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Location: Washington, D.C., USA

Capacity: 3,000

When you think of the American dance music landscape, cities like New York, Chicago, Detroit and LA most likely spring to mind. Yet Echostage has made Washington DC the ultimate destination for Stateside clubbers. The venue — launched in 2012 by District Of Columbia promotion company GLOW, on the site of what had once been DC Tunnel and DC Star — has steadily risen up the league table, thanks to its state-of-the-art sound, synapse-sizzling visuals and a level of production that would put most festivals to shame. Echostage has revolutionised clubbing in the US, shipping in talent from around the world and booking the biggest American artists to play both live shows and DJ sets on its mammoth hybrid stage.

Taking up over 30,000 square feet, Echostage has all the trappings you’d expect of a No. 1 venue. The soundsystem is a d&b audiotechnik V-Series with D80 amplifiers, pumping out 48,000 watts of superior sound, while the senses are further stimulated by dazzling lasers, confetti cannons and cryo-jets. The capacious, warehouse-inspired space is flanked by 60-foot bars, while a VIP mezzanine perches above the dancefloor, kitted out with a plethora of bottle-service tables. This attention to detail complements the artists that Echostage showcases: household names from across the dance music spectrum. REZZ, Armin van Buuren, Eric Prydz, Black Coffee and Claude VonStroke all played before the pandemic hit, indicating the venue’s skilful bookings across house, techno, trance, progressive and EDM styles, while the club has also hosted gigs from famous pop and hip-hop artists such as Lorde, Miley Cyrus and Cardi B.

Like most clubs around the world, the pandemic forced Echostage to close its doors to the public until recently, but it still broadcast DJ performances online during the lockdown.

“We did a couple of DJ livestreams with Insomniac, including Loud Luxury and Deep Dish, as well as a livestream with Dubfire for DJ Mag,” says Echostage’s Heather Church. “It was difficult to find talent locally since most artists live in California or overseas. We’ve been extremely grateful to host weekly live streams every Sunday with Passion City Church. It’s provided the community with much-needed strength through difficult times.”

The Mayor of Washington DC announced on 14th May that venues would be allowed to reopen on 11th June, and after being shut for 15 months, Echostage endeavoured to prepare something special for its dedicated crowd.

“With the notice of reopening, we put together plans for some renovations,” Church says. “It was definitely a scramble, with only four weeks ahead of the reopening date.” Lighting upgrades and a special 4K LED wall were added to the already jaw-dropping visual displays in the club, while celebrated local artist Chris Pyrate was brought in to paint a new mural at the club’s entrance.

Meanwhile, for the reopening itself, a spectacular array of artists was secured to ensure the return would be memorable.

“We reopened with our dream line-up, featuring two nights of Zedd, two nights of Tiësto, David Guetta, Alesso, Tchami and more,” says Church. “It was such a great feeling to walk through the doors for the first time for a real show with fans. The appetite for concerts was through the roof.”

Though 2020 was tough for Echostage and its staff, Church says that the team pulled together and found strength in its sense of community.

“It was undoubtedly a difficult year for our employees, but they returned as if they had never left for our reopening,” she says. “We are grateful and fortunate to have a staff that feels like family. Echostage would not be where it is today without our devoted employees.”

Though not steeped in the same house history as cities like Chicago or New York, Washington DC has its own rich dance music legacy stretching from the percussive funk subgenre go-go through to famous modern acts like Deep Dish, Thievery Corporation and Beautiful Swimmers. Echostage is the jewel in the crown of a thriving electronic club scene there, expertly mixing marquee names with more underground fare. The club has just booked basketball legend turned bass music star Diesel (aka Shaquille O’Neal) and trance heroes Tritonal and Cosmic Gate, and looking ahead, there will be appearances from tech-house crew CamelPhat, dubstep titan Flux Pavilion, and superstars like Carl Cox, MK and Above & Beyond in the next few months.

“Echostage is No. 1 in the world, in the capital of the United States,” Church says. “Washington DC has become one of the most sought-out places for artists to play and will continue to grow in that direction. There’s something special about being able to play in DC and then do late-night tours of the White House, National Monument and Jefferson Memorial… while still buzzing from the crazy fan energy at your show.”