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.