Top 100 Clubs, powered by Miller Genuine Draft, is our annual celebration of global nightclub culture. The list features some of the world's most exciting clubs, in the world's biggest cities, but also makes way for intimate, quirky or out-of-the-way venues, which have a charm all of their own.
Take these examples, for instance. Three of our favourite clubs which thrive in the underground, outside the glare of mass publicity and a long way from six-figure DJ fees and bottle service.
After a long KLM flight from Amsterdam, we arrive at Guayaquil Airport and immediately catch up with Mr C and his partner Xo Chic. It was Mr C who had suggested a DJ Mag party at Lost Beach in Ecuador — and it would’ve been rude not to have taken up the offer really.
Location: Montañita, Ecuador
More than just a club, Lost Beach is at the heart of the community in Montañita — a small surf town on Ecuador’s west coast. Over the past decade it’s built up its rep — and infrastructure — such that it’s now one of South America’s prime destinations for quality underground electronic music. Over the past year, Lost Beach has upgraded all its Funktion-Ones, opened a sister club — Lost City — in Ecuador capital city Quito, added an all-night pizza joint, and continued to develop its eye-popping 3-D murals thanks to Ecuadorian artist Ivan Casanova.
Its discerning booking policy has seen the likes of Nina Kraviz, Damian Lazarus, Steve Bug, Patrick Topping, Enzo Siragusa and Michael Bibi play in the past 12 months, with many other DJs — from Bushwacka! to wAFF — citing it as their favourite club to play. Indeed, wAFF recently was mortified to find that he’d missed his flight connection so would be unable to make his Lost Beach show. But such is owner Kami’s dedication to the rave that he chartered a private jet for wAFF from Atlanta so he didn’t disappoint his fans. The UK DJ preceded to rock the party for 13 hours — impromptu long sets are a feature for touring DJs visiting Lost Beach.
Location: Montañita, Ecuador
Richy Ahmed says it’s his favourite club in the world. Bushwacka!, aka Just Be, loves it so much that he wrote a tune especially dedicated to it. And wAFF is so enamoured with the place that he recently played there for over 12 hours a day, three days in a row! The reputation of Lost Beach has spread far and wide through the underground house and techno communities, so that now international touring DJs are queuing up to play there.
Situated on the west coast of Ecuador in the midst of what owner Kami calls “a small hippy surf beach town”, Lost Beach just keeps growing — both physically, and in reputation. In the past 12 months they’ve installed a new Function One system on the main floor, fitted by the guy who maintained Space Ibiza’s F1 system for years, at the cost of a cool quarter-of-a-million dollars. Covered by a huge bamboo structure and surrounded by psychedelic murals, it’s a great place to experience some of the best DJs around.
When the main floor action finishes at 4am, party-hard punters move inside to The Cave, where the sounds continue well into the morning. It’s an amazingly friendly place to club and to play — a real labour of love — and has totally helped to revitalise the Montanita beach area.
Lost Beach continues to confound. A two-hour drive from Ecuadorian city Guayaquil, it carries on thriving despite (or perhaps because of) its relatively remote location. Named after cult TV series Lost, it was forced into precautionary closure for a month last year after an earthquake, but was soon back firing on all cylinders. Served by the amazing Dharma Beach Hotel — named after the fictional research project in the show — Lost Beach has resulted in a boom for the area, previously just a remote outpost for surfers.
With psychedelic murals along some of the walls, the semi-outdoor space at ground level is served by a pukka Funktion One system. After 4am the action transfers inside to The Cave, a purpose-built amphitheatre peppered with fake fauna, there’s a terrace room for early doors/after-hours and now Kami’s House — a raised level room with great views out to sea.
Unlike a lot of clubs in South America, Lost Beach operates a ‘no EDM’ policy, as befitting the tastes of force-of-nature owner, Kami. A favoured place of Damian Lazarus, Lee Foss and Jamie Jones, Just Be (aka Bushwacka!) has named a track after it, and Mr. C swears by it. DJ Mag editor Carl Loben has also named it as one of his favourite clubs in the world.
The story behind Lost Beach Club in Ecuador is nearly as convoluted as the tale of the cult TV series Lost, after which it is named. The shortened version is that owner Kami came to Ecuador just after the Millennium — after putting on parties in Guatemala and El Salvador — and fell in love with the tiny resort of Montanita on the west coast of South America.
He started throwing raves, built Lost Beach from the ground up, and also built the palatial Dharma Beach hotel — named after the fictional research project in Lost — to house visiting international DJs. These initiatives helped Montanita grow as a resort, and it’s now a destination holiday-spot for young Ecuadorians and adventurous international travellers.
The club itself is amazing — there’s loads of bamboo everywhere, and the inside space — The Cave — is a great place to rave into the morning hours, and possibly experience ‘weird disruptions in the normal flow of time’ — as in the TV series Lost. The club operates a ‘no EDM’ policy, so the roll-call of recent visiting DJs reads like a who’s who of the underground — Damian Lazarus, Soul Clap, DJ T, Steve Bug, Art Department, Jackmaster, Ben UFO, Miguel Campbell, Hunter/Game and Andhim are just a few who have lined up recently alongside talented resident DJs such as Slurm, George Levi, Melissa Santa Maria, Pancho Piedra and owner Kami himself.