one of the martinis.
What to wear: Jeans and a nice shirt will work. Look good, but be comfortable.
24 N. Tejon St., 227-1001, blondiescs.com; $$
Nights to go: Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Vibe: A nightclub atmosphere and a party feel. No place for conversation.
Who's who: Ideal for anyone 21 to 30 who likes to party. With 13 Pure/Syn closed, Blondie's is as close to a real downtown nightclub as you get in Colorado Springs. It's often hot and crowded so if you're claustrophobic, head upstairs to Level 320, the rooftop bar.
What to wear: Dresses are not required for the ladies, but you want to look your best (no T-shirts). Collared shirts recommended for men.
25 N. Tejon St., 596-1212, worldfamouscowboys.com; $$
Nights to go: Wednesday and Sunday if you're under 21; otherwise, stick to Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Vibe: Line-dancin', rodeo bronco buckin', yee-hawin', crowd-lovin' fun.
Who's who: Cowboys attracts a wide age range, and even if you're no country fan, it's a place to drag out-of-towners. Consider it sort of a "You have to at least try it once" type of thing.
Music: Country and occasional hip-hop.
What to wear: No western wear required, though boots are recommended for those who want to dance.
28 N. Tejon St., 636-2244, gasolinealleycs.com; $$
Nights to go: Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Vibe: Rock 'n roll all night, party every day.
Who's who: Located next door to Blondies, Gasoline Alley (21-plus) attracts a similar, but slightly older, crowd. Sporting events and UFC fights are shown on the TVs downstairs. The rooftop bar includes comfortable seating and a fire pit.
Music: Mostly rock 'n roll, with live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
What to wear: Anything from casual to leather and fishnets.
Jack Quinn Irish Alehouse and Pub
21 S. Tejon St., 385-0766, jackquinnspub.com; $$
Nights to go: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Vibe: Celtic casual.
Who's who: Military.com recently voted Quinn's restaurant and bar one of the Top 10 classic military spots to have a beer, so you may meet a soldier or two. But a Monday night visit will put you in the company of some trivia-loving, drinking nerds with the Geeks Who Drink Pub Quiz, and on Tuesdays you can try the locally famous running club, combining a 5K with discounted beer and appetizers.
Music: Live Irish music from various Springs bands.
What to wear: Casual dress, or real casual if it's Tuesday and you're dressed for a run.
520 S. Tejon St., 633-3300, mccabestavern.com; $$
Nights to go: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday.
Vibe: An Irish bar and restaurant with a variety of beer and cheap shots throughout the week, McCabe's gets crowded on Taco Tuesdays, and Wednesdays for the Geeks Who Drink trivia night.
Who's who: Irish whiskey lovers who want to catch all of the CC games, challenge someone to a foosball match or devour some corned beef.
Music: Live music, usually on weekends.
What to wear: Casual.
333 S. Tejon St., 471-8070, oscarstejonstreet.com; $
Nights to go: Thursday for karaoke, Friday and Saturday for live music.
Vibe: Very easygoing, with occasional dancing.
Who's who: Oscar's is not generally a hangout for college kids, although karaoke night might lure you in. Anyone can visit during the day, but after 9 p.m. the place turns 21 and up.
Music: The Jake Loggins Band often plays here. The music suits an older crowd.
What to wear: Dress is casual.
2 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 635-2800, phantomcanyon.com; $
Nights to go: Sunday is all-day happy hour (11 a.m. to close), Monday is free pool with purchase of food or drink (11 a.m. to last call), Tuesday is Service Industry Night (bring pay stub), Wednesday is college night (with college ID), Saturday is ladies night.
Vibe: A real-life version of Cheers, with billiards.
Who's who: After 6 p.m., it's over-21 laid-back locals and college kids looking for a chill evening.
Drink: Don't leave without trying one of the house brews.
What to wear: Casual. Whether that means jeans or sweats to you, it's all about relaxing here.
25 N. Tejon St., 634-3522; $$
Nights to go: Friday and Saturday.
Vibe: Sophisticated and intimate.
Who's who: The Red Martini draws an older crowd, though 21-year-olds can enjoy the evening, too. You probably won't want to hang out here frequently, but it could be a good place for a special date if you have some extra money. Martinis cost between $5 and $8, and they offer other specialty drinks.
Music: Live pianist.
What to wear: Jeans are OK if they aren't filled with holes. Make sure to wear a nice top.
128 N. Tejon St., 632-1381; $$
Nights to go: Thursday and Friday.
Vibe: Upscale and sophisticated.
Who's who: Similar to 15c, Rendezvous offers a selection of cigars and a full bar. With leather sofas and chairs, this 21-and-up lounge is a great place to start a night out, as later in the evening tends to be standing-room only.
Drink: Drinks tend to be more pricey here than at other places. However, at around $7 the house mojitos will make you and your wallet very happy.
What to wear: Dress your best. Nice jeans are OK for both men and women but make sure you pair them with a good-looking top.
15 S. Tejon St., 635-8484, ritzgrill.com; $
Nights to go: Thursday through Saturday, expect a live DJ or band.
Vibe: Casual but upscale.
Who's who: Though it's long been regarded as a great party spot (and Place to Hook Up, in the Indy's Best Of), the Ritz can attract an older crowd of people who just want to chill out after a long day's work. After 9 p.m., it's 21-plus.
Drink: With tons of flavorful martinis, you'll be able to find the exact flavor you want.
What to wear: No need to change out of your work or school clothes for this one.
Rum Bay's successor
20 N. Tejon St., 520-0900
Depending on who you talk to, Rum Bay was either the best or worst place ever. Owned by Springs nightlife magnates Sam and Kathy Guadagnoli the space is currently being renovated into a new bar. Plans are a close-kept secret, and the Guadagnolis didn't return a phone call regarding an opening date.
But here's what we can tell you: Rum Bay was a single nightclub that housed several differently themed bars, and you can probably expect the new club to be set up similarly. It attracted a lot of Fort Carson soldiers as well as the civilian 21-to-30 crowd. One of the few places in the Springs with a cover, you'd pay between $5 and $10 at the door. Its bad reputation came from the bar fights that occasionally popped up in or just outside of the club. If you like to party, party, party, then you'll want to head down to the new club when it opens. Otherwise, steer clear.
527 S. Tejon St., 314-0420, sodonightlife.com; $
Nights to go: It's 18-plus pretty much every night, and open until 4 a.m. Look for Fashion Friday Open Bar Nites and Femme Fatale Saturdays. (Doors open at 8 both nights.) Women drink free Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Vibe: Busy with a dash of crowded.
Who's who: People who want to dance dirty, ranging from high-schoolers to 30-somethings.
Drink: Take advantage of the special of the night — it'll be cheap.
What to wear: Less is best.
528 S. Tejon St., 444-8487, southsidejohnnys.biz; $$
Nights to go: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Vibe: Great patio for people-watching with above-average bar food. Their motto: "It's better to eat at a great bar than drink at a restaurant."
Who's who: Generally attracts an older-than-college crowd, but you can find anyone from bikers to bankers every night. Around 9 p.m., the bar turns 21-plus only.
Music: Free Monday night swing dance lessons and a rotating variety of live music, or at least a DJ, playing nightly. You could hear '80s jams, alternative, blues and or rock.
What to wear: Casual, dance-floor-friendly attire.
32 S. Tejon St., 884-1094, thirstyparrot.net; $$
Nights to go: Wednesday for live jazz, Thursday for ladies' night, Friday for $4 drinks, and Saturday for a live band.
Vibe: A good, relaxing place to meet friends for a night out.
Who's who: The Thirsty Parrot attracts a mix of people over 21, but the crowd tends to be a little older and is great for cougar-spotting.
Music: The music varies from jazz on Wednesday to a live DJ on Friday. On Saturdays, the Parrot hosts live, local bands.
What to wear: Casual and comfortable.
311 N. Tejon St., 228-6566, tonysdowntownbar.com; $
Nights to go: Whenever the big game is on or on Wednesday for the chicken-fried steak special.
Vibe: It's been voted Best Neighborhood Bar by Indy readers for 10 years running, if that tells you anything.
Who's who: You'll find all ages here because it's a good place to order some food, get a pitcher of beer and hang out. Anyone over 18 is invited until 8 p.m. as long as there's a 21-plus in their party. The staff is friendly, and prices are comparable to or better than those at any other downtown joint.
Music: Alternative rock is piped in over the sound system.
What to wear: Whatever you've been wearing all day.
110 N Nevada Ave., 578-7771, undergroundbars.com; $$
Nights to go: Well, there are student and military discounts from 7 to 11 every night. Monday is Bingo night, while Tuesday offers trivia and karaoke. Free poker reigns on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday evenings. Saturday's karaoke. DJs spin Thursday through Sunday. Check the website for varying times. Sunday is Goth night, starting at 10.
Vibe: Friendly and energetic, these people always seem excited to see you.
Who's who: It's the only gay bar downtown, but it attracts anyone who wants good dance music and an open atmosphere. Age requirements and costs vary based on schedule. Check the website for details.
Music: Remixes of current hits and electronic beats.
What to wear: Dress to dance, or for the various theme nights they host.
19 E. Kiowa St., 471-8622; $$
Nights to go: Tuesday for College Night, Friday and Saturday for a live DJ.
Vibe: Trendy and sophisticated.
Who's who: While V Bar is more lounge than club, it attracts the 21 to 30 crowd. The bar is dark and swanky, but the relaxed atmosphere is good for a date or a girls' night out. UFC fights are also played on the television every month.
Music: Usually whatever is on the bartender's mp3 player. But Friday and Saturday feature live DJs.
What to wear: Mostly casual. With jeans, men might wear a collared shirt; women, a nice top.