Legendary and Iconic Clubs You Need to Visit
Create your own clubbing world tour
Words: Jim Butler
It’s an inescapable fact of nightlife that clubs – those physical monuments devoted to electronic music – come and go. At the beginning of this year, two of New York’s dance music mainstays – Cielo and Output – closed unexpectedly, joining the likes of the Haçienda, the Warehouse, Plastic People, The Arches, Paradise Garage and The End as late, lamented nightspots.
All of which provides a salutary lesson for clubbers everywhere – appreciate your nightclubs while they’re still in existence.
However, while it might appear that every legendary nightclub has long shut its doors, this isn’t the case. There are still lots of iconic clubs going strong across the globe. These are 10 of the best…
Womb, Tokyo, Japan
Despite boasting artists such as Ken Ishii, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Satoshi Tomiie and Susumu Yokota, Japan’s contribution to electronic music is sometimes overlooked. Clubbers the world over make no mistake with the country’s best dance music nightspot. For nearly 20 years (Womb opened in 2000), the 1000-capacity venue has been the perfect escape for dancers wanting to lose themselves in the power of bass and rhythm.
2 - 16 Maruyamacho,
Shibuya City, Tokyo
If only for the fact that Amnesia was the club where Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling and co flipped their wig while listening to the Balearic sounds of DJ Alfredo back on that holiday in 1987, its place in clubbing folklore would be assured. But the Ibizan institute has acquired legendary status for much more. Since opening in the 1970s, the former farmhouse situated on the San Antonio Road has played host to a who’s who of dance music. This summer the likes of Ricardo Villalobos, Nina Kraviz, Luciano and Tiga will all appear spinning the hedonistic hordes into a beguiling frenzy.
Carretera Ibiza a San Antonio Km5, San Rafael, Ibiza
Smart Bar, Chicago, USA
When Frankie Knuckles walked out on the Warehouse (the Chicago club that gave house music its name) in 1982, he soon made the short trip across town to Smart Bar, a new 400-capacity venue. The fact that he continued playing the club until his death in 2014 says something about the alchemical properties the space possesses. Other notable residents have included Derrick Carter and The Black Madonna. Its weekly Queen! night is celebrated for retaining house music’s original subversive spirit.
3730 North Clark St,
Lux, Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon has been the epicentre of European cool for the best part of a decade now but its best nightclub, Lux, has been packing them in since 1998. Part-owned by John Malkovich, Lux benefits from its riverside setting (overlooking the Tagus) and its warehouse location – always a great start for any club worth its salt. The view from the balcony is legendary and when the terrace opens in the summer months the feeling of joy – all soundtracked by the best techno and house DJs the world over – is unmistakeable.
Avenue Infante d. Henrique,
Armazém a Cais da Pedra a Sta, Apolónia, Lisbon
Ministry of Sound, London, England
Ministry has as many detractors as devotees – shamelessly touting yourself as “the home of dance music” tends to have that affect – but whatever side of the divide you find yourself on, a trip down to south London is a must for any discerning dance music fan. Since opening in 1991 on the back of the momentous late ’80s acid house fallout, the former bus garage has welcomed every legendary DJ into its booths – including Larry Levan. If its dance music history you want to soak up, look no further.
103 Gaunt St, Elephant & Castle, London
Robert Johnson, Offenbach, Germany
In comparison to the cavernous Ministry of Sound, Robert Johnson – sitting just across the Main River from Frankfurt – is little more than a broom cupboard. But its intimacy is its virtue. Minimally designed – the focus is on the Martin Audio sound system – the club celebrates its 20th anniversary this year with a weekend-long party featuring the likes of Prins Thomas, Gerd Janson, John Talabot and Roman Flügel.
63067 Offenbach am Main,
Warung Beach Club, Itajaí, Brazil
The port city of Itajaí in southeast Brazil might be best known for the beaches that make it a haven for surfers but tucked just behind the vast idyllic stretches of sand is a place of worship for electronic music disciples. On location alone, the Warung Beach Club is a must-see – it’s frequently described as a music temple, and in fact the club is designed around the open-air temples of Indonesia. There is no better sensation than watching the sunrise while strutting your stuff on the club’s open-air dancefloor.
Avenue José Medeiros Viêira,
350 Praia Brava, Itajaí
DC 10, Ibiza
If Amnesia represents the elephantine, superclub side of Ibiza, DC 10 is all about the island’s original Balearic spirit. Housed in a renovated farmhouse at the edge of Ibiza airport – an airplane swooshing over engenders an extra special ecstatic rush among the dancers – DC 10 is all about hip hedonism, as it has been since opening in 1999. Seth Troxler, Ellen Allien and Damian Lazarus are among the residents. It’s Monday morning afterhours shindig, Circo Loco, is a must for those wanting to experience acid house’s international collective zeal.
NB: If you’re heading to Ibiza this summer check out Ibiza Spotlight for all the island news, club tickets and deals.
Carretera Las Salinas,
Km 1, 07818 Sant Josep de sa Talaia, Ibiza
Berghain/Panorama Bar, Berlin, Germany
No other club in the world embodies the contradictory impulses that run through dance music as much as Berlin’s legendary Berghain. Elitist to the point of annoyance, and yet an open secret that everyone wants in on. Situated on the border of trendy Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, and housed in the brutal architecture of a former power plant, a visit to Berghain is like no other in dance music. Admit it, you’ll miss it when it’s finally gone.
Am Wriezener Bahnhof,
Sub Club, Glasgow, Scotland
Having opened in 1987, Glasgow’s electronic music establishment Sub Club is approaching pensioner status in clubbing terms. However, thanks to the expert guiding hands of mainstays like Domenic and Harri (residents at the club’s longest-running night Subculture since 1990), the Subby, as it’s affectionately known, remains at the cutting-edge of club culture. A proper breeding ground for all strains of underground dance music – fitting given the club’s subterranean surroundings – it’s a favourite of house music legend Derrick Carter, and was home to one of the coolest Sunday nights ever, Optimo, from 1997 to 2010.
22 Jamaica St, Glasgow