A steady flow of top live acts passes through El Sol, another remnant of the Movida. The décor is not up to much, but the vibe and the programme make up for that. A mixture of rock, rhythm and blues, punk, soul, and hip hop from national outfits are complemented by visits from international acts such as the Bellrays, Snow Patrol and Gigolo Aunts. After the concerts, at weekends, you can stay until dawn enjoying a drink and a dance to classic rock and pop mixed with more current music. The average age of the clientele is late-20s to 30s.
Run by the same owners as the now-defunct RRR Bar, ThunderCat preserves the same spirit and is here to stay. Its speciality is rock with pop tinges. Local bands play covers of international groups like The Beatles, and Thursdays see Jam Sessions dedicated to pop-rock sounds influenced by the classics of the genre. There are also live concerts and DJ sessions at weekends. But don’t expect to find sweaty long-hairs and speed metal in this bar for middle-class kids, where the subdued red lighting gives the place an intimate and interesting touch. The clientele is usually thirtysomethings nostalgic for the sound of the '70s, '80s and '90s but open to new rock styles.
Unusual in that it retains some original trappings of its former incarnation as a 19th-century theatre, in every other respect this is an ordinary high-street club. The vast crammed dancefloor runs the gamut from teenage tribes through to housewives, enjoying staple disco house. One of the classic venues in Madrid where you’re likely to see some famous faces, Joy Eslava also hosts live performances that range from concerts to monologues.
The musical programming here runs from reggae on Thursdays to black music sessions on Fridays, and features plenty of local and Spanish soul singers and bands. Sirocco has two very different environments at weekends: more relaxed on the upper level and more intense, dance-oriented electronic sessions below.
The Godzilla of Madrid clubs, with splendid views of the main dancefloor from many of the upper balconies: dance voyeur heaven. Of seven storeys, each has something different to offer – the main dancefloor and bars are at ground level; the first floor has karaoke; the second, R&B and hip hop; the third, cosy cocktail bars; the fourth is Spanish disco; the fifth has a cinema and more cool sounds; and at the top is a terrace with a retractable roof. Though you'll be doing a lot of walking, wearing trainers will leave you standing out on the street.
The fact that this is one of the best-known nightclubs in Madrid means that you’ll often find queues at weekends. But the wait is worth it. The great acoustics, variety of styles, two ambiences and great music make Barco the go-to venue in Malasaña. It’s the perfect place to finish off your night out in the centre. They schedule frequent concerts, and the Friday and Saturday DJ sessions are always popular.
If it's a bit of glamour you're looking for and you actually feel up to the challenge of getting through the door, then you should probably check out Moma 56. Multifunctional in a New York style, the venue is a restaurant, bar and nightclub, with stylish decor and a semi-celebrity crowd. When you set foot on the dance floor, you’ll be dazzled in equal parts by the brands sported by the patrons and the pink and green LED lights moving to the beats of dance and pop music. Be prepared to dig deep into your wallet when heading to any of the four bars. There's even a valet parking service to offer the posh a completely worry-free experience.
This is a large and rather select club offering 1,800 square metres for your dancing pleasure. Thursdays begin with hot Latin beats in the ‘Rumba sessions’; Fridays are for ‘Yo Soy Bohemia’ with more commercially-oriented music that have bodies sculpted in gyms moving to a selection of dance beats and top 20 hits. New Garamond is full of the beautiful and the glamorous, peppered with the occasional gold earring and excessively revealing top. You might come across the odd familiar face from the world of television on the dance floor. There are two VIP zones with sofas and a chill-out area upstairs with views of the goings-on below.
One of Madrid's clubs converted from an old theatre, Changó never falls out of fashion in the city. They've got a session for every night of the week, with a different DJ hosting each, where you can find whatever you're into: deep house, break beat, funk, indie, pop or trance. Though not elegant, this place is a lot of fun. Instead of rich boys dressed in shirts and posh girls wearing top brand names you’ll find a more varied crowd, some even on the grungy side. That explains why the spectacular go-go dancers show off all their muscles and the dancers’ intimate areas are covered by the skimpiest of thongs.
Truly postmodern, this place is outrageously kitsch but with a pop art sensibility that saves it from crossing over too far into tackiness. The fake fur, Star Wars pictures and the faux-cool 1970s psychedelia hang together surprisingly well, and there's a pleasant anything-goes music policy that brings all kinds of sounds from acid jazz to house to soul. The crowd, slightly older and with less to prove, tend to chill out in the easy-going vibe, so the armchairs are a constant temptation, and are always conducive to romantic encounters. Plaid shirts and beers abound in this alternative Malasaña establishment.