Location: Lausanne, Switzerland
Since opening in Lausanne’s Flon district in 1985, MAD Club has seen its neighbourhood grow into one of the city’s trendiest spots. MAD — short for “Moulin a Danse” (dance mill) — has grown plenty itself too, today comprising a massive five-storey complex that includes four dancefloors and the restaurant, Le Chandelier. A steampunk theme and L-Acoustics soundsystem fuel buzzing late nights throughout the complex.
Located in an old, repurposed hangar, MAD Club has the capacity, experience, and energy to attract headline talent from around the world, alongside a host of residents and locals. The main floor has seen sets from Carl Cox, Roger Sanchez, Loco Dice and Marco Carola over the years. During pandemic closures, MAD took the chance to upgrade itself to “MAD 2.0” and make green investments into an ‘ecological orchard’ — but also to host online streamed parties, and even repurpose as a temporary blood donation centre, its chandeliers lighting up arms for the benefit of busy nurses. Perhaps most impressive, MAD did all this without losing a single member of staff throughout the pandemic. In 2021, the club’s dancefloors are now up and running again four days a week, and MAD remains one of the best spots in Switzerland to get your eyes and ears filled for a night.
Location: Tokyo, Japan
WARP SHINJUKU has landed in the Top 100 Clubs for the second consecutive year — not bad for a venue yet to celebrate its third anniversary. The superclub, which lies in the heart of Tokyo’s nightlife district, opened in 2018 and quickly assured its place as one of the capital’s key clubbing locations. State-of-the-art sound and lighting design, Japan-themed dance shows and top-tier DJ talent have won this venue fans world over.
The WARP complex is itself impressive, divided into three main areas for clubbers of various persuasions. UNIVERSE FLOOR, surrounded by plush velvet seating for VIP guests, serves up EDM delights throughout the night, while BAR METEO offers specialised DJ sets for those in search of edgier club sounds. COSMOS ROOM, the smallest space of the three, provides an ambient, homely retreat.
Billed as “Tokyo 100 years from now”, WARP’s futuristic theme and decor sit well in one of the brightest cities in the world, as seen from space. It currently boasts Japan's largest LED screens and a solid resident DJ roster, including Tomopiro, Ryohey, Ibaki, Max, Bar:D Suzuki, Kage and Shimon. Stellar productions, world-class talent, premium service — WARP is just getting started.
Location: Hanoi, Vietnam
Nuzzled into Hanoi's old quarter district, 1900 Le Theatre has taken over the space that originally belonged to the theatre Quang Lac, and is now also known as The Thousand Nine. Blessed with super-high ceilings that allow for an enticing light perspective and drop-down decorations, a mix of colourful and raw styles throughout set this venue above the rest.
Having firmly placed itself on the clubbing map with a whoosh into the Top 100 Clubs in 2019, 1900 has kept the fire burning on its two dancefloors and solidified Hanoi as a destination for fun times. The DJ booth is placed to give the appearance of levitating above a central position on the main floor and a hefty L-Acoustics system immerses the crowds that dance and show their appreciation around it.
During the various lockdowns, 1900 has supported its staff and reverted to a regular virtual live series. “We've pushed our support for local artists further by booking both fresh and established acts,” says a representative from the club.
The club also started a new event series, 1900 Hip Hop Party, and its Dusted Night showcasing its in-house record label Dusted Recordings has thrived. Residents NgoKien, Get Looze, Duy Tuan, Mya, GLG and Kodeine alternate throughout the week when restrictions permit.
Location: Foshan, China
A purpose-built, monolithic edifice comprising four stages packing L-Acoustics sound, it’s no surprise that the crew behind Galame believe the venue runs “like a European club”. And that means placing the emphasis firmly on music and rave culture, rather than luxury VIP areas and big-spend guests.
Hence the smile-inducing matter-of-fact tagline: “Making people happy is more important than making money” — a phrase that has offered a welcome contrast to much of the country’s party scene since this place opened. Having closed its doors for a full five months due to the coronavirus pandemic, the cavernous main room — capable of holding 2,500 heads alone — fired back into action in June 2020, at which point it became clear that old-world bookings were no longer always possible in the new normal.
Once used to drafting the likes of Paul Oakenfold, Vini Vici and Skrillex, the team have spent most of this past year developing in-house and domestic artists, with current residents like Izzi, Beto, Howen, Kris, Bob, and Macy holding it down, and programming even expanding to include electronic and live classical instrumentation shows that really make the most of this cathedral-like space.
Location: Porto Belo, Brazil
Combine an idyllic beach in Porto Belo, Brazil, with a vast dome lined with speakers and you’ve got El Fortin — a globally celebrated club inside what is essentially an overgrown beach hut.
Founded in 2006, the team behind El Fortin have managed to blur the line between a big-room techno vibe and tropical, tech-house-heavy events. The likes of Green Velvet, Lee Foss and Paco Osuna have previously upended El Fortin, while the club’s resident DJ, Slow Motion, has warmed up for international headliners along the way. With three stages spread across a rich landscape of palm trees, rock and wooden sculptures, each platform was built to align human energy with nature and add a paradisal aesthetic throughout the sprawling space.
The club’s Funktion-One soundsystem has sadly remained untouched during the pandemic, as El Fortin remains temporarily closed while management and staff await guidance from the Brazilian government. This means El Fortin's legendary Anniversary party won’t occur in August, and the club won’t host part of Brazil’s carnival celebrations. For now, though, the team are keen to re-open when safe to do so and provide the best possible service upon the return of their loyal, passionate punters.
Taipei's Ai Nightclub only had to close for two weeks from March 25th to April 10th in 2020. In that time, the former shopping centre hosted some livestreams, but by May was enjoying full dancefloors once again. "We pretty much had normal club nights for the rest of 2020, but without international guests and tourists, and masks and hand sanitiser were always with us," says Artist Manager, Linlin Fan.
Ai is known for leading the clubbing scene in Taipei, but also more broadly across Asia. Part of the reason for that is its investment in a sleek, modern look: the club was designed by one of Asia's leading design firms, Howard Liao Design, and is famous for its unique lighting, lasers, and curved features. In the last year, big additions were made to the LED ceiling, new lasers were added, and the club has gone from three to five nights of action per week.
With no international guests, resident DJ Junior has often been found on the decks serving up his signature mix of high-energy, eclectic tunes. "We hope everyone is vaccinated and club life can get back to normal soon," says Fan. "Then we can again book international DJs in future months."
Location: Montréal, Canada
Located on a small island within Montréal, and with the largest capacity of any outdoor complex of its kind in North America, Beachclub is a clubbing spot to be reckoned with. Normally absolutely heaving and almost always sold out, as one of Montréal’s only outdoor clubs, it’s built a rep as the city’s ultimate summer experience over 25 years. The likes of Tiësto, Martin Garrix, Sean Paul, DJ Snake, Migos, Marshmello and Daddy Yankee have all played memorable sets in recent years at Beachclub.
Despite being an outdoor venue, the pandemic was no less unfair on Beachclub, which couldn’t open for the summer season in 2020 like most places in Québec. The club’s small and dedicated team patiently kept their hopes up for 2021, and they’ve finally been able to get up and running for a lower-key summer season, hosting pool parties with local talent at reduced capacity on the island, as restrictions in Québec partially lifted. Beachclub’s season comes to a close in September, so the majority of the team’s efforts are currently going into preparing for a return to the island club’s full capacity, hosting big events every weekend, and welcoming back international acts in 2022.
Stretching 1,671 feet upwards, Taipei 101 was the world’s tallest skyscraper for five years after completion in 2004. Next door, inside the ATT 4 FUN shopping mall, there are similarly big ideas at play, with WAVE CLUB representing the apex of Taipei’s dance music scene — which although comparatively small, is among Asia’s most exciting.
Despite the impact of the coronavirus, the island was quick to respond and saw cases rapidly decrease, allowing life to return to some form of normality. Though tourist numbers plummeted, WAVE has consistently proven itself capable of pulling in a great crowd. Danny Avila, Yves Y, Dash Berlin, Cosmic Gate and Alexander Popov have played live in the last 12 months, with virtual sets from Nicky Romero and Timmy Trumpet also happening inside the address.
“General WAVE decor can be described as industrial meets avant-garde,” says the club’s Eric Chang, explaining the venue is divided into three spaces: the main stage, an outdoor area facing Taipei 101, and VIP room. “The Main Stage features balcony seating overlooking the performing artist and dancefloor. And guests have access to our ever-changing contemporary arts collections, like [email protected] and KaiKai KiKi figures.”
Location: Zrće Beach, Island of Pag, Croatia
Noa brings some real glitz and glamour to Croatia. It's on the gorgeous Zrće Beach, with the crystal-clear, blue Adriatic sea just a pebble's throw away, and has been at the centre of the clubbing revolution in its home country for years. The club managed to host one of the only European festivals in summer 2020, and again earlier this year, when BSH Island brought the likes of Jamie Jones, Paco Osuna and Denis Cruz to a multi-day celebration in early July.
Outside of flagship events, it is open every day and doesn't close until at least 6am, at which point dancers have already experienced a beautiful sunrise on the open-air floor. It has 11 different bars and a swimming pool that allows you to float from one to the next without a care in the world. You can also get a massage, lay about in your own private cabana, or charter a yacht from the club's private marina.
Despite BSH Island, the club has still lost out on huge amounts of festival trade over the last two sunny seasons. But later on this summer, it will join with fellow Zrće Beach clubs Papaya and Aquarius to host the first-ever seven-day Amnesia takeover, with DJs like Claptone and Adam Beyer. As they say, good things come to those who wait.
Location: Ibiza, Spain
Built on the former site of a community swimming pool and previously called Ku Club, Ibiza’s Privilege holds the official Guinness Book of Records title for the world’s largest club. With the ceilings in its main room a towering 25-metres high, and gardens (plural), scattered around a site that includes smaller rooms Vista Club and Vista Blue, it’s what you’d term ‘an experience’ and comes with a suitably rich history.
A superclub, in every sense of the word, its carnivalesque atmosphere helped define the ’90s in Ibiza thanks to parties such as the infamous Manumission, which featured live sex shows. It still attracts the biggest DJs in the business, like Carl Cox headlining techno party Resistance, while the flamboyant SuperMartXé caters to the island’s gay contingent, harking back to the site’s roots, and IAmARichBitch — with its go-go dancers and live performances — provides a home for sounds such as trap and moombahton.
Ku was once the playground of the island’s workers, who could party in the open air. Those days are long gone, but Vista still provides the closest experience to it, with domed floor-to-ceiling windows that flood with morning light to provide a spectacular view of the distant Ibiza Town.