The first thing to know about clubbing in Rhode Island is that we have a nightlife meant for everyone, even those of us who are on the younger side of things. Most clubs here are 21+ but might host 18+ nights like Mezzo’s infamous 18+ Thursdays, or are 18+ but mainly serve a 21+ audience, there are some exceptions to that rule though.
Now when I say club, I mean the kind of place where you listen to a great DJ, dance until your legs feel like cooked pasta and end the night as all champions do: in the McDonalds drive-thru begging for an Oreo McFlurry. If that’s not what you’re looking for, consider a lounge. They tend to be more chill music, good vibes, and less crowded. The only potential drawback is they are almost all hookah lounges, so they can be a little more smokey than normal, if that’s not your vibe check out some of the 18+ bars in PVD like The Parlour. I, personally, love the feeling of waking up with a sore back from dancing all night so I’ll stick with my clubs.
A decent amount of 18+ club goers are college students, getting a break from basement parties and dorm-trashing ragers. At 19 (I was a COVID student) I got really tired of all the Eaton Street tomfoolery and, with the help of my friends, found some really great clubs to replace it.
The first club we went to is a personal favorite and my overall ride or die. If everywhere else is too packed or the music is just a little too EDM for my taste I end up at Ego. You wait in line for one of four bouncers to pat you down, show them your ID, pay the cover and head in. Now remember: it’s a pat down not a cavity search. Beware of bouncers who seem to take their job a little too seriously and be firm about your boundaries in those instances.
Ego is a queer college kid’s safe haven. The bathrooms are non-gendered, the design is bright and energetic, including a smoking section, and the huge torpedo hanging over the bar isn’t the only thing dancing all night. The music is a blend of EDM, Y2K favorites and pop with a splash of reggaetón. The DJs shift in and out depending on the night and so do the go-go dancers. They’re the life of the party and keep the energy of the night from dying out. The music is so loud the floor shakes, the lights are bright enough to walk but not bright enough to make you feel like a bug under a microscope, and every time the beat drops so do the fog cannons.
For my 21+ people out there the bar is packed – like all the time – but the bartenders are pretty nice and definitely not to be messed with. When I started going out, I went to buy a water bottle and this guy came up behind me and pushed me out of his way then shouted at the bartender for a drink. This particular bartender was simply not having it. They put their hand in the man’s face and told them to talk to it while they took my order. I have never tipped anyone so much for a bottle of water. The bar, like every other part of Ego, runs a tight ship so no underaged drinking and if you feel uncomfortable with your cup having an open top, they provide lids. Just like anywhere else, beware of cups left unattended, although security usually makes rounds and throws away cups left behind.
Ego hosts events from Thursday to Sunday. Twerk Friday and Sazon Sundays are some of their recurring events, while Thursday’s and Saturday’s themes (if any) fluctuate. Twerk Fridays are a birthday season favorite with the appropriate zodiac often getting special treatment at the door.
Now if for any reason Ego is not your vibe, just upstairs is a completely different club. The pat down is quick, the bouncers are appropriately strict, and they are not easily distracted. They stand guard at the door and the bathrooms making sure to monitor the traffic in and out. Beware of anyone who follows a little too closely behind you and be sure to let someone know if you feel uncomfortable with someone else’s behavior. Kulture is practically the birthplace of bad and boujee. The dress code allows for nothing less than model-worthy attire, and it should, with Kulture having attracted names as big as Ice Spice. The music is consistently good, with DJs who focus more on hip-hop, rap, drill and dance hall. The dance area is open but populated with high-top round tables for those who want to buy a hookah for the night. This set up allows for a more intimate experience with DJs who are more than willing to shout you out for a birthday, some dancing or keeping the energy up. The bar is a little less packed because Kulture features some of the most gorgeous bottle girls I’ve ever seen, which alleviates the pressure of making drinks for the bar. Still the bartenders are nice, with honey sweet smiles and expert lip reading. They are fast and concise.
My first time at Kulture was much later than my first time at Ego, so I walked in confident, just to be struck by the model-like staff and clientele. Although the crowd is a little older, Kulture, like Ego, runs a tight ship. Cards are checked at the door, underaged drinking doesn’t get past, and bouncers really make the night go smoothly. Unlike Ego, the bouncers’ floor presence is felt less aggressively as they watch from the sidelines for the most part, not weaving in and out of the crowds unless necessary. In all the times I have been to Kulture, the only moment of tension happened at the door and was handled quickly and quietly: so quietly in fact, that I don’t know what happened despite being five feet away from the man who was escorted out.
Kulture often hosts new artists, DJs and birthday bashes which leave everyone talking. While there isn’t a standing event, Kulture keeps the hookah and good vibes of a lounge with the space and good music of a club.
If Kulture doesn’t suit your fancy just on the other side of the block is Colosseum. If Ego is for the Barbies, Kulture is for the Bratz, and Colosseum is for the Kens. The line to get in is probably obscenely long, but security moves quickly until the club is packed. There are a lot of stairs and random steps (which I have had my fair share of falls on) with a sunken dance floor and a pretty Greco-Roman dancehall vibe going on. The DJs are good at what they do, mixing pop, EDM, and rap to keep the club up and dancing. They are helped with the occasional go-go dancer setup close to the bars on high-tops and accompanied by security. For the winter there is a coat check, too. Remember not to bring anything too valuable to clubs as things and people are easily bustled around. The crowd is mainly on the younger side, think high school seniors and college sophomores, so the bar is not normally super flooded with customers. The bartenders are friendly and quick running from one side of the bar to the next to get orders or bottles for VIP sections.
While Kulture’s security is tight and not aggressively felt, Colosseum’s security is tight and barely felt on the dance floor with most of the security only intervening if a rule is broken. This is not to say they are lax, just less visible somehow, like shadows watching in dark corners. The bathrooms are guarded and so is the entrance and exit, which leads down a steep set of metal stairs into the street. For those of us who are 21+ (now), you are better off crawling down these steps clutching the railing. Thankfully, there is normally someone there to make sure no one falls, which is perfect for someone as clumsy as I am. The predominately young masculine clientele of Colosseum can sometimes make you feel like you’ve been dropped into a tidal wave, from the moshing to a Chief Keef song to the scream-chanting Kanye. Sometimes that overwhelming movement is a feeling worth indulging in; still beware of moshing crowds as people get swept up in them all the time.
Colosseum hosts a series of artists and DJs from Thursday to Sunday and for the most part, depending on the night, girls may get in free before 11pm.
The next time you look around a dorm party which has slowly wilted from people holding up the wall, remember PVD is full of great 18+ bars, clubs, and lounges; just pick your poison. Your favorite security team, bar team, or DJs will be there to give you a night you won’t forget. •