Location: Berlin, Germany
Within the world of house and techno, very few clubs come with as much reverence as Berghain and Panorama Bar. Located between the districts of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain in Berlin and open since 2004, the legend of Ostgut (Berghain’s predecessor) began in 1998 with a club derived from the male-only fetish party Snax, that still takes place twice a year in Berghain and the notorious Lab.Oratory located in the same building.
Berghain itself has become famed for line-ups exhibiting the most exciting emerging and established artists in techno; recent bookings include the likes of Rødhåd, DVS1, Dr. Rubinstein and Dasha Rush. Panorama Bar offers more house-centric bookings, for example Eris Drew b2b Octo Octa, Massimiliano Pagliara or Gerd Janson for a Sunday afternoon fix. Säule, the newest floor, opens on Thursdays and is dedicated to more experimental acts and an open-minded music policy.
It’s an institution that has inspired many other scenes, clubs and movements all around the world; residents such as Ben Klock, Marcel Dettmann, Ryan Elliot, Nick Höppner, Steffi and Tama Sumo have become globally established artists in their own right.
The in-house record label Ostgut Ton, established in 2005, has not only defined the club’s sound, but outwardly that of Berlin for over a decade, releasing music by artists heavily associated with the club as well as being home to a well-respected mix series.
Another highly applauded aspect of Berghain is the extended set times; on average artists play between three-to-eight hours, with occasional happenings like a Ben Klock 12-hour marathon. It’s no wonder most DJs that have had the honour of playing there have a story or two to share.
A night at Zouk is full of drama. The custom-built premises in Clarke Quay are effectively four different clubs in one. The main space, Zouk, is styled with a neo-industrial and futuristic aesthetic that is inspired by the underground rave clubs and refurbished warehouses of New York and Berlin. It is accessible through a sculptural tunnel that immediately gets you talking, and once inside, the vast complex is spread over two floors with raw bricks, rusted metal and exposed concrete structures all rather at odds with the generally more hyper-futuristic feeling of the city outside.
Furniture pieces are constructed with machine-aged detailing in brass tones, and above the main dancefloor is a huge steel installation that brings cosmic immersion in lights and lasers from another dimension. "The mothership", as it is called, offers 120 light patterns that can be viewed from 360 degrees, to draw you ever deeper into an immersive world as each night rolls on.
Aside from the main club there is Phuture, which is styled with graffiti-like artwork and has a hip-hop soundtrack, and Capital, which is all about luxury and elegance, with a whisky bar and plush seating. Musically, you can expect anything from trance to hip-hop to ‘90s classics, and in the last year highlights have included Charlotte de Witte, Sven Väth, Kaiserdisco and Markus Schulz. Always responding to changing sounds and aiming to bring through local talents, Zouk very much defines the Singapore sound 29 years after it first opened its doors.
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Bigger isn’t always better. Obviously, no one told that to Club Octagon. At 3,000 square-metres, it’s the largest club ever built in South Korea. But there’s beauty, style and real substance to go alongside the 3,000-capacity space.
Octagon was the first club in Asia to have a Funktion-One soundsystem, and that beefy audio is brilliantly complemented by the club’s stunning whirlpool lighting. A spinning mass of octagonal lights, each rotating on its own axis, illuminates the sprawling double-level warehouse structure, creating a club environment that’s equal parts Bladerunner futurism and halcyon rave territory.
It’s fair to say the club has come a long way since being a three-story karaoke lounge bar and has become a lynchpin in the South Korean club scene. Octagon has hosted after-parties for Ultra Korea and EDC Korea, and — keen to balance out the musical styles — also the DJ competition, Redbull 3style Korea.
This being clubbing in 2020, though, there’s more to the space than just a killer sound and lighting system. Billied as a “multicultural complex”, the club also offers fine dining from some of the country’s top chefs, curated cocktails from mixologists and a Lounge Stage playing ahead of the curve music.
In fact, the formula has been so successful that Octagon has opened a sister branch in Tokyo, Octagon Japan. Then again, when your mission statement is to create a club founded on “pure love for music and culture”, you probably deserve every success coming your way.
Location: Manchester, UK
Steeped in electronic music history, from the days of the Haçienda and The Happy Mondays to the now-defunct Sankeys Soap Factory, Manchester has long-since been the epicentre of North England’s nightlife culture.
Founded by the man behind Manchester’s Parklife festival, Sacha Lord, and Sam Kandel, who both had early involvement in Sankeys, The Warehouse Project became a mainstay in 2006. Shifting between a number of venues across the years, and leaving the iconic Store Street venue in 2019, rumours first surfaced of a move to the city’s Depot Mayfield more than five years ago, and last year, the rumours became reality.
Transformed from an old train station into an industrial rave paradise, the epic mega-venue plays home to 10,000 people each weekend from September until the New Year, bringing in a huge variety of acts. It has also hosted festivals, including Homobloc, and welcomes line-ups from some of the greatest promotions in the industry, such as Annie Mac Presents and Jamie Jones’ Paradise. The main room, Depot, features LED screens and two stacks of seven d&b audiotechnik J8/J12 speakers, and in the last 12 months has hosted everyone from Bicep to Disclosure, Flume, and Four Tet b2b Skrillex.
The Concourse room introduced a new concept for WHP, alongside Depot Mayfield owners, Broadwick Live, with a 360-degree experience allowing the crowd to move around the DJ; while Archive, the smallest room tucked away in a little cavern, pays homage to WHP’s original Store Street home. It’s only the first year for Depot, but it quite rightly makes its way into the Top 100 clubs list.
Location: Ibiza, Spain
Where do you start with this one? While most venues are rightly proud to pass five, 10 and 15-year milestones, Ibiza’s Amnesia marks no less than 43 years on the map in 2020. If walls could talk, few would have stories to match those of this bona fide Balearic institution. “Events change, DJs change, trends change, but the heart of the club will always be the same,” says the venue’s longest standing resident, Mar-T.
The phrase ‘if it ain’t broke’ springs to mind when discussing the San Antonio spot, which is credited with helping nurture and incubate the acid house movement. Today it continues to deliver what so many come to the White Island for. Mayhem abounds on the dark main dancefloor, the glass ceiling still makes perfect sunrise moments, and an expansive terrace area packed with plants lets revellers take five from the full-throttle proceedings.
Though of course dependent on the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 looks set to be another huge year for all involved, with impressive sound guaranteed by way of new Kv2 systems set to pummel both rooms of music, and a weekly calendar largely focused on heavy, upfront tunes. From techno session Pyramid, through to the carnival of Elrow, Jamie Jones’ Paradise, and the appropriately titled Do Not Sleep parties, it’s obvious that the founding principle of this venue — originally named The Workshop of Forgetfulness — remains firmly at the centre of the action, and nobody would ever want it any other way. A living legend, make no mistake.
Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA
The Pacific Stock Exchange had no idea what happened to it after almost 25 years of vacancy, when its hallowed halls turned into DTLA’s superclub, Exchange LA. The area feels like it’s experiencing an ongoing earthquake on the few nights a week Exchange is open for business. The tight streets feel tighter, with the queues three deep and the velvet ropes tangling with pedestrians wondering what’s happening here?
Insomniac’s crown jewel of nightlife venues, upon entry the perpetual activity on Exchange’s groundfloor might seem like the central attraction. Or perhaps its the side rooms, dark and dank, offering left-of-centre sounds. But it’s up two flights of stairs and past a gracious atrium that the cavernous space station of the main dancefloor awaits.
Four sweeping RGB 6w lasers and 70 heart-stopping spotlights make the metallic accessories of the room flash. A high balcony around the perimeter of the room looks down onto the constantly moving dancefloor, itself surrounded by 15-foot-tall projection mapping. The talent ranges from Armin van Buuren to Duke Dumont, Oliver Heldens, Eats Everything, Andy C, Noisia, and Matrix & Futurebound. There are some recurring favourites at Exchange LA, among them, Gorgon City, Green Velvet and Nora En Pure.
The sound is on-point with a Funktion-One system featuring new EVO6 speaker cabinets coupled with Sound Investment AV and Exchange’s own line array system, which hangs from the 40-foot ceiling. Yet elements of the original Exchange still remain intact with the four key sculpted figures in the lobby ceiling: Speed, Accuracy, Permanence, and Equality. Not bad icons for a Top 100 Club.
Location: Bristol, UK
Almost 15 years have passed since Motion first started to morph from a skatepark into a world class rave den, and a lot has happened. Especially in the last year; the club has just said farewell to its decade-long-running In:Motion events and announced a new party chapter. Motion 2020 marks the start of a new decade with a fresh look and design but still the same famously diverse and far-reaching roll call. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak shutting down clubland, this season alone was set to feature guests from Mall Grab to Mefjus, Raekwon to Randall.
Another big change for Motion has been the surrounding area. Once a sprawling industrial area, now a thriving zone for real estate, the club is currently negotiating with neighbouring developers to safeguard its future. It’s looking hopeful, too; Motion’s team have secured a deed of easement that allows them to maintain the noise levels they already produce. More work is to be done but, in true Bristol spirit, it seems like one of the most progressive negotiations that’s happened between a club and developers in the UK so far.
Meanwhile back on the club’s multiple dancefloors — including the new outdoor container yard — Motion continues to represent a full-flavoured cross-section of music. Last year guests ranged from Sasha to Shy FX, Todd Terry to Four Tet, and nights were run by big brands such as Boiler Room, Hospitality, RUN, Cirque Du Soul and The Blast. The club’s popular daytime bashes Yard: Open Air are now in their fourth year and mark the start of Motion’s summer season.
Location: Dubai, UAE
Having opened its doors in 2013, White Dubai is the city’s first open-rooftop nightclub. Open only from September to May, the club is located on the rooftop of the Meydan Hotel, offering stunning views of Dubai’s famous skyline.
The venue is also known for its A-list bookings and its celebrity clientele. Previously, the Middle Eastern venue has booked dance music headliners such as Hardwell, Dimitri Vegas, NERVO, Dubfire and Claptone, and pop, hip-hop and R&B superstars like The Backstreet Boys, Jason Derulo, French Montana, Big Sean, Rita Ora, Future and Craig David. In addition, White Dubai has also welcomed clients like Justin Bieber, Cardi B, Ed Sheeran, Eva Longoria and Floyd Mayweather to its VIP area.
Further testifying to White Dubai’s international fame, the superclub has been namechecked in Tory Lanez’s ‘Benevolent’ and Travis Scott’s ‘Dubai Shit’.
In the last year alone, the club’s bookings included a mix of international dance music acts like Steve Aoki, and hip-hop and R&B stars like 2 Chainz, Nelly, Usher, Ty Dolla $ign, Gucci Mane, Young Thug, Tinie Tempah and Wiz Khalifa.
Currently, the venue has three regular club-nights. The flagship Saturday night event, URBN, champions a wide spectrum of hip-hop and R&B sounds. On Tuesdays, the club’s Starboy party series caters to Afrobeats, dancehall and R&B fans. While Thursday series, UNDRGROUND, is dedicated to London-inspired grime, hip-hop and garage sounds only.
Location: Ibiza, Spain
Holding a spot in the Top 100 Clubs poll for over a decade, the home of the famous red cherries, Pacha, returns for another year. The team at Pacha say the club — which is designed to look like an Ibiza farmhouse and faces the Old Town — has “grown and evolved in tandem with the island” since opening its doors in 1973.
Holding 3,000 clubbers, and offering both VIP and general admission experiences, Pacha has undergone major renovations in recent years to introduce even more “diaphanous” dancefloor space and enhanced AV. The club’s soundsystem is d&b audiotechnik, and it features 37 panels of kinetic-led video installation.
Spread across four rooms, plus an outdoor garden and terrace which serves ice cream well into the night, Pacha is a club that puts the experience first. Last season, the club welcomed artists from Bedouin and Calvin Harris to Marco Carola and Solomun, and masked house purveyor Claptone, who’s revealed his enchanted Masquerade concept heads back to the club for another season this year.
Also in 2019, the club’s longest-standing residency, Flower Power, continued to nod to the club’s ‘70s roots, and nights like Cocoon and Dixon’s Transmoderna made last season one of the most pivotal and diverse in Pacha’s history.
Location: Beirut, Lebanon
Claiming the title of first Beirut club to enter the Top 100 poll last year, The Grand Factory makes another great leap (of 13 places to be exact) in 2020. Split over three rooms —the 1,000-capacity Factory, 300-cap Reunion, and Soul Kitchen, which holds 200 people — the club opened in 2014 on the site of a mattress factory, which amazingly still operates during the daytime.
As well as booking the likes Sven Väth, Tale Of Us, Stephan Bodzin, Black Coffee, Amelie Lens and Honey Dijon in the past year, The Grand Factory has launched a new night focused on supporting local talent, and made a conscious effort to combat Lebanon’s ongoing economic crisis via “a dedicated humanitarian approach, both in supporting our community through several donation drives, in addition to making our venue an accessible venue for all”.