With DJ Magazine releasing their popular and somewhat infamous top 100 DJs list last month, we at Trance United wanted to take time to share a list of ours. For world travelers and adventurous ravers alike, this is our top five cities to experience trance as more than just a genre, but as part of a culture!
Note: The list is in no particular order
London played an instrumental role in the development of the classic sounds of trance and decades later continues to hold its title as one of the best places in the world to experience those sounds, in new forms and old. From Paul Oakenfold and Above & Beyond, to the artists pushing trance forward today such as Ilan Bluestone and Simon Patterson, the sounds of London producers can be heard in nearly every set from classic to psy.
“At the moment, London has a great scene. I played Trance Sanctuary 2-3 weeks ago. You walk in 5 in the evening and the place is packed, you can’t move. The atmosphere was electric. I would also say Amsterdam is great for trance, Luminosity Beach Festival was fantastic. Make sure you go, put it on your bucket list. Amsterdam and London are probably right now on top of their games.” – Will Atkinson
Worldwide, trance has been taking a backseat in the public eye, overshadowed by the quick and volatile ‘fads’ of EDM music. But a few clubs in London have stood their ground over the years, with the legendary Gallery bringing in world renowned trance artists each and every Friday for thousands of local trance enthusiasts. Boasting acts from Markus Schulz, John O’Callaghan, Ferry Corsten, Super8 & Tab, Arctic Moon, and Orkidea over the months of October and November alone; there is no shortage of talent to grace the decks in this London venue. For picking up classic songs on vinyl or attending shows of rising artists, London has no shortage of opportunities for trance enthusiasts.
London may have a leg up on Manchester in terms of trance history but the city reserves a spot on this list despite that, due to its unrivaled nightlife and location. Only a few hours to the north of London, Manchester offers listeners a more focused style of trance, with local clubs including Rong keeping the predominant sounds of trance rushing through speakers at 140 bpm (more uplifting acts are certainly represented in the bookings of Manchester clubs). Liam Wilson, James Rigby, Bryan Kearney, Adam Ellis, Will Atkinson and Jordan Suckley are only a few of the regulars devastating local clubs with their signature sounds. And if ever you crave a larger festival than what Manchester has to offer, the heart and soul of Leed’s trance scene, Digital Society, just an hour away. For a nice variety of big names and weekly trance shows mixed with EDM, London has you covered. However if you know what you want, and what you want is a heavy dose of punchy driving tech-trance, Manchester is your destination.
It should come as no surprise that one of the greatest epicenters of dance music today, The Netherlands, finds its way onto this list. Boasting an incomparable list of native DJs including Ferry Corsten, Richard Durand, Menno De Jong and of course Armin and Tiesto, seldom are festivals without their fair share of Dutch influences. If you’re looking for consistent EDM shows, Amsterdam is your destination, with countless events each week spanning nearly every genre. However, for a proper trance fix, you might look 25 miles north in the city of Utrecht. Far from the intimate venues in other cities, the events in Utrecht draw crowds of tens of thousands of people for yearly festivals such as Energy and the ASoT world tours. And with Armin recently announcing the first A State of Trance Festival stop in Utrecht on February 21st, 2015, there will be no better place in the world to experience history in the making.
Overall, the United States is hardly looked upon as a proper venue for EDM, and even less so trance. While the west coast cities of L.A. and the sunny beaches of Miami are booming with deep house, trance is given little love. Washington D.C and Chicago are quickly becoming prime destinations for veteran and up-and-coming trance artists alike. But New York has something most other cities can’t compete with- a blossoming and vibrant scene filled with local talent that still withholds characteristics of the ‘underground’. Recognized mainly in the EDM community for shaping the house and techno scenes in the past, New York City has also kept a small but dedicated trance community of artists and fans alike over the decades.
“Trance shows tend to be very intimate in NYC. I’ve been around for 6 or so years going to trance events and that’s always been the vibe,” said Monoverse, a DJ with massive recognition in the New York trance scene, as well as worldwide recognition for his tracks featured on ASOT. “I think what’s great about New York is that it is usually a host to a variety of different talents even within the trance niche itself, so whether you’re a fan of uplifting trance or progressive etc, you’re bound to have an event that piques your interest at any given time.”
A few years ago, the best you could hope for in terms of trance festivals was a decent trance representation at EDC’s annual stop in NY. Since then NYC has begun to see bigger and better large-scale events such as ASOT 650, FSoE 350, and ABGT100. In terms of individual shows, New York has been host to a number of familiar trance bookings such as Indecent Noise and New World Punx. A critical force behind this resurgence of trance in New York is Esscala Entertainment– a promoter bringing big names to the Big Apple, including Solarstone’s five hour open-to-close set in early October. With the growing attention around trance in NYC, it’s possible there will be a greater focus on the genre in the years to come.
Frequently mentioned by artists as one of the greatest locations they’ve ever performed, the tight-knit community and unrivaled passion for music of Toronto makes the city a stand-out on our list. Like most cities that made the trance scene what it was several years ago, Toronto was hit hard by the EDM boom. The city was still alive with music, but trance had been replaced with the sounds of ‘the next big thing’. Unlike many once prominent trance-centric cities, Toronto came back stronger than ever with the support and initiative of the Toronto Trance Family. From ASoT 450 in 2010, to shows on a weekly basis presently, Toronto once again has one of the most prominent trance scenes in the world.
In the span of a year, there are hardly any notable names that don’t pass through. The Guvernment, the largest club in the city, always turns out a massive crowd for the bigger names in the industry including Armin Van Buuren, Above & Beyond, and Markus Schulz. Maison Mercer also supplies the city with renowned names such as Super8 & Tab and Jorn van Deynhoven, who have performed in the past. The heart of the Toronto Trance Family lies with Ozmozis Productions, which is responsible for bringing an immense range of talents and styles into Toronto. From Orkidea to Kearney, Ozmozis Productions has been putting on small and intimate shows for years at Toika Lounge.
One more thing that sets Toronto apart in this list is the abundance of trance boat cruises over the summer months. With a sense of seclusion and beauty unmatched by any club in the world, these events are a necessary element of any music lover’s bucket list. Whether you’re a producer looking for a gig, a native searching for a night out or a traveler craving a destination with a one-of-a-kind nightlife, Toronto will welcome you with open arms.
Honorable mention: Buenos Aires
With an abundance of late-night destinations throughout the city, Buenos Aires’s nightlife is synonymous with everyday life to many natives. Hosting stops for both ASOT 500 and 650 world tours, Buenos Aires is accustomed to big names passing through. In addition, the city frequently showcases world-renowned artists during Buenos Aires Trance events. In terms of the sounds and styles of trance unique to Buenos Aires, the city is split. While the surrounding Argentinian talents such as Chris Schweizer and Heatbeat have crafted a unique sound blending trance melodies with an electro edge, the larger events often focus on darker, psy-influenced acts.