Location: Barcelona, Spain
Elrow, 'The Craziest Party In The World', is the perfect pitstop on your way to Ibiza. Taking place once a month, the experience of its all-bells-and-whistles, epic carnival atmosphere will likely entice you back for a return visit the following month. And if you were to take some time to read up on the full history of how this club came to be, you'll find an incredible story that goes way back to 1870.
Now famous for its outlandish lush vibes, wild abandon, hedonistic mayhem and a party like no other, that’s precisely what you'll find here at this former farmhouse just outside of Barcelona. But if you can't make it to Spain, fear not — the party is now an evolving and ever-moving, around-the-world event, with favourites Claptone, Luciano, The Martinez Brothers, Adam Beyer and Eats Everything all joining and adding to the irresistible atmosphere.
Experts in wow-factor production — with heaps of confetti, fabulous dancers, wild paraphernalia and its sensory-overload-inducing regalia (in a good way) — Elrow now rocks up and brings the party to you. Find the travelling party over the next couple of months in New York, London, Amsterdam and… West Bromwich!
Location: Chengdu, China
China’s domestic club scene is becoming ever more popular, and Playhouse is leading the way. Located in the southwestern city of Chengdu, this iteration of Playhouse is the third to be opened, after previous ventures in Guiyang and Chongqing, and occupies a former theatre.
“Playhouse, as one of the top clubs in China, has been devoted in promoting the culture,” says co-founder Bruno Song, “and we’ve cooperated with [music platform and events company] TME Live to establish a brand-new electronic music festival, stirring up all-round attention from all walks of society in Chengdu city, even in China.”
Set over 7,500 square metres and four areas — Mainstage, Loud Stage, Party Room and Lounge Bar — the club also contains its own clothing outlet, Fashion Collection. Previously, trance leviathans such as Armin van Buuren and Tiësto have played at the venue, and after reopening in May 2020, Shanghai sensation Carta, EDM boss Jeffrey Sutorius and Dutch new schooler Mike Williams have gigged there.
After the pandemic hit, Playhouse disinfected the entire venue, and now complies with government guidance on club entry, requiring attendees to have their temperatures taken and scan a QR code to establish their health status. “Many epidemic prevention measures have been taken to ensure our client's health and safety,” says Bruno Song.
Location: London, UK
Of the many examples of London clubs to emerge, phoenix-like, from the ashes of the hulking monuments of the old docklands, few can boast such a spectacular site as Tobacco Dock in Wapping. The Grade 1 listed building, more than 200 years old, is a rabbit warren of old wine vaults, passages and cavernous halls such as the Great Gallery, Car Park and Terrace, which constitute the main event spaces used for its mega-scale club nights.
This abundance of space in various sizes has allowed Tobacco Dock to be creative during the pandemic: welcoming conferences and exhibitions, utilising the rooftop for the gorgeous Skylight bar (and honing Covid protocols in the process), not to mention the ground-breaking 'metaverse' for virtual club nights, built in conjunction with industry-leading developers Sansar and club partners LWE.
The real thing returns across two days with LWE’s Junction 2: Inner City parties at the end of August, pairing big-room mainstays like Adam Beyer, Charlotte de Witte, Dixon and Amelie Lens with rising underground stars, including Afrodeutsche, Jay Duncan, OK Williams and Yu Su.
With several improvements made to an already world-renowned technical setup, expect Tobacco Dock to become an even bigger pull for clubbers of all inclinations.
Location: Sofia, Bulgaria
You can hardly find a venue in Eastern Europe as storied as Yalta Club. The roots of Sofia’s best dancefloor can be traced back to 1959, when it opened its doors for the first time. Right after the fall of communism in 1989, Yalta became the first place in Bulgaria dedicated to electronic music and has since served as a home away from home for some of techno and house music’s top names, including Ricardo Villalobos, Adam Beyer, Hernan Cattaneo, and plenty more.
Sixty years since opening, Yalta remains one of the coolest spots in Sofia. The club’s chief aim is to bring top house and techno acts (and everything in between) to the Bulgarian capital. Its layout comprises two contrasting spaces: its larger, ‘big clubbing’ experience room boasts an impressive panoramic view over Sofia, and since 2014, Yalta has hosted an intimate, dark, underground room, dedicated to forward-thinking artists playing from dusk ‘til dawn. The club reports having been rendered unable to “do what we do” during the pandemic like almost every club in Europe, but also that things are slowly getting back to normal, including running its annual three-day SOLAR summer festival again in August 2021.
Location: Paris, France
The history of the Rex Club spans decades. The iconic building known as the Grand Rex originally opened its doors as a cinema in 1932, and 40 years later, the downstairs area that was once home to the orchestra became a new home for dancers — Rex Club was born. In the mid-’80s it became the best spot in town for alternative music, from rock and funk to punk and new wave, and its first electronic music night came about in 1988.
Rex Club is synonymous with the legendary Laurent Garnier and his Wake Up parties that ran from ’92 to ’99, and the venue still regularly showcases the cream of the crop of local Parisian talent nowadays. Key club nights include Club Téton, DELIGHTED, Mézigue and Folamour’s resident club nights, and D’julz’s long-standing Bass Culture parties. Other residents include Molly, Chloé, Traumer, DJ Deep, Leo Pol, and some new artists joining the line-up this year, including Marina Trench, Raphael Top Secret and Miley Serious.
The club boasts an impressive d&b audiotechnik soundsystem, and now that it's set for re-opening this September, it’ll be all systems go for France’s go-to clubbing destination.
Location: Dubrovnik, Croatia
There is no good time for a pandemic, but for Dubrovnik's Culture Club Revelin, it couldn't have been worse. 2021 was set to be a year full of 10th-anniversary celebrations, but instead, it was a stop-start mix of socially distanced events. There were one or two standouts, including a festival last August that saw Solardo headline two nights. The Manchester tech house titans played on the club's terrace, overlooking the famous walls of the fortified city below.
That city was established many centuries ago and, because of its beautiful old fortifications and historic architecture, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The club itself is inside a 500-year-old fortress that was transformed in 2010 into one of the world's most unique party spaces. Now it pairs vast, dusty, three-metre-thick walls and grand look-out towers with high-tech lighting and a Martin Audio line array soundsystem. Residents play a mix of house, tech and bass, while headliners are world-renowned names like Roger Sanchez and Pete Tong. August sees the club welcome back Cercle for another of their intimate live-stream showcases, following the success of Hot Since 82's visit in 2019. Here's hoping it is the first of many, as things get back to normal.
Location: Lost Beach Montañita, Ecuador
This hidden gem, a favourite of many discerning international DJs, has actually been open since October 2020 — the only electronic music club allowed to legally open in the whole of Ecuador. This special dispensation was due to the authorities reckoning that the youth of the country were only going to throw illegal parties if everywhere was shut; better to allow a controlled environment like Lost Beach to open with safety measures in place.
The capacity has been temporarily halved to 1,500, and everyone must have a mask to enter. “We constantly remind people of the biosecurity rules,” owner Kami Tadayon tells DJ Mag. “Like keeping hands clean, use masks, and give people their space.”
Over the past year, Kami has upgraded Lost Beach’s soundsystem again, installing the old one at sister club Lost City (currently shuttered) in the capital Quito. They’ve added a new video mapping experience to indoor room The Cave, so that VJs can create glowing psychedelic images all around, and added a new pizza kitchen to the adjoining Dharma Beach Hotel to serve the sunset pre-parties they host every Saturday from 4-8pm before the club opens.
Lost Beach also initiated the Baile Union Musica support group during lockdown, allowing promoters from all over the Americas to co-operate on live streams and help each other out. “Yes we are open, but it has not been that easy,” says Kami. “Many people are still scared to go out, and most of the money we have made has been to pay debts we accumulated during the time we could not open. I can't complain though, and wish the best for everyone.”
Location: Beijing, China
Opened in China’s capital city at the end of 2017, One Third is a further affirmation of the country’s increasingly huge club scene. Based in a former factory in the Gongti area, it’s a hi-tech paradise of lights, lasers, multiple rooms and floors, and no-expense-spared production that has benefited from the input and expertise of Dutch production crew Live Legends.
Based on the mega-clubs that once populated New York’s Meatpacking District, One Third has a huge stage, several spacious rooms, and LED screens on what was once the factory’s windows.
The music policy is very much in the mainstage category. Past bookings have included EDM favourites such as Martin Garrix, Yellow Claw, Timmy Trumpet and R3HAB, Dutch house head Fedde Le Grand, and Canadian sensation REZZ, while in the last few months, Mike Williams and Dash Berlin have both played the venue.
In March 2020, when the club was closed due to pandemic restrictions, it hosted DJ livestreams via Chinese social media service Douyin, generating nearly $300,000 in tips. The Beijing club is just the start: there’s already new iterations of One Third in Hangzhou and Kunming.
Location: Ibiza, Spain
Pondering a club's ability to remain an achingly cool hotspot even after two decades is something of a head-scratcher. What's the secret? How does it do it? Maybe it's because the venue’s roots are in the after-party scene — a haven for die-hards, experienced clubbers, take-no-prisoners libertines. Or perhaps it's the punk rock, illusive attitude that keeps it revered by the dance music industry and respected the world over by DJs and throngs of fans.
DC-10 is one of Ibiza's illustrious, 'underground' clubs and Circoloco is the original party (and now a globetrotting entity) that has been with the venue over the past 22 or so years, since it all first began in 1999.
While many clubs on the motherland choose to promote, promote, promote, DC-10 has always managed to keep things a little hush-hush, relying instead on an in-the-know ethos. The club’s opening and closing parties are the stuff of legend, holding particular favour with locals and global clubbers, although this year the delay has been a nail-biter. No doubt that when the time is right, we will be blessed with their mighty presence.
Location: Las Vegas, NV, USA
Owned by the Hakkasan Group, whose clubs hold more than one place in the DJ Mag Top 100 Clubs poll, OMNIA Las Vegas has been charting pretty much since it opened in 2015.
Located in the also-legendary Caesar’s Palace hotel and casino on the Strip, the 75,000-square-foot, three-tiered OMNIA is lavishly appointed with an open-air rooftop terrace, a very Vegas balcony area, the lush main floor, and Heart of OMNIA — a more intimate smoking room-style bar that conjures visions of old Vegas when the Rat Pack roamed free.
Like all entertainment venues in 2020, the pandemic saw OMNIA take a rather unwelcome sabbatical from its usual duties as one of the premier dance music venues in America. It re-opened as soon as possible on 5th March 2021, however, and its impressive schedule is back in full force. The curated Omnia Tuesdays and Terrace Nights on Thursday and Sundays have been back since 6th June and the club is hosting a pantheon of talent through to the end of 2021, including residencies from Kaskade, Illenium, Martin Garrix and Steve Aoki. It’s business as usual for the OMNIA in 2021, and it’s a good indication that the dance music world is healing.