Ask any fan of dance music and they will almost always have a particular club or festival that they call their favourite. Some fans are fiercely loyal to their local scene and others have a strong emotional connection to a certain venue because of the good times they had there.
Among all of these preferences, there are some events and venues that stand out above the rest. From landmark underground locations to the most cutting-edge modern nightclubs, certain venues and festivals have endured through time and changing trends to become must-see destinations for any true fan.
Top Clubs: The Soul of Dance Music
Ranking the top dance club destinations in the world is almost impossible to do in this space. However, the following must-see, must-visit entries are just a few of that special branch of the club circuit that every serious dance fan must visit at least once. They are not ranked in any particular order but special attention has been paid to the legendary, the wild, as well as the unusual.
ARMA17 – Moscow, Russia
This club deserves a spot on the list based on its international reputation alone. Frequented by the rich, hip and beautiful, ARMA17 takes its name from the abandoned warehouse that was its original location. Legendary DJs like Richie Hawtin and Ricardo Villalobos can often be seen either standing behind the decks or in the crowds. ARMA17 is a little bit off the established European club circuit but it possesses a unique atmosphere and a reputation for set lists that stretch far beyond sunrise.
Paradise Club – Mykonos, Greece
Mykonos is already a premiere travel destination because of its cultural significance and pristine natural beauty. Paradise Club is somewhere between a club and a venue with a unique atmosphere. In the past, Axwell and Laidback Luke have spun here(so it’s a bit softer and more commercial sound) and the upcoming summer schedule is packed with big names in EDM. Hot music, hot sands and hot bodies: what’s not to love?
The Electric Pickle – Miami, USA
The “Pickle”, as it is affectionately known, is a modern incarnation of a thriving underground venue. Famed for its roster of acclaimed house and techno DJs, The Electric Pickle is a young club with an old soul. It’s seated in the heart of downtown Miami and Ame, Dixon and Seth Troxler have stopped by this hotspot recently.
Top Festivals: Out and Loud
When talking about the greatest festivals in the world, a few events deserve special recognition. Whether it is for their unique vibe, legendary status or for their location, these festivals create experiences that can’t be duplicated anywhere else. These three events are widely recognized even outside of the dance music community. Learning just a little bit about each of them makes it clear why they have such a famous reputation.
BPM Festival – Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Situated alongside the gorgeous Mayan Riviera, Playa del Carmen is a breathtaking destination with its own unique appeal. The BPM festival amps up the attraction at this exotic locale when it kicks off in early January. Most commonly frequented by house and techno artists, the music is always intoxicating and the beats are always fat at BPM. Surrounded by crystal-clear Caribbean waters and ancient ruins, this festival has hosted the likes of Art Department , Jamie Jones , Guy Gerber and many others.
KaZantip – Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine
Arguably one of the most massive and extensive dance festivals on the globe, KaZantip boasts an average roster of over 300 DJs tearing up the sound systems at over 14 individual clubs. The sheer length and size of KaZantip makes it truly unique. Taking place over a five-week stretch and situated on 60,000 square meters, this festival is unparalleled in terms of scope. The sets are endless, the drinks flow freely and there is always something new to experience at KaZantip. Richie Hawtin, Noir and Sebo K all agree that this is a prime place for a no-holds-barred dance blowout.
Sonar – Barcelona, Spain
Sonar is a mainstay of the European dance festival circuit. In fact, this year’s festival will mark the 20th anniversary of the legendary event’s inception. For decades, the best and brightest names in electronic music have brought a spirit of innovative celebration to Sonar and this year is no exception.
Tomorrowland – Boom, Belgium
Although this festival is a little younger than some others, it has developed a massive reputation in only a few short years. Begun in 2005, Tomorrowland has grown in size and scope every year. At first, the festival lasted only a day with a handful of artists and audience members. The modern incarnation of Tomorrowland now lasts a full three days and features over 400 DJs and artists.
This event has become such a big hit that its small initial audience has expanded to over 100,000 attendees, with tens of thousands of online tickets being sold within minutes of being made available. Practically every major artist in the business is scheduled to perform at Tomorrowland and all signs indicate that this festival will continue to grow. In fact, this year the festival organizers have declared a new festival called “TomorrowWorld” that will be held in Georgia in the U.S.
Burning Man – Black Rock Desert, Nevada, U.S.
Almost no other name in the world of festivals conjures up as much mystique and power as Burning Man. Even people who may not know much about festivals in general have probably at least heard of Burning Man. Initially held as a radical and semi-spontaneous event put together by a few friends in 1986, Burning Man has grown slowly year by year. Also, the types and styles of music, art and expression have increased as the years have passed.
Although this festival was originally comprised of sculpture creation and performance art, the week-long event now includes music, dancing, collaborative art, customized vehicle shows, decorated bikes and the traditional construction and burning of a special temple. Truly, no other festival can captivate, inspire and enthral so many people in such a unique way. Much more than just a dance festival, Burning Man is a living performance where the audience creates the event itself.
Of course, it’s impossible to list every single must-see club and festival in a limited amount of space. Also, if a particular club, venue, festival or event isn’t listed here, that’s not to be taken as a reflection of any particular location. There are dozens of other clubs and festivals equally as great as the ones mentioned above.
The destinations on this list were chose to represent some of the best, wildest and most legendary stops on the international club circuit. Because the international dance community is so massive and because new sounds and new hotspots appear all the time, there is always something new and extraordinary to discover.