Location: Playa D’en Bossa, Ibiza
Ever since it arrived in 2011, Ushuaïa has always been about setting new standards when it comes to luxury clubbing experiences in Ibiza. The club makes no bones about that and prides itself on combining premium accommodation with huge international headliners. Last season, it redesigned all rooms and suites with plush material such as “ash Travertine and black Marquina marble, granite bar counters and combed cotton sheets with creative details by interior designer Nina Campbell for Osborne & Little”, and even added a presidential suite to cater for VVVVIPs.
At the same time, the club continued to bring dance giants like David Guetta, Tinie Tempah, Martin Garrix and Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike to play by their famous pool. Thousands flock round it for each party, with palm trees, beach hut like bars and sun loungers all in the shadow of the giant Tower. Another of Ushuaïa’s unique features is that it throws parties in the day, under the warm Balearic sun, without the constant threat of closure from police.
Although the slightly more underground ANTS party continues to call the place home, people who come to Ushuaïa really do so as much for the breathtaking views of the Mediterranean and over-the-top pyrotechnics as they do the music. Each night of the week, Ushuaïa offers varied stage designs and decorations which make for slightly different experiences. But you can always count on there being beautifully designed gogo costumes, as well as an abundance of confetti, streamers and CO2 at each party, and these days the fact all this happens in the open air stands Ushuaïa out from the crowd. In 2018, tropical house and pop crossover star Kygo will return for another summer residency, as will Martin Garrix.
The word institution is thrown around far too readily when it comes to clubs, but Zouk Singapore legitimately lives up to that title. Not just as a world-renowned club with an illustrious history and global influence dating back to 1991, but because it’s been able to entirely relocate to a new location and venue and still retain its atmosphere, status and loyal following.
The last year has been testament to this; Zouk re-opened just over a year ago in its new riverside location on Clarke Quay and continues to claim its must-play reputation for world-touring DJs and world-travelling music lovers.
This is down to a number of reasons: the attention to line-ups, production and atmosphere remains just as strong as it has since it became a critical incubator of electronic music as it moved from west to east in dance music’s earliest chapters, but also its design and installation was taken care of by the same company who fitted their original location on Jiak Kim Street. This created consistency with the club’s 27-year legacy in terms of its aesthetic and vibe, but this time on a much grander scale as it offers two new lounge areas, two storeys and an impressive overlooking balcony as well as its two famed rooms: Zouk and Phuture. The former dedicated to the big EDM guns, the latter championing underground and deeper talent as it has done since Phuture was established in 1996, both Zouk brands remain as on-point and dedicated as ever with their line-up curations and support of the entire cross-spectrum of dance music.
Don’t take our word for it, though. Ask the likes of Apparat, Âme, San Hole, Jai Wolf, M.A.N.D.Y, Blasterjaxx, Sven Väth, Tujamo or any of the other high ranking artist who’ve passed through the famous club’s doors in the last year. Long may the institution continue…
Location: Washington, D.C., USA
The vision behind Echostage was always clear: a hybrid nightclub and concert venue that offers an immersive outdoor festival experience year-round with the comfort and convenience of an indoor space. Finding that sweet spot between the intimacy of a nightclub/concert venue and the bombast of a festival was born out of necessity to satisfy the growing EDM fanbase in Washington, D.C., and meet the ever-evolving technical demands of DJs and live acts. The team behind GLOW, the city’s longest-running EDM promotions company, answered that call with Echostage in 2012, which has since grown to become one of the most coveted venues on the East Coast.
The building where Echostage calls home is ideal for ravers and music lovers; housed in a warehouse space reminiscent of early-day electronic music culture, the venue features a large main room with unobstructed sight lines. Echostage then comes to life via its enhanced production and sound and lighting setup, which includes a D&B V-Series audio system, a giant 14-by-40-foot LED screen, tons of lasers, cryo jets, intelligent lights and confetti cannons. Collectively, it all offers a performance-centric production value rarely seen in an indoor setting. Echostage recently upped the production ante, upgrading the D&B sub amps to powerful four-channel DNB D80 amplifiers, a move that doubles the amount of available sub power, up to 48,000 watts on the subs alone. The venue also recently installed a new LED wall to further enhance the visual experience.
This is the reason why the biggest names in dance music have made Echostage a can’t-miss stop on their US tours, with recent bookings running the genre gamut: Diplo, Alison Wonderland, Sasha & John Digweed, Kaskade, REZZ, DJ Snake, Above & Beyond and many more. Whether you’re a festival veteran, a club-hopping raver or a live music fanatic, Echostage offers a taste for everyone.
Location: Ibiza, Spain
Starting life on the former site of DJ Mag’s number one club Space, Hï Ibiza had a lot to live up to. It did it with impressive style, re-imagining the legendary location into a remarkable clubbing experience with state-of-the-art sound and lighting coupled and forward-thinking residents, nodding gracefully to all aspects of the island’s diverse musical history.
After an esoteric launch campaign full of personality, Hï kicked off with new resident Black Coffee inviting Luciano, Apollonia, Kölsch, Nic Fanciulli and Space resident Paul Reynolds. Later in the season, bona fide legends Armin van Buuren and Eric Prydz both transformed the The Theatre overnight with their bespoke setup, proving Hï’s versatility and ambition in its programming could be matched in its production. The LED screens that run alongside the walls, through the crowd and connect at the booth offer a seamless connection from the dancefloor to the DJ while the moving kinetic lights have to be experienced to be believed.
Off centre, the Wild Corner, or ‘disco toilet’ as it affectionately became known by the DJ Mag staff, plonks a DJ booth right in the centre of the unisex bathroom, with lights and lasers reflected from the all-black gloss floor and toilet doors. Island party-starters Melon Bomb brought the funkiness to this unique space, often capturing the attention of partygoers who came for the seats and stayed for the beats.
With former Amnesia institution Cream making its way to Hï for the 2018 season and Black Coffee, Eric Prydz, Glitterbox and Armin van Buuren all set to return, Hï’s entry straight into the top five of the DJ Mag Top 100 Clubs means it’s already carving out its own legacy on the d’en Bossa seafront.
Location: Zrce Beach, Island of Pag, Croatia
Given its location — right on the seafront — Papaya’s famous swimming pools almost seem redundant. That is until you see them in the throws of the club’s so-called ‘after beach parties’ — famously debauched late-afternoon affairs that have well and truly promoted this Croatian mainstay into the global dance music Premier League.
First opened in 2002 as a sister venue to the club of the same name in the country’s capital, Zagreb, the Zrce Beach address has grown enormously between then and now. The venue’s shell-like main stage, complete with powerful LED array, provides an instantly recognisable backdrop to the wider scene: thousands of revellers marauding around a site that comes complete with multiple levels and hidden corners, not to mention towering palms, its own shoreline, and, last year at least, jungle-themed decorations. Needless to say, the open-air setting is fundamental to the club’s entire personality, and atmosphere.
When the offering is this good the pull is always going to be huge, and Papaya is no exception to that rule. A 24-7 operation during the summer season, when its Croatian homeland becomes one of Europe’s go-to destinations for those in search of sun, sea, and serious tunes, between May and September the venue provides a base for more than ten festivals, including Hideout, Sonus, Fresh Island, Barrakud and Black Sheep, to namecheck just a few of the annual highlights.
All of which means visiting talent comes in the form of huge names from across the electronic spectrum and beyond, with variety one of the defining features in the line-ups. Paul Kalkbrenner, Major Lazer, Sean Paul, Marco Carola, Jamie Jones, Solomun, Don Diablo, Timmy Trumpet, W&W, and Lost Frequencies stopped by during 2017, representing the gamut from EDM to low-slung house and techno.
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Octagon is one of Seoul’s most popular nightlife destinations and no stranger to the DJ Mag Top 100 club listings. Last year the South Korean hotspot was number five in the running, for the second year in a row. Nestled beneath the New Hilltop Hotel close to the Han River, Octagon was once a three-storey basement karaoke bar but now resembles more of an industrial warehouse reminiscent of ‘90s illegal factory raves. Kitted out with a Funktion One soundsystem, the circular structure is also rigged with a state-of-the-art laser show and vast LED screens behind the DJ booth so the club is quite the spectacle for ravers on the dancefloor.
For the clientele wanting a more high end experience, there are elevators leading to the top floor VIP area where there are 80 tables to choose from. Adding to that, there are another ten private rooms that can be hired out if you so desire. It regularly attracts a celebrity clientele with past guests including Tiësto, Hardwell and Jamie Foxx. Not wanting to be defined by EDM which is what the club’s been best known for, the music policy expands into techno, trap, tech-house, hip-hop, plus it’s held album launch parties for Eminem and Maroon 5.
Over the years the club has hosted world renowned festival pre- and after-parties in conjunction with ZoukOut, Creamfields Hong Kong, EDC Japan, and Valley Rock Music And Arts Festival to name a few. It’s even ventured into the world of jazz by collaborating with the legendary New York venue Blue Note. Octagon is a go-to location in Asia’s ever-expanding clubbing landscape, and with a stamp of approval from celebs, dedicated locals and tourists from across the globe it will continue to fly the South Korean flag in clubland for many years to come.
Location: Ibiza, Spain
For many Ibiza regulars, Pacha is the definitive club on the island. Having first sprung up there in 1973, the brand has spread far and wide, opening sister clubs in Brazil, the USA, Germany, Australia and more. While Ibiza wasn’t the first Pacha opened, it’s considered the home of the famous cherry brand, with Pacha basing their HQ on the White Isle. The club itself has outlasted many of its rivals to become an Ibiza staple, having opened all year round until recently, further developing its relationship with the Spanish locals. Its New Year’s Eve parties are the stuff of legend, if you’re lucky enough to get tickets, and lucky enough to remember them.
Inside the Talamanca venue, lights, sound, size and style are all spot on, with the club hosting residents like Solomun, Maceo Plex, David Guetta and more recently Sven Väth, having migrated his landmark Cocoon night from Amnesia. The long-running Monday night party Flower Power is a nod to both Ibiza and the brand’s origins as a haven for like-minded hippies and revellers. Though Pacha Group was sold for €350 million last year, the Ibizan institution promises to continue to define the island’s ethos and style for years to come.
Location: London, UK
There’s a strong case for Fabric being London’s ultimate club. No other venue has held so steadfast in its mission. Located on the site of a former meat storage unit in Farringdon, the club has maintained an underground ethos since it opened in October 1999. Its key promotions Fabriclive (bass music variants twice a month on Fridays) and Fabric (house, techno and electro on Fridays and Saturdays) have made a point of booking the most skilled DJs and championing new subterranean talent, while WetYourSelf! On Sundays is a polysexual party with a minimal techno focus.
Its Saturday residents Craig Richards and Terry Francis are known for their deeply dug DJ sets, and Fabriclive resident Skankandbass has made a considerable name in recent times too. Never standing still, fabric has recently added a new night to its event line up too: Forms. This promotion focuses on house, featuring everyone from lo-fi boss Mall Grab to tech-house wizard wAFF.
Fabric’s three rooms boast cutting-edge sound. The flagship Room One has a vibrating “bodysonic” dancefloor, which immerses dancers in bass frequencies. There have been a few cosmetic changes recently: “The Room Two soundsystem was properly unveiled last year and has been a huge talking point for our artists and crowd,” says Kirsti Weir from fabric. “Room Three has also seen a change: we moved the booth to the centre of the floor last spring.” Plenty of reasons why, for a lot of you, Fabric remains your favourite club.
Location: Berlin, Germany
It’s one of the most secretive places in the world, but Berghain is also one of the most globally respected nightclubs to open its doors in the past few decades. Formerly named Ostgut (the inspiration behind its label counterpart, Ostgut Ton) it was a home for notorious male fetish parties in the late ‘90s, and in 2004 found a permanent fixture in the former power plant now called Berghain located in the Friedrichshain district. Residents such as Ben Klock and Marcel Dettmann have become names synonymous with the techno floor, learning their craft on the finely tuned Funktion One soundsystem that staggers the concrete walls. Above is Panorama Bar, the safe haven for the house heads and often at its finest hour on Sunday afternoons. The shutter moments have become legendary; the moment those blinds lift to let shards of sunlight across the dancefloor are unforgettable. With one of the strictest door policies we know — infamous doorman Sven Marquardt has even written a book of his memoirs — it’s become a privileged moment for those who walk through the graffiti covered doors. Once in amongst the open-minded, anything-goes crowd, be prepared to stay until Monday morning.
Location: Cologne, Germany
It’s been 14 years since Bootshaus changed its name from Warehouse, when it was only booking techno heads like then weekly resident Sven Väth, and abandoned its Sound of Cologne ethos to embrace a more expansive mindset. In that time, its become a hugely dominant force that matches anything Berlin has to offer in terms of popularity.
Boasting 14 residents, playing everything from EDM and dubstep to techno, its three rooms — the festival flavoured main room, complete with HD mapping, flamethrowers and confetti cannons, second LED filled BLCKBX room and stripped down third room DREHEREI — each provide a different environ to match the style of whichever guests are visiting.
Across main promotions Gods & Monsters, Loonyland and Blacklist, the last twelve months have welcomed a spread of talent that stretches from DJ Snake to Sam Paganini, Headhunterz to Alan Fitzpatrick, as well as top tier EDM talent including Hardwell Marshmello and Deadmau5.
“All our events are more hyped than ever before,” confirms marketing manager Niclas Aigner on a growing success that now sees most nights sold out. Indeed, such is Bootshaus’ reputation it’s found itself on the receiving end of artists’ management actually asking to play. “Normally it’s the opposite.”