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05 April 2011
  • Words
  • Features

Words: Digby, Cecilia Borjeson
Photos: Tom Horton, Joe Plimmer, www.virtualnights.com, Corey Weiner, Davide Bozzetti, Kai Jakob, Michael Gamer, Jack Aarts, Alex Kristev, Vicky Parker
Published in Mixmag April 2011

Rob da Bank: Pacha, Ibiza
“It’s such a beautiful building. Inside it’s a real maze, I always get lost after a few mojitos! It’s got such history too, having been set up in the 70s. The curved, white-plastered walls give it a Mexican feel. It’s smack in the middle of Ibiza Town but it doesn’t feel like a blight on the local culture. On the contrary, it’s part of the history”

[Paradiso, Amsterdam]

Mason: Paradiso, Amsterdam
“When Paradiso in Amsterdam rocks, it’s the place to be. It’s an old church, and probably the most well known venue in the Netherlands. It was also one of the first ‘real’ DJ gigs I had about 14 years ago, and now we’re doing our yearly Electronation parties there; it tends to attract all the maddest clubbers from my home town.”

Henrik Schwarz: Douala, Ravensburg, Germany
“I was raised in Ravensburg, a small German town which has a club called Douala. It wasn’t like the superclubs we know today, but it was loud! It was there I heard Jeff Mills, and he had a big impact on me. I was immediately hooked. It was after hearing his Detroit techno that I decided to become a DJ.”

[Womb, Tokyo]

Matt Bushwacka: Womb, Tokyo
"There’s something very special about the Japanese audience, they’re just so enthusiastic. Womb’s got the most incredible Steve Dash soundsystem and lighting rig in it. The Japanese attention to detail and respect just take it to the next level. They bring you little cold towels when you’re playing. When you play on a soundsystem like that you really feel that the people are part of the music you’re playing because they can feel the nuances within every tune. The crowd are genuinely into it, and excited that you’re there. The night starts off really dark, and there’s this intricate connection of pipes which make you feel like you’re in a pressure cooker. Gradually these pipes hiss away until at 5am they let rip and loads of dry ice bursts out. An amazing experience.”

[DC10, Ibiza]

Lee Curtis: DC10, Ibiza
"I’ll always love DC10, where they let the crazy be crazy. Our Visionquest showcase night there last summer was one of the best parties I’ve ever played. Shaun, Seth, Ryan and me were DJing and playing live all night. To be allowed to musically run riot in one of your favourite clubs in front of a crowd that really know their shit was a dream come true.”

Felix Da Housecat: Avalon, Los Angeles
“I love Avalon. The people in LA are wild. That crowd be going crazy! You know, I can pick and choose where I want to play, and I’ll always choose that place. Avalon was one of the first clubs to bring me in when no-one wanted me.
So I’ve stayed loyal to them.”

[Amnesia, Ibiza]

Guti: Amnesia, Ibiza
"To play there on the terrace makes me feel the same as when I’m playing a concert with a band. I’m more of a live musician than a DJ, but in Amnesia you could be a lead singer of a rock group. The whole picture is so powerful. You can see everyone, and they are all totally full on. It’s not one of these places that people are stood around talking. Last summer I played there after Seth Troxler, and then Loco Dice came on after me. The whole thing was mind-blowing.”

Andy Whitby: Koko, London
“Stepping up on that stage always sends a shiver through me. Due to its decor and multiple levels it feels as though the crowd are bearing down on you. It’s one of the few clubs left in the UK that people will travel to visit; I see clubbers from Scotland, Ireland and Europe at Frantic’s birthday event. I’ve played there around ten times now, and each visit has been amazing.”

Harry ‘Choo Choo’ Romero: Stereo, Montreal, Canada
“Stereo consistently gives me goosebumps. It’s such a powerful place. They have one of the best sound systems in the world, and the vibe of the crowd is incredible; they’ll follow you wherever you take them. And the staff really make you feel at home. Stereo is awesome; it’s not just a club but an institution.”

[YK, Helsinki]

Cassy: YK, Helsinki
“A guy called Lil Tony runs YK in Helsinki. He’s been a DJ and producer since way back and everyone respects him because he’s such a sweet person, too. Once I had an urge to get my hair dyed. I was driving everyone crazy. Nowhere was open; we found a salon the next day, and Tony turned up there to say goodbye. I couldn’t believe how cool he was about my eccentric behaviour!”

Mark Knight: Yalta, Bulgaria
“They have a summer club and a winter club. The summer venue is at Sunny Beach. It’s about 5,000 people on a beach, all dancing through a beautiful sunset and sunrise. You can play it deep and obscure and they love it! No constraints, a real DJ’s club. I’m doing the opener this year. The track I made for the Mixmag cover CD last month I called ‘Yalta Groove’ in tribute.”

Marc Romboy: Die Nacht, Mönchengladbach
“There’s a club called Die Nacht in my home town. It’s really small and intimate, about the size of a living room! 120 people and it’s packed. It’s three miles from my house, which is perfect because I always play there December 24. In Germany we open our presents on the evening of the 24th. Then everyone goes out to party.”

[Space, Ibiza]

Carl Cox: Space, Ibiza
”Space represents who I am and what I’m about. I’ll also give a nod to Twilo in New York, but that’s not around any more. Space was the first and, at the time, only place where you could listen to dance music under the sun. It set the precedent for the after-hours club. Before that people just expected a 2am kick-out. Here you went to the club at 7am! People would have a coffee instead of a line, breakfast instead of a kebab. And the crowd is amazing. Norman [Fatboy Slim] loves playing my parties there because he doesn’t have to drop ‘Rockafella Skank’. To be there now, giving something back, is really special to me.”

Fatboy Slim: Space, Ibiza
“From a DJ’s point of view it’s fantastic. Pepe that runs it always has my favourite drink ready; they really look after you. The booth has tons of room and a very solid floor so you can leap up and down, plus the console is sturdy enough to climb onto it and actually stand up on the decks! Believe me, it has been known... There are great monitors, the lighting guys are behind you so you can let them know when a big bit’s coming up. Plus, the VIP is behind you, so it’s easy to turn around and chat to all your mates and make sure they’re having fun. And of course the crowd. I normally play there with Carl Cox, and the crowd he pulls is not just the 18–30s kids, but a proper international crowd that is serious about its music.”

[Green Valley, Brazil]

Eddie Halliwell: Green Valley, Brazil
“It’s in a valley in the middle of nowhere with canvas over the top of the dancefloor. You’re outdoors, with greenery all around you, and it’s nice and warm. As soon as I set off on the journey to the club I get that excited feeling in the pit of my stomach. The soundsystem is spot on, and it always goes off.”

Gareth Emery: Zouk, Singapore
“There’s no gimmick, no crazy or wacky defining feature, but every single thing about Zouk is perfect. The venue is beautiful, with lush trees framing the entrance and a very Mediterranean feel inside that is vaguely reminiscent of Pacha Ibiza. The soundsystem is a custom Gary Stewart Audio rig that sounds amazing, and the lights are stunning. Far too often in clubs you get a great light system but some moron behind the desk who’s too busy chatting up birds or wondering where his next line is coming from to pay attention to the music. In Zouk the coordination to the music is always bang-on, and it makes a huge difference. I’d love to see some of the shite, lazy light jocks across the world sent there to see how it’s done. Of course, none of this would matter if it weren’t for the crowd, which really
are one of the most up-for-it and open-minded crowds in the world – which is even more unbelievable given that Singapore is ultra-strict, and drugs hardly feature in their club culture. They just go fucking mental. There are always at least two encores before the crowd will let me go home!”

[Roxy, Prague]

High Contrast: Roxy, Prague
“From the front entrance you make your way down a number of marble staircases, as though you are entering a labyrinth, then through some alcoves to the stage, where you’re hit with a fantastic view of the whole club. As well as having a great soundsystem and everything you could want from a modern club, it’s still a classic old building with marble floors and opera box balconies. It’s also one of the only clubs I know where the DJ booth is on the stage and the audience is allowed there too – you have the party going all around you. I’ve built a strong fanbase in the Czech Republic over the years – I’ve got a lot of love for my Czech peoples!”

Paul Van Dyk: Zouk, Singapore
“I’ve been doing this for a few years now and I’ve realised that there’s no such thing as the greatest club. You can go somewhere on
a Friday night and have an absolute blast, then you return on the Saturday and it’s totally shit. But there are venues that are really special and have something unique about them, for instance Zouk in Singapore. But they all add up to locations that have the potential to create a phenomenal night. That’s my experience from doing this for nineteen years.”

Pete Tong: Space, Miami
“In terms of feeling as if I was on another plane, the Danny Tenaglia parties at Space in Miami. They would get going at midnight and finish... well, whenever. Danny would have a dinner break after about eight hours while a drag show came on, then resume control! For that, Space Miami will always have special memories for me.”

[Watergate, Berlin]

Seth Troxler: Fabric, London; DC10, Ibiza; Watergate, Berlin
“It’s a tie between Fabric, DC10 and Watergate. They are all run by outstanding people. You can play the music you want without the pressure to really push. Judy and the staff at Fabric are so kind and don’t get the recognition they deserve. They have not only my respect but my admiration.”

Roger Sanchez: Ministry of Sound, London:
“Ministry’s amazing sound system is one of the things that’s defined the club over the years. I love the dark vibe of the main room; it has an underground feel and a big, big sound. That booth is made for a DJ – whenever you do a drop you can feel it. On the dancefloor the flow and the energy takes you to a different place.”

Zane Lowe: Fabric, London
“Fabric had a certain mythology before I even got to play at it. A huge part of the regeneration of East London, it really was the place to go. You look at the line up and go “Wow! I’d happily see any one of them anywhere. It’s a mini festival every night."

[Fabric, London]

Pendulum: Fabric, London
“Along with The End, Fabric has a legacy for us and our beginnings as Pendulum. They both personify both good times in our career, and fear at having to perform to big crowds and our peers who were all anticipating our newest material during an exciting time in drum ‘n’ bass. A lot of pinnacle moments happened for us and for drum ‘n’ bass at those two clubs and we’ll never forget them.”

Chuckie: Marquee, Las Vegas
“The DJ booth is amazing. It includes an iPad that has its own sound effects and light controls on it. Originally it was going to cost double, but I gave them some advice and saved them some money. It’s in the basement of a hotel that has about three thousand rooms. Basement is the wrong word – it’s huge. There’s an outside pool you can go to from the club and still hear the music, and around that pool there are different VIP booths with their own individual pools. How sick
is that? For such a big new club it manages to have a cosy atmosphere, too. They guys who built it knew what they were doing.”

[Marquee, Las Vegas]

Erick Morillo: Marquee, Las Vegas:
“It’s a festival production within a club. They’ve cut no corners – it’s a festival production within a forty-eight million dollar club and a three million dollar stage. It’s the ultimate for a DJ, and a dream for the clubber.”

Annie Mac: The Masque, Liverpool
“The main room is so intense and incredible to play in. I think it’s because of the gradient of the dancefloor: instead of looking down on the punters they are on a slanting floor that slowly rises up from the front to the back so essentially the crowd are all around looking down on you. It makes for a potentially intimidating atmosphere, but because of the Liverpool crowd it’s close and warm. When I got my show on Radio 1, me and the girls went to Chibuku at The Masque and I ended up at an afterparty at The Caledonian Hotel with only one shoe. Since then I’ve been hooked, and I’ve had the pleasure of doing my own ‘Annie Mac Presents...’ nights there, the most memorable being Fake Blood in one room and me and Busy P, DJ Mehdi and Xavier from Justice in the Theatre. There was crowdsurfing, people were hanging off the big Chibuku milk cartons and there was a suitably raucous afterparty as well. The best club is always about the best crowd.”

[Freak City, Los Angeles]

Diplo: Freak City, Los Angeles
“In the US we don’t have the legacy of clubs you have in Europe, which are longstanding places with history behind them. My favourite club changes constantly. At the moment I like a place in LA called Freak City. It’s a small dingy basement with loads of underground nights. Small and underground is what does it for me.”

Futurebound: The Masque, Liverpool
“For me it’s a joint decision between The Masque in Liverpool – Chibuku Shake Shake, in particular, and Womb in Tokyo. It’s all about how the management operate. It isn’t just about the next big night to pull in the crowds, it’s about longevity and keeping the whole thing fresh – starting with making the performers’ technical requirements inch perfect. If your booth is spot on it sets the tone for you to really let loose from the off. One particular night in The Masque was almost a minor riot, and at the end of the night the chant of ‘One more tune!’ was ringing around the place. I was in a dilemma as my missus, who was heavily pregnant, had texted me wanting me home. So I was like, ‘Fuck, what do I do here? One more, or leg it?’ So of course I played one more.”

[Le Bain, New York]

DJ Mehdi and Busy P: Le Bain, New York
DJ Medhi “My favourite clubs are Le Bain in New York, Baalsaal in Hamburg and Social Club in Paris. Different atmospheres, but always a good crowd, good sound, good booth and nice crew.”
Busy P: “Le Bain in NYC is the only club at which I would accept a residency! A mind-blowing view of the Big Apple and the cutest girls in the city.”

Subb-an: The Rex, Paris
“I had one of the gigs of my life there. I’d just put the finishing touches to my new live set and it was the first time I’d tried it out in front of an ‘away’ crowd. My new vocalist Beckford was perfoming with me, and the French crowd sang along with him on my new release, even though it had only come out a few days before. What a clued-up crowd!”

[Panoramabar, Berlin]

Riva Starr: Panoramabar, Berlin, Germany
“We did the fifth anniversary of Made To Play Records there. It was a 24-hour party and I played on Sunday afternoon, 12 to 3. It was unbelievable; the crowd were so full of energy. The atmosphere is so raw and you can really experiment and play stuff that you couldn’t at other clubs around the world.”

Tobi Neumann: Robert Johnson, Offenbach
“It’s just a small room with a wooden dancefloor and a smoking terrace that looks over the river. The sound-system is outstanding. The guys from Martin Audio make adjustments to the speakers and change the drivers all the time. I don’t know another club where top DJs actually call to get a date, not the other way around!

Laidback Luke: Sankeys, Manchester
“The first time I played there I was really eager to prove myself. I took over after Sebastian Ingrosso and gave it my best. The response was immense and I got asked back. They let me play whatever I like. It’s almost like anything goes and everything sounds right! We always get pretty messy there too. Often there’s a party going on in the booth; Dave, the owner, used to have someone in the booth who just fed us shots. Great times, and more to come!”

[Pacha, New York]

Oscar G: Pacha, New York
“I started playing there in 2006. The soundsystem is the best in the city; it’s loud but clear and nothing gets muddy or lost. The main room is big, with high ceilings, yet intimate enough so that the dance-floor doesn’t miss what I’m trying to communicate. Plus the booth is right on the floor! Six years on, and Pacha NY just gets better.

Kissy Sell Out: Sankeys, Manchester
“I love the history behind it and the feel of the place. I was so honoured that they hosted my own night Kissy & Ko. I’ll always remember when I did the first one there. I was mega-nervous and when I arrived I got the fright of my life: there were big groups of people walking away from the club – someone tried to get in my taxi before I’d even got out! I got to the desk and asked why hordes of people were leaving. They laughed and reassured me it was just because it had totally sold out and they’d come down on the off-chance of getting in. I was so relieved!”

[Ageha, Tokyo]

DJ Pierre: Ageha, Tokyo
“This is a superclub with a small club feel. Not many clubs can pull that off. AgeHA somehow has the intimate atmosphere and energy of
a smaller, 200-person club while being a much bigger venue. The people who go there are very open and knowledgeable, so you can’t just drop anything on them; but because they truly respect the DJ and want to be led, they will follow you on a musical journey that can span many genres and eras.”

Ferry Corsten: Ageha, Tokyo
“One that’s been on my favourite list for a long time is AgeHa in Tokyo. It’s beautiful and it has more of a concert venue feel to it. What I love is the way they really go all-out with production and extra bits and pieces: confetti and all that glitter stuff, and dry ice, as well as the professionalism of the crew there. The whole picture is just great. It’s such a different world out there – the way Japanese go crazy is just so different from when you meet them in real life, all quite subdued and calm.”

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