We've taken the temperature of Barcelona's nightlife to find some of the hottest clubs: places that bring together the best music and the liveliest scene so you'll head home late, happy and exhausted.
The Apolo brings you outstanding electronica hand-picked by its gurus DJ Fra, William Dafoe and Kosmos. Downstairs, the best pop-rock club in Barcelona with DJs Coco, Graham and Pegatas doing what they know best: living it up with loud guitars. Nitsa is like the Guardiola Barça of nightclubs; the world's finest have helmed its decks and continue to do so. Fridays, Saturdays and nights before public holidays, the club is open from 1am to 6am.
Garage, afrobeat, jazz, funk, soul, disco, boogaloo and whatever else the gods of groove decide to bless us with. Marula Café is so real it hurts. No other local club comes close to playing it old-school-style like this elegant space buried deep inside the rank entrails of the Gothic Quarter. It boasts a simply impeccable concert programme for vinyl connoisseurs. And the same goes for their DJ sessions: every weekend features an explosion of soulful, funky grooves with vintage flavour. Coltrane, Hayes, Puente, Mayfield...
Along with Nitsa, Loft puts on the most innovative and international electronic music sessions. It is an obligatory stop for big names and one of the 'technoid' temples with the most loyal following. If you're a local, the Razz doesn't need an introduction: we've all walked in and staggered back out at one time or another; the danceable pop-rock hits that come flying off the decks are completely irresistible. Another defining quality of the Razz is that it makes anyone over the age of 30 feel like a decrepit mummy lumbering about a college party. Tons of young people and more acne on the dance floor than you'll see in a teen comedy.
Concerts by rock bands more underground than the metro. Down-and-dirty sessions with screaming guitars by the city's best DJs every night of the week. Sidecar is the devil that looks after its own, the best option for turning one of those stupid nights out into a real party – one of those nights when you've decided to go out on a Tuesday. Where do you go when you've had seven drinks and smoked something herbal on Plaça Reial, or when you really need to find a club that's seriously kicking to good music? Sidecar. How does the whole thing end? Waking up in a stranger's house with a tattoo on your backside that reads 'The best night of my life'.
Hot and sticky in summer, haven of rock 'n' roll sweat and raucous crowds, Magic is a rock club even Keith would approve of. The place has enough attitude to blast through the hipster flavour of the Born. Home to tattoos and leather jackets since the first Ice Age, it specialises in satisfying the needs and wants of the anti-techno sister- and brotherhood. I know, you can hear Iggy Pop lots of places, but nowhere will his music have the same bitter aftertaste of beer, bourbon, sweat and dirty dancing as in this delicious inferno.
Although it's one of the city's smaller clubs, the electronics heavyweights who have spun discs at Moog have given a status to the place that other larger rooms would love to have. Though some might find it challenging to rub elbows, among other body parts, with so many strangers, that's part of the charm you'll find both on the main dance floor as well as the even smaller space upstairs. Often draws an 'underground' crowd.
La Terrrazza was one of the first clubs in Barcelona to unite the open air and house music. The city might be full of them now, but two decades later, the club is still the touchstone of its kind. Located in Poble Espanyol, this vast, Ibiza-flavoured terrace is a grand display of sculpted bodies, jaunty cleavage, marble buttocks, swirling pheromones and frisky foreigners. Little clothing is advised, but even though the club is open only in summer months, don't dress like you're going to the pool. Swimsuit and flip-flops will leave you stranded at the door.
Despite its age, Jamboree is still the best hip-hop and R&B club in Barcelona. Thursdays are a must for anyone seeking the latest and best of the two genres, thanks to the BCN Or Die sessions with Flavio Rodríguez. Weekends call for a pilgrimage to see DJ Yoda, one of the greats when it comes to urban sounds. Two other points to make: Tarantos hosts sessions with more of a dance feel – I recommend Wednesdays with Bulma Beat – and trainers and caps are de rigueur if you want to blend in.
Of all the places to pull on the seafront promenade, CDLC is home to the finest DNA. Flirtation reigns supreme at this beachfront oasis where the summer's hottest nights unfold. A hyper-tanned international crowd splurges to house beats, crowding onto the terrace to grab some air, and, if lucky, fooling around on the sand with someone equally as attractive. Tuesdays are a good night: statuesque ladies, R&B and hip-hop with Flavio Rodríguez and Yoda at the decks. Limited budgets best abstain: there are more 500 euro notes lounging on the sofa beds than you'll find in a corrupt politician's pocket.