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Cucumber-ricley / Image courtesy of Shooks // Published: 8.4.17

Shooks: The Dance Bar That’s Shaking Things Up In The Court Street District

If you bring up the word "Shooks" anywhere around Cincinnati, the conversation — often without fail — follows a tight, inquisitive script.

"I keep hearing about that place. Where is it?"

I kid you not, this happens nearly every time it's brought up. That's largely why you're reading about it here; I want the city to know where this bar is so they can have a go on the dance floor with a drink in one hand and a friend in the other while dismissing me from active explaining-where-it-is duty every time it comes up.

You'll find it next to Northside Distilling at the corner of Race and Court Streets in the burgeoning Court Street District. And by "Court Street District," I mean the de facto name some use when referring to that corner and the bars/restaurants popping up around it. Shooks, Queen City Exchange, and Northside Distilling are the current Holy Trinity trifecta of new bars slinging alcohol at wandering entertainment-seekers venturing south of Central Parkway.


It opened May 12 and is owned and operated by Steve Swartz, the former supervising manager for Japp's.

He chose the building, built in 1915 as a garage and used as a Packard car showroom in the 1930s and 40s, to house the bar because of the space it afforded. Taking a cue from his former employer, he sought to bring dancing to this corner of Downtown.

A "90s-style" bar, Shooks isn't the cocktail lounge or barcade you'll find in OTR. Sure, you can get a mixed drink just like any other place, but Steve says its focus is on a variety of beer at a cheaper price point than other bars around town. Craft and domestics are equally represented.

According to Steve, Shooks isn't going for a theme. They're trying different things to see what patrons like. One night it could be a hip hop dance party while the next night could be nothin' but country. 80s, 90s, now... Shooks is a multi-purpose bar with a singular dance floor at its core.

Oh, and it does happy hour events as well as private parties, too.


I won't say Shooks is the reincarnation of Japp's Annex, but it sure feels like tremendously good timing for another dance floor and bar to make its way to the city in light of the Annex's fate.

Maybe if you were the prima ballerina of busting a move at 12th and Main, you'd be keen to spend Friday night in the Court Street District awkwardly skanking to Mighty Mighty Bosstones after having one too many High Lifes, too.

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Shooks is located at 920 Race St (45202). Please remember it so I don't have to tell you anymore.