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Poll Clubs 2018: MATAHARI

Location: Indaial, Brazil

Capacity: 5,000

Website: matahari.com.br

We’d need another few pages to really describe the wide-eyed joy that is Matahari, but we’ll do our best to condense the feel and party vibe into this tiny block. A sprawling jungle paradise located on a former farm on a stunning hilltop next to a lake, Matahari is a 5,000 capacity space that — somehow — further elevates Brazil’s standing in the international club scene. With a hands-up party feel, indebted to some incredible production, including CO2 cannons, a giant LED ceiling and a serious confetti addiction, the club has continued its impressive bookings with Sharam Jey, LouLou Players and Amine Edge & DANCE indicative of where the booker’s heads are at. If you’re going, make sure to hit the sunset sessions that rival any venue in the world as the sun descends behind the jungle canopy.

Excitingly, the club is being renovated as we speak, adding in an updated backstage area, new cabins and bringing the DJ booth on both dancefloors closer to the action. With more themed parties, and more support for Brazilian stars like Alok and Vintage Culture, 2018 looks set to be even bigger.

 

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Poll Clubs 2018: WOMB

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Capacity: 1,000

Website: womb.co.jp

When it opened in the year 2000, Womb was a unique prospect to the Japanese clubbing scene. The founders had a simple goal of bringing the highest quality lighting, sound and acts, inspired by the North American club scene. Eighteen years later, it’s still one of Japan’s most respected and revered institutions. It wasn’t just introducing a Japanese audience to a global scene, it helped pave the way for global acts to come to Asia and Japan for the first time, teaming up with clubs like Space Ibiza, London’s Fabric and Brazil’s D-Edge to bridge the gaps between established and developing scenes and firmly grounding itself in the DJ Mag Top 100 Clubs poll ever since.

In 2018, its newly-opened VVIP Room, as well as newly programmed bass music and trance artists and events mean Womb continues to evolve, with drum & bass resident DJ Aki, techno resident Takkyu Ishino and Toolroom-approved Tommy Wada combining with Yoshi and Ohnishi for the club’s tech-house residency. With artists like Henrik Schwarz, Mathew Jonson, Sven Väth, Dubfire, Pendulum, Radio Slave and Zomboy all gracing the booth in the past 12 months alone, it’s easy to see why Womb has climbed significantly in this year's ranking.

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Poll Clubs 2018: TRESOR

Location: Berlin, Germany

Website: tresorberlin.com

Tresor is one of Berlin’s oldest clubbing institutions, first opening its doors in 1991 — the owners having a foothold in the scene since 1988 back when they ran UFO club. In 2007 Tresor found its permanent home at the reconstructed power station in Mitte, famed for its underground vaults and iron caged DJ booth. Tresor’s label was launched in the ‘90s, gaining worldwide respect in the techno history books with releases from Detroit legends such as Jeff Mills, Juan Atkins, Blake Baxter and Robert Hood.

The club is open five nights and days a week, allowing an expansive music program. Amongst the regular shindigs include the Grounded Theory label party co-founded by Henning Baer, the in-house ‘Tresor Invites’ series that hosts international headliners like Surgeon and Dave Clarke, and one of Berlin’s most prolific free-spirited gay parties Herrensauna. Tresor’s ‘New Faces’ is an opportunity to support local talent, with live acts and DJs performing every Wednesday. The label is now deep into its 301st release, with high-tempo techno from experimental duo Second Woman. With a powerhouse of artists at its disposal, we are certain that Tresor will continue its legacy for many years to come.

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Poll Clubs 2018: XOYO

Location: London, England

Capacity: 800

Website: xoyo.co.uk

It’s over a decade since there was a party called ‘Shoreditch is Shit’ and almost two since infamous fanzine ‘Shoreditch Twat’, but no amount of mockery has slowed the nightly influx to the East London triangle that peaks each weekend.

For many this is down to XOYO, a bastion of nightlife thanks to impeccable programming offering a beacon to dance music lovers amongst the novelty bars and hen parties. A two-room club with a sweaty basement vibe on its main floor, it has the requisite minimalist aesthetic and big names, but what’s made it stand out most is its quarterly residency series.

Allowing DJs the opportunity to spread their wings musically, The Black Madonna actually moved to London off her 13-week run last year, while also sealing her reputation as the world’s most in-demand DJ. Artwork, meanwhile, is currently showcasing his own multi-faceted career, on one hand playing as Grain alongside Derrick May, getting the Big Apple Records crew back together on the other.

Throw in the precision bookings of Saturday’s XOYO Loves, highlighting cutting-edge DJs from DJ Sotofett and MikeQ to Peggy Gou and Heidi, next to a daily program that includes everything from the Beyonce-inspired Yonce to student night Sneak, and there’s not a corner that XOYO doesn’t have covered.

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Poll Clubs 2018: TENAX CLUB

Location: Florence, Italy

Capacity: 999

Website: tenax.org

Like some of the best dance music, Florence club Tenax likes to keep things simple. There are just two rooms: the main dance floor with dark walls and strobe lights where the action takes place, and the VIP area with its own soundsystem.

Spearheaded by residents of the calibre of Alex Neri and Marco Faraone — two genuine Italian DJ and production legends — the soundtrack is similarly streamlined: house and/or techno. It’s a pleasingly simple formula that’s kept Tenax in business for nearly 40 years and seen it place in our DJ Mag Top 100 clubs poll more than a few times.

Founded in 1981, the club was an early dance music pioneer in Italy during the ‘80s and ‘90s, as a truly diverse range of names played, including Daft Punk, Grace Jones and Radiohead.

The club changed musical direction in the late ‘90s, focusing on international house and techno, which is where it’s still at today, packing in 999 clubbers every weekend night for a riotous celebration of four-four beats. A tight booking schedule has seen Jeff Mills, Modeselektor, Peggy Gou and Honey Dijon play in the last year, with many calling Marcel Dettmann’s set the best of 2017.

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Poll Clubs 2018: VELVET

Location: Asunción, Paraguay

Capacity: 1,000

Website: velvet.com.py

Located in the capital of Paraguay, the city of Asunción, the ultra-swish Velvet, with its padded booths (hewn from velvet, naturally) and large focal DJ booth — which allows for its clubbers to join the evening's selector behind the decks — not to mention sturdy rig, rightly retains its place as the city's 'premium spot' since opening its doors back in 2013.

While most would consider Mexico and Brazil — notably the party haven of São Paulo — to be the jewels in the crown of Central and South American club culture, Paraguay is fast catching up with its neighbouring bastions of the turntable. Velvet and other clubs like Ex-Taller 1130 and Sequence, pull in international names like Berlin stalwart Mike Dehnert through to big room Dutch EDM pair Bassjackers. A city to watch closely, then. 

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Poll Clubs 2018: FOUNDATION NIGHTCLUB

Location: Seattle, WA, USA

Capacity: 550

Website: foundation-nightclub.com

Foundation has found itself on the Top 100 list more than once, but it has continually evolved to become a truly integral part of Seattle’s dance music nightlife landscape. The intimate venue, previously home to several restaurants and former clubs, doesn’t boast Vegas-style square-footage, but it more than makes up for space with its unique, welcoming vibe and loyal following — and of course, that super dope KV2 Audio system doesn’t hurt either.

The club’s not without amenities, either: there are three luxurious VIP areas, three bars, and a staff that gets top marks from partygoers, which is not something that’s easy to come by in nightlife. Looking for a party in Seattle mid-week? Foundation has you covered, with its popular SUBstance Wednesdays event kicking off the weekend early on hump-day (there’s also Resonate Fridays and Elevate Saturdays, in case your weekend needs a little spark). Billed as an “all-EDM format” luxury nightclub spot, this year the venue has hosted artists such as Yellow Claw, Adventure Club, Kaskade, Flosstradamus, Dada Life, Mija, Jauz, Madeon, Excision, and Deadmau5 himself.

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Poll Clubs 2018: YALTA CLUB

Location: Sofia, Bulgaria

Capacity: 1,000

Website: yaltaclub.com

Although this Bulgarian institution opened for business back in 1959, Yalta really started to gain recognition as the first club to introduce electronic music to the East European country back in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s. Since those early years, Yalta has retained its position as the go-to Bulgarian club for international names. In the past year alone, Dyed Soundorom, Shonky, Guy J, Victor Calderone and Matador have performed at the venue, with deeper artists like Âme and Moodymanc given free reign to take over the club’s second room.

Yalta’s three main nights are Takeover, No Orders and Elegant Touch, with each one revolving around the the club’s three residents — Liubo Ursiny, Runo and Diass.

Liubo says: “We’re pushing the club programme with new, fresh and upcoming artists from around the world. The idea is to present, as much as possible, artists in a ‘club’ environment rather than festival, i.e. many of them are playing open-to-close sets with no local support, or at least extended sets up to six hours.”

Both rooms at Yalta boast Meyer Sound M’elodie systems, with the smaller second space’s low ceiling and industrial design lending itself to longer sets. With Liubo promising that Yalta will book more high calibre acts “before the summer really kicks in”, it looks like Yalta will remain Sofia’s number one hotspot.

 

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Poll Clubs 2018: PANAMA

PANAMA

Address: 
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Capacity: 
1100

Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Capacity: 1,050

Website: panama.nl

Panama is an expansive warehouse space that once was a Port Authority building overlooking Amsterdam's tourist attraction, Oostelijk harbour. In the evening it serves as a fine dining restaurant, and by night invites a variety of international DJs to play by the waterfront. Over the past year the club’s invited the likes of James Zabiela, Dennis Cruz, Ferry Corsten and Rhadoo to test out their mammoth Pioneer soundsystem. Residents include Marco Bailey, Egbert, and Secret Cinema. As well as the DJ bookings that encompass house, techno and trance the venue is also a well applauded exhibition space — currently displaying art by the prolific graffiti artist Laser 3.14.

Along with the vast balconies that overlook the main dancefloor, for variation there’s also a second room that’s powered by a Martin Audio soundsystem that once graced the main stage. Panama has close ties with ADE, each year putting on a plethora of events across the conference weekend. Last year it hosted parties by Toolroom, Tram 10, Luminosity, Sudbeat and Soundgarden, plus a closing finale with Cutting Edge and Cumac. The warehouse has definitely earned its stripes amongst Amsterdam’s competitive nightlife scene, this year marking 16 years in operation.

 

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Poll Clubs 2018: ROBERT JOHNSON

Location: Offenbach, Germany

Capacity: 250

Website: robert-johnson.de

While many of the venues in the Top 100 Clubs poll opt for ostentatious presentation — retina-searing lasers, more screens than Time Square, and confetti cannons that blow their load more than a teenager left home alone for the weekend — Robert Johnson provides an stripped-back vibe that, without sounding too cliché, really is all about the music.

Comprised simply of a tiny main room that barely holds 100 people, with a ground-level DJ booth, and a few cathode ray tube TV monitors mounted above playing vintage video clips, it really is one of the most intimate clubbing experiences around. A balcony area looking across the Main river towards neighbouring Frankfurt adds to the romance, while a renowned Martin Audio system and truly discerning booking policy means underground sounds of the highest calibre. The last 12 months have seen the likes of Gerd Janson, Marcel Dettmann, Bicep, dBridge and March cover star, The Black Madonna, play, with talent such as Dr Rubinstein, Function, Mano Le Tough and Red Axes booked in for the next few weeks. A million miles away from the club-cum-festival nights on offer elsewhere, Robert Johnson holds it down for the heads — more power to it, we say!

 

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