It’s been almost 12 months since the results of our last Top 100 Clubs poll and it’s safe to say most clubs have had a better year than the one previous. Vaccination programmes rolled out across the world have thankfully curbed the Covid-19 pandemic, allowing most markets to reopen. It’s by no means been an easy year, with different countries lifting restrictions at different rates and offering varying amounts of support for the nightlife sector, and there are some venues that will sadly never open their doors again. Many of those that did survive benefited from a rush of sales when rave- starved clubbers were finally given the chance to reconnect with each other and the music they love on the dancefloor.
However, soaring living costs in many regions, combined with a ‘lost generation’ of clubbers who came of age during the pandemic but missed out on formative experiences, is impacting clubs and promoters. The after-effects of the pandemic are ongoing, and it’s hard to say when, if ever, we’ll really stop feeling them. With this in mind, for the second year running, the rules of our Top 100 Clubs poll have been altered to allow votes for clubs that closed due to the pandemic and are yet to reopen.
For the first time since 2009, every club-bearing continent on the planet is represented in the poll, as Kenya’s MUZE returns for the second year running and Sydney favourite, Chinese Laundry (currently undergoing a refurb but running branded nights) re-enters the poll after missing out the past two years. Europe still dominates, equalling last year’s total of 49 clubs and claiming half of the 12 new entries. Venues from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK join the poll this year, while the region also once again contains all the non-movers. Five clubs have refused to budge this time, including top-five-placing Bootshaus in Cologne, London and Glasgow institutions fabric and Sub Club, and two iconic Ibiza venues. There’s also one European re-entry in Corsica Studios, a much-loved South London venue that’s also home to this month’s cover stars, Mantra & Double O’s Rupture party. Overall, things are looking positive for Europe’s club scene, with 22 clubs gaining places against 15 dropping down.
And all of that is without mentioning the continent’s biggest coup of 2022: Hï Ibiza taking the Top 100 Clubs crown. Yes, for the first time since Space — the legendary venue that occupied the location where Hï now stands — won in 2017 after closing its doors at the end of the previous season, Ibiza has been able to claim the top spot. Perhaps there’s still some magic in those hallowed halls, or more likely it’s just down to the stellar job the team at Hï have done to make the place their own. This year the club achieves what older sister venue Ushuaïa hasn’t yet been able to and takes home the win. Congratulations to the team from everyone at DJ Mag.
Last year’s winner, Washington, DC club Echostage, slips down to No.2, but it’s not all doom and gloom for North America. The USA takes the title of No.1 clubbing country back from the UK, clocking an impressive total of 16 clubs in this year’s list (up from 13 in 2021). Four new US clubs have joined the poll: two in California, one in Boston (MA) and a new Las Vegas venue operated by Zouk (of Singapore and Kuala Lumpur fame). Zouk Las Vegas cops this year’s Highest New Entry gong, in at No. 42. Despite extended lockdown measures, Canada is also on the up this year, as Montréal hotspot Stereo rejoins the poll for the first time since 2019.
Heading down to South America, things don’t seem quite as peachy at first, with five clubs losing places as opposed to four gaining. However, the addition of the new Surreal Park venue in Brazil evens out the scales, boosting the region’s overall number of ranked clubs into double figures.
The biggest shock comes from Asia. The region has been an unstoppable juggernaut for several years now, seeming only to gain places in the poll each time. This has, in large part, been due to the rapid expansion of the Chinese club scene, which last year equalled the number of Spanish rankings (12) and gave the US and UK a run for their money. It seems the continued ultra-strict quarantine measures, which last year actually meant China was one of the first countries to open up for large-scale club events, have sadly taken their toll in the past 12 months, however. China loses five clubs from the poll this year, bringing its total to seven, while Asia is down six spots overall, and only gains one new venue — Nepal’s Lord Of The Drinks (otherwise known as LOD).
However, there are two things we’ve learnt above all else from watching the rise of the Asian market, which is still in a state of relative infancy compared to Europe and North America. Firstly, it’s still fairly volatile, with lots of clubs coming and going each year. And secondly — and perhaps more importantly — its unmatched resources and enthusiasm give it the ability to always bounce back.
As we move further away from the bleak pandemic years, we can only hope this is true of all the regions represented in the Top 100 Clubs poll. As dance music fanatics, the best thing we can all do to help the club scene recover is get out on to dancefloors and support our local clubs.