Downtown Bars & Nightlife

Establishment neighborhood
Paula Raiford’s Disco
14 S. 2nd St., Downtown
Memphis is mostly know for blues and rockabilly, so it’s easy to forget that disco had a major heyday here, too. Run by local legend Paula Raiford (she reopened the business after her father, Robert, retired, though he still mans the DJ booth in custom rhinestoned capes and sunglasses at age 75), this disco is a relic of that time. The clientele is all over the map, as it’s a staple for folks close to Robert’s age bracket as well as the younger set. Though there’s a full bar, everyone orders 40s, per tradition. The music is a lot of old-school hits, but it’s the kind of place where the Cha Cha Slide gets everyone onto the (plexiglass, multicolored) dance floor without making you feel like you’re at a cheesy bar mitzvah. It’s unlike anything else.
Mollie Fontaine Lounge
679 Adams Ave., Downtown
Memphis’s Victorian Village is home to many 19th-century gems, boasting twelve sites on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s lovely area to walk around during the day, as several of the homes are open for historic tours. If you’re there in the evening, head to Mollie Fontaine Lounge, an old painted lady that’s been converted to a quirky bar with live music and brocade-covered walls—all lined with portraits of Memphis greats.