Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

It’s finally the weekend…but what is there to do?


You’ve just finished a grueling first week of school. You enjoy the freedom of your newfound college experience but you weren’t ready for the sheer number of discussion posts you would have due by the end of the week.

Just as you begin to feel overwhelmed by the entirely new responsibility that you now have of being an adult, a friend from your floor asks if you would like to go out this weekend. You have plenty of options to choose from.

Here is your guide to nightlife in Carbondale.


The bars are almost always a good time. The only thing to consider is which one piques your interest. Every bar has its own individual personality.

If you are an underclassman who is ready to live the so-called “college experience”, the re-opened Levels is the place you need to be.

Levels is the largest of the four bars discussed in this guide, with the highest weekly attendance on average (for now). It had been closed down for several years before its return in the spring semester of 2023.

Its highly anticipated re-opening did not disappoint, as many people flooded the entrance on Feb. 10. Levels is more of a club than anything else featured in Carbondale.

It has one main bar room which faces you as soon as you enter. It also has two side bars on either side of the multi-leveled stage (hence the name). There is an ultra-large TV opposite the stage that routinely plays music videos and flashing lights to keep the crowd invigorated.

There are also two bathrooms. One connected to the main bar and another on the right side of the stage.

The surplus of bars and bathrooms make the wait time for drinks and potty breaks much quicker.


The floor stays busy, with a high chance you will bump into somebody at least once while trying to navigate the large open area. The first level of the stage is essentially the same with more dancing.

On the second level is where the sweating will start. This section looks like one big honeycomb of groups, with their backs facing one another, trying to bust a move despite the lack of space.

If you made it to the third and final level, congratulations. You are the life of the party.

Here is where conversations are impossible and you are destined to lose the rest of your friend group. Anyone who survives a full three hours on the third level deserves a medal.

The music at Levels is widely thought to be quality, with a playlist featuring a mix of today’s best hits with some absolute classics thrown in. The only problem arises when you go to Levels for the third time and realize it’s essentially the same tracklist over and over again.

Levels is located in a convenient spot for many students. It’s within a five-minute walk from the East Campus dorms as well as apartment complexes like Aspen and The Pointe. Don Taco is just down the road for a perfect post-bar snack.

Now is a good time to discuss the bar that Levels has unfortunately taken much of its business from.


It is yet another establishment which reopened in the past couple of years. This time, in May of 2022.

Stixx originally had the gravitas of Levels before it had reopened. It offered a more club-like atmosphere than other nightlife in Carbondale.

Now, Stixx is experiencing a slight fall off. And the closing of Carbondale’s beloved Changos this past year has not helped their situation, seeing as it was right next door.

Stixx is located on the strip and as you walk inside, there are two rooms and a hallway to your left. The first room on the right is where anyone can play pool with their buddies and have a nice chat.

If you continue to walk down the hallway (which has the one and only bathroom on the left), you will walk into this venue’s main area.

Directly in front of you, is the large circular bar where you will get your drinks at a moderate speed if you decide to order one. Then, if you walk just a little further, you will find the dance floor.

At the back of the bar is the stage, which is 1-foot tall with enough room to fit about 30-40 people. Have pity for the dancers on the edge all night long, destined to lose their balance at least 100 times throughout the night.

Stixx has a pretty good tracklist and tends to mix it up more than the DJ at Levels. However, the chance of an absolute dud is much more common here.

Onto Stixx’s senior counterpart on the famous Carbondale strip: Traxx.

Unlike both bars previously mentioned, Traxx is a solid joint, with not a lot of rocky history aside from a couple of suspensions here and there. It is the perfect bar to go to if you are the type who wears a hoodie with a flannel pullover on top of it.

Check that, this place does have a unique ability to be for everyone. It has a very “college-town” bar feel to it.

Plus, it’s the only bar with no cover fee. It’s easy to see why it has developed its own ‘cult’ of followers who will hang out there on any random Wednesday night.

As you enter, pool tables are available to your left, followed by a row of seats that are usually occupied by groups of students having a drink in hand.

Straight ahead is the bar, where getting a drink on a busy night might take you 20 minutes. There are only three bartenders, and it can feel daunting with everyone piled on top of one another (not to mention the line for the bathroom also happens to be in this vicinity).

In between the seated area and bar is the dance floor. It’s quite small, but leaves an inviting atmosphere for students to break it down to some good overall music.

Traxx greets you on the left after the four-way intersection that starts the strip, conveniently located right next to Insomnia Cookies and the Evolve apartments.

Hangar 9 stands as the sophisticated older brother to the other bars for Carbondale students.

Freshmen are not commonly found here. If you enjoy live music, craft beer, and somewhere you can actually have a full length conversation with someone; this is your place.

As you walk in, the bar stands right in front of you, with the stage on its left. In front of the stage are areas to sit and a staircase leading up to the second floor which offers more space to get associated with people.

It also has the largest and most decorative outside seating section.

Hangar 9 is also famous for its themed nights which can range from emo to karaoke to Latino. More than likely, it will host a night with a niche of yours.

Hangar 9 is located on the back end of Carbondale’s strip, right across from the newly renamed  “Big Chill” ice cream shop (formerly the iconic Dairy Queen). It is probably the farthest regularly attended bar for SIU students.

If you plan to attend a fraternity or any other form of greek life, be ready for all the stereotypes to be true. Disgusting bathrooms, walls with holes splattered across them and vomit in the bushes.

That being said, frats are where you can meet some great friends and hear some of the best (or worst) mixes. It’ll be packed in almost every basement but there are usually groups of people outside catching some air throughout the night.

Just be sure the fraternity is safe and plan accordingly if it is a farther distance than any of the bars.

At the end of the day, there is a place for you on the weekends in the small town of Carbondale. You just have to find the right one for your tastes.


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