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Karaoke always draws a crowd, but Spotlight Live in New York brings off-the-cuff musical performance out of the sushi bar and into swank nightlife.  Celebrities spotted atSpotlight Live: Diddy, Alicia Keys, Terrance Howard, Natasha Bedingfield, J. Lo and Marc Anthony.
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updated 11/6/2007 4:23:39 PM ET 2007-11-06T21:23:39

In the world of nightlife, lounging is in and dancing is out.

And that's particularly true when it comes to the beautiful people.

"Celebrity in this country has kicked up about a million notches," says Peter Famulari, former owner of SkyBar, who now runs BOULEVARD3, both in Los Angeles. "The experience is much more intense than it used to be, even just 10 years ago."

As the number of camera-toting paparazzi and celebrity-focused media outlets rises, so has the number of famous folks aiming to escape the spotlight. Instead of heading to Studio 54-inspired discos or Ibiza-style mega-clubs, they're seeking out more intimate, private settings. Tables—and even dinner—have edged out the dance floor as the big draw.

But don't small venues take away from a club's bottom line? Not necessarily, says Famulari.

With a large space, you can make a small fortune in one night, but that opportunity comes with the requisite overhead fees like rent, electricity, gas and plumbing. Small venues make less money per evening, but overhead is typically minimal.

"Small clubs often have a bigger profit percentage than larger clubs," says Famulari. "The downside to a big club is, if the venue is underutilized, there's more opportunity to lose a lot of money. Smaller venues are a safer investment."

New York nightlife
One of the first spots to adapt the new club rules: New York's Bungalow 8. Owner Amy Sacco reserved tables with bottle service and ensured only the hippest, hottest crowd entered the doors of this tiny lounge.

After six and a half years—a lifetime in the club world—the Manhattan outpost still attracts the likes of George Clooney and Sienna Miller. Last month, Sacco brought her signature style to London, with a members-only version of Bungalow 8 in Covent Garden. Want to ensure entrance? Fill out that online application sooner rather than later.

Even more exclusive than a private club is a secret party spot—somewhere that doesn't advertise after hours.

Pavia Rosati, executive editor of DailyCandy.com, an online newsletter about urban fashion and food, says places like the Spotted Pig in Manhattan's West Village (or knock-for-entry bars in Tokyo) bring in the coolest crowds—often trickled with celebrities—because they lack the pomp and circumstance of a traditional club.

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Under-the-radar spots
And if you're eager to see celebrities during a night on the town, these out-of-the-way places are a better bet than such hit-or-miss spots as the Hyde club in Los Angeles, where some nights, celebrities are everywhere, and others, the place is filled with poseurs.

One such den: BOULEVARD3, which offers celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Derek Jeter—and their followers—a cross between cozy lounge and spacious dance floor. Customers can rent out one of the balcony suites or enjoy the house DJ.

Lounges might be hot now, but Hollywood's trendsetters are a fickle bunch. What's next for night owls? Famulari predicts a return of the mega club.

"I'm betting super clubs are going to come back with abandon," he says. "Sure, they went away for awhile, but it's where the real fun is."

© 2012 Forbes.com

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