New York. London. Paris. If you've been to any of these cities, you'll know exactly what we're talking about. But what is it? Vibe. Atmosphere. Some cities just ooze a feeling. And, to twist the adage just a bit, clubs can be a feeling too. How a club looks, the type of crowd it attracts, even the drink prices all contribute to how clubbers perceive a venue. Bring a couple hundred nuns into the Berghain, for instance, and you'd have a completely different party.
Luckily, some venues get it just right and keep out all the nuns too. Apparently, though, none of those are based in London. (What's the problem there, guys? Has London lost its mojo?) The best UK club for atmosphere/vibe, in fact, was none other than Glasgow's Sub Club, whose inclusive vibe—as Jacob Burns points out—is a nice antidote to places like the aforementioned Berghain. Of course the celebrated capital of techno still placed second, proving that RA readers like a little bit of hedonism to go with their, ahem, music. Then again, your healthy love of Ibiza (three in the top ten!), made that immediately clear.
For the rest of RA's Atmosphere/Vibe list, read on...
10. Bar25, Berlin
Like the tree swing that hangs over the River Spree, Bar25 is a bizarre and idyllic open-air club that defines Berlin's club scene. It exemplifies all that is contradictory about Berlin; it's in the middle of the city, it's large enough to accommodate everyone, the people there are always partying, and it's just a nice place to chill out. There's room enough to dance or to sleep. And both make perfect sense. Bar25 might have started as a place to hang out, but it's become the place to hang out for a party, afterparty or just a place to swing on a Sunday afternoon.
- Nate DeYoung
09. Womb, Tokyo
I was warned that Womb was 'yada'. Lost its touch. Full of kids who couldn't handle, ahem, themselves. But I call bullshit on that. Womb may be a little impersonal, but with a solid crew and an open mind, the Shibuya mega-club is absofuckinglutely perfect. Loco Dice recently dropped over seven hours of sexed-up minimal, while Paul Woolford, Sven Vath and Steve Lawler have all dropped by in '08 to bring the big-room love. Womb focuses on their VJ just as much as the DJ, with three cleverly mapped-out levels to watch the madness unfold. Vibe with Tokyo tykes popping their clubbing cherry, discerning Europeans, cheeky Aussies and anyone else who swears by Funktion One. Not Yada, Yabai!
- Mikey Cahill
08. Amnesia, Ibiza
Led by the charismatic Sven Vath, Cocoon at Amnesia is the institution that helped vault the club into RA's Top 10 for its atmosphere. Sure, gaining entrance at opening and closing parties can be diabolical, circulation within the club is often impossible, drink prices are high, and line-ups have hardly changed over the last few years. But it's still worth it. And clubbers return every Monday night, every year, to revel in its enthusiasm. Faces have been painted with Kiss-styled stars, many have attempted to impersonate the podium dancers, and whether the fun is being orchestrated by papa Sven in the main room or Ricardo and Luciano in the other, Cocoon carries on. And the vibe with it.
- Richard Chinn
07. Avalon Hollywood, Los Angeles
Heavenly angels flapping their wings, women swinging from the rafters, Ferris wheels outside and Hollywood Boulevard just steps away; this is Avalon, this is one of the finest clubs in America. Built in the 1920s, Avalon gives off a feeling of old-world celluloid glamour in the hyper-glitzy world of LA clubbing. Unlike most venues in the area, this is a place to get lost in a place where the VIP doesn't intrude on the crowd, a place where dancing is the main event. Yeah, you may be getting down alongside the next sitcom star, but you wouldn't know it in this status-blind mecca for West Coast clubbing.
- Sam Louis
06. Space, Ibiza
Space is, indeed, the place. The club's flagship Sunday party, We Love, has single-handedly transformed Ibiza clubbing mentality. Now, the real party starts on Sunday and finishes sometime around Tuesday morning. Techno soldiers resting on a Saturday night? It's unheard of-but such is the lure of the We Love parties. At the rear end of the weekend an often 4000 strong crowd will choose to immerse themselves in the unique atmosphere emanating from the (covered) terrace, and flowing through the club's multiple rooms. With additional school night residencies for Carl Cox and Danny Tenaglia in 2008, it's easy to see why Space is considered by many to be the best club on the island.
- Nick Sabine
05. Sub Club, Glasgow
Sub Club might just be the only club in Scotland that has a dedicated music policy. And, believe it or not, this contributes hugely to its great atmosphere. With focused music programming, the venue brings in the type of clubber that's more often going to be there for the music, rather than the club. Couple this with a friendly but discerning door staff, plush interior, awe-inspiring sound-system and the iced margarita machine, and, even the most hardened cynic has to admit that Sub Club is probably the most pleasurable place to spend an evening in Scotland.
- Jacob Burns
04. Studio Martin, Bucharest
For some in Bucharest, Kristal Glam Club's got it all, but in recent years it's been the centrally located Studio Martin that's been pulling in the biggest name DJs to its cozy 400-capacity environs. Whether playing host to Claude VonStroke, Laurent Garnier, or even PVMFD, this weekday cinema has been transformed into a weekend home for some of the world's finest electronic music (just don't tell the Kristal diehards).
- Sam Louis
03. Warung, Santa Catarina
The motto Ordem e Progresso ("Order and Progress") currently graces the Brazilian flag, but anyone who has ever partied at Warung knows that Brazil's true motto is Passion, Energy & Fiesta. An Indonesian-styled 3000-capacity venue overlooking one of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil, the club features beautiful people as far as the eye can see dancing like there is no tomorrow. It's a vibe almost impossible to come by in today's clubbing world, but it's one that Warung produces week in and week out.
- Lawrence Millar
02. Berghain/Panorama Bar, Berlin
Situated in a disused power plant, and alternatively described as 'cavernous' and 'industrial' in most reviews, this heaving colossus oozes techno from its every dark corner. A metal and concrete interior, 18-metre high ceilings, a complete lack of mirrors, and shutters that periodically let daylight in upon the vampyric clientele combine to deliver one of the most raw, unadulterated rave experiences available. Berghain originated from a gay fetish night in the mid-'90s, which should come as no surprise to those who have been there: hedonism is the order of the day as clubbers screw openly (in fact there's a room especially set aside for this) and carry on raving well into Sunday evening.
- Daniel Petry
01. DC-10, Ibiza
DC-10's reputation can be almost solely attributed to Circo Loco. While the venue has temporarily played host to SuperFreq and Stink, it's the mad Mondays that have earned the venue a place in club folklore. Located at the end of a runway, a typical afternoon is not dissimilar to the first episode of Lost. Sleep-starved clubbers of international origin, often in fancy dress, celebrate their survival with loud cheers to the sound of carnival minimal. DC-10 is a space where almost anything goes. And it's perhaps this reputation for hedonism that sees the club currently closed, singled out from the others on the White Isle. Without it, there is a decided sense of something missing in Ibiza. RA wishes DC-10 a speedy return to office.
- Richard Chinn
Haven't voted in the RA club awards yet? There's still time to have your voice heard in two other categories, so hurry up and cast your ballot now!