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Poll Clubs 2017: PACHA IBIZA

Pacha Ibiza Top 100 Clubs 2017
Pacha Ibiza Top 100 Clubs 2017

Put simply, for many people this place is Ibiza. Founded on the island in 1967, whilst the iconic cherries have since spread globally Pacha only has one true home. Hence its status as an annual fixture in the upper echelons of the Top 100 Clubs.

The definition of a super-venue in terms of style, size, lighting, and soundsystems, its rich history is the envy of almost every other spot on the island — outlasting many and beginning its story well before the majority. But that reputation would be nothing without a constant stream of events to position the address as a go-to haunt for contemporary hedonists in search of today’s top tunes.

Last summer saw weeklies from Maceo Plex, Nic Fanciulli, Hot Since 82, Luciano, MK, Bob Sinclar, and Solomun, amongst others, with a dedicated crew of residents backing up the international names, and Monday’s Flower Power events harking back to the hippy values the brand was originally built on when founder Ricardo Urgell first decided to open a meeting place for like-minded ravers.

This is also where Balearic clubbers will find David Guetta’s notorious F***ck Me I’m Famous sessions, revealing the club’s more commercial music policy when compared with many of its neighbours. Placing emphasis very much on big tunes and even bigger vibes, Pacha is the only major dancing destination on the White Isle that keeps its doors open all year round — hosting daily parties between May and October, and then welcoming weekend-only warriors during winter, with New Year’s Eve in this place the thing of myth, legend, and hazy but treasured memories. Although Pacha Group has now been sold off for €350 million, thankfully parties are still scheduled for throughout the year. We couldn’t imagine this poll without it, nor would we ever want to.

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Poll Clubs 2017: USHUAïA

Ushuaia DJ Mag Top 100 Clubs 6
Ushuaia DJ Mag Top 100 Clubs 6

Ushuaïa Ibiza is a party spot that needs little in the way of introduction. A five-star luxury beach hotel by day, and clubbing paradise by night, the seven-year-old venue boasts heart-stopping views of the Mediterranean, while championing some of the biggest DJ names on the planet. Since its inception in 2011, Ushuaïa has been unique in its ability to throw day parties, too — since there aren’t many other places where you can catch acts whilst gradually bronzing under the glare of the Balearic sun. It’s a formula that means they’ve consistently been able to blow their competition out of the water, and the Playa d'en Bossa venue is a staple on the checklist of any serious Ibizan partygoer.

Over the past year Ushuaïa has seen EDM heavy-hitters such as Steve Aoki, NERVO, Martin Garrix, Hardwell and David Guetta (‘presents BIG’) return time and time again to its punchy system and famed pool. Though its flashy guests and state-of-the-art LED screens aren’t matched by the club décor itself, which is actually fairly pared-back and minimal.  

This coming season, ANTS — Ushuaïa’s most popular residency by far, counting artists such as Joris Voorn, Kölsch and head-honcho Andrea Oliva as regulars — are letting their colony run riot from June until September. While the Ushuaïa Entertainment group have just unveiled an exciting new chapter — Hï Ibiza. Set in what was formerly Space, it’s set to be one of the biggest talking points of the summer ahead, and could even prove a future rival to the company’s flagship venue.

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Poll Clubs 2017: OCTAGON

Octagon DJ Mag Top 100 Clubs 5
Octagon DJ Mag Top 100 Clubs 5

Seoul’s number one nightspot retains its place smack-bang in the middle of the top 10 for another year. Having rocketed up the chart after first entering in 2012, Club Octagon has consistently performed, and it’s no wonder, given the space attracts an average of 7,000 punters every week — and that’s just when it’s local talent in the booth, with EDM titans such as Marshmello, Bassjackers and Quintino regularly gracing the decks, that number is certainly subject to change!

“Due to the demands of EDM festival music, there has been a new breed of people requesting more EDM-oriented music,” say the club. “We have been working on a balance, and although our main genre is EDM, we play tech-house, techno, trap, and hip-hop as well.”

Although boasting 78 VIP tables and nine private rooms, Octagon’s design leans toward the industrial, aiming to recreate some of the original feeling of rave’s grubby, warehouse-based past. Converted from an old basement karaoke bar beneath the New Hilltop Hotel (just south of the Han River), exposed piping and concrete and metallic décor deliver classic vibes, while state-of-the-art lighting, a large LED screen mounted behind the DJ, an in-club elevator between floors, and (most importantly) the Funktion One system ensures the club is still well and truly situated in the present. Plus everything from the lights to the tables is octagon-shaped for that unique, extra-special edge.

With a list of residents far too extensive to post in these pages, plus a steady stream of big name bookings and a loyal customer-base to boot, it seems Club Octagon will remain one of the brightest jewels in Asia’s ever-expanding crown of superclubs for a long time to come.

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Poll Clubs 2017: ZOUK SINGAPORE

Zouk Singapore DJ Mag Top 100 Clubs 4
Zouk Singapore DJ Mag Top 100 Clubs 4

When the lease for Zouk Singapore's iconic Jiak Kim Street location — the huge converted warehouse it had occupied since 1991 — expired at the end of 2016, Singapore's only internationally established superclub brand re-opened at Clarke Quay, a historic stretch of land next to the Singapore River, on 4th March.

The move had taken over a year to plan and following a campaign to save one of the world's most famous clubs backed by the likes of Hardwell and Laidback Luke, and a series of massive closing parties, Zouk Singapore was reborn within its new incarnation in a glorious hail of confetti, and they haven't looked back since.

Retaining Zouk as its main room concept, reserved for heavyweight EDM bookings, and Phuture for deeper, more underground sounds, two new layout features — the lounge-y Capital and Red Tail for pre-party cocktails and shots — have been introduced to keep with the warped, mind-bending essence of the original labyrinthine version. Designed by Independent Consultants, the same team behind the Jiak Kim Street residence, the new-look Zouk is a stylish array of metallic panels, stony matte black surfaces and brickwork crossed with a swathe of various arty light-box structures, industrial lamps and modern neon heliocentric patterns. Spanning across two storeys with an overlooking balcony, three bars, VIP pods and a DJ booth with a massive LED backdrop, and with a total capacity of 4,200, the Zouk brand has more than lived up to the huge expectations laid before it by visionary owner Mr Cheng's epic legacy.

And while the location and lay-out might be different, the DJs are still of the highest calibre you'd expect from this Far Eastern juggernaut, with the likes of Sven Väth, Dave Clarke, Tiësto and Aly & Fila already featuring in 2017 alone. Also responsible for ZoukOut, East Asia's leading dance festival set up in 2000, and the always impressive Kuala Lumpur sister venue, the Zouk brand is as formidable as ever.

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Poll Clubs 2017: GREEN VALLEY

Green Valley number 3 DJ Mag Top 100
Green Valley number 3 DJ Mag Top 100

Green Valley has been in the top three of this poll for the past few years, and shows no sign of fading away. This magnificent electronic music playground didn’t exist ten years ago — in 2007 it was nothing more than a makeshift tent in the middle of an open airfield, set up to host a local rave. Carl Cox headlined that first event, entertaining thousands in his inimitable, infectious way, and the Green Valley partners set about transforming the space into a festival-style jungle superclub. Set in the south of Brazil, in the region that’s been dubbed ‘Brazil’s Ibiza’, it’s a wonderful place to party.

When the sun comes up on the club in the morning, the beautiful natural surroundings are fully revealed — a green valley setting, no less. The main stage is the first arena you come to on entering — after you pass the merchandise shop and trophy cabinet — and pretty much every big name you can think of has plied their wares here. In the last year they’ve staged everyone from David Guetta to Claude VonStroke, Hardwell to Mark Knight, and the appearance of their two biggest Brazilian residents in the Top 100 DJs poll — Vintage Culture and Alok — has a lot to do with their big shows at Green Valley.

While the main stage boasts all the latest tech wizardry — LED panels, CO2 shots, lasers synchronised through timecode technology, etc. — the second stage, The Underline_, is darker and more immersive. It still has a pukka soundsystem, of course, and a great view over the artificial lake constructed as GV was developing. And on special occasions, such as the recent DJ Mag Carnival fiesta, a third stage — resembling another festival stage — is opened for more underground sounds.

Green Valley really is one of the global dance community’s greatest success stories of recent years, and there’s even talk of them setting off on a world tour to further publicise what’s great about their brand.

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Poll Clubs 2017: FABRIC

fabric dj mag top 100 number 2
fabric dj mag top 100 number 2

The story of Fabric’s 2016 will go down in dance music folklore. After famously being shuttered following the deaths of two teenagers from drug-related causes during the summer last year, pretty much the whole of clubland united behind Fabric’s #saveourculture campaign to have their license reinstated. The situation also had a wider impact on clubbing culture, acting as a catalyst to open up the conversation about policing, planning and licensing venues in the UK.

And since reopening in January, the Farringdon venue has welcomed a huge array of artists back to EC1, including regulars like Seth Troxler and Ben UFO, as well as Ricardo Villalobos, who Fabric’s promotion manager Judy Griffith describes as an “honorary resident” when speaking to DJ Mag about Fabric’s year. “He was returning home,” he explains. “A sight we never thought we would see again and it was emotional for all of us, Ricardo included.”

Having won Best Large Club at DJ Mag’s Best of British awards in December, as well as boasting Best Resident in Craig Richards, who Blackett says remains vital to the club after 17 years as musical director alongside Terry Francis. “They have both totally mastered their craft. The new generation can learn a thing or two from these guys. We all can, it’s like an education every week. You really are watching masters at work when you see them play.”

Changes were made to the club’s operations before Fabric could reopen, which include raising the age restriction to 19, the addition of ID scanners and other security measures. The Farringdon venue also switched programming on Fridays, taking FabricLive fortnightly in order to make room for artist-led nights that see Rødhåd, Jon Hopkins, Daphne and more all head up parties this year. The result is a definitive victory for clubland, whilst re-establishing Fabric as the beating heart of London club culture.

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Poll Clubs 2017: SPACE IBIZA

Space Ibiza - DJ Mag Top 100 Clubs No.1
Space Ibiza - DJ Mag Top 100 Clubs No.1

All good things must come to an end, and boy was Space Ibiza a good thing. For 27 years from 1989 to 2017, Pepe Rosello’s club ruled over the dance world with pioneering authority. It was one of the main reasons many ravers made their first pilgrimages to the White Isle, and was a place plenty of DJs dreamed of playing because everything about it was super-sized, from the club itself — with its five different arenas and bathroom areas, three VIP spaces and 600,000 visitors a year — to its festival-sized line-ups. It was also the only place we thought fitting to host our own 25th birthday event, and you officially voted it to the top spot of our annual poll firstly in 2007, then consecutively from 2011 to 2014, then again in 2016, and now one final, fitting time in 2017. 

Now it is gone for good. If you didn't make it you never will, if you did, you will never forget: To be lost on one of the open-air terraces (a real rarity in Ibiza), as roaring airliners fly overhead and with the club’s custom-made Funktion One pummelling you as Italians, Spaniards, Americans, Brits and countless other nationalities stand shoulder to shoulder, beaming from ear to ear, was one of dance music’s most essential experiences.

It went out with a bang befitting such a clubbing behemoth, but not before Carl Cox — who had been resident at the club for 15 years — played a special all-vinyl set for the first time in a decade. That was for the grand finale of his Music Is Revolution party and was streamed on BE-AT.TV to millions of people around the world. The last ever party came in October with a marathon set from Cox that started with Ridney's ‘At Night’ and ended with plenty of tears and Angie Stone's ‘Wish I Didn't Miss You’ at 12pm on Monday. "There’s been no other club on this planet that has been as significant as this one,” the Intec boss said at the time.

More than 40 guests playing with him included regulars over the years like Josh Wink and David Morales, plus Brits Alex P and Brandon Block, who were among the first people to play the club back in the early ‘90s. Contemporary stars such as Tale of Us, Steve Bug and Edu Imbernon also got in on the action, and with that you have one of the many reasons why Space was such an enduringly popular club — because of its ability to stay true to its roots, whilst simultaneously evolving and adapting to the times. Clubbing history was made that night, then: It was the sort of moment that’ll have millions more people than could ever actually fit into the club claiming they were there for years to come.

The former Space building and site is now under the charge of he Matutes Group, who own Ushuaïa and much of the surrounding land in Playa D'en Bossa. After rumours that it might be pulled down to make way for a shopping centre, it was confirmed that it will re-open under a different name in 2017, while Carl Cox has suggested Space itself will also re-open elsewhere on the island in a couple of years. Whatever happens, we shall always have the memories, because most clubs don't go out in the sort of style that this place did last summer. But then again, Space Ibiza was never just another club.

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