Location: Glasgow, Scotland
If you walk down some unassuming stairs from Glasgow’s Jamaica Street, you’ll find yourself in a low-ceilinged basement decked out with a Martin Audio soundsystem and stripped-back industrial aesthetic. The music is all-consuming, while the vibes are similarly thick and saturated. Operating as a speakeasy jazz venue in the late ’50s and taking on several guises since, Sub Club has been part of the Scottish dance music establishment since 1987. It has spurted out an excess of internationally renowned residents — including Harri & Domenic, SLAM, Eclair Fifi, and Sensu — securing the venue as a permanent fixture on the clubbing map.
Location: Sheffield, UK
Potentially the best club name on the planet given the last year and a half, Hope Works is at the forefront of the scene in one of the UK’s electronic music hubs. A modular design means up to three rooms are available — the tiny sweatbox of Mesters, canopied Courtyard, and industrial Warehouse — but a new space opens this Autumn with local artwork, hopefully in time for the boss Lo Shea’s groundbreaking No Bounds Festival. The spec is high — think Void and Danley — as is the standard of residents, which currently include Rian Treanor, 96 Back, Diessa, Nkisi and Chris Duckenfield.
Location: London, United Kingdom
It was over a decade ago that Laurence Malice — of legendary party Trade — established the old Victorian warehouse-turned-nightclub, EGG, in London’s Kings Cross. Since the post-lockdown reopening alone, the club has had the likes of Yousef, Danny Howard, Spencer Parker and Terry Francis come to play, with nights upcoming that will feature Spektre, OC & Verde, Dave Angel, and Eli Brown on the bill, and many more to be announced. The rooms are equipped with powerful soundsystems, namely the KV2 on the middle floor and a Funktion-One system in the basement club, plus EGG has just finished refurbishing a brand new main room, soon to be revealed.
Location: Changsha, China
EXIT is a brand new club in a former Grand Theatre that isn't even officially open yet, but it has held two huge events already: an outdoor sunset party and a Church Music Festival with plenty of local acts. The venue has also hosted live streams with NERVO, Timmy Trumpet and KSHMR. The club has two rooms, one of which is under an awe-inspiring dome, and boasts an impressive EK lighting rig and a PK soundsystem. "We aim to become a new power in China and hope to develop lots of domestic electronic DJs," says the club’s CEO.
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Nairobi club MUZE might be a new name to some, but it’s already staking a claim as one of the finest clubs in Africa. Located on the party street Electric Avenue in the city’s Westlands neighbourhood, on a site previously occupied by an Ethiopian restaurant, in its main room, MUZE has a state-of-the-art Funktion-One soundsystem and an immersive light setup. There’s an indoor hanging garden, an award-winning cocktail bar, and art by Victoria Topping adorn the walls.
Though it’s only been able to open sporadically over the past year due to lockdowns, MUZE has hosted open-air events, livestreams and an online festival, Tropical Heat. The club features everything from house music sets to alternative hip-hop nights, and Black Coffee will play MUZE this November.
Location: Naples, Italy
Italians do it better, at least in terms of big rooms, and nowhere more than Naples, the country’s undisputed techno capital. Duel has been kicking out beats in the Bagnoli area of town since 2005 when this former N.A.T.O. military base church-turned-cinema was reborn with a dancefloor. Shuttered from March 2020 due to the pandemic, it has since been used for education and art projects, but reopens in October 2021 with a new nine-piece projection system, intimidating Loud Professional rig, plastic-free policy, and residents roster including Clemente Loffredo, SDN, and Rebecca Delle Piane.
Location: Dublin, Ireland
The story of District 8 begins at the now-demolished Tivoli Theatre, where a group of seasoned promoters — aka District 8 Event Promoters LTD — found a home in 2014. A hotel now stands in place of the 1,000+ capacity venue, where Sunil Sharpe, DVS1, Helena Hauff and many more played alongside local talents Cailín, Aeron XTC, and Mode_1.
Moving over to Jam Park in Swords in September 2019, the District 8 team enjoyed six stellar months of events before the venue closed due to the pandemic. However, the unflappable promoters continue their nomadic journey and are currently securing a suitable space for District 8's next chapter.
Location: New York City, NY, USA
After being built in 1903 as a glass factory, Knockdown Center was transformed into a door-manufacturing plant in the ’50s, where the Knock-Down door frame was invented by Sameul Sklar, who effectively revolutionised building construction. The factory remains in the Sklar family and continues to be a hub for innovation in its current iteration as a 50,000-square-foot, multidisciplinary arts venue.
After undergoing a renovation that was equal parts preservationist and cutting-edge, Knockdown Center opened in 2013. The sprawling space’s rich architectural history has been the perfect backdrop for performances from artists like Bicep, James Murphy, Dubfire and Loco Dice.
Since reopening its backyard post-lockdown in July 2021, Knockdown Center has booked heavy-hitting underground acts including Kerri Chandler, Octo Octa and Mike Servito.
Location: Boston, US
Opened in 2017 and hitting the Top 100 quickly — the first time was in 2020 — Boston’s The Grand is a small venue that packs an unexpected punch thanks to its impressive roster of bookings. Striking a balance between opulent and cosy in its lounges and bars, the main performance room is tailor-made for dance music, with a massive LED wall that wraps around the space and custom kinetic lighting both providing an excellent, immersive experience.
Clearly charging back just fine from 2020, The Grand’s line-up for 2021 has been nothing short of stacked, with the likes of Steve Aoki, Wax Motif, Vini Vici, Paul Oakenfold and Hot Since 82 gracing that gorgeous main room.
Location: Nantes, France
Nantes' Warehouse has been the standout club in western France for years. It boasts a main room that is split over two levels and decked out with some immersive lighting and visuals. The dancefloor is a famously intense cauldron of sound, as used to hosting legends like Laurent Garnier as it is pioneers such as Terrence Parker, and contemporary mainstays like Charlotte de Witte.
After a year of being closed, the club reopens in August with its usual mix of underground events, live shows and big concerts. All basses are covered from techno to rap, trance, disco and plenty in between.