Ray Rice has finally returned to the bar scene -- partying at a NYC nightclub for the first time since he attacked his wife at an Atlantic City casino back in February ... and TMZ Sports has the pics.
Rice hit up Bounce Sporting Club in Manhattan late Saturday night/early Sunday morning -- where he posed for pics with fans and chatted with anyone who approached him.
We're told security was trying to keep fans away from Rice -- but Ray was talking and making conversation with people anyway.
The timing is interesting ... considering Ray won his appeal on Friday -- and then hit the club right after. It feels like a celebration.
One source tells us Janay was with Ray at the club -- though we can't confirm that yet.
Everyone we spoke with says Ray was NOT drinking at Bounce.
As we previously reported, Ray claimed he was highly intoxicated when he struck Janay in Atlantic City -- and says ever since that incident, he's cut hard liquor out of his life.