Location: Porto Belo, Brazil
There’s no secret to El Fortin’s success. It’s a back-to-basics Brazilian beach club where you can dance until dawn with sand between your toes to some of the best DJs in the world. It’s essentially as good as clubbing gets, and Brazilians know it, which is why it’s packed out with 12,000 clubbers every weekend.
The location helps, too. The three-stage club is nestled on a drop-dead-gorgeous stretch of Brazilian coastline alive with azure blue seas and swaying palm trees. The main action takes place in the sprawling beach-hut-like mainstage, which features house DJs like Lou Lou Players, Lee Foss and Sharam Jey on regular rotation. And equipped with a Funktion-One soundsystem, the open-air stage is a calling card for miles around, attracting clubbers like a house music homing beacon. Plus, with a ground-level booth, the DJs are right in the heart of the action, creating an all-together buzz that’s hard to beat.
As you’d expect from such a vast, sprawling venue, it’s the perfect location for in-house festivals. And Brazilians don’t need much of an excuse for a fiesta, with huge DJ line-ups taking over the club every few months, offering everything from house and trance to techno and EDM.
Location: Porto Belo, Brazil
Situated just outside the holiday resort of Porto Belo on Brazil’s southeast coast, open-air venue El Fortin has become something of a Brazilian clubbing institution since opening its doors back in 2006 — though this only partially explains the venue’s frequent appearances towards the top of polls such as this one.
If you drove past El Fortin during the day, you wouldn’t think it was anything other than a collection of old out-buildings nestled in a tree-lined hillside. Yet at night the venue comes alive, with up to 6,000 clubbers able to dance indoors and outdoors to a mixture of leading Brazilian DJs and international artists.
The club’s greatest calling card is undoubtedly its unique “gangster house, nu disco and Brazilian techno”-focused main room: a giant wooden beach hut-come-pyramid equipped with a weighty Funktion-One soundsystem and a ground-level booth that ensures maximum interaction between headline DJs and the crowd in front of them.
Throw in two other alternative dance spaces — one dedicated to trance in all its forms and an alfresco area where the grooves are noticeably slower and less intense — and it’s easy to see why El Fortin has become one of Brazil’s genuine “destination clubs”. It’s certainly a magical place to dance all night under the stars.
Location: Porto Belo, Brazil
El Fortin makes good use of Brazil’s warm climate by being an open-air club house in a grand wooden pyramid. The exposed structure is like an overblown beach hut and is bathed in warm red and blue lights with lush greenery all around it. Elsewhere though, the decor is dark and shady, which lends the place an underground and intimate feel. The last year has seen the team add a Funktion One soundsystem throughout, as well as a new stage, making it three in total.
“Called Origins, this stage is intended to give local producers and DJs an opportunity to show their talent,” says the club’s Diego. “We also reformed our VIP area, with new bathrooms and bars.”
Bookings tend to be on the tech-house end of the spectrum with Sharam Jey, Julian Jeweil, Kolombo, Denney, Leftwing & Kody and Avrosse just some of those who’ve played in the last year. Each year the club’s birthday is one of the biggest events around, with all the stops pulled out and biggest bookings secured — definitely not one to miss if you find yourself in South America.
Since starting in 2000, El Fortin has cemented its place as one of Brazil's best-loved clubs despite rabid competition. It's constantly growing too, doubling its capacity since last year's poll and shooting up 12 places as a result since 2016.
Another of Brazil's superclubs benefitting from the stunning surrounds of lush, green rainforest, El Fortin's red-blooded rabble rave across three dancefloors underneath a big angular wooden hut made of beams. Inside, the beats — as is the trend for much of Brazil's leading places to dance — are equally solid, leaning towards the more credible end of club music rather the garish noise of EDM, with techno and house royalty such as Green Velvet, Boris Brejcha, Justin Martin, Claptone and Amine Edge & DANCE all working their magic within this huge fully kitted-out shack in the middle of the jungle in recent months. One to also support the enormous wealth of local talent currently dominating Brazil's club scene these days — Vintage Culture, Victor Ruiz and Gustavo Mota are just a few to bring their distinctive sounds over the past 12 months.
When El Fortin entered our Top 100 last year, we predicted it wouldn't be for the last time — oh, how we love it when we're right. Making its home on a stretch of Brazilian coastline renowned for its outstanding natural beauty, the club has dropped slightly in capacity since our 2015 poll, however investments have been made in improving the structure (now hosting three stages instead of two), soundsystem and staffing. And let's face it, 6000 people is still more than enough for a decent party.
El Fortin may sit only a stone's throw from the likes of Warung and the festival-like clubbing mecca that is Green Valley, but still pulls in the very best names in house and techno. The past year has seen international sensations such as Boris Brejcha, Green Velvet, Pleasurekraft and Amine Edge & DANCE in the booth, along with a wealth of homegrown talent, including Volkoder, Victor Ruiz and Fabrício Peçanha.
We don't want to push our luck with speculation, but with four regular nights on rotation, plus anniversary extravaganzas and yet more top names on the horizon, El Fortin is likely to remain a regular Top 100 feature for some time.
Situated not far from Green Valley and Warung, El Fortin sits within the stunning beach community of Porto Belo — smack bang in between Camboriu and Florianopolis — a stretch of coastline considered the Brazilian Ibiza. Surrounded by dense hills lush with tropical greenery, these two dancefloors set beneath giant wooden shacks represent the pure essence of underground clubbing in Brazil.
Less about VIP posturing and more about getting lost in the pulsating rhythm, El Fortin shares more with neighbouring shanty warehouse club Warung than the festival-like glitz and glamour of Green Valley, where bookings have involved house and techno's finest — Magda, Popof, Paco Osuna, Amine Edge & DANCE and Stephan Bodzin — during its 10-year lifetime. A first time in the poll this year, we have a feeling it won't be the last.