Location: Berlin, Germany
It’s widely considered to be the epicentre for underground electronic dance music. A place where artists are discovered, careers are made, and the Saturday Klubnacht night parties often last until Monday morning. It’s also one of the hardest clubs to get into. But its infamous door policy (and no photo policy) ensure it remains a pinnacle for club culture, where people from nearly every walk of life feel free to be themselves and behave with respectful abandon. The vibe is like no other, and the DJs who are lucky enough to play there know it.
Those include world-famous residents like Ben Klock and Marcel Dettmann, who regularly play the techno-centric Berghain floor; Steffi, Nick Höppner and Tama Sumo, who’ve resided over the upstairs house-heavy Panorama Bar floor for years; and a regular cast of guests that in 2018 included The Black Madonna, Ben UFO, DJ Nobu, Leon Vynehall, Craig Richards, Jennifer Cardini, Dasha Rush, and Dixon, along with exciting up-and-comers like Perel, Man Power, and Upsammy. Meanwhile, the newer Säule floor constantly brings boundary-pushing names in experimental music — including a takeover by Клуб, one of Russia’s wildest clubs — every Thursday.
As long as Berghain stands, it’s hard to imagine anything better.
Location: Bristol, UK
Bristol is a city that has been hit hard by club closures and venue licensing issues, but Motion continues to go from strength to strength. A Victorian-era warehouse complex and former-skate park that has gradually been transformed into an expansive club environment, the recently revamped Marble Factory now adds a third high-spec but more-intimate space to the overall offering. So more opportunities for promoters to take advantage of, hence Motion’s perennial popularity and packed event schedule.
The list of guests to have graced the booth and stage in the last year is enviable. Adam Beyer, Alan Fitzpatrick, Andy C, Bicep, Black Coffee and Charlotte de Witte barely scratch the surface, and that’s just sticking with A-C. Add to those the likes of Flying Lotus, Jon Hopkins, Robert Hood, Todd Terje and Sasha, and you start to get an idea of the scope and pulling power of this particular address.
Flagship event series In:Motion dominates the calendar when it’s in full flow, but the space is also regularly used by crews like Hospitality, RUN, Defected, Bitch, Please! and Just Jack, with the latter’s special events the stuff of local legend. A strong contingency of residents adds yet more reasons to take the place very seriously indeed — with the likes of Em Williams rightly garnering attention for deft selections. All of which is before we come to the three outdoor areas, playing host to events such as YARD: Open Air Club during the warmer summer months.
Location: Ibiza, Spain
Pacha Ibiza is undoubtedly a clubbing institution. The famous cherry brand began life just outside Barcelona before opening in Ibiza in 1973. Starting out in a simple finca in a then-rustic Talamanca, the island has developed around it to become the luxury party paradise we know today. While countless White Isle clubbing spots have risen and fallen in those 46 years, Pacha has remained a destination for electronic music lovers, always programming a wide range of music styles — respecting their Spanish culture and that of the Ibizan locals, while playing host to the biggest DJs the dance music world has ever known.
With a comprehensive refurb in the 2017 off-season, Pacha re-emerged in 2018 with a fresh white look and a completely re-designed layout, including a heads-down, no-frills room two, while the main room was brought into the 21st century with impressive new lighting and sound. Not immune to the continual Ibiza carousel, Sven Väth’s legendary Cocoon night is returning to Amnesia in 2019 after a year at Pacha, while Marco Carola’s Music On will play out under the cherries for this summer’s season, adding an extra event at their sister spot Destino. Other parties will be announced in due course, but expect the legendary Flower Power to remain — a nod to Ibiza’s origins as a hippy haven.
Last season saw the likes of Solomun, Hot Since 82 and David Guetta all host their weekly parties at Pacha, with their guests ranging from Adam Beyer, Erick Morillo and Bob Sinclair to Gerd Janson and DJ Harvey plus many, many more besides. Expect more of the same diverse and dominating line-ups from Pacha Ibiza throughout 2019 and beyond.
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Since launching in 2004 as the sister club to one of Asia’s original superclubs — Zouk in Singapore — Zouk KL has become one of the leading lights in dance music’s continuing global expansion.
At the heart of the club’s success lies a burning passion to be the biggest and best club in the region. To achieve its aims, Zouk KL moved into custom-built premises in 2015 and spent eye-watering sums on fitting out its cavalcade of rooms with state-of-the-art Funktion-One soundsystems, luxurious décor and an astonishing number of LED light bulbs (there are a million alone in Zouk’s Mainroom, the EDM, trance and hard dance-focused space that hosts the biggest guest DJs and regular events).
As the club’s staff are keen to point out, Zouk KL is now the biggest superclub in Asia, though its 5,000 capacity includes numerous interlinked club spaces — Velvet Underground, Phuture, Ace and the super-exclusive, VIP-focused Imperial — and bars, plus a unique members’ area accessed via a slide from the floor above. Such variety allows the venue to run a plethora of events on the same night, with DJs and live acts booked to match carefully thought-out musical themes.
2018 was another hugely successful year for the Malaysian superclub, with high profile headliners including Hardwell, hardstyle stars Coone and Atmozfears, and Kearnage Recordings’ main man (and fast-rising trance superstar) Bryan Kearney. There was also the small matter of the club’s annual ZoukIN festival, an indoor answer to Singapore’s ZoukOUT festival that’s quickly become the highlight of the Malaysian clubbing calendar.
Location: Ibiza, Spain
Last year, Balearic institution Amnesia saw the departure of long-standing resident Sven Väth, who took his rather legendary Cocoon night over to Pacha after almost 20 years in San Rafael. Bringing in new Monday night party Pyramid to replace it, some pretty blazing line-ups found the likes of Ben Klock, Nina Kraviz, Helena Hauff and Luciano at the controls, with regular appearances from the legend that is Ricardo Villalobos, plus Maceo Plex and Charlotte de Witte. So while Cocoon's departure left an unmistakable Sven-sized gap in the Amnesia calendar, the rave continued unabated.
In another change to tradition, London party Abode jumped in to replace veteran Liverpool superclub brand Cream on Thursdays, bringing in the likes of Heidi and Yousef back-to-back, Groove Armada, and Darius Syrossian's Do Not Sleep in the club room. But amid a season of
Flux, Elrow, of course, continued to represent, with solid guests like Dennis Ferrer, Skream, Steve Lawler, Seth Troxler and CamelPhat, while Eats Everything and Joris Voorn wound things up for the closing party.
And, pleasingly, Sven won’t be gone forever, confirming he’ll be back at Amnesia for the 20th anniversary of Cocoon, which will kick off with an opening party on 27th May. With a line-up to be confirmed — but no doubt dazzlingly star-studded — it should most certainly be a season to remember. Welcome back, Herr Väth. They've kept the booth warm for you.
Location: London, UK
What to say about Fabric that hasn’t be said a hundred times over already? The London institution is one of the world’s most beloved venues — it’s constant placing in the Top 100 Clubs is proof enough of that. But beyond that it seems nearly everyone in our industry (especially in the UK) has happy memories in the place; anyone who is anyone has played its hallowed halls, and when the club was shut down in late 2017, thousands upon thousands of dance music fanatics came to its aid, signing a petition, sharing stories and campaigning to get its license reinstated.
A former cold meat storage warehouse in Farringdon, descending down into the club’s depths is enough to get the blood of any dedicated skanker pumping, and that’s before even experiencing room one’s ‘bodysonic’ dancefloor and Martin Audio soundsystem, room two’s 26-speaker Pioneer Pro Audio XY series setup, or the intimate rave cave that is room three.
And this year there’s even more to get excited about, with Fabric celebrating its milestone 20th anniversary. Twenty special extended-set XX events will run throughout the year, while in October — when the club’s birthday lands — there’ll be celebrations every weekend.
Two new residents — Londoners Anna Wall and Bobby — have joined OGs Craig Richards and Terry Francis, and more are set to be announced later in the year. And after finishing off both the ‘Fabric’ and ‘Fabriclive’ mix series in 2018, a new compilation mix ‘Fabric presents’ has been launched, starting with Bonobo. With more events in the series still being kept under wraps, Fabric’s landmark year will be just that. Here’s to the next 20...
Location: Dubai, UAE
You’d be hard pressed to find a more spectacular club in the Middle East than White Dubai. The city’s first open-rooftop nightclub is a true feast to both the eyes and ears, with its entertainment spectacles, live performances, light shows and impressive programming.
Opened in 2013, White Dubai is located at the rooftop of the Meydan Hotel and boasts stunning views of Dubai’s famous skyline. The venue, which recently installed a new L-Acoustics soundsystem, is known for hosting Tinie Tempah’s party, Disturbing Dubai, entertainment extravaganza BIZAAR, and hip-hop and R&B party, URBN.
Previously, hip-hop and R&B stars like 2 Chainz, Eve, French Montana, Iggy Azalea, Jason Derulo and Wiz Khalifa have performed at the venue, alongside dance music stalwarts like Armin van Buuren, Claptone, Craig David, Dimitri Vegas, Dubfire, Laidback Luke and Nervo.
“To see White Dubai rise in this definitive global nightclub poll, especially one that is voted for by the international clubbing community, is a testament to the incredible work of the team — from our bar staff to our resident DJs,” says White Dubai’s General Manager Elie Saba. “We constantly strive to innovate, entertain and curate an experience that’s right at the forefront and heart of Dubai club culture.”
Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Converted from the former Los Angeles Stock Exchange building which dates back to 1931, Exchange LA opened in 2010 and today serves as Downtown Los Angeles’ flagship electronic music venue. Much of the historic LA Stock Exchange interior has been preserved, but instead of brimming with brokers moving bills, the landmark space is now home to established and emerging artists alike, doling out hours of dance music every Friday and Saturday (along with some Thursday’s for their collaboration with Insomniac’s Bassrush brand).
Across four floors and 25,000-square-feet, Exchange LA welcomes 1,500 patrons a night to revel in the sounds of venue veterans like Claude VonStroke, Duke Dumont and Ferry Corsten, as well as acts like Green Velvet, MK and The Glitch Mob. The cross-genre programming is evident in bookings such as rappers Lil Dicky and Wiz Khalifa.
This past year, Exchange LA has expanded outside of its corridors by producing 20,000-person electronic concerts at the Los Angeles Convention Center, and also opened a second nightclub, in partnership with longtime business partner Insomniac, named Academy in Hollywood. Back at Exchange LA, the venue added brand-new, state-of-the-art lasers to its already impressive audiovisual setup which is anchored by a Funktion-One soundsystem and a floor-to-ceiling LED video wall.
Exchange LA is primed to continue expanding, improving, and providing top-drawer nightlife experiences to Los Angeles’ evolving dance music scene.
Location: Limassol, Cyprus
Stepping into Guaba is like entering another world — one decorated with graffiti and jungle decór where passionate staff look after your every need. “When you step into Guaba the rules of the outside world do not apply,” says Guaba’s Yiannis Antoniades. Guaba’s story began in 2006 as a humble beachside kiosk, which has been transformed into an open-air space holding a main dance floor with five bars, VIP sections, and a beach area ready to host up to 3,000 people, standing or dancing. It’s basically a super club in Cyprus, but its real charm is that it doesn’t feel that way. “We do not call it a club, we call it home, because that's how it feels,” Antoniades says.
Open seven days a week through its summer season, nights include urban music-heavy Tuesdays — the club’s busiest night of the week — as well as Fiesta! Sundays, which in 2018 invited international names like Boris Brejcha, Nervo, Lost Frequencies, Timmy Trumpet, Claptone, Camelphat, Fedde Le Grand, Laidback Luke and Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano. Guaba also continuously renovates almost all areas of the club, and this summer will have a slick new K-LA210 Pro-Series soundsystem, providing just one more reason to go.
Location: Zrce Beach, Island of Pag, Croatia
Once famous for its distinctive cheese, the Croatian Island of Pag is now considered a genuine party paradise, with clubbers from across Europe flocking to its picturesque shores during the three-month summer season. While a sharp rise in the number of festivals taking place on Pag has caught the headlines, the roots of the island’s ongoing love affair with dance music stretch back 17 years to the launch of Aquarius, a now famed open-air club just off Zrce Beach.
From the start, Aquarius gained a reputation for being not only a great place to hang out during the day — it boasts a popular restaurant and beach bar — but also the perfect place to dance all night under a blanket of twinkling stars. It’s this latter aspect that now draws in dancers, with the club’s two dancefloors and pool packed out almost every night it’s open.
It’s perhaps unsurprising that many dance-focused music festivals utilize Aquarius to host after-parties each summer. Hideout, Black Sheep, Hard Island, Fresh Island and Barrakud all made the 4,000-capacity venue home in the summer of 2018. In between, the club boasted all-night takeovers from some of the leading lights of the global EDM scene, including Rave Radio, Wildstylez, Alan Walker and Salvatore Ganacci.