#TLClubLife: 15 Clubs to Hit Before Your Partying Days Are Over
Club culture has a way of capturing a moment in time. Take 1930s Shanghai, a golden era defined by decadence and the city’s mantle as the nightlife capital of Asia: replete with smoke-filled jazz speakeasies, gentlemen’s lounges, and a vibrant opium scene. Southern California in the 1940s was a playground for celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Humphrey Bogart, who hobnobbed on glamorous Sunset Boulevard with mobsters and politicians.
After the Berlin Wall fell, an industrial techno scene blossomed from the city’s Mitte district warehouses and government buildings left abandoned by the Soviets—the epic all-night parties representing a raw and newfound freedom for East German youths who birthed a subculture that reverberated throughout Europe in later decades. New York’s after-dark scene in the 1980s and 90s was dubbed Clubland, a drug-laden maelstrom of characters like Andy Warhol and RuPaul, hedonistic club kids dressed in drag, and kingpin promoter Peter Gatien, the impresario behind fabled spots such as Limelight, Palladium, and Tunnel.
Now? A European export has transformed nightlife from Las Vegas to Dubai—electronic dance music, in all its many forms, owns the night. Everyone wants in on the craze, but only a few deliver a top-notch experience. Here, the best places to party around the globe.
Verboten in Brooklyn
It’s no secret that Brooklyn’s global cachet continues to reach new heights across the pond, so it makes sense that an edgy techno hub with Euro flair recently sprang up in Williamsburg. The nomadic pop-up rave found a permanent space inside a defunct metal shop, and its nightly Balearic beats attract a crowd that reflects the borough’s diversity.
With apologies to nearby Output, which made easy doors vogue and spearheaded the rebellion against Manhattan’s pretentious clubs when it opened in 2013, Verboten is attracting blue chip talent like Eric Prydz and deep house label Anjunadeep.
In a city known for its world-class clubs, Air upped the ante when it opened in 2010. Local architect Marcel Wanders designed a sleek space on a lot where the storied gay hotspot iT stood in the ‘90s.
The soaring main room, with its LED walls, draws a variety of DJs across the spectrum of dance music and the occasional indie pop band on tour. Steer clear if you have sensitive eardrums—the Void Acoustics is the hardest hitting sound system in the Dam.
Avalon in Los Angeles
The former 1920s Hollywood theater got a makeover in 2014, and Avalon’s Friday night Control series continues to be an essential stop for house music’s biggest stars, while Saturdays are devoted to underground techno. One thing that hasn’t changed: the rare-for-L.A. ability to stay open 24 hours a day.
Barbarella’s Discotheque in Tisno, Croatia
A taxi boat-accessed venue planted smack on the Adriatic Sea. Sunrise-to-sunrise dance parties. Europe’s sun-kissed style set cavorting to the methodical BPMs of tech house. The final edition of the Garden Festival, one of the world’s premier music events, in July. Need any more reason to go?
Berghain in Berlin
“The vampire nightclub to end all vampire nightclubs,” as the New Yorker put it, is not for the faint of heart—if you can even get in. A bouncer indiscriminately waves a Breakfast Club potpourri of finance dudes, goths, gays, weirdos, artists, scenesters, hippies, and curious regular Joes into a reclaimed power plant, or dismisses them with no explanation.
Inside, legendary weekend parties rage from Thursday to Monday morning uninterrupted, fueled by a rotating cast of music’s most revered (re: non-commercial) DJs pumping out mind-bending beats in various rooms. The weirdness that ensues in the dark corners, hallways, and nooks is stuff of lore, and remains just that thanks to a cellphone ban. It’s a full-blown social experiment.
E11even in Miami
Time vanishes at this over-the-top boîte in Brickell, which houses a dayclub (where better to get sushi on your lunch break?), nightclub with burlesque acts and trapeze artists, and a hydraulic stage usually manned by a pseudo-celeb DJ. Hell, it even has a carving station just in case a hankering for roasted pork hits.
Fabric in London
Fans of underground techno, dubstep, and drum and bass speak of Fabric in reverent tones. The colossal refashioned meatpacking factory is a kingmaker: it’s a perennial stop for some of the most well regarded talent in the industry and a gig on a big night can launch a career.
Green Valley in Camboriu, Brazil
In a country whose aptitude for partying is legendary, this open-air pyrotechnic playground ensconced in Santa Catarina's jungle occupies its own rarefied class. Here, dance music titans whip a massive crush into neon-splashed delirium until sunrise.
Guaba Beach Bar in Limassol, Cyprus
This staid island in the Mediterranean doesn’t conjure the same voyeuristic fantasies as other mainstays on the global black-card circuit, but Guaba’s funhouse vibe is everything you want in a beach club: enter through a gaping clown face to a seaside pit ringed by rainbow balconies.
Kuli Alma in Tel Aviv
This newcomer in Tel Aviv’s fast-changing southern district is the brainchild of DJ Yarin Lidor and a collective of artists. Find hip South Americans and Israeli cool-kids in the graffiti-scrawled warehouse, eating at the vegetarian restaurant, perusing the gallery, or dancing to new funk.
The White Isle continues to be the capital of anything-goes escapism, and Space is the fulcrum from which summer’s mayhem spins. From May until August, the genre-crossing music mecca rolls out lineups stacked with luminaries like Carl Cox and Richie Hawtin.
The Mid in Chicago
In the birthplace of house music, this two-story hall in Fulton Market has been a magnet for heavyweights since its launch in 2010. If there’s a festival in town, chances are the premier after-party ends up here, with an 800-person throng hanging from the rafters.
New York’s exclusive Meatpacking club brought its rich tastes to the Four Seasons Dubai in 2015. There’s a giant teddy bear in a bathtub—Instagram’s new star—and a clutch of stilettoed models with deep-pocketed sheiks at VIP tables. Be warned: this Arabian night comes with an eye-popping bill.
Yoyo in Paris
Only a city with Paris’s culture cred could take an old art deco cinema in the basement of the Palais de Tokyo and recast it into a Fashion Week darling. In addition to hosting Giorgio Armani runway shows, the bunker becomes a hangout on weekends.
Since its inaugural fête in 1991, this five-pronged Moorish-style compound has been an ‘it’ destination in the Asia-Pacific. On the right night you might even catch a DJ spinning vinyl—Zouk has a few hundred thousand records in its collection. The champagne crowd dwells at the guest-list-only Velvet Underground, which has a more loungey energy and layout.