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Barcelona has a reputation (for better or worse) as a party city, with a thriving nightlife that attracts music lovers and partygoers from across the world. It is home to a number of great clubs playing everything from afrobeat to post-punk, but the city’s true musical love is without a doubt electro and techno. These are the best dance floors in the Catalan capital.
Shôko, right on Barceloneta’s seafront promenade, is a lounge club and restaurant decorated with glamorous Asian-influenced decor. The ambience is cosmopolitan and chic, but keep in mind that you’ll find more tourists than Barcelona locals here. Music is mostly hip-hop, commercial hits and DJ sets, but there are also different parties throughout the week – be sure to check out its website for upcoming events.
Ocaña is named after José Pérez Ocaña – an artist, performer and non-conforming gender activist. This stylish and bohemian venue in Plaça Reial is full of antique pieces and hosts a restaurant, a terrace, a cocktail bar and a club. The cocktail bar, Apotheke, offers a wide selection of live music, as does the club, which is in an underground vaulted space.
BARTS is located on the grounds of a former Gran Teatro Español (great Spanish theatre), in the heart of the El Paral·lel showbiz district. The venue still manages to feel intimate despite its seating capacity of approximately 900, along with two upper galleries that surround the concert hall. It is well-loved for its cabaret shows and stand-up comedy nights.
Macarena Club, tucked away in the backstreets of the Gothic Quarter, is a popular electro and house nightclub famous for having one of the smallest guest capacities in town – just 80 people are allowed in at any given time. Its size allows you to get up close and personal with the DJs, who play minimal, techno and house from a booth in the middle of the dance floor.
Arena Madre, in L’Eixample (otherwise known as ‘Gaixample’), is a gay-friendly club, which mainly plays pop music. It’s the mother ship of the Arena gay clubs complex – Arena Classic, Aire Chicas (a lesbian club) and Bar Punto. Sometimes, you can visit some of the other venues by using the same ticket – just check at the door.
Bikini Barcelona is part concert venue, part dance club. It’s a classic among younger clubbers and college students, who enjoy the unpretentious and simple, no-excuses party vibe. The music is eclectic, and the venue is divided into different spaces for live concerts as well as house and electro parties.
Known as ‘Disco Enfants’, this laid-back but wildly popular nightclub has been party central for Barcelona residents since 1965. It is located off Nou de la Rambla, so is easily accessible by public transport, and boasts two dance floors to suit every taste. On one, you can find the best disco music from the 60s and 70s and a sprinkling of Latin, while the second plays pop, indie and club classics.
EDM lovers flock to this club for in-demand DJs, the hottest tunes and rammed dance floors, where dancing goes on until dawn. This club, in the centre of the city on Avinguda del Paral, runs a record label and DJ school and is dedicated to tech-rocker beats, disco and electronic. It’s also the place to find bi-weekly parties from underground Barcelona collective Glove Party and monthly nights from D.R.O.P, inspired by wild nights in 80s Chicago and New York.
Arrive early to squeeze into this small but buzzing club loved by locals. Hidden away in a residential area on the Nou de la Rambla, Plataforma has been hosting packed parties since 1992. Crowds can expect to hear rock, 80s classics, reggae and even the odd live band – but it’s best known for Thursday’s heaving drum and bass night when you can expect queues down the street.
No need to dress up to hit the dancefloor at Magic. This much-loved nightclub, close to the Jaume I metro station on Passeig de Picasso, is all about great tunes, reasonably priced drinks and local DJs. It has two dancefloors, a lively atmosphere and is known for playing the likes of Queen, Arctic Monkeys and Madonna. Better still, entry is free all night on a Thursday and before 1am on Friday and Saturday night.
A sleek space popular with Barcelona’s beautiful people, The Bunker is just one minute’s walk from Urquinaona metro station on the Ronda de Sant Pere. It is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, between midnight and 6am, boasts an intimate bar upstairs and dance floor downstairs and plays soul, reggae and bass. Cash-strapped clubbers will also be pleased to hear it has one of the cheapest bars in Barcelona.
Siobhan Grogan contributed additional reporting to this article.