Bulgaria might be best known as the home of live techno specialist KiNK, but these days you’d be remiss if you weren’t also to mention Cacao Beach Club. Taking cues both musically and stylistically from the hedonism of Ibiza, it is a fancy beach club with clean white design, a covered but open terrace and lots of ashen decking and sun loungers on which to relax. The sun and sea breeze flows through the place and from the beach all around it you can watch the sun go down and come up again all whilst an on point election of beats plays out behind you.
After a big refurb in the last year the club, which first opened in 2003, it's now stylistically smart and looks and feels like a hidden paradise on some luxury Caribbean getaway. Playing the last 12 months of events have been a credible selection of guests from across the house and techno spectrum including the likes of Steve Lawler and Hot Since 82, Chris Liebing and Dubfire, Fatboy Slim and Hector Couto. For anyone looking for an alternative to the boozy and pricey White Isle, this place is a must.
A true sanctuary of electronic music, Privilege is one of the globe's most historic nightspots. Starting out in the '70s under the name Club San Rafael, Privilege was no more than a community swimming pool with a small bar attached, where locals rubbed shoulders with European tourists.
Under new ownership, the club hit its stride in the '80s, transforming into the hedonistic house music haven we know today. Music-wise, Privilege has morphed with the times — they've hosted residencies from Armin Van Buuren, Tiesto and other trance heavyweights throughout the '00s, whilst long-standing club-nights Manumission and SuperMartxé still draw huge crowds to the club every week.
It’s also often been touted as the biggest in the world — its main room is the size of an aircraft hanger with a 25m-high ceiling, plus several gardens and chill-out spaces, two VIP areas and 14 bars. Privilege's Vista Club is responsible for the club's more underground sounds, most notably Darius Syrossian's new night Do Not Sleep, that will welcome weekly guests to its booth over the coming season.
Belgium has long been a hotbed of dance music activity, right back to the days of EBM, the techno heyday of the early '90s and on through acts like Soulwax, Kolombo and Peter Van Hoesen. They have an internationally renowned festival scene to match, with ridiculously overblown, supersize gatherings like Tomorrowland and I Love Techno taking care of the more discerning end of the techno-loving spectrum.
For those locals who like their beats bigger and glossier, however, they turn to the no expenses spared party and posers paradise that is Hasselt-based club Versuz. The place boasts a limo service, many glass chandeliers, a plush patio, even smarter VIP space and well-designed outdoor terrace for open-air chilling. There is also a whiskey and cigar lounge, restaurant and more intimate Black Box. As such it is a versatile space that welcomes the likes of Pacha and has residents such as Dave Lambert, Delafuno, Tom Leclerc and Lady S amongst many others. Guests like Bob Sinclair, Funkerman, Chocolate Puma and Fedde Le Grand give you an idea of what to expect on any given weekend.
Since first opening the velvet rope, Surrender and its adjoining pool party area outside, Encore Beach Club, remain one of the staple haunts for electronic dance music in Las Vegas. Part of the same complex that houses XS, the name this mega club yields read like an EDM superstar rap sheet: Avicii, David Guetta, Diplo, Fedde Le Grand, Martin Solveig and Steve Angello are just some of the names exclusive to the owners, Wynn Las Vegas.
A few years ago, not many people — bar Paul Oakenfold, Steve Wynn, Insomniac's Pasquale Rotella and few other key nightlife impresarios — could have imagined how dance music would take off in Sin City, but it's everywhere — and Surrender/Encore Beach Club has not only played a pivotal role in this but continued to push the ball forward in keeping The Strip laden with fist-pumpers.
New City Gas is Montreal’s sprawling, 40,000 square foot power plant-turned-dance-haven. Despite the raw, industrial space it inhabits, the club’s music vibe is less underground grit and more big-room beats. Pumping out EDM on a regular basis with some of the biggest names in the international dance music scene, New City Gas serves night revellers in search of something other than the techno and experimental electronic sounds the French Canadian city is known for.
Showtek, Markus Schulz, Dannic, and Dyro are just a few of the recent acts to grace this club’s booth, and New City Gas’ state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems might be one reason why. What DJ doesn’t want to play to a crowd bombarded by a dazzling audio-visual spectacle accompanied by their beats? Four years strong and going, this old power plant that once supplied the city’s street lights continues to illuminate Canadian nights.
Aquarius is one of the many Croatian hotspots that have become well known to clubbers all over Europe in recent years. Offering a less commercialised, more organic alternative to the White Isle, this place is best known as the location for Hideout Festival and our own DJ Mag Beach Festival as well as Zrce Spring Break and New Yorker Fresh Island, whilst in 2016 it will also host Sonus Festival for the fourth time. During the day, this mini-oasis of luxury is a restaurant and bar, and by night a club. It boasts VIP service and cozy cabanas, as well as pools around which all sorts of larks can be had on various different platforms.
High design standards, two open-air floors and views of clear-blue skies and seas all help add a touch of paradise to every party. Headlining the events are a global selection of stars from big name EDM people like Axwell, to cooler-than-cool house and techno acts such as Zip, Dixon and Ricardo Villalobos. It is the many different festival offerings that make this place what it is, and there are so many of them that everyone can find something to love.
Meet Icon, the Miami nightclub that moved into Mansion’s landmark mansion in 2015. At 11-years-old, Mansion was in its sunset years by nightlife standards and closed its velvet-roped doors in September. But as a South Beach staple and notorious VIP playground, it meant Icon had big dancin’ shoes to fill... and fill them it has. Not to be outdone by prior standards, Icon fills the historic, 30,000-square-foot space with art-deco inspiration courtesy of Miami firm Thirlwall Designs.
Much like its predecessor, Icon’s staple buffet of international superstar DJs will continue to dazzle bottle poppers and EDM lovers alike. The club’s January grand opening featured Ruby Rose, and the weeks following have seen the likes of Borgore, Deorro, Kyroman and DJ Mag’s 2015 Top 100 winners Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike. Mansion was a staple on this very Top 100 Clubs list for more than half its own life, showered with happy praise from diehards and angry Twitter rants from Deadmau5. There’s no reason to believe that the formidable Icon won’t be just as popular.
This club lives up to its name in plenty of ways, not the least of which is the historic structure it inhabits — The Hollywood Playhouse, built in 1927, has been home to countless prolific acts and events spanning generations, from the Beatles to the Grammy’s.
Not one to fall prey to ageing, the club received a major upgrade in 2014 which included, among other things, the world’s largest subwoofer club installation (40-inch cones; just ask Google what that means). According to
owner John Lyons, “It creates earth crushing subbass.” Needless to say, DJs taking the stage for Avalon’s wildly popular Friday night trap and dubstep-centric Control series are probably pretty happy campers. Of course, earth crushing bass doesn’t mean obnoxiously distorted: it means clean, crisp and all-encompassing.
That’s why you’ll see the best names in deep house, techno and electronica show up for work here, too. Case in point, Avalon’s booth recently hosted dynamic duo Jody Wisternoff and Nick Warren with the revival of their legendary Way Out West moniker and Hernan Cattaneo b2b Danny Howells. Old Hollywood would be proud to see legends still playing at its beloved Playhouse.
“For many Bulgarians, Yalta is where it all started,” explains Kliment Yonchev, one of the main men behind Sofia’s famous nightspot. Far from a marketing line, when you take into account this club’s history, he has a point.
Following a re-opening in 2005, partying at Yalta became more akin to a session in someone’s home. Everything from the furniture and floorplan to lights and speaker stacks gives the impression of a private shindig, as wild as it is personal. Add to this a backstory that began when the first revellers passed through its doors in 1959, saw the arrival of electronic music in the country, circa 1989, not to mention Bulgaria’s first international DJ booking three years on, and you realise how special the place is.
Bringing things up to date, Yalta currently focusses on the underground, and its main room is now more reminiscent of an industrial hall, with bookings to match. Local residents — Liubo Ursiny, Stefan Popov, Runo and Philip Chernikov — have control on Fridays, with guests like NOIR, Blond:ish, Dixon, Tiga, Roger Sanchez, Ricardo Villalobos, Guy J, Subb-An and Deep Dish joining every Saturday. Or at least that’s how the last 12 months have looked.
When El Fortin entered our Top 100 last year, we predicted it wouldn't be for the last time — oh, how we love it when we're right. Making its home on a stretch of Brazilian coastline renowned for its outstanding natural beauty, the club has dropped slightly in capacity since our 2015 poll, however investments have been made in improving the structure (now hosting three stages instead of two), soundsystem and staffing. And let's face it, 6000 people is still more than enough for a decent party.
El Fortin may sit only a stone's throw from the likes of Warung and the festival-like clubbing mecca that is Green Valley, but still pulls in the very best names in house and techno. The past year has seen international sensations such as Boris Brejcha, Green Velvet, Pleasurekraft and Amine Edge & DANCE in the booth, along with a wealth of homegrown talent, including Volkoder, Victor Ruiz and Fabrício Peçanha.
We don't want to push our luck with speculation, but with four regular nights on rotation, plus anniversary extravaganzas and yet more top names on the horizon, El Fortin is likely to remain a regular Top 100 feature for some time.