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30 Essential Underground Dance Music Venues in the United States

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After featuring 25 essential clubbing destinations for house and techno in Asia, it’s now time to highlight our very own underground dance music scene here in the States.

While we originally narrowed down our list to 23 essential underground dance music destinations, we recently expanded it to a total of 30 venues you should take the time to visit for techno and house here in the United States. Here they are in alphabetical order by city:

Austin

kingdom

Kingdom Nightclub

Underground dance music lovers need to check out Kingdom in downtown Austin. Concentrating on high quality sounds, lights, and architecture, Kingdom has built stern standards to make sure guests and visitors enjoy the finest club experience.

Their upcoming calendar is packed with shows featuring Barclay Crenshaw, Worthy, Fur Coat, Dubfire, MK, Christian Martin and many more.

plush

Plush

Underground lives at Plus in Austin, proving that the city and Texas as a state is on the up-and-up when it comes to house and techno. Armed with a powerful sound system and a relaxed atmosphere, Plush highlights key local underground dance artists while welcoming guests on a regular basis, all the while hosting successful weekly nights such as Vagabond and Steady Rhythm.

Check out Plush’s upcoming lineup here.

 

Boston

bijou

Bijou

The Boston Bijou Theater opened on Washington Street in 1882 as the first American playhouse lit entirely by electricity. The electrical system was installed and supervised personally by Thomas Edison. Flash forward 129 years and Bijou Nightclub came back ready to entertain the Boston area’s fans of techno and house.

The list of upcoming events is a testament to the club’s undying focus on underground dance music: Carl Craig, Lee Burrdige, Way Out West, Detlef, Shiba San and MK.

Chicago

primary

Primary

A basement club located in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, Primary gives you access to the world’s best house and techno, and underground dance music, boasting a massive dance floor paired with an oversize LED wall, a boutique Void sound system and an excellent craft beer selection rarely seen in a nightclub ever. Owned by a crowd of music veterans, Primary it is no doubt one of the essential underground dance music venues in the United States.

In the coming months alone the club will feature sets by Chus + Ceballos, Monoloc, Supernova and Technasia.

smartbar

Smartbar

If you are in search for a venue that is straight underground-focused, with no table service and a powerful sound system then look no further than Smartbar. A club with 30-plus years of history, Smartbar is a true music institution not just in Chicago but in the entire country. The club nurtures a residency program that has often been touted as one of the best in the world: The Godfather of House, the late Frankie Knuckles, was a resident at Smartbar for many years, recently joined by the likes of The Black Madonna, Chrissy, Derrick Carter, Michael Serafini Garrett David, DJ Heather, Jason Kendig and Jeff Derringer just to name a few.

Featuring everything from Chicago house to dark techno, and drum and bass to acid, Smartbar regularly books some of the best acts in the international touring circuit, as evidenced by some of the names scheduled to drop in for sets in the coming months: Nina Kraviz, Mike Huckaby, Tiga, Cassy, Heidi and Soul Clap.

spybar

Spybar

Located literally underground in the city’s River North neighborhood, Spybar has been catering to underground house, tech house and techno for the last 20 years, with heavy focus on local acts as well as a deep roster of international guest acts.

The club was included in Rolling Stone‘s list of the best dance clubs in the country:

A $1 million renovation a few years back made this intimate River North party paradise sweeter than ever. Top DJs spin here regularly, and during Lollapalooza weekend in August, big-name electronic bands such as M83 spill into nighttime club sets. “Great vibe,” says Seth Troxler. “Basically the only place I play in Chicago.”

In the last year alone, the club has featured big names such as Richie Hawtin, Seth Troxler, Nic Fanciulli, drumcell, Dusky, Magda, Guti and Maya Jane Coles. Check here for their list of upcoming shows.

 

Denver

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Vinyl

A spectacular four-floor dance venue which boasts multiple LED screens and a Funktion One sound system, Club Vinyl offers four dance floors in total and four types of music each night. Depending on which day you visit and what floor you pick, their music choices ranges from house, techno, salsa, hip-hop, latin, and some ’80s and ’90s hits. With an indoor and outdoor rooftop patio which caters a relaxing atmosphere with fire pits, hookahs and an amazing view of the city, it easily claims its spot on our list of essential underground dance music venues in the United States thanks to a great selection of techno and house parties always in rotation.

If their upcoming calendar is anything to go by, with Derrick Carter, Thugfucker, Damian Lazarus, Lee Foss and Skream all playing in the next 30 days, Vinyl is the destination venue for underground dance music listeners in Denver.

 

Detroit

the works

The Works

A Detroit nightlife staple, a trip to The Works translates to a true gritty and warehouse feel experience. The club comes alive every Movement Detroit weekend, featuring some of the best heavy and experimental techno showcased in the entire city during the busy weekend. It is also the regular home of Blank Code’s Scene parties, a series of locally-run events that showcase the best in the worldwide techno scene including Edit Select, Traversable Wormhole, Kyle Geiger, Sterac/Steve Rachmad, Ben Klock, drumcell and more

 

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TV Lounge

Coined as the “cheers” of Detroit, TV Lounge is a place run by friendly and accommodating people who wouldn’t mind you dancing all night to local DJs playing techno and house music, but in fact encourage it on plenty of weekends. Probably one of the best house music bar in Detroit, TV Lounge is truly one of the essential underground dance music venues in the United States,

As with most Detroit venues, TV Lounge lights up with events during Movement’s Memorial Day Weekend take-over of the city, but also regularly hosts Paxahau’s year-round selection of shows with artists such as Seth Troxler, Ardalan, Carl Craig, Benjamin Damage, Kate Simko and more making recent appearances.

 

Honolulu

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Asylum Afterhours

We have previously written a more in-depth article about Asylum Afterhours. Being one of the pillars of house and techno music in Hawaii, they are without a doubt one of the essential underground dance music venues in the United States.

Located in Honolulu on the island of O’ahu, the most urbanized of the Hawaiian Islands, Asylum Afterhours is at the forefront of a burgeoning house and techno scene. Through their intimate venue and record label, Asylum Confidential, they’ve become the most influential group in Hawaii when it comes to underground dance music. There wasn’t much of an electronic dance scene in Honolulu let alone a thriving underground; but when there’s a will there’s a way. Under the ownership of Darren Zane and Willis Haltom, Asylum Afterhours has made a deep impact in the musical and cultural landscape surrounding the area.

Shaun Reeves, Willis Haltom, and Sergio Santos are just some of the many DJs that are booked to play at Asylum Afterhours. Check out their upcoming events list to find out more.

Los Angeles

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Lot 613

Located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, Lot 613 offers a vast space with two warehouse rooms and an outside patio perfect for mingling and taking a breather in between sets. It has a unique industrial design which makes the place an ideal location for special occasions and events, a venue that truly provides a warehouse vibe for underground house and techno lineups.

The multi-purpose venue is rented out by promoters for a wide-variety of different shows. More recent events have included performances by DJ Harvey, Magda, The Black Madonna, Daniel Avery, Andrew Weatherhall, Kobosil and DVS1.

sound

Sound

As you could have guessed by the name, Sound boasts a solid sound system custom-made for the club. The venue features art installations, an intricate system of lighting and decorations and even serves food for late-night revelers in search of a quick bite to recharge their batteries.

Situated in busy Hollywood, just a block from the famed boulevard, the club has hosted some of the most celebrated names in techno and house, including Jamie Jones, Marco Carola, Chris Liebing, Pete Tong, Eric Prydz and Sasha in the past few months alone.

Check out their calendar for a list of their upcoming events.

 

Miami

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Do Not Sit On The Furniture

Do Not Sit On The Furniture is as underground as Miami gets, a destination that offers a sophisticated environment for music lovers who want to enjoy their favorite DJs in a truly intimate setting. The space, which fits 130 underground music enthusiasts, does not ask for pretentious dress code but rather puts focus on quality house, deep house and techno with a list of rotating residents and international guests. The club headed by famed DJ Behrouz is a favorite with All Day I Dream DJs such as YokoO and Hoj, but is also scheduled to host acts the likes of Joris Voorn, M.A.N.D.Y. and Rodriguez Jr. in the coming months.

Head here for a full list of acts playing the club in the upcoming season.

electric pickle

Electric Pickle

Located in Miami’s arts-centric Midtown, Electric Pickle is a club that promotes creativity and expression as much as drinking and dancing. At 3500 square feet, it’s a space designed for intimacy and close connection, holding 300 people in two rooms in addition to an outdoor patio. The club is designed for both live performances and house and techno DJ sets, with a custom sound system created by Dynacord. Electric Pickle is open every week from Wednesday to Saturday until 5 AM.

Coming up at the Pickle you can find Christian Löffler, DJ Three, Soul Clap, Roman Fluegel and Acid Pauli.

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Heart Nightclub

A three-floor multi-level club, Heart Nightclub is located in Downtown Miami right in the middle of the 24-hour district. The club has undergone major renovations in the last year, more recently making news for featuring impressive marathon sets by artists such as The Martinez Brothers, Solomun, Erick Morillo, Marco Faraone and more.

Watch out for their upcoming events to catch more talented DJs, including packed lineups during Miami Music Week (March) and Art Basel (December).

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Space

A legendary local spot that is always a hit with the local and visiting dance music crowd of Miami. Club Space boasts 30,000 square feet of dance floor and arguably one of the most powerful sound systems in the city. Aside from the audio-visual production that leaves guests mesmerized, Space is famous for its open-air terrance, a room that often features marathon sets that go deep into the next day’s late afternoon. The venue has been played by the who’s who of electronica, including Marco Carola, Loco Dice, Eric Prydz, Markus Schulz, Erick Morillo, John Digweed, Sasha, Deep Dish and plenty more.

Check out their calendar and be a part of Club Space’s next event.

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Trade

Thundering bass, crisp highs, and a fantastic vibe — Trade Miami offers an amazing venue with top-notch talent spinning the kind of music you see featured in top-tier European clubs. A genuinely hidden gem in the heart of South Beach, Trade’s roster of guest acts is a blend of techno and house, including celebrated artists such as Skream, Monoloc, Dusky, Lee Foss, Richie Hawtin and Green Velvet.

Here are their upcoming events for the rest of 2017.

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Treehouse Miami

This two-room house and techno joint is a clubbing institution on Miami Beach. The kitschy decor and freaky clientele make it feel like an out-of-hand house party (which might explain the astro-turf carpeting in the backyard). Treehouse regularly hosts Romanian minimal house stars [a:rpia:r]—Rhadoo, Raresh, Praslea—as well selectors like Cassy, Matt Tolfrey and Scuba.

Coming up in 2017 you can find Bella Sarris, Premiesku, dOP, the Desert Hearts crew and tINI all playing the club.

 

New York City

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Flash Factory

A club that books great talent and boasts an amazing architectural interior design complete with church pews for VIP seats. It may not be as massive as other clubs in the city but it offers a decent dance floor and comes with a high-quality sound system. Flash Factory‘s bookings stay up-to-date with current trends while also underscoring some of dance music’s legends, as evidenced some of their more recent bookings: Giogio Moroder, Green Velvet, UMEK, Anja Schneider, andhim and a techno-only set by Laidback Luke.

Be updated with their upcoming events and enjoy a whole night of dancing in this 10,000 square-foot club.

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Output

An electric trendy bar with an appealing ambience that lets you gaze across Hudson to Manhattan, Output flaunts one of the most balanced sound systems you’ll hear in New York City: loud enough for you to feel the music in a crisp, defining manner but not deafening. The place has been designed well, with open spaces and several bars and floors, seeking to provide a minimalistic underground space where music is focus and cameras are never allowed. When it comes to music, Output features great talent that spin underground techno and several facets of house to please everyone’s taste.

Their upcoming calendar features a talent-packed couple of months you’ll surely enjoy, including Oscar G, Horse Meat Disco, Claptone, Harvard Bass, Stacey Pullen, UNER, Jackmaster, Hernan Cattaneo, Adam X, Perc, Kangding Ray and more.

schimanski

Schimanski

If you were an avid fan of Verboten, then you will definitely love Schimanski. It’s basically the same club with a different name, better facilities and, more importantly, brand-new stable and honest management. Their classy interior of rusty metals and brick wood compliments their world-class high quality Alpha Dynacord sound system.

Don’t forget to check out their upcoming events before dropping by for a visit. Some names soon to be featured include Premiesku, Eagles & Butterflies, Loco Dice, Kölsch, Robert Hood, Pan-Pot and Nina Kraviz.

TBA brooklyn

TBA Brooklyn

This former garage in Williamsburg is one of New York’s most intimate nightclubs. The vibe is house and techno in a casual environment with a low cover charge. Guest DJs play almost any night of the week. TBA Brooklyn is as underground as a legit venue can get without being a straight warehouse, and it manages to remain so with a competitive top-tier selection of guest acts and locals behind the decks on any given night.

Check out Resident Advisor for their upcoming lineup.

 

Phoenix

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Monarch Theatre

Sovereigns of heavy bass, deep house, and genuine downtown performance entertainment, the proprietors mutually known as Solstice Management Group expanded the distinct city presence on the Washington Street block through the investment and development of the Monarch Theatre venue. Since its opening date of April 20, 2012, renovations to the main room dance floor, concert stage, and imported Canadian PK sound system, the unique location exponentially accents the Phoenix downtown nightlife with its culturally well-rounded events and high-energy shows.

Names that have played the club include UMEK, Sian, J.Phlip, The Black Madonna and Mark Farina.

 

Philadelphia

 rumor

Rumor

Rumor is a high-end club with DJs spinning techno, house, hip-hop, and other genres depending on the night you visit. Although the programming isn’t strictly underground, the upcoming calendar is a testament to their love for house and techno: Behrouz, Saeed Younan, Roger Sanchez, Kill Frenzy, MK, Denney, Shiba San and Doorly.

 

Pittsburgh

 Hot mass

Hot Mass

Hot mass has everything you want in an after-hours bar: solid DJs, a world-class sound system, and a BYOB policy. Their dance floor is just the right size for the always-numerous crowd that fill it for techno and house shows weekend in, weekend out. Recent graduates from their booth include Aurora Halal, Mike Dehnert, Christopher Rau and Derek Plaslaiko.

Check out their upcoming calendar and visit this techno haven with good vibes.

 

San Diego

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Spin

A three-level, 10,000 sq. foot entertainment complex dedicated to providing a truly unique experience for your senses, Spin boasts two separate dance floors, a sweeping mezzanine and an open air roof deck with city views of downtown. 70,000 watts of real Thunderous Avalon sound on the main floor, kinetic lighting and lasers complete this venue and attract acts such as Dubfire, Eric Prydz, Green Velvet and drumcell to play.

San Francisco

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Halcyon

A place that brings talents from all over the world, Halcyon is undoubtedly one of the essential underground dance music venues in the United States. A pure audio escape that pays tribute to the decks and the talent that’s behind them, Halcyon highlights include well-curated lighting, tasty on-draft cocktails and an entire roster of international touring acts that visit the venue to grace its decks.

The recently-opened venue is set to showcase a fine roster of talent in the coming months, such as Lee Foss, Marco Faraone, Eats Everything, Way Out West and Darius Syrossian

public works

Public Works

An interesting industrial space with two rooms. Public Works provides impressive visual light shows displayed on their walls, adding perfectly to the whole house music and techno vibe of the venue.

You can also visit Public Works during the daytime, when it acts as an art gallery. The venue offers discounted gallery space to local artists and donates portion of the profits to charities and NPOs.

Last month alone the club was visited by Claptone, Wolf + Lamb, Stephan Bodzin, Benoit & Sergio and Petre Inspirescu, further highlighting their mission to showcase the best the underground dance music world has to offer.

 

Seattle

 

q

Q Nightclub

Music is Q Nightclub‘s message to everyone in Seattle and surrounding areas. A modernized 12,500 square foot multi-level lounge and nightclub that is open daily from Mondays to Sundays, Q offers world-class audio and visual components as a part of its overall architecture and design.

During weekends Q features skilled local and guest DJs that spin deep house and techno. Upcoming shows include sets by Club Cheval, Sirus Hood, Sacha Robotti, Barclay Crewnshaw, Skream, Sasha and Way Out West.

 

Washington DC

flash

Flash

Flash has never deviated from its plan since first opening way back in 2013. It was and still is an intimate space wher artists can express themselves freely to their fans. Their ground floor, known as Flash bar,  features a relaxed dance floor and a DJ area, with its main room upstairs remaining the focal point of attention with regular international guest acts. All three levels of the club boast a Funktion One sound system, while the rooftop provides the perfect escape with overlooking views of Washington’s south-side.

Their upcoming calendar is jam-packed with different kind of events, including performances from Bella Sarris, Chus + Ceballos, Tiga, Stacey Pullen, Technasia, Pan-Pot and Carl Craig . You can check it all out here.

U

 

U Street Music Hall

Included in Rolling Stone’s best dance clubs in America, U Street Music Hall is a basement dance club and live music venue with finely-tuned sound system and 500-person capacity dance floor.

There are no dress codes, VIP areas or bottle service at D.C.’s underground outpost, and the seats are mostly bar stools: “U Street Music Hall is for dancing, not sitting,” reminds their official website. Come here for cool DJs like Juan MacLean and Boys Noize, plus super-high-energy parties spotlighting the buzzy local sound known as moombahton.

 

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