Fabric’s closure last month has left a sizeable hole in London’s nightlife. Luckily, only a short plane ride away, the New East boasts more that enough clubs for you dance till dawn. From a former slaughterhouse in Belgrade to an ex-bakery in Transylvania’s biggest city, here’s our pick of the most unmissable raves in the most unlikely locations that should be every on every techno-fan's bucket list.
It’s April 2014, two months after Ukraine’s Maidan protests and the ensuing political and economic crises. You’d think that the capital’s nightlife would have ground to a halt. What occurred instead was a total boom in rave culture, with Cxema being the rawest and loudest on the scene. DJ and promoter Slava Lepheev started it out of his own pocket after losing his job, creating a much-needed space of freedom for Kiev’s youth. Since 2014, Cxema has caught the attention of magazines such as i-D for its gritty locations, futuristic sportwear style, and true underground spirit which continues with every party. Cxema's creators are looking to launch a new party in the coming months, this time dedicated to punk rock.
Another mecca of Kiev nightlife, Closer is known for techno-raves that last from Friday night through to Monday afternoon. Beginning as a small nomadic venture six years ago, since 2013 it has been situated in a former ribbon factory-turned-art centre with co-working spaces, exhibitions, weekly jazz nights and a summer veranda that opens out into the picturesque Tatarka hills. Operating under the ethos of “bringing people closer with music”, this is the kind of place that tries very hard to create friends out of strangers, so be prepared for face control. Ukraine-born global DJ Nastia returns here every year to celebrate her birthday, bringing music industry friends from around the world. Closer also hosts regular festivals including Strichka and most recently Brave! Factory.
Once you’ve danced till dawn at every rave in Kiev, you might want to head south to Ukraine’s coastal town of Odessa. Known for its rich cultural heritage, today it’s becoming recognised for its burgeoning underground scene. The best techno party here is run by homegrown label Systema, with entry costing as little as 30 hryvnia (that’s less than £1).
Locals call this Warsaw club “where the devil goes to rave” for favouring the darker shades of techno. Located in the city centre, parties at Luzztro don’t start till the morning — making it the city’s most popular afterparty venue — and only get filthier into the afternoon.
While parts of Tbilisi can be quite conservative, Bassiani, located in the basement of Georgia’s national football club, does not hold back. The club has rightly put Tbilisi on the map as one of the world’s blossoming clubbing capitals, inspiring comparisons with the UK’s second summer of love and Berlin in the early 1990s.
Since Ricardo Villalobos was first invited to play seven years ago, Arma17 has been responsible for bringing the biggest DJs to Moscow and launching the worldwide careers of its former residents, including Dasha Redkina and Nastia. Despite losing two permanent venues — the first to a fire in 2009, then to property development in 2014 — Arma17 club nights attract thousands to the different (but always huge) former industrial spaces where it hosts its events across the city. It launched the very successful Outline festival and this year managed to climb to 34 in DJ Mag’s Top 100 clubs. Its parties are one of a kind, not only for the impressive techno and house line-ups but also its collaboration with visual artists.
Mosaique, St Petersburg
Mosaique’s seemingly abandoned interiors will make you forget you’re in centre of St Petersburg and minutes from the city’s most popular attraction The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood. The DJ booth placed in the centre of the main room gives the space the feel of an unofficial techno rave.
This cathedral-like space in Belgrade should be top of any techno pilgrimage. Sitauted in the industrial part of the city, Drugstore is far from holy: once the biggest slaughterhouse in the Balkans it’s hard to beat warehouse club for its experimental line up and dystopian vibe.
Elegantly Wasted, Sofia
Elegantly Wasted is Sofia’s best kept secret. Their own space, Studio EW, is small in capacity, but makes for a friendly atmosphere especially in the summer season when the garden is open. However, the promoters also put on tech-house nights at Sofia’s most well known club, Yalta. Earlier this month Elegantly Wasted celebrated its seven-year anniversary by bringing over Berlin-based Maayan Nidam, who played with Sofia’s household underground names including Garo and Alexandar Kyosev.
Its name might conjure up a dark industrial warehouse, but Opium is best described as a stylish space with a playful aesthetic and a serious sound system. Located above a restaurant that takes its name from the famous martial artist Bruce Lee, it caters to house and electro crowds, and is a good opportunity to get to known local acts.
Club Midi, Cluj
When it first opened in a former bakery in 2007, Club Midi earned a reputation as Transylvania’s first underground electronic music club but is now one of the best known clubs in Romania. Its residents, which currently include Mihigh and Pqz, give a flavour of a new generation of Romania techno which is garnering attention in the west.