Location: Bristol, UK
Capacity: 3,500 (full site)
Twelve years deep and Motion continues to claim the title of Bristol’s club crown jewel. Responsible for the most diverse line-ups and epic indoor/outdoor raves in the city, the venue is renowned for its maze-like quality, its intensity and the fact it always changes shape and layout every time you visit. In the last year, the ex-skatepark has done this on an even larger scale with the opening of a brand new warehouse, the Marble Factory. Adding to Motion’s three indoor/three outdoor spaces, the Marble Factory comes complete with an impressive staggered 360 mezzanine and its grand opening was heralded by none other than the mighty Chemical Brothers.
The Chems were not alone. An impressive spread of legends have torn the industrial riverside venue down in the last year at parties held by the likes of promoters The Blast, Just Jack, Hospitality, Elrow, RAM, Defected, RUN and more: Ben Klock to Metronomy, Chase & Status to Dixon, Theo Parrish to Noisia, Dixon to Gilles Peterson and countless more in between… Including Bristol’s own rich spread of talent such as residents Jaydrop, Tom Rio, K Stylz, KGW, Jake Hodgkinson, Koast, D*Minds and Jakes. Rooted by the city’s strong musical heritage but driven by innovation and development and offering something new, Motion continues to live up to its name and reputation.
Location: Limassol, Cyprus
Guaba continues to dominate the club scene in Cyprus, from its humble origins as a small beachside kiosk on the Mediterranean. And according to co-founder Yiannis Antoniades, things are just getting better and better. “Guaba is like a non-stop festival for five months,” he says, its opening fiesta kicking off this year's season in May. “Last year was another great season. It was an unforgettable summer. Our fans are the best crowd in the world. We've tried all different genres of music and it all seems to work out, from trance to techno, house to psy. Our goal is for people to have an amazing experience.”
The right programming helps, of course. Dutch pairing W&W have pitched up, along with the likes of Fedde Le Grand. Israeli psychedelic trance duo helped their Summer Carnival go with a bang, and the beach arena saw sets from the S-Man himself, Roger Sanchez, and Mark Knight, as well as Gabriel & Dresden. Yiannis is also proud of the club's IV parties, or Immature Veterans, tailored for an older crowd. “They can party harder than any teenager,” he says. We don't doubt it.
Location: Itajaí, Brazil
Few clubs allow you to party as immersed in nature as Warung, which turned 15 at the end of 2017. The famous beach club has architecture inspired by Indonesian open-air temples and music plays until the sun rises. When it does, it first appears through the cracks in the wood at one end, until it eventually floods the club with light and makes for one of dance music’s most special moments.
With views of the beach, and hidden deep in the Atlantic forests, it is only accessible by a winding path which adds to the allure of visiting. Boasting two dancefloors, the club — which also hosts events at places like BPM, ADE and Watergate Berlin — has welcomed a real who’s who of DJ royalty again in the last year, from Solomun to Lee Burridge. Next to them, key residents Aninha, Albuquerque, Ale Reis, Boghosian and many more back up the headliners and give the locals and visitors what they want — enchanting, deep and organic soundtracks of emotive house and techno. The club’s own in-house label deals in much the same and helps make this a real party paradise.
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Re-opening in 2015 after moving from its old home and spending jaw-dropping sums of money (around RM38 million) on a new, purpose-built property, Malaysia’s Zouk is as much a complex as it is a club.
Eleven individually designed rooms pack unique personalities, from cavernous dark dancefloors lined with warehouse lights, to polished, sophisticated spaces in the upper floors. Sounds vary between big room EDM and slick house, unapologetic party anthems and heads down grooves depending on where you find yourself, and so it’s hardly surprising the average week sees Zouk welcome 17,000 people.
The place is so huge, in fact, that it hosted its own indoor festival, Zouk-In, with plans for another two similar events currently being hatched. Asia’s biggest dancing space, foreigners can drop their jaws at the sheer scale of the place for nothing thanks to the Tourist Lane system; present a non-Malaysian passport and you’re in for free.
It’s far from fun and games when it comes to spec, mind. The sonics are best described as serious, visuals nothing short of tech benchmarks, creating the perfect setting for visiting dignitaries, which in 2017 included W&W, Above & Beyond, Yellow Claw, Kolsch, and Luciano.
Location: Dubai, UAE
Located in the once-upon-a-time desert lands of the UAE, resides the rooftop empire of White Dubai. As part of Meydan’s horse racing grandstand rooftop, it comes with stunning views of the city skyline. The recently refurbished outdoor space tailors all its bespoke production and visuals to transform the space for each and every party, and right now the club is running a host of in-house club concepts. Bizaaar on Thursdays is where you can find a mix of genres played by residents, and head down to the club on a Friday night for music from international house and tech-house stars like Claptone and Dubfire. Hip-hop event URBN on Saturdays has won awards, with beats being juggled by regulars DJ Masterminds, Danny Neville & Devon Kosoko. Also expect to see global superstars like Jason Derulo, Rita Ora, Sean Paul, Tinie Tempah and Wiz Khalifa as common affair, performing on a stage that is transformed especially for each show. You can even walk away with your very own official merchandise if you so desire. We hear on the grapevine that there are plans to expand; so look out for the White experience coming to a city near you soon.
Location: Barcelona, Spain
The parties that take place once a month at Elrow are famous for their anarchic atmosphere, spirit of fun and carnivalesque quirks. These events, and the club itself, are an affront to po-faced techno posers.
Opened as Row14 in 2008, the venue has been through several manifestations. Initially a nightclub, it gradually metamorphosed into a daytime throw down, after a legal agreement was reached with the local authorities. “With time it became Elrow, with the morning parties and everything crazy you know it for,” says Victor De la Serna, music director at the venue.
Now a Sunday event running from nine in the morning ‘til 10 at night, Elrow summons a riotous world of colour and confetti, with party themes that encourage clubbers to dress up. The club invites the best DJs to play here too, and in the last year Elrow has had Jackmaster, Seth Troxler, Carl Cox, Richie Hawtin and Jamie Jones’ Paradise crew in the booth, alongside their 12 residents, who include De La Swing, Toni Varga and Bastian Bux.
Elrow’s largest annual event is coming up this month. “Our biggest show by far is Feria de Abril in April,” De la Serna says, “a Spanish celebration where we have live flamenco, free food and drinks. It’s very special.”
Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA
As downtown Los Angeles undergoes a cultural renaissance, Exchange LA remains one of its key nightlife institutions. The club owes much of its magic to its unique venue: Exchange LA is housed in what was formerly the Los Angeles Stock Exchange building. When the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange shut down in 1986, brokers vacated the building, leaving the spot empty until 2008 when a two-year renovation began. The result: Exchange LA, which opened in 2010.
Today, the building is living its second life as one of the top clubs in the nation and the go-to destination for artists touring the West Coast. Spanning 25,000 square feet over four floors, Exchange LA flexes robust audiovisual muscle: a Funktion-One soundsystem, new EVO6 speaker cabinets and impressive lighting and video systems that feature over 300 LED lighting fixtures, four lasers and a massive floor-to-ceiling LED video wall.
The club partners with festival giant Insomniac Events, the team behind Electric Daisy Carnival, which means it regularly hosts mainstage acts and bubbling artists from every genre imaginable across its bi-weekly series, Awakening Fridays and Inception Saturdays. Recent bookings include Get Real, Above & Beyond, Duke Dumont, Shiba San, REZZ, Ferry Corsten and tons more.
Location: Las Vegas, NV, USA
It’s nearly impossible to top Las Vegas clubbing behemoth, OMNIA. Spread across 75,000 square feet, this massive playground is built on luxury for a high-class nightlife experience open to anyone. The main club is an immersive audiovisual and architectural feat, all anchored around a grandiose kinetic chandelier weighing 22,000 pounds and comprised of eight concentric circles. A moving, glowing giant, it also features lighting effects, video projections and LED strips, making its display ever-changing. On top of that badboy, 65 feet from the floor, a mega, ornately designed operatic domed roof encases the entire main club.
Beyond the main room lives Heart Of OMNIA, a sleek ultra-lounge offering a more intimate, secluded space; the open-air terrace, which includes an additional dancefloor and overlooks the Las Vegas Strip; and the balcony level, which is influenced by the grand opera houses of the world and includes decadent boxes to overlook the dancefloor below. The 2018 roster of artists includes heavy weights Calvin Harris, Zedd, Martin Garrix, Armin van Buuren, Nervo and several more, offering clubgoers top talent on any given day. OMNIA continuously changes all its unique production elements and regularly updates its talent roster, which means you’ll never get the same experience twice.
Location: London, UK
Ministry Of Sound is still one of the most famous nightclubs in the world. Opened in 1991 to primarily showcase American house music, it was one of the first clubs to bring cats such as David Morales, Roger Sanchez and Tony Humphries over to the UK before expanding its remit as the ‘90s unfolded.
As such, the amazing soundsystem in The Box has hosted the best in trance, techno, house, drum & bass, UK garage and more, while the rigorously-sourced compilations it has produced have landed in every city on the globe.
There was a time when its success earned Ministry somewhat of a backlash, with more discerning clubbers complaining that it was ‘full of tourists’, but events in recent times prove it’s undeniably got its mojo back: the legendary DJ Harvey on a Dolby Atmos soundsystem all night long; the He.She.They night helmed by Maya Jane Coles that promotes diversity and inclusivity regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation; the on-point Very Very Wrong Indeed nights; providing a home for long-standing promotions like The Gallery (celebrating its 23rd birthday this month) and Bugged Out! to newer nights like the Defected-affiliated Glitterbox.
Saved from closure a few years ago, Ministry still proudly occupies the same premises in Elephant & Castle in southeast London (an old bus depot) that it has since the beginning, and is still an amazing place to have a full-blown clubbing experience.
Location: Zrće Beach, Island of Pag, Croatia
Before Croatia became an essential dance music destination for festival-goers from around the world, Aquarius was laying the foundations for its now-famous summertime scene. Located on the Island of Pag on the pebbly Zrće Beach, for 16 years this open-air club has entertained holidaymakers and, over time, has become a rite of passage for dance fans.
“Aquarius Zrće has grown from year to year,” says club manager Dejan Labor. “Today we can proudly say that we are an integral part of the most famous party destination in Croatia.”
For its three-month summer season the venue welcomes several key dance festivals to take over its two dancefloors and pool area. Sonus focuses on techno and has hosted Maceo Plex and Ricardo Villalobos; Hard Island is a hard dance event; Hideout locks down electronic artists of the bassier stripe; and there are a plethora of other festivals there too, including Black Sheep, Area 4 and Sweetland.
In 2017, the venue unveiled its new live stage. This year, in addition to massive EDM artists booked for one-off performances — including Alan Walker and Ummet Ozcan in June — Labor promises plenty more wow factor: “We have prepared a lot of surprises for our guests and a season full of great performances.”