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.
Location: Barcelona, Spain
“It’s always been an after-hours venue,” explains Victor de la Serna, Elrow’s Music Director, giving some idea of what to expect from Spain’s craziest dancing destination.
The brand is now a globetrotting extravaganza, taking madcap décor, thumping tech and carnival vibes worldwide (votes for the nomadic parties contributed to the club’s 2019 ranking). But that wouldn’t be possible without the reputation of Elrow’s spiritual home, formerly Row 14. A farmhouse turned party spot on the edge of Barcelona, the iconic address has endless tales to tell from 11 years of daytime mayhem.
“In the last 12 months the main terrace has been improved, the VIP has been re-designed plus we have a custom-made tent for the winter months that gives it a true festival vibe,“ says de la Serna. “We have also improved the entrance and the beach area we called Las Filipinas. We also have an exclusive deal with Clair Brothers and were the first European club to have their soundsystem.”
Ideal for welcoming its endless stream of high-profile guests, then, with Joseph Capriati, Pan-Pot, Patrick Topping, Eats Everything, Kölsch, Crazy P Soundsystem and Art Department among those booked in the last year.
Location: Ibiza, Spain
With 20 Ibiza seasons under its belt, DC-10 has cemented its reputation as a club with one of the most interesting underground house and techno line-ups on the White Isle.
Located in a former farmhouse and aircraft hangar just a stone’s throw away from the Ibiza airport runway, DC-10 keeps channelling original Balearic vibes by offering daytime partying under the warm Mediterranean sun. Aptly named after a DC-10 aeroplane, the venue is often associated with the sight of aeroplanes flying low above the garden dancefloor, much to clubbers’ excitement. DC-10, which spans two indoor rooms as well, is also known for its mighty custom-made soundsystem, designed by George Stravo and produced by Italian sound reinforcement company Loud Professional.
Over the years, the club has become synonymous with its flagship night, Circoloco, which has been an integral part of its history since the get-go. Now the party is one of the most popular events on the island, with top-notch residents like The Martinez Brothers, Seth Troxler, Damian Lazarus, Apollonia and Ellen Allien.
In addition, Jamie Jones’ Paradise party has been going strong at the venue for seven seasons to date, with last season’s all-star residents including Richy Ahmed, Patrick Topping, wAFF and Jones himself.
Location: Zrce Beach, Island of Pag, Croatia
That Croatia is competing with Ibiza as the go-to clubbing destination in Europe — especially for your average clubber not interested in remortgaging their house for a round of drinks — is undeniable. And central to Croatia's draw is the idyllic Island of Pag, home to several Top 100 Clubs, including Noa Beach Club. Impressively, the club breached the Top 100 in its debut year and has been an ever-present since 2015. And it's not hard to see why.
With a stunning location on the Adriatic sea — pine-crested mountains to the rear and the Instagram-perfect coastline yawning in front — the main decision you have to make is where to take in the views (and the stellar cast of DJs), with 11 bars, cabanas, VIP lounges, massage tables and the main pool all on offer. Or, if you're a baller, you could rock up in your yacht and berth it at their private marina.
Open daily during the summer until 6am (and quite often beyond), Noa had a huge summer of events last year, including return visits from Steve Aoki and Robin Schulz. The club was also once again part of the EDM-heavy Black Sheep Festival, which took over the four leading clubs on Zrce Beach. With new set designs each year (made out of local sustainable wood, eco-dancers will be pleased to know) and bookings that draw in thousands each night over the summer, Noa Beach Club is set to be a name to remember for a long, long time.
Location: Porto Belo, Brazil
Situated just outside the holiday resort of Porto Belo on Brazil’s southeast coast, open-air venue El Fortin has become something of a Brazilian clubbing institution since opening its doors back in 2006 — though this only partially explains the venue’s frequent appearances towards the top of polls such as this one.
If you drove past El Fortin during the day, you wouldn’t think it was anything other than a collection of old out-buildings nestled in a tree-lined hillside. Yet at night the venue comes alive, with up to 6,000 clubbers able to dance indoors and outdoors to a mixture of leading Brazilian DJs and international artists.
The club’s greatest calling card is undoubtedly its unique “gangster house, nu disco and Brazilian techno”-focused main room: a giant wooden beach hut-come-pyramid equipped with a weighty Funktion-One soundsystem and a ground-level booth that ensures maximum interaction between headline DJs and the crowd in front of them.
Throw in two other alternative dance spaces — one dedicated to trance in all its forms and an alfresco area where the grooves are noticeably slower and less intense — and it’s easy to see why El Fortin has become one of Brazil’s genuine “destination clubs”. It’s certainly a magical place to dance all night under the stars.
Location: Brooklyn, NY, USA
Once hailed as the crown jewel of NYC nightlife, beloved Brooklyn nightclub Output closed its doors at the beginning of this year following a short yet impressive five-year run. Citing a “confluence” of social and financial factors, Output founders and operators Nicolas Matar, Bo Pittman and Shawn Schwartz announced the venue’s closure on social media last December, sending a shockwave across the entire North American club scene.
Founded in 2013, Output served as the city’s first fully licensed venue dedicated to house and techno music, with a talent policy focused on underground artists and emerging styles from around the world. Its arrival pushed the NYC club scene, then dominated by bottle service venues and big room EDM sounds, toward an underground-centric atmosphere, ushering a golden age in clubbing and solidifying Brooklyn as the city’s electronic epicenter.
In 2018, Output celebrated its five-year anniversary with a stacked year-long calendar that welcomed underground icons like Jamie Jones, Seth Troxler and Nicole Moudaber; living legends like Louie Vega and Roni Size; and next-gen stars like The Martinez Brothers and Amelie Lens. The venue ultimately shut its doors in proper fashion with a New Year’s Eve blowout last year featuring a marathon set from none other than John Digweed. Classic.
Location: Valinhos, Brazil
Laroc Club is nestled in the rolling green hills of Valinhos, about an hour outside of São Paulo. It is a stunning open-air venue with a vast pool, some beautiful architecture (the design of which is changed on a regular basis, with new lights added in the last 12 months) and boasts brilliant views. It has just one main stage, a quality L’accoustic system and hosts 5,000 party people.
Part of the appeal of the club is that is kicks off the party mid-afternoon and invites DJs to start early and play as the sun sets into the hills. That obviously makes for some pretty special moments, and in the last year the international likes of Kölsch, Armin van Buuren and Solomun have all played, Elrow have rolled into town with their colourful production, and Brazilian superstars like ALOK and Vintage Culture have also headlined.
“We party just once in a month, so every opening is special,” says the club’s Mario Sergio Albuquerque. “But our most important nights are carnival and our anniversary in October.” Now four years old, the club prides itself on residents Cajun and Viktor Mora, who really know the crowd and can open, close or play in the middle of the headliners, and always serve up the goods — just another reason Laroc is so revered.
Location: Manchester, UK
Having said an emotional goodbye to its long-standing spiritual home of Store Street in January — probably the loudest car park under a train station anywhere in the world — you might expect The Warehouse Project’s entry in the Top 100 Clubs 2019 poll to read like an epitaph. Nothing could be further from the truth, though.
A three-roomed space packing huge production and iconic archways, once again some of the biggest nights, names and sounds in contemporary dance music hammered it out for the closing season at the old address — from Underworld to Four Tet, Sven Väth to Seth Troxler. That leaves sights now set on an as-yet-undisclosed future for the pop-up session.
Given the scale of what has been, and the fact that WHP rewrote the rulebook for UK event series when it kicked into gear over a decade ago, we’re expecting more massiveness when the big announcement finally comes. Between then and now, those in charge are focussing on an off-season of one-off sessions at some of the most prominent venues in their hometown of Manchester, from The Academy and The Ritz to The Albert Hall and Gorilla. Forward march!
Location: London, UK
Undoubtedly one of the most iconic clubbing brands in the history of dance music, Ministry of Sound’s London club is the stuff of legend. Having opened its doors in 1991 to showcase the American house sound, its early days saw the likes of Larry Levan and Frankie Knuckles regularly grace the booth. Across the decades, the Elephant and Castle-based institution has grown considerably, with countless side projects and offshoots but the London club — with its focus on exceptional sound — is still the epicentre of the global brand.
Saved from closure a few years back, in the past 12 months, MoS has hosted everyone from Dixon, Dimitri from Paris, Maya Jane Coles, wAFF, Âme, Little Louie Vega, Hannah Wants and Joey Negro. Ministry are focused on developing their in-house residencies like the Paradise Garage-themed A Night In Paradise, as well as hosting global movements like Glitterbox and Elrow. London-based polysexual party He.She.They has also called MoS home over the past 12 months, further diversifying the club’s offering.
While The Box is one of the world’s best-sounding club spaces, MoS also recently installed Dolby Atmos technology, allowing DJs more control over how the sound interacts in the space. If you’re reading this magazine (and haven’t been already), Ministry of Sound has to be on your bucket list.
Location: Santa Catarina, Brazil
If you’re searching for a unique clubbing experience in South America, then look no further than Warung Beach Club. Located in Southern Brazil, Warung was established in 2002 with one of the most unique mindsets in the world of electronic music. Surrounded by pristine rainforest and built almost entirely out of “wood and straw, with only the bathroom and kitchen built in masonry”, the Warung team’s appreciation and respect for the natural environment creates a venue and atmosphere that is unrivalled in the nightlife scene.
But don’t let the eco-friendly aspects of the club skew your thinking. Warung is a two-tiered, top-of-the-line event space hosting some of the biggest DJs and events in the world. From the Warung Day Festival — featuring headliners like ANNA, Joris Voorn, Lee Foss and Pig&Dan, which takes place annually in Curitiba — to collaborations with Fabric, BPM festival, and other well established electronic music brands, the Brazilian mega-club is nothing short of world class. With a must-see, inclusive, earthy vibe that is undeniably special in a world of concrete superclubs, Warung has well and truly earned its consistent placement in the Top 100 Clubs poll.