As in most Belgian towns, nightlife in Ghent centers around grazing, drinking, and talking with friends into the wee hours. However, the city's massive student population ensures a much busier, more varied nightlife than you'll find in the likes of Bruges or other towns in Flanders. Consequently, locals have come up with a very Belgian compromise to ensure tensions don't arise between residents and students. In an idea akin to horror film The Purge, the worst of the student revelry is contained within one hedonistic street containing 35 bars known as Overpoort. Such is its reputation that the police have been known to tape off the area and let the kids work out their frustrations. The consequence is that, despite the huge student population, the center isn't dominated by beer-fueled teens and is left mostly to the delectation of tourists and locals. But should you still desire to shake your booty away from the mayhem of Overpoort, the area around Oude Beestenmarkt and Vlasmarkt, near Portus Ganda, is a good spot for clubs, albeit of the cheesier variety.
There are special dance nights, several gay bars, and lots of gay and lesbian organizations providing help and advice. The tourist office even provides a gay and lesbian city map.