Sounds born at DIY warehouse parties are already fueling big-ticket events in dance music’s capitals. But these smaller cities are the underground’s next big scenes, launching inventive artists, DJs and new sounds.
Below, read why you may be hearing about the rise of dance music in Bogotá, Seattle, Pittsburgh and Denver for years to come.
The Lowdown: Cumbia and heavy metal rule here, but the nascent dance scene now draws clued-in U.S. clubbers on direct flights from New York, Los Angeles and Miami.
Coolest Clubs: Queer club kids flock to Video Club for house, techno and regional South American sounds. Menos 1 Microclub focuses on niche Latin DJ-producers.
Can't-Miss Festival: Trailblazing club Baum closed this year under threat from real estate developers, but its legacy lives on at the smartly curated Baum Festival each May.
Late-Night Hang: Espacio KB — a gallery, bar, record store and radio station in the San Felipe arts district — is “basically a house party” for the city’s DJs and club staff, says Video Club booker Enrique Leon.
Career Launching Spot: Newcomer Kaputt Club showcases Colombia’s emerging artists and labels. “It’s a special room, and the crowded dancefloor is always pushing you,” says local DJ-producer Julio Victoria.
Artists to Watch: Genre-crossing producers and live performers Junn and Lunate.
The Lowdown: The notoriously rainy city that helped launch grunge now inspires indie electronic acts. Clubs close early (2 a.m.), but the night’s no less packed — it just gets started earlier.
Coolest Clubs: Techno mainstays like Robert Hood and Magda draw diverse crowds to Kremwerk, which also stages the multiday Kremfest. Q Nightclub’s Thursday Field Trip pulls in house and bass fans.
Can't-Miss Festival: Capitol Hill Block Party fills its namesake neighborhood each summer — past headliners include RL Grime, Cashmere Cat and hometown heroes ODESZA.
Late-Night Hang: Come for the cocktails, stay for the midweek shows from cult acts like Telefon Tel Aviv and Squarepusher at Neumos and its basement offshoot, Barboza.
Career Launching Spot: Seattle institution Re-bar hosts the country’s longest-running drum-and-bass weekly, DNB Tuesdays, which after 21 years still breaks new talent.
Artists to Watch: Synth artist Raica and DJ-producers CCL and Flora FM.
The Lowdown: It’s historically a rock town, but over the past decade, a network of underground promoters has created a house and techno scene emphasizing inclusive spaces.
Coolest Clubs: Hot Mass is an intimate after-hours spot beneath a gay bathhouse. “It’s queer at its core and handled with care,” says resident DJ Lauren Goshinksi, aka Boo Lean.
Can't-Miss Festival: Honcho Campout, the Pittsburgh-based Honcho collective’s queer techno gathering in the Pennsylvania woods, turns six this year.
Late-Night Hang: Buzzy izakaya Umami serves sushi and skewers until 2 a.m. on weekends. On Sunday nights, locals repair to vegan hangout Apteka.
Career Launching Spot: The monthly gFx residency at the hip Ace Hotel showcases nonbinary and women artists, while also offering free electronic-production workshops.
Artists to Watch: Footwork producer 0h85, house upstart Davis Galvin and experimental artist W00dy.
The Lowdown: In America’s capital of both legal marijuana and dubstep, the underground thrives in pretension-free warehouses and basement clubs.
Coolest Clubs: Bar Standard and neighbor Club Vinyl host the likes of TOKiMONSTA and Seth Troxler; underground, The Black Box keeps the bass heavy and the lights low.
Can't-Miss Festival: Red Rocks Amphitheatre hosts artist-curated minifests, including REZZ’s two-day REZZ Rocks and Colorado natives Big Gigantic’s Rowdytown, against a dramatic backdrop.
Late-Night Hang: Enjoy live music and DJ sets with sophisticated nibbles at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox, set in a former bordello. “It’s got the best vibe I’ve seen in decades,” says Live Nation Colorado president Eric Pirritt.
Career Launching Spot: The Sub.mission crew’s Electronic Tuesdays at The Black Box is a dubstep incubator. “We’ve watched artists go from our stage to international tours,” says club CEO Nicole Cacciavillano.
Artists to Watch: Colorado-repping bass producers kLL sMTH, Bricksquash and DMVU.