Navigating the New York City club scene isn’t a leisurely walk in the park. It’s more like a tipsy jaunt around lower Manhattan. When I first moved to the city, I was a 22 year-old recent graduate who spent my first summer living in student housing while searching for a job in the fashion & entertainment industries. After a few weeks of exploring the city on my own, I slowly started making friends and before I knew it I was getting into the hippest clubs in Manhattan. Now, two years later, I’m sort of over the whole party scene but that doesn’t mean I don’t still frequent my favorite party spots from time to time.

Avenue: I’ve simply never had a bad time at Avenue, which is why it remains one of my favorite Manhattan party spots. One thing that separates Avenue from other larger NYC clubs is its small size. Although it’s hard to get in unless you are with a promoter or happen to be a 6-foot tall runway model, if you do make it inside I guarantee that you will be glad you made the trek to the sketchy part of meatpacking.

Greenhouse is my pick for best club for NYC newbies. It was here that I had my first glimpse into the chic yet wild Manhattan club lifestyle. Decor-wise, the club is eco-friendly in design, built entirely from recycled or recyclable materials but with an ultra sleek interior, it hardly looks environmentally conscious.

The main floor has a bar area right near the dance floor and slightly elevated are tables lining the walls, which are reserved for bottle service. The DJ booth is positioned even higher and depending on what night you choose to go, you will hear anything from hip-hop to house to club remixes. There’s also a downstairs floor which is smaller but more intimate and has its own unique vibe.

It’s a favorite among celebrities including Jay-Z, Jessica Simpson, Leonardo DiCaprio and Gabrielle Union. Rihanna (who was at the table next to me one night) frequents Greenhouse when in New York.

1OAK is short for One of a Kind, which pretty much sums up how one feels if he or she actually gets past their strict door policy. Located in Chelsea, the design layout is spacious enough even during prime club hours but still has an intimate feel to it. Magnificent artwork lines the walls and the decor is ornate and tasteful.

I’ve been here a few times and have always had a great time. The music is consistently good and the people are less pretentious than usual. It’s a hotspot for celebrities and while they always get the best table on the floor, don’t expect the DJ to necessarily play their music. I’ve been there once when NE-YO was there and another time when will.i.am stopped by and I don’t recall dancing to any of their songs.

The Box may look discreet from the outside, but once you walk into the spacious downtown venue, it is a completely different story. The space itself is rather large in comparison to other Lower East Side hotspots. The bar is closest to the entrance, followed by several tables with velvet couches on either side of the floor. And then of course there is the large stage. In true theater design, there is more seating available on the upstairs balcony level.

On most nights, The Box puts on two Burlesque shows. After seeing a couple of their performances, I was genuinely impressed with the talent hired for these shows. Just so you are warned, these performances are very sexually driven and provocative. You really never know what you are going to see at The Box and more specifically what the performers will do to themselves or each other.

I’ve seen a variety of their performance acts ranging from a quirky dancing magician couple to a naked man with no arms. The Box is always mixing it up and they certainly do a good job of finding new ways to shock and amaze us.

Griffin is one of my favorite Manhattan nightclubs. The interior decor alone is worth paying a visit. Located in the trendy Meatpacking District, this club feels more like a posh hotel lounge than your typical drunken dance hangout.

Elegant, plush couches and stunning chandeliers are two reasons why Griffin is on the top of my list. The space easily transforms from a lounge to a dance club, and is a great option for hosting events. Last year, my friend was in a fashion show held here and the space converted nicely.

Photo via jenschapter3‘s flickr stream.