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DJ Mag Top100 Clubs

Location: Cologne, Germany

Capacity: 1,800

Bootshaus — German for Boathouse — was once exactly that, a storage facility for boats on the eastern bank of the Rhine in Cologne. The space was reinvented over 17 years ago, however, as a venue for electronic music, and has since become a true destination club for those seeking big beats and a boisterous atmosphere.

“The club became famous mainly because of the top-class line-ups and the wild crowd, which is strongly reminiscent of rock concerts,” explains Bootshaus’ CCO, Niclas Aigner. “Almost every major artist has played here, but also many upcoming artists have played here in their early years.”

Where he avoids name-dropping, we’re more than willing; in 2019 alone, Bootshaus hosted the likes of Don Diablo, Yellow Claw, Alan Fitzpatrick, Miss K8 and Illenium, to name just a handful. Week to week, the club usually hosts everything from EDM to techno, psytrance, hardstyle and more via their main events Blacklist, Nibirii, Loonyland and Musical Madness, and one-off parties too. Support comes from an extensive list of resident DJs — Autodrive, Björn Grimm, Björn Torwellen, Brandon, Dave Replay, Elle Rich, Emin, Kevin Arnold, Marco Franica, Oliver Magenta, and Shippo — who help prep the crowds across the venue.

The Bootshaus complex consists of three rooms and an open-air area. Mainfloor is “the heart of the club,” says Aigner, and home to its headline performers. Here, Funktion-One sound thunders out across a pit-like dancefloor that churns with eager ravers, while flamethrowers and CO2 cannons blast overhead. The second room, known as BLCKBX, has become famous for its backlit ceiling fans and thumping Martin Audio sound, which regularly pumps out the best in bass music. And last but by no means least comes DREHEREI, a deliciously grimy techno sweatbox set in an old workshop, complete with industrial features.

Of course, March 2020 brought a catastrophic halt to proceedings at Bootshaus — at least IRL, that is. “The closure presented the club with a difficult financial situation, also partner companies, staff and local DJs were directly affected by the closure,” explains Aigner. “However, we have recreated the Bootshaus in virtual reality and have already held some concerts here. Artists like NGHTMRE and Andhim, and events like elrow and Exit Festival (pre-party) took place in virtual form.” These VR shows have already clocked up over a million unique viewers, with concurrent viewers so far peaking at 32,000, allowing more electronic music lovers to enjoy the Bootshaus experience simultaneously than ever before.

Looking ahead to a proper reopening, Aigner hopes that winter 2021 will finally bring that sweet release, and says Bootshaus is ready to comply with any testing procedures deemed necessary. “There will be some changes, a new floor and many visual adjustments,” he adds, revealing a chillout room is being built. “We have not slept!”

We don't imagine there'll be much sleeping going on when the Bootshaus doors finally open again either.