When you think of London, several images come to mind. One one end, you picture royalty, class and maybe Manchester United. On the other end, you picture live music, Dr Martens walking down city streets, random musicians banging on tin drums in warehouses. THIS is the London that is magnetic to EDM fans.
Electronic music is nothing new in the UK. They’ve even been responsible for several subgenres in the scene, which is assurance that the nightlife caters to that. Many of the staple clubs in London’s dance music scene sprung up in the 1990s when electronic music was really beginning (or continuing) to boom. Whether you are a UK local, on a group backpacking trip from the States, studying abroad, or on a self-exploring trip, chances are to get the full experience you will want to hit up a club in London.
It’s a guarantee that the music will be well-picked if the club brand is also a record label. That is the case for Fabric, Farringdon’s premium nightlife choice. The music sits between techno, dubstep, house and drum and bass- think Claude Vonstroke, Skrillex and Midland. Three rooms across 25,000 square feet means no loss of space to get your groove on.
However, particularly for those who go to clubs to be fully engulfed in the sound, there is Room One. Famous for it’s floors attached to bass transducers, Room One gives new meaning to feeling the bass by literally pumping low bass frequencies through your feet to fill your entire dancing body with the music.
See upcoming events, and book tables for Fabric on the Discotech app.
Ministry of Sound
Ministry of Sound is a tribute to the importance of audio in nightlife, an idea that is often forgotten in the modern age of “trendy clubs.” This Southwark club is a veteran in London’s entertainment scene, opening in 1991 by an owner that set out to put music first, lights second, and atmosphere third- a refreshing break from many clubs’ priorities today.
In 2016, Ministry of Sound had Dolby Laboratories install Dolby Atmos, their 64-speaker, 22-channel sound system that gives a new name to good sound. The system fills the club’s main room, most crowded on their Saturday night “club nights” which host acts from Marshmello to Zeds Dead. Friday nights are a favorite for Trance lovers eager to hear artists like Markus Shultz.
You can download the Discotech app to see upcoming events, and book tables for Ministry of Sound.
This moody-chic Shoreditch classic, delivering musical variety London residents and vacayers enjoy, has 2 floors, resident DJs and all that good stuff. The lights and ambiance of XOYO are slightly reminiscent of a 70s club. This all goes flawlessly with their signature “XOYO Loves,” night during which they play more melodic tracks across the EDM board, but especially residing in the disco genre.
Funny name, serious party. Egg London is open until 6 am, so instead of waking up in the wee morning hours hungover, you will still be enjoying the party. Egg is a trailblazer among clubs by offering “memberships” that guarantee discounted and fast track entry among several other benefits.
Even better than that is their “student membership,” a GENIUS option for collegiates who want to stay ahead of the curve and in the know when it comes to nightclubs among their peers. So while America’s college students are pounding Natty Lights at a dive bar, London’s are waltzing into upscale nightclubs with their +2 in stilettos and silk.
Three dance floors and a spread out outdoor terrace make the layout. As for the music, house and techno are the main flavors. Come on Fridays for the new DJ names ready to make their big break. Saturdays are more seasoned- bringing in international DJs and all their glorious consistency.
For a more low-maintenance yet mega-urban feel there is Corsica Studios. Between the relaxed dress code, reasonable drink prices, and brick walls allowing for even more dynamic sound, Corsica makes way for EDM fans who aren’t into other distractions.
The intimate southeast London club often brings in talent that isn’t fully on the mainstream radar yet. The genres go across the board- techno, house, electro, disco, and even hints of dubstep and drum and bass.
Whether you call it EDM or still categorize the different styles of dance music e.g deep house, tech house etc., dance music has taken over the nightlife scene and venues have recognized this by booking some of the hottest talent. Here’s our list for this year’s best venues for you dance music junkies.
#10 SmartBar – Chicago
If you like your house deep, melodic and played ‘til the early morning, put Smart Bar at the top of your to-party-at list. Since 1982, the Chicago institution has been bringing the groove, earning a reputation as one of the best clubs in the world for house music. After all, it’s situated in the heart of the city that started it all. Residents have include: Justin Long, Derrick Carter and The Black Madonna are regular fixtures behind the decks, as was the legendary Frankie Knuckles until his death in 2014.
#9 Avalon – Los Angeles
Avalon Hollywood has long featured on countless lists ranking the top dance clubs in the world. Since its christening in 2003, the hotspot has been booking an enviable roster of top artists from all corners of dance music – but each weekend is a near-guaranteed sell-out, no matter who’s on the bill. The club’s recent makeover includes a “totally transformed entrance and lobby,” an extended balcony, new VIP booths, multi-level lounges and the addition of 150 LED panels throughout the club. Whether you seek Skrillex’s bass barrage, Axwell’s big room euphoria or the genre-hopping underground sounds of James Zabiela, Avalon’s got you covered.
#8 Stereo – Montreal (honorary US venue)
Up in Montreal, Canada you’ll find Stereo, the legendary after-hours venue and treasure trove for marathon sets. In the past few years, DJs such as Chris Liebing, Seth Troxler, Maceo Plex, Danny Tenaglia, Nicole Moudaber and DJ Koze have graced the Stereo stage; this week, German duo Ame are among the guests.
#7 Audio – San Francisco
The world of Audio Discotech revolves around sound, and it is a danceclub that was created by sound fanatics. The layout of the nightclub, placement of the speakers, design of the 7 layered dance floor, and the Funktion One sound system were carefully crafted to create a revolutionary auditory experience. Combining retro décor with cutting edge music, Audio never sports a dress code and is an intimate venue to hear world class DJ’s without the pretension.
With great sound comes great dancing, and Audio was designed with a centrally located, spring loaded dance floor that keeps the faithful on their feet. The 1600 LED wall is custom programmed to visualize the music, and the thousands of square feet of tufted panels, drapes and acoustic paneling on the ceiling, absorb sound reverberation to create crystal clear mids and high, and punchy base. The result is a night club where the center of the dance floor sounds like a recording studio… just much louder. The innovative custom lighting incorporates thousands of LEDs, every single one of which can change into any color. 3D video projection, dancers, and disco balls round out the experience. Audio is a mecca for amazing DJ talent, focusing on underground house, techno and nu-disco.
#6 Exchange – Los Angeles
Housed inside the former Los Angeles Stock Exchange building, Exchange LA serves as a clear indication of Downtown LA’s nightlife resurgence. With a multi level venue that fits over 1500, Exchange is Downtown LA’s go-to spot for electronic dance music.
The décor is a mix of restored Art Deco styles and distinctly modern touches, from the massive bronze doors out front to the intricately painted forty-foot ceilings and the eye-popping LED screen composed of more than one million bulbs. There’s a sofa-lined hallway and adjoining lounge at street level, but most of the trendy guests head straight up to the Trading Floor – so named because that’s what it used to be – where they let loose to trance, house, or whatever other dance-friendly beats the DJ’s spinning that night. Frequenters include Richie Hawtin, Pete Tong, Chus & Ceballos, Carl Cox and more.
#5 Treehouse – Miami
Treehouse is regularly visited by some of the leading names in underground house and techno. The club brings a downtown vibe to South Beach, with a stripped-back, wood-pannelled aesthetic that resembles, yes, a real treehouse. While this is one of the busiest spots during Miami Music Week, it’s buzzing all year ‘round, thanks to visitors like the Droog crew, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, DJ W!LD and Ben UFO. Treehouse was also voted the ‘Best Small Music Venue’ by Miami New Times a few years back, so you know the locals are behind it.
#4 Output – New York
As they claim: “Output is open to anyone, but is not for everyone. Output welcomes individuals who value the communal experience of music over cameras and bottle service.”
With room for about 450 people in its darkened main room, Output is built for dancing. They bring in the right DJs for the job, too, via a staunch booking policy that favours the deep, dark and hypnotic. With underground heroes like Erol Alkan, Luca Bacchetti, Ame, Skepta and Tim Sweeney booked in the coming weeks, Output knows how to get the best out of its soundsystem. Throughout the summer months, you can also party on the club’s rooftop, as the sun sets behind the Manhattan skyline. Just be sure to keep the camera phone in your pocket.
#3 Light – Las Vegas
Opening in 2013 with the involvement of Cirque du Soleil and ‘creators of multimedia environments’ Moment Factory, its look and feel is unlike any of its competitors on The Strip. As well as the promise of circus theatrics and high-tech visual walls behind the DJ booth, LIGHT has boasted a varied roll-call of residents, including Krewella, Sebastian Ingrosso, Baauer and A-Trak, and perhaps the jewel in the crown, Carl Cox. In the words of Cox himself, “Oh yes, oh yes…”
#2 Echostage – Washington D.C.
Over a sprawling 30,000-plus square feet, Echostage has the world class sound and visual capabilities of a superclub with the down and dirty vibe of a warehouse. Or as Tommy put it, “You get the atmosphere of a ‘90s rave but the sound is fucking killer.” Want to hear that sound in action? Last year, Swedish mastermind Eric Prydz shared his NYE set from Echostage, belting out three hours of dancefloor-moving tunes. Listen to it here, then make a beeline to DC to experience Echostage in action for yourself.
#1 Sound – Los Angeles
Sound nightclub is THE bastion of deep house / underground electronic music in LA. It’s a small, intimate venue with a sick Funkton One sound system that will rock your socks. As suggested in the name, the venue boasts an impeccable sound system and a killer A/V system so the visual elements are as stimulating as the audio portion. This is a great new place to go in Hollywood that actually books talents who play good deep house and more minimal/artful electro rather than your typical top 40 hits and popular house music bangers.
On occasion Sound will host some well known DJs (Kaskade, Afrojack, Markus Schulz, etc) but more often than not you’ll get the likes of Guy Gerber, Seth Troxler, EDX, Digweed, Carl Cox, Solomun etc.
To find out what’s going on at a club near you, download the Discotech nightlife app and dance the night away.