Whether it's festivals like the enormous Exit in Serbia or the boutique Garden in Croatia, parties and conferences like SEEME in Bulgaria or the region's homegrown DJs like Raresh and Rhadoo, Umek and Marko Nastic, Eastern Europe has become the scene of some of dance music's most thrilling new developments. But whilst the countries east of Germany are now the worst-kept secret on the international clubbing circuit, they've actually been buzzing away beneath the radar for ages before budget flights opened them up to those of us in the west.
And one beacon that's been sending out the strongest signals for the past 16 years is Studio Martin. Converted from a cinema, this venue in Bucharest has hosted the first Romanian gigs by the likes of Laurent Garnier, Derrick May and Jeff Mills since opening in 1993 and was also where James Lavelle chose to set his 'Romania' contribution to the 'Global Underground' series.
Although it was hardly dying, Studio Martin, at B-dul Iancu de Hunedoara, has nevertheless had a fresh injection of life ever since Romanian promotions agency The Mission took over the programming on Friday and Saturday nights three years ago; installing their own regular DJs such as Vania to spin the sort of wonky techno textures so popular in this country, with regular guests from like-minded labels such as Kompakt and Cocoon also making the
Indeed, it's become almost as much of a nexus for the minimal scene as any of the clubs in Berlin it so closely resembles. Studio Martin might be much smaller but there's a definite similar feel to Berghain in its dark, stripped-back industrial decor and the newly added LED displays could have been imported directly from Watergate.
Yet it's more the psychology of the crowd than the physical surroundings that have earned Studio Martin a place in the Top 100 clubs in the world, welcoming DJs from right across the board with the open-mindedness and enthusiasm that's become the defining characteristic of clubbing in Eastern Europe's underground.
"I first played at Studio Martin eight years ago and it gets better every time," Hernan Cattaneo enthuses. "It's a truly old school underground club that's very dark and smokey and because the resident DJs are excellent the crowd are really clued-up on what they're hearing.
"It's definitely a place to play a long set and I like to start with deep and groovy sounds safe in the knowledge that no-one will ask me to play harder. I can't wait to go back."