Location: Madrid, Spain
16-years-young and still fresh as a baby, FABRIK remains one of Madrid’s crown clubbing jewels, and continues to set a high standard for nocturnal options across the whole of Spain, with a music policy can’t be easily pigeon-holed and high-spec tech to boot.
Over the last 12 months, the venue has seen some significant alterations and improvements, including the addition of a new open-air stage and dancefloor, plus extra indoor space known as the Club Area, with its DJ booth situated in the centre of the room. Bookings, meanwhile, have been heavyweight as ever, from Carl Cox, Modeselektor and Jeff Mills to Jamie Jones, Adam Beyer and Joris Voorn, with residents Cesar Almena, Nuke and Raul Ortiz, a.k.a. Overman, representative of the in-house talent.
Club-night CODE continues to do it for the techno heads, while NATURA brings housier edges to the heads down tones, running on Sundays throughout summer. This is also one of the regular homes-from-home for Elrow, another name in this year’s Top 100 Clubs poll, welcoming some of the brand’s most spectacular productions to take full advantage of a custom-designed soundsystem by Tecnare — more than enough to thump it out.
Location: San Francisco, USA
Halcyon celebrates three years as an all-female managed nightclub and only the third club in the world to install the renowned Dolby Atmos system, an immersive sound experience with Kerri Chandler as ambassador. The space’s brick-and-steel structure harks back to its beginnings as a warehouse, and Halcyon maintains the warehouse vibe of the early underground. With its 24-hour license, DJs can play extended sets way past the city’s curfew, at the same time maintaining a strong connection with the intimate crowd. A flagship Pioneer XY venue, in the past year Halcyon has hosted a range of talent from Black Coffee to Nicole Moudaber, Derrick Carter and Claude VonStroke.
Location: Camboriu, Brazil
Santa Catarina in southern Brazil has been the boom state of the South American country over the past 20 years. Its mix of fine beaches, idyllic islands, lush vegetation and new Dubai-style skyscrapers have made it a premier tourist destination, and of course the youth of the area — whether resident or visiting — want something to do of an evening.
In 2007, some enterprising locals decided to throw a rave in the middle of the jungle — well, a valley, to be precise. A green one. Looking to deliver “a unique experience at a unique location”, they booked none other than Carl Cox to headline their first event. It went so well and created such a buzz that they began booking other top DJs such as Tiësto, and creating some infrastructure to make it a more permanent spot.
Within three years, Green Valley had shot into the Top 100 Clubs poll at No.27, and within another three years, it was the world's No.1. Quite a meteoric rise! Staying in the top three of the chart all decade, it scooped the No.1 slot again last year and has retained its title in 2019. So it's congratulations to all at Green Valley — an incredible place to party.
Walking up the hill from a car park, it's initially like entering an enchanted wood. A large trophy cabinet displays all the awards they've won as you head towards the main arena, and GV even have their own high-end souvenir shop selling all sorts of merch — from tees to glasses to caps, all bearing their distinctive butterfly logo.
As soon as you start wandering around, you're immediately struck by how Green Valley is more like a boutique festival than a traditional club — populated by swathes of beautiful people. The main arena is a huge permanent structure covered by taut heavyweight tented canvas and plays host to a load of international names throughout the summer months. Martin Garrix, Fatboy Slim, Claptone, Markus Schulz, Steve Angello and last month’s DJ Mag UK cover star Fisher are just some of the big names to have rocked the main arena over the past 12 months, and when you have homegrown superstars such as ALOK and Vintage Culture as residents — both Top 100 DJs acts in their own right — you know you're onto a winner. In fact, Green Valley's reach has been instrumental in catapulting these two DJs (and others) into the international rankings in recent times.
An amazing soundsystem is augmented by several LED walls transmitting cutting-edge visuals triggered by the various in-house VJs, and when you add in CO2 cannons, lasers and other special FX you get an amazing, immersive, festival-type experience here.
Walking down the site, past the lovely lake, you come to the Underline stage — where more underground DJs play. With residents Fabricio Pecanha, San Schwartz, Full Duplex and sometimes Brazil music legend Rodrigo Vieira — when he isn't on the main stage — catering to the more discerning house and techno fans, this area is also a great place to party. It too has received a backstage makeover in the past 12 months.
Further out and up the site, you come to the Lagoon Stage, which also resembles a festival stage. This is predominantly where bass artists ply their wares, and when it's open the club is at full capacity. With assorted bars, chillout areas and more around the site, it really is like a mini-festival in paradise.
Buoyed by their international recognition, Green Valley have taken the brand on tour in recent years — to Asia, Europe and beyond — to give people in other parts of the world a glimpse of the Green Valley experience. Did we mention the beautiful people? During the Top 100 Clubs voting period, their support was boosted again this year by having Brazilian footballer Neymar — a fan of the club — posting support for GV on Instagram to his 112 million followers.
Green Valley really is a fantastic place to rave. It seems like they can do no wrong. They'll be sure to celebrate their No.1 victory in pure Brazilian style soon — but will they be able to hold on for the hat-trick in 2020? Only time will tell...
Location: Washington, D.C., USA
Heralded as a hybrid nightclub and concert space, and drawing inspiration from electronic music’s warehouse roots, Washington D.C.’s cavernous Echostage is a seminal venue in the East Coast dance music scene. Founded in 2012 by GLOW, the city’s longest-running electronic music promotions company, Echostage opened with the mission of entertaining the local, burgeoning dance music fanbase as well as accommodating the expanding technical needs of live acts. As such, the GLOW team selected the 30,000-square-foot venue thanks to its large main room, which features unobstructed sight lines to provide a mesmeric sound and lighting experience. With a capacity of 3,000 attendees per night, Echostage is Washington D.C.’s largest nightlife concert venue.
Echostage brings the festival feeling to the nightclub year-round, allowing attendees to escape the East Coast weather conditions while still enjoying full-scale production they’d be hard-pressed to find at another indoor venue. Utilising a D&B V-Series audio system and a massive 14-by-40-foot LED screen, Echostage employs a bevy of lasers, cryo jets, intelligent lights and confetti cannons. Last year, Echostage upped the ante when they upgraded their D&B sub amps to powerful four-channel D80 amplifiers which doubled the amount of available power — up to 48,000 watts on the subs alone. The home improvement also included the installation of a new main 30-by-16-foot hi-resolution LED wall.
The venue’s talent programming runs the electronic music gamut, with global headline acts such as Diplo, Galantis, Alison Wonderland, Sasha & John Digweed, Kaskade, Rezz, DJ Snake and even Shaq taking centre-stage during this last year alone. World-renowned names like David Guetta, Tiësto, Above & Beyond, Hardwell, Skrillex and Armin van Buuren continue to return to the club for frequent performances, consistently met by packed dancefloors.
Thanks to expert architectural planning and layout design, there’s no bad place to view a show in the house. A clear line of sight from everywhere mean patrons can watch the performances from anywhere they choose in the behemoth space, including the two 60-foot bars running along each side of the dancefloor, the VIP mezzanine area above, or even in the middle of the swelling crowd. The all-encompassing audiovisual experience curated by Echostage promises a good time for die-hard dance fans and clubbing connoisseurs alike.
Having first landed in the chart at number 38 back in 2013, Exchange has been rapidly climbing places ever since — breaking into the top 10 two years ago. Our 2019 poll finds Echostage on the march once again, now snatching second place from Ibiza superclub Ushuaïa. This marks the first time there’s been no White Isle club in the top two since 2010 (when the UK’s Sankeys MCR and Fabric held the spots) and is the highest a North American venue has ever placed.
Location: Playa d’En Bossa, Ibiza
From its humble beginnings as a free beachside cabana bar in Ibiza’s Playa D’en Bossa, Ushuaïa has grown to become one of the most dominant clubs in the world. Founded in-part by Yann Pissenem, who was disheartened to find Ibiza was mostly dark indoor club nights when he first visited the island, the idea of Ushuaïa was sparked by a desire to create something fresh that both young and old could enjoy. Keeping balance in mind, Pissenem mixed luxurious VIP clubbing with a festival-like atmosphere and sunny daytime raving for an experience that’s unmatched almost anywhere else. The club’s Adamson soundsystem — featuring twelve E15 cabinets on either side of the stage — provides crystal clear punchy sound no matter where you stand. Which is ideal when some of the best seats in the house are at the very back. But Ushuaïa has never been shy about treating its VIPs like VVIPs, and Pissenem understood that while the punters on the floor make the party a party, the older, more monied fans want something upscale and relaxed away from the masses — a place to hang out next to the pool, drink top-shelf bubbly and listen to the sounds of EDM, hip-hop, techno or tropical house waft around them until well after sunset.
Pissenem also brought his eye for balance to the club’s bookings, realizing early on that only catering to one type of sound would never work. That ethos remains, and 2018 saw both club nights and one-offs bring a wide variety of music. Carrying the flag for the underground at Ushuaïa was the club’s homegrown night, ANTS. 2018 was another massive year for the Saturday party, with guests and residents like Maya Jane Coles, DJ Sneak, Adam Beyer, Apollonia and Lauren Lane playing underneath a gargantuan pyrotechnic ant on the club’s hulking stage each week. David Guetta also went large last year, bringing his BIG party back to huge crowds every Monday, with guests like Afrojack, Alesso, Robin Schulz, and Oliver Heldens. Meanwhile, DJ Mag Top 100 winner Martin Garrix made sure Thursdays were a blowout with the likes of A-Trak, Julian Jordan, Loopers, Lost Frequencies, and Tchami at his party.
But where Ushuaïa really stood apart last year was Disturbing Ibiza with Tinie Tempah, a Wednesday bash that brought hip-hop, R&B, grime, old school garage and Afrobeat, with guests like Stefflon Don, Wiz Khalifa, Giggs, Lethal Bizzle, Yxng Bane, Bugzy Malone, Tyga and Mistajam to Ibiza’s premiere daytime poolside venue — a truly original move that went over like gangbusters. Completing the week, the ever popular Kygo also returned, bringing his tropical vibes to the sun-kissed Ushuaïa dance floor each Sunday. There was even a charity one-off, which raised money for Music Against Cruelty to Animals — a worthy case indeed.
While other clubs might try to copy the Ushuaïa formula, last year proved once again why it remained in a category all its own — a status it doesn’t seem eager to relinquish anytime soon.
Location: Ibiza, Spain
If the inaugural season at Hï Ibiza passed by unnoticed then chances are you have a predisposition for burying your head in the sand or a shockingly bad memory. The latest venture from The Night League — a company that also lays claim to running Ushuaïa Ibiza — is as large in scale as it is big on experience and massive on production. The result making for one enormous night out, guaranteed to leave lasting memories, albeit potentially pretty hazy ones considering this is the world’s foremost party island.
Back for another year in DJ Mag’s Top 100 Clubs poll in the wake of its equally huge second season in 2018, it’s not hard to understand why this spot has already established itself as a perennial favourite. Our own report from Eric Prydz’s audio and visual spectacular in July proved just how impressive the place is, blowing us away on all levels. And this is an experience it delivers to punters every night throughout the summer — hence the incredible reputation it currently has.
When you look at the spec it’s not hard to understand why the club has made such an impact since arriving on the White Island. The Theatre, or main room, is a huge space inspired by an Italian amphitheatre, which can be fully customised to each night. No two residencies ever look the same, with kinetic lighting rigs and LED screens helping dazzle and disorientate dancers in equal measure. The Club, meanwhile, keeps things more intimate and underground via its low ceiling and even lower lighting, while the ‘secret’ third space, known to some as The Wild Corner, takes the idea of a bathroom party to a whole new level.
The last 12 months saw a number of new residencies help keep the music policy fresh, as the venue welcomed Tale of Us’ renowned Afterlife session and Cream Ibiza to the fold, adding to a diary of regular draws that already included Glitterbox, Black Coffee and Armin van Buuren, to name but a few. Meanwhile, the likes of Above & Beyond, Apollonia, Carl Craig, Chris Liebing, Helena Hauff, Jon Hopkins, Nina Kraviz, Solomun, Tijana T and Todd Terry got their names down on a list of incredibly high-profile guests drafted in for standout sets.
An impressive bill to say the least, all of who got to take full advantage of the state of the art sound which comes as standard in every corner of the address. Hï’s plans for 2019 have just been made public and it’s safe to say there will be plenty more to talk about. A 24-hour opening party has been confirmed, taking over both Hï and sister site Ushuaïa with an enormous techno-leaning line-up, while the likes of David Guetta’s F*** Me I’m Famous, Armin and Glitterbox are confirmed for weekly spots. Onwards and upwards, as they say, this third season looks set to be the biggest and busiest yet, which is saying something considering what’s come before.
It wasn’t just travelling British DJs and party-goers that original Balearic DJ Alfredo inspired with his now infamous sets at Amnesia in the mid-to-late 1980s. While Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling and company would go on to launch influential acid house-era parties in London, another Amnesia regular, architect and businessman, Lincoln Cheng, would go one step further and build his own Ibiza-style superclub in Singapore: Zouk.
Twenty-eight years after it first opened its doors, Zouk remains one of the World’s most celebrated clubs, offering an unbeatable mix of quality music, top-notch DJs, superb sound and eye-catching décor. While Cheng is no longer involved — he sold the brand in 2015 — his dream of a world-class club in Singapore lives on.
This is an impressive achievement, especially given the club’s 2016 move from its iconic original warehouse space to custom-built premises in Clarke Quay. This allowed for Zouk to effectively become a complex of four interlinked venues, each with its own themed décor and music policy. While it’s Zouk’s large main room that usually gets the headlines, Phuture and Capital are also popular haunts for Singaporean clubbers.
In 2018, Zouk’s management also unveiled another new space. “One of the biggest things for us last year was the introduction of Queens, a speakeasy bar inspired by the hip-hop movement,” Zouk CEO Andrew Li tells DJ Mag. “At the same time we also strengthened the direction of Phuture, focusing its programming to hip-hop only and highlighting the rise of Asian hip-hop artists.”
Being able to respond to musical changes is key for any long-running club. Zouk continues to do this, mirroring shifts in Asian clubbing that sometimes differ from those in the West. “In the last few years music tastes in Singapore have definitely evolved,” explains Li. “There’s increasing interest in hip-hop, but there’s also been a resurgence in interest in techno and trance.”
A quick glance at some of the club’s headliners over the past 12 months confirms this, with Sven Väth, Charlotte de Witte, Vini Vici, Cosmic Gate, Zedd and Jeff Mills all putting in notable performances over the main room’s custom Gart Stewart soundsystem.
Yet for all of the impressive headline guests, the heart of Zouk remains its team of resident DJs — something that Lincoln Cheng prioritized from the start. It’s fitting that one of Zouk’s original resident DJs, Jeremy Boon, remains a key part of the team, alongside younger Singaporean talents such as Ghetto, Hong, Zushan and Nash D.
“Our resident DJs are integral to the Zouk experience,” says Li. “Our current roster holds seven residents, with each of them helming their own signature nights based on their specialities.”
Zouk is a very different proposition to what it once was, but there’s no doubt the club is stronger than ever. Crucially, the venue still operates on similar principles to those that inspired Lincoln Cheng at the turn of the 1990s. “Creating the best possible clubbing experience has always been the goal,” Li adds. “Just as important is the culture of working together as a family.”
Location: Zrce Beach, Island of Pag, Croatia
Situated on the shoreline of breathtaking blue Adriatic waters, on the famed party island of Pag, Papaya is less a club and more a full day out. And night, of course.
Attendees get free reign over a veritable rave compound, including a huge pool area — redesigned in 2017 — which forms the centre of the action each afternoon, winding up just after sunset. The iconic shell-like main stage and palm trees tower over the crowd, with only the on-site production beating them for scale.
First opening in 2002, when it was around a fifth of the size it is of today, the venue has expanded physically while growing in terms of international prominence too. A direct beneficiary of the Croatian festival boom, more than ten major events call this place home annually, including Sonus, Hideout, Fresh Island, Barrakud and Black Sheep.
These 10,000-plus-capacity spectaculars, ranging from techno and bass to hip-hop and EDM, brought in huge guests such as Gorgon City, Jamie Jones, Lost Frequencies, Marco Carola, Paul Kalkbrenner, Solomun, Tchami, Timmy Trumpet, Vini Vici and W&W last summer alone. That’s in addition to local nights, where the likes of Kosta Radman, Tony D, Superfine and Trevon keep things moving.
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Octagon club is the jewel in the crown of Seoul’s vibrant nightlife. Having first opened its doors in 2011, the 3,000-capacity club is located in the basement of the New Hilltop Hotel, right in the city’s famous Gangnam district. Prior to becoming one of the city’s most loved nightclubs, the venue served as a three-story karaoke lounge bar. The venue is now kitted out with a Funktion-One soundsystem, an impressive lighting system and a huge LED screen. Despite its state-of-the-art lasers and festival-like stage, it still channels original industrial warehouse vibes, reminiscent of ‘90s illegal raves.
Over the course of the last year, the South Korean club completely renovated its first floor, including the main stage and main dancefloor. Octagon has also installed a new bar area, replaced the lift to the VIP area with a new staircase and increased the number of VIP tables to meet the ever-growing demand of its high-end clientele.
The club’s bookings in the past year included a mix of international dance stars like Kevu, KAAZE, Damien N-Drix, Daishi Dance, Klosman, Celine Farach, Charles B, DubVision, Tom & Jame, Maddix, KURA and a plethora of Korean rap stars, attracting an average of 2,500 punters a night.
Further testifying to the club’s popularity both in Korea and beyond, Octagon was featured in Louis Vuitton’s recent Seoul tour guide, CNN Travel’s 10 Things To Do In Seoul guide, and has been a key part of the DJ Mag Top 100 Clubs since 2012.
Location: Cologne, Germany
2019 is going to go down as a landmark year for Cologne’s favourite club, Bootshaus. Not only is the venue celebrating 15 years since it was converted from an old boat house (the direct translation of its name), into a party haven, but this year the club has finally broken into the top 10. Since first slamming into the poll at number 48 back in 2013, Bootshaus has consistently climbed, and the past few years in particular have seen it fighting to overtake Berlin institution Berghain to become the highest charting German club, which it finally has this year.
“Our community is growing and growing. We sell out nearly every show,” a spokesperson for the club tells DJ Mag. “Compared to three/four years ago, there is a much bigger diversity of styles and genres, which we really like!”
This means the roster of acts over the past year sees hardstyle heads like Angerfirst alongside the rolling techno of Amelie Lens; trap don Carnage popping up next to psytrance legends Infected Mushroom; oodles of trance, EDM and dance-pop crossovers from Armin van Buuren, Lost Frequencies, W&W and Tiësto; and a long list of residents covering everything from dubstep to tech-house.
Bootshaus’ three rooms have already become legendary in their own right: the main floor is built for big hitters, coming complete with a ceiling mounted flamethrower; room two, otherwise known as BLCKBX features 32 backlit ceiling fans; and the third space is a raw, industrial sweatbox, smaller than the others but still Funktion-One’d up to the teeth.
With plans in place to host two festivals (Blacklist in Essen and Nibirii in Düren) later this year, Bootshaus has thrusters fully engaged. “2019 will be really important for us,” we’re told. They’re not wrong.