Great clubs you’ve probably never heard about

From a small room in Hamburg to a cave in Ibiza, these are the underground clubs you must visit.
A blurred image of a DJ playing at a Trance Party in a cave off the coast of Ibiza near Cala Conta, 2001.
Cave Rave, Ibiza, Spain © Leelu/Getty Images
By Cameron Cook

How many times have you been travelling, looking for the ultimate club experience, when a friend has leaned over to you and whispered, "Want to go to a party in a...?" It's always somewhere strangely out-of-the-way and seemingly fantastic: a disused farmhouse-turned-disco, an old schoolhouse that was flipped by a celebrity DJ, or an after-party that's somehow taking place in a natural rock formation overlooking a tropical beach.

But those nights can either be the ultimate nightlife high or hours of trudging around unknown cities searching for a party that never materialises. We are presenting you with this list to ensure the latter never happens again.

Golden Pudel, Hamburg, Germany

Germany is arguably the techno capital of the world, but the best nightclubs aren't necessarily all in Berlin, and Golden Pudel is a must-stop if you find yourself in Hamburg. The club is a single, worn-in room, with patrons literally packed to the rafters and, on most nights, spilling outside, where the DJ sets are more than audible if you need a breather.

Unfortunately, Golden Pudel has been on a hiatus since a fire in 2016 (where thankfully no one was hurt), but we hear it may be set for reopening soon.

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Mogra, Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo's nightlife is legendarily sprawling and multi-faceted. There's an abundance of micro-scenes, catering to everything from '90s hip-hop obsessives to the deepest, dankest house. Mogra, located in the neon overload of Akihabara, is unlike anywhere you've ever been: their DJs create hours-long collages of techno, trap and house, all while interspersing glitchy '90s J-pop and remixes of anime theme songs. It may be an acquired taste, but it's quintessentially Tokyo.

De School, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam has been abuzz about De School since it opened in 2016, and it's easy to see why. More than just a nightclub, it boasts a concert venue, workshop, restaurant and café, is open seven days a week and has a 24-hour license. The whole building used to be a technical school, and has retained a lot of its industrial setting (the club portion is located in what was the school's bicycle storage space).

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Institut fur Zukunft, Leipzig, Germany

IfZ opened in an abandoned warehouse in Leipzig a few years ago and since then has garnered a reputation in Germany for embracing the headier side of dance-music culture. Not only do IfZ have their own stable of local resident DJs, but they also offer workshops and classes around social issues and DIY ethos.

MiniMüzikhol, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul is currently in the midst of a musical renaissance. There's a small but vibrant dance scene bubbling up, with underground stalwart MiniMüzikhol at its helm. The club has existed in some form or another for the past 20 years and a legendarily strict door policy has made it the holy grail of Istanbul nightlife. If you can get in, expect minimal techno, deep house, funk and disco until the sun comes up.

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Cave Rave, Ibiza, Spain

This may be one of Ibiza's worst-kept secrets, but still, it's such an incredible set-up, it's worth including on this list. Not exactly a club per se, but a cave located on a benevolent millionaire's private estate. Imagine if a Bond villain gave up his life of crime to dedicate himself to orchestrating the perfect rave, or if The Great Gatsby took place in present-day Ibiza instead of 1920s New York.

The parties feature DJs from other big names on the island like Cocoon and Minus Records, as well as free alcohol. But there's one caveat: a personal invitation is required to attend, so it's time to cozy up to the DJ booth and tag along with the elites.

The Old Miami, Detroit, Michigan, USA

You may wonder why a club called The Old Miami would exist in Detroit, possibly the least Florida-like place of all 50 states. In fact, the name is an acronym for 'Missing In Action Michigan', and the venue started off as a local haunt for US Army veterans.

The walls are adorned with military memorabilia and, from the outside, seems like your typical dive bar. However, take a walk around to the back and you'll find a crowd raving to the type of techno that put Detroit on the map (especially if you're in town for DEMF, where legends like Carl Craig have been known to jump behind the turntables for low-key sets).

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Säule, Berlin, Germany

It may seem completely counterintuitive to include the most famous techno club in the world on this list, but Berghain's new experimental dancefloor, Säule, deserves a mention since it only opened this month and does a great job of carrying on the mega-club's sterling legacy. In what used to be Berghain's unofficial ground floor chill-out area, you can now go even further down the rabbit hole of industrial noise and the outer reaches of dance music.

vurt., Seoul, South Korea

By any measure, vurt. is Seoul's premier techno club, in a city where understated electronic music is finally beginning to percolate. The club is a tiny concrete bunker located under a karaoke bar in Seoul's trendy Hongdae district. Modelled after the best of European minimal techno clubs, the interior is black, muted, and intimate. Showcasing a small group of local electronic DJs, vurt. is only open a few times a month, so definitely plan ahead and check their schedule.

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Flash Factory, NYC, USA

Club promoter Ladyfag is pretty much the unchallenged queen of NYC nightlife and her new must-attend party Battle Hymn has single-handedly put Flash Factory on the map with the most in-the-know of the city's partygoers (seriously, when was the last time you went clubbing in Chelsea?). Drag queens, performance artists, club kids and outlandish attire are de rigeur, all coming together across 3,000 sq m of Flash Factory's 19th-Century church décor. Say a prayer for your hangover.

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