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Your essential guide to Sónar 2013

Everything you need to know to make the most of the advanced music festival of the year

Keep the party going at Barcelona's best clubs


This monstrous club's five distinct spaces form the night-time playground of seemingly all young Barcelona. There's indie rock in Razz Club, tech-house in The Loft, techno pop in Lolita, electro pop in the Pop Bar and electro rock in the Rex Room. Live acts run from Arctic Monkeys to Banarama. The price of admission will usually get you into all five rooms (no matter what's on in each), though the gigs are normally ticketed separately.

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El Parc i la Llacuna del Poblenou

Sala Apolo

Sala Apolo, one of Barcelona's most popular clubs, is a 1940s dancehall, with all that implies for atmosphere (good) and acoustics (bad). Live acts range from Toots & the Maytals to Killing Joke, but note that buying tickets for the band doesn't include admission to the club night: you'll need to re-enter for that, and pay an extra charge. On Wednesdays, the DJs offer African and Latin rhythms; on Thursdays, it's funk, Brazilian, hip hop and reggae; and Fridays and Saturdays are an extravaganza of bleeping electronica.

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El Poble-sec


The latest from Berlin's minimal electro scene reaches Barcelona via this uptown concert hall. After the live shows by local rock stars or international indie success stories, a packed and music-loving crowd throbs to sophisticated electronica and its bizarre attendant visuals. Upstairs, in the Red Room, DJs playing indie pop rock provide an alternative to the pounding beats of the main room.

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Sarrià - Sant Gervasi


Sidecar still has all the ballsy attitude of the spit 'n' sawdust rock club that it used to be. Its programming, which includes breakbeat, indie, electro and live shows, has changed a bit, but continues to pack in the local indie kids and Interrailers to its bare-bricked, barrel-vaulted basement.

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Ciutat Vella

City Hall

City Hall ain't big, but it is popular. The music is mixed, from deep house to electro rock, and there's an older post-(pre-?) work crowd joining the young, tanned and skinny to show the dancefloors some love. Outside, the terrace is a melting pot of tourists and locals, who rub shoulders under the watchful (and anti-pot-smoking) eye of the bouncer. Flyers for City Hall are easy to find in bars and shops around town, and will get you in free.

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Dreta de l'Eixample


La Macarena is smaller than your apartment but has big-club pretensions in the best sense. The music is minimal electro selected by resident DJs and the occasional big-name guests and is complemented by a kicking sound system. Be warned that you should watch your bag and your drink.

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El Gòtic


Smack-dab in Plaça Reial, this space is the namesake of José Perez Ocaña, paintor, activist and defender of freedom who was one of the main players of 'la Movida', the great counterculture movement during the Transición following Franco's death in the 1970s. Ocaña is a café/bar/restaurant with prime outdoor seating, and its own cocktail bar, La Apotheke. The décor and ambience have been treated with care, with respect for the original structure of the building and with  pieces of furniture from all over the world.

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El Gòtic

Marula Café

Grown-up clubbers were thrilled when the popular Marula Café in Madrid announced it was opening a sister club in Barcelona, and it hasn't disappointed. The musical policy is what is known in Spain, somewhat uncomfortably, as música negra – a fairly useless label that in this case ranges from Sly and the Family Stone to Michael Jackson via Fela Kuti, but is a byword for quality and danceability. On Saturday nights musicians play from about 9.30pm. Admission is fairly randomly charged, but seems not to apply if there's no queue.

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El Gòtic