There’s a sizeable indie rock scene in Barcelona and a number of excellent local and Spanish indie bands who perform regularly in the city. To start the evening off with something more than radio-friendly indie-pop you’ll find in many bars it’s worth heading to one of the more well-known indie spots. Located in the Gothic Quarter, Manchester Bar is great for old-school indie, rock and punk with music by bands such as the Ramones, the Stone Roses or Arctic Monkeys. Alternatively, the nearby Polaroid Bar is like a blast from the past with its eighties memorabilia and retro-themed cocktail list with indie classics to match.
After hours, the Sidecar Factory Club is the main indie reference in the city and has been on the go for over twenty years. Though it has become a little tamer in recent years, it still plays the best indie music and has some great live acts. Bigger, louder and less intimate, the Razz Club is the room dedicated to indie, pop-rock and electro-rock in the ginormous Razzmatazz nightclub near El Poblenou.
With the likes of Sónar festival and the recurring Brunch-In Barcelona series, it’s no wonder the Catalan capital is every techno, house and electronic music lover’s dream. Outside the festival season, the city’s nightclubs are where you’ll find some of the world’s best DJs and some seriously hardcore parties which last until the early hours of the morning.
The Moog is hailed as the first place to have introduced techno to Barcelona and still puts on some of the best techno nights in the city. Open every night of the week and located just off La Rambla, it attracts a mix of locals and travellers while DJs tend to be Barcelona-based, except for on Wednesdays, when they invite international names to the decks.
The clubbing mecca which is Razzmatazz also has a room dedicated to electro, house and techno – The Loft – as well as a somewhat gentler dance-floor called Lolita with electronica, disco and house. However, you’ll have to wait until the weekend for Razzmatazz as these rooms are only open Fridays and Saturdays, but just like the Moog, you can be dancing here until 6am.
The Port Olimpic is home to a number of nightclubs which attract a similar crowd of students and international visitors looking for somewhere a little more glamorous than Razzmatazz or Moog. This is where you’ll find Pacha – Barcelona’s own branch of the iconic Ibiza club – and Opium, a waterfront club which doubles as a restaurant and bar during the daytime.
Expect well-dressed crowds looking to catch the camera’s eye, people drinking Champagne next to the DJ booth and large sofas around the dance-floor. These clubs manage to attract big name DJs such as David Guetta, Sven Väth or Dana Ruh so they do sell out sometimes and you’ll want to check the program ahead of time.
Finally, no discussion of the nightlife in Barcelona can go without mention of Sala Apolo and nearby bars in Poble Sec. Once a theatre, the venue has kept its theatrical appearance but welcomes a mixed crowd of young and old, locals and visitors. A live music venue as well as a nightclub, there are gigs and DJ shows on from Monday to Saturday with different styles of music depending on the day.
This is very much the kind of place where you can forget about dress-codes and make your main concern being able to walk in a straight line as you pass the bouncer. It’s also a place that holds a special place in many locals’ hearts as the club has long been one of the best parties in the city.
The neighbourhood around it has changed considerably in recent years and there are now a multitude of bars and restaurants in the once rather down-trodden Poble Sec. Wander up Carrer Blai and you’ll find dozens of pintxos bars – like tapas on a stick – and popular watering holes such as the Gran Bodega Saltó which often puts on live music. Alternatively, you could seek out the rather undercover Maumau, a former warehouse converted into a trendy lounge and bar which opens from 9pm until late.
The saying goes in Barcelona that anything located uptown of Avenida Diagonal is also upmarket and this goes for nightclubs as much as real-estate. Neighbourhoods such as Sarrià and Sant Gervasi are where all the rich kids live and you’ll find a number of exclusive cocktail bars and clubs here and in up-town Eixample.
Start the evening off with cocktails in Boca Chica, a stylish cocktail-bar with interiors by local legend Lázaro Rosa Violán. A short taxi ride away you can join the queue for Luz de Gas, a former theatre and one of Barcelona’s most famous nightclubs where you’ll find a crowd of twenty-something year olds in their best outfits. Also located uptown is the exclusive Sutton club which attracts a slightly older crowd to its guest-list-only events where a VIP table will set you back €250 ($300).