Location: Ibiza, Spain
It's a little shocking to reflect that Pacha was born in 1973. 1973! Gosh, that's when disco was first budding and blossoming, in a time when Ibiza was a less busy destination than it is today, although perhaps in a slightly more hedonistic way for the times. When you think of Pacha, it's those seminal red cherries that immediately spring to mind — that and the Ibicencan farmhouse design, with its historic walls and tiled floors that most likely could tell a story or two.
The original Pacha is still very much there, with exciting expansions and impressive renovations added to and around it. Being able to offer VIP and general admission experiences is all part and parcel of the Pacha vibe. That and the constantly evolving tweaks on the brand, including clothing for all genders and generations, merchandise, and heaps of accessories and gift ideas. Meanwhile, recent residences and appearances from the likes of Claptone, Solomun, Danny Tenaglia and Martin Solveig have ignited the iconic dancefloor.
With the state of clubs in Ibiza currently up in the air, it's most likely that the first major parties of the season will in fact also be closing parties. Although it's famous and infamous clubs like Pacha that can surely continue for years to come.
Location: Zrće Beach, Croatia
Celebrating two decades since its launch in 2022, Aquarius Club, which is set on Croatia’s famous Zrće Beach on the Island of Pag, has, unfortunately, had to postpone all this season’s events until this grand anniversary. It follows a similar cancellation of events in 2020, a year they’ve called “one of the hardest periods we had to face since we started our journey”.
But what a journey it’s been so far. With over a million visitors a year to Zrće before Covid struck, Aquarius, one of the oldest clubs there, has helped make it Europe's number one destination for outdoor, beach-front dancing. With numerous festivals now setting up shop there each summer, Aquarius has proved a versatile companion, hosting everything from the subby skank-out of Hideout and the full-throttle thump of Hard Island to the non-stop techno of Barrakud. Surrounded by the blue Adriatic sea and sweeping Velebit mountain, everyone from Salvatore Ganacci to Seth Troxler has welcomed in the warm morning light.
It’s been a tough and testing time for the club’s new management, who only took over in 2019. But when they return, they promise, it’ll be their “biggest season ever”.
Location: Phuket, Thailand
Despite the pandemic, Phuket's popular Illuzion club managed to stay open for most of the last year. "We applied all the government guidelines such as social distancing, hand sanitiser stations and temperature checks in order to keep our party-goers safe while enjoying a night out at our venue," says Marketing Manager Flavio. "When Illuzion is open, it operates as it always has."
And that is to say that the former shopping mall turned three-roomed, 6,500-square-metre space continues to offer a seven-day programme. As well as 500 dancers, the space holds more than 300 VIP tables in a private VIP room with separate balconies. The club plays host to live concerts and corporate events, as well as mainstream and underground DJs, with a 100-square-metre LED wall for mind-blowing visuals.
One subtle change that was made in the last 12 months was putting more of a focus on local talent and visitors, due to the restrictions on international travel. The likes of NERVO played on New Year's Eve, some of the biggest hip-hop artists in Thailand played most weeks, and handy residents like DJ Kraiz, DJ Tyvon, and DJ Mighty, and MCs like DAX, Prada, and Mike Blue all relished the chance to take control of the club more often.
Location: Ibiza, Spain
Iconic through and through, Amnesia is the unforgettable mainstay and ultimate bucket-list destination for any clubber worth their salt. Not only a place that oozes history on the White Isle, but a firm favourite worldwide. The vast main dancefloor with its glass ceiling, is a place of worship indeed, hosting techno's Pyramid party, the spectacular spectacle that is elrow, Do Not Sleep parties, and Jamie Jones's Paradise. The tropical terrace is the perfect hang-out spot to regroup and reflect on the joy and wonderment of being at Amnesia.
While the White Isle takes stock during the pandemic, Amnesia has been hosting a slot on Radio 1 Dance, with residents Mar T, C A A L, and Luca Donzelli, while their own Pyramid radio show is also presented by the latter and special guests. Meanwhile, Amnesia has packed up the whole party and taken it on a road trip to the Island of Pag, Croatia.
Keeping all fingers crossed, Amnesia will reopen its doors to celebrate its traditional closing party on 23rd October. “We've worked a lot to make this an unforgettable closing with all the things you love the most,” the club announced during this summer. “This pandemic has slowed us down but hasn't stopped us.” Yes! At a glance there will be a melange of DJs from back in the day (Jeremy Healy, Alfredo, Alex P and Brandon Block) and a pleasing collective from the now: The Blessed Madonna, Jamie Jones, Richy Ahmed, Deborah De Luca and Adam Beyer are amongst them.
Location: Bristol, UK
Motion began life as a skatepark, with its eccentric founder Tom Kilford living onsite in a converted bus. After-parties on the ramps bred nights on the terrace and, as Bristol institutions from Just Jack to Arcadia to Love Saves the Day became involved, the site became a haven for students, locals and travelling clubbers alike. Eats Everything owes much of his illustrious career to the club and, after 10 years of the lauded In:Motion series (and 15 years in total), it now stands as one of the finest clubs in the UK.
That a club of Motion’s renown and status in its home city of Bristol should find itself concerned for its survival tells its own story about how difficult the last 18 months have been for nightlife. But, after being forced to lay off much of its staff during the pandemic, the West Country behemoth is warming up again.
A new space has opened — the Container Yard — to ensure its open-air events stay dry even when the weather has other ideas, with Eats Everything and Ellen Allien among the first to helm the decks. The club has also recently reached an agreement with the local council which means not even the rapid transformation of the surrounding area can silence the party. Look out too, for the six-year anniversary of local label Shall Not Fade outdoors, as well as intimate shows with the legendary DJ Shadow and the playfully experimental five-piece Squid in the Marble Factory. As the indoor spaces re-open, the return is a timely one for dancefloor heads in Bristol and beyond.
Location: London, UK
Iconic London venue fabric has come a long way since the building’s inception as a meat storage cellar for neighbouring Smithfield Market in Clerkenwell. After being founded as a club in 1999, it swiftly earned a reputation as London’s go-to dance music destination before it was forced to temporarily shut in 2016 — unknowing that a global pandemic would come along and do the same a few years after.
Finally, in July 2021, the 25,000-square-foot venue welcomed guests back with an epic 42-hour party in a newly renovated space, marking the arrival of a new chapter in the club’s celebrated history. Now, fitted acoustic panels line the interiors, a brutalist, concrete DJ booth has taken over Room 2, and even a new strict no-photos policy has been introduced, echoing a rule from when the club first opened.
To keep it fresh, a host of new DJs including Jossy Mitsu, Tapefeed, and Hutch have joined the 2021 roster, alongside OG residents Terry Francis and Craig Richards, and 2019 additions like Anna Wall and Mantra. Parties-wise, the pre-pandemic structure of bass-heavy FABRICLIVE Friday nights is set to become more “genre-bending”, while Saturdays will become even more focused on techno, explains fabric’s Matt Star. “The club plans to build on the strength of their 42-hour reopening weekender by introducing more ‘all-weekend’ events,” he continues, “all with the goal of creating a real 24/7, weekend-long destination for London.”
Location: Valinhos, Brazil
“The owners had the dream to create a new epicentre for electronic music fans in the heart of São Paulo state in Brazil,” says Victor Flosi from Laroc Club, recalling the origins of the celebrated venue. “They chose the hidden hills of Valinhos, 100 kilometres from São Paulo city, as their home almost six years ago, where there was nothing before. Since then, they’ve focused on creating a space with a festival atmosphere, but putting the public close to the artists.”
In a country with a good share of world-class venues, Laroc Club has risen to prominence, inviting DJs from across the style spectrum to rock its fine-tuned JBL VTX soundsystem and outdoor festival-style stage. For its special Ame Laroc Festival in February 2020 — that coincided with Carnival celebrations — Claptone, Guy Gerber and W&W played, along with big-name Brazilian DJs like Felguk, Wehbba and Renato Ratier. Since then, the club has remained shut due to the severe impact of Covid in the country.
“We have to say it wasn’t easy to cope during these difficult times,” says Flosi. “Our last opening during Carnival 2020 was so epic that it reverberated for many months into the pandemic, but at the same time, got all of us very frustrated.”
Nevertheless, the Laroc Club crew are planning ahead, devising some new ideas they can implement when the pandemic eventually subsides.
“We continued with our team, which was relocated to other companies in the group until the return of the events, but always with a beacon of hope,” Flosi adds. “We are planning some new features for the epic return, when it is possible.”
It's been five years since Zouk Singapore moved to its current venue among the converted warehouses of Clarke Quay, an entertainment district by the river in the city’s centre. Boasting three club spaces — Zouk, the main room, Capital and Phuture — plus social gaming bar Red Tail, the venue’s futuristic stylings spare no expense: the club’s customised Gary Stewart Audio system is joined by a giant, immersive lighting rig that’s affectionately nicknamed ‘The Mothership’.
Forced to curtail its nightlife activities during the pandemic, the club impressively repurposed its 31,000 square feet into a restaurant, spin cycle gym and pop-up cinema, retraining its staff. The former also continued to entertain local music lovers, with diners attending nights featuring curated playlists, including Flashback, an evening harking back to the ‘90s and 2000s, and the trance-celebrating Transfix.
In June last year, Zouk even managed to throw a three-day Zoom festival called Phuturescapes. Supported by the Singapore Tourism Board. It featured national live acts, such as Jasmine Sokko and Yung Raja, and international headliners, including Diplo, San Holo and Christina Novelli, alongside the club own residents, Nash D, Jeremy Boon, Hong, Ghettoo, LeNERD and Che’Molly.
With nightlife still closed in Singapore till further notice, Zouk's diversification continues to guide the club and city through uncertain times.
Location: Los Angeles, USA
Exchange LA’s stunning historic decor showed itself off even more than usual during the pandemic. The venue was closed to the public, but it hosted numerous livestreams with marquee names on YouTube and Twitch for Insomniac TV. Always camera-ready, Exchange’s combination of classic architecture and modern elements lent themselves nicely to the streaming platforms, providing a gorgeous backdrop for the remote experience.
With mask policies, sanitation stations and deep-cleaning procedures in place, Exchange reopened in summer 2021 with a bang and a load of top DJs. Among these, Alesso, Deadmau5, Diplo, Kaskade, Tchami, and Claptone. The club doesn’t have residents, but it does have regular favourites, such as Green Velvet, 12th Planet, Dillon Francis, KSHMR, Chromeo, Oliver Heldens, and Andy C — whose pre-Thanksgiving pilgrimages are a particular highlight.
Hopefully, Exchange can remain open, as it would be a shame for the 25,000-square-foot, four-storey venue to be forced to shut its doors to the public again. As fabulous as the space is remotely, the impact of Exchange is unmatched in person. The LA Stock Exchange, from which the club gets its name and its location is retained in the bones of the building, the design of which draws from Near East and Native American styles. It houses a Funktion-One audio system with EVO6 speakers and a line array. Additionally, there are 70 moving lights, over 300 LED lighting fixtures, four RGB 6W lasers, a floor-to-ceiling LED video wall, and projection mapping.
Near-future plans for the Exchange brand include expansion to new locations.
Location: Manchester, UK
Launched in 2006, Manchester’s The Warehouse Project is a rite of passage for many. Led by local nightlife entrepreneurs Sacha Lord and Sam Kandel — who also run Parklife festival — its unique approach presents line-ups that reach all corners of electronic music, rotating within a limited three-month window. Events have been curated by Caribou, Annie Mac and Jamie XX over the years, while collaborations with brands such as Rush Hour, elrow and Defected are a core part of the brand’s appeal.
The venue has switched between several vast, industrial spaces. After leaving the iconic Store Street, the 10,000-capacity Depot Mayfield became The Warehouse Project’s new home in 2019. Hi-tech specs transformed the disused railway station into a clubber’s delight; the main room, Depot, boasts huge LED screens and seven-strong stacks of d&b audiotechnik J8/J12 speakers, while Concourse encourages 360-degree dancing. Though only running for six months before Covid-19 forced clubs to close, huge festivals such as Homobloc, and all-night-long sets from pioneering duo Underworld, cemented its reputation as one of Manchester’s must-visit spots.
Adapting to Covid-19 led to the launch of Freight Island, a hub of food, drinks and entertainment across 7,500 square feet of outdoor space. In 2021, more promoters will use other previously untouched parts of the venue. Sticking to its seasonal schedule, The Warehouse Project will reopen in September this year, featuring collaborations with Chic, Repercussion and Bicep, and a roster of residents that have risen throughout the past 12 months: Anz, Effy, Bklava, India Jordan and Jaguar.