The Mixmag Asia Clubbing Guide: Taiwan
Get to know the top venues and events in and around Taipei for peak partying experiences
Taiwan is one of Asia’s most underrated gems with a nightlife and club scene that's considered no different. Although it can be easy to get lost or go off the recommended route, Taiwan has some of the highest-quality clubs Asia has to offer if you know where to go. Whether you’re looking for some blaring techno, soothing Romanian minimal, mood-lifting disco-house or anything in between, Taiwan has a little something for every party-goer. Follow this guide next time you find yourself on the island to help make sure you have the kind of night you’re looking for.
After only a year in business, Studio 9 has easily cemented itself as one of the most sought out clubs in the city, owned by the same people who ran the classic club B1. They've set up shop in the heart of the trendy Ximending area and the venue is taking things to the next level in Taiwan by bringing in international DJs almost every week — Mihai Pol, Sampol, Ricardo Ferreira, Gescu and CHKLTE are just a few we can name off the top off our heads. With events that go on until daybreak, you can soak up the Taiwanese sunshine on the generous terrace while taking in the city views. With the two main rooms inside often being full, they also boast an outdoor booth leaving you spoilt for choice on which DJ to listen to. That's not all — Studio 9 also showcases exhibitions, hypnotic light installations and artists creating work while the music plays on. When not flying in top beat purveyors, Studio 9 brings in renowned VJs to run the LED wall behind the decks. You'll hear a fair amount of Romanian minimal, which is a staple in their sound, but they're not afraid to take risks through their new internal club nights like Social Housing and Candyland and great external series such as Penghouse and Break The Wall.
If you're looking for some dark, underground, Berlin-style clubbing in Taipei, Pawnshop is a must-see. It's hidden away under a gym and run by the same people who brought us the beloved Korner. There are three spaces – the main room (Pawnshop) is all about heavier, darker sounds. The smaller room (Downbar) is where you'll find more uplifting music. It also features a third space (Known), which centres on live performances, workshops and art events. Once your phone's camera is covered with a sticker, get ready to immerse in one of the grittiest and most exciting atmospheres in Taipei's underground clubbing scene. The Funktion-One sound system is world-class, with in-your-face bass coming at you from all angles. The main room is usually packed with diverse ravers from all genders, orientations and walks of life, making it hard to move (in the best way possible). You'll find top techno artists from all around the world playing there, like Mama Snake, CEM and the USA's DVS1. There's really nothing else like it in Taiwan for non-stop raving...and every techno fan should experience it at least once.
CÉ LA VI
Once in a while, the taste for opulence supersedes the need for a filthy groove and CÉ LA VI fills that void with utmost decadence. The high-end franchise that evolved out of Bali also has locations in Dubai, Tokyo and Singapore, but the Taipei spot is arguably the finest. It's a luxurious cocktail bar with some of the best mixologists in the city and also doubles as one of the hottest nightclubs around. But the real star of the show is the incredible 360° panorama from a semi-outdoor rooftop space with the most amazing vista of Taipei 101 that you can find, while residents such as Molly Lin and Her Chen captivate the after-dark essence of the city. The drinks might be pricier, but the bogs are definitely far cleaner; CÉ LA VI is worth a visit for the breathtaking views, sleek design and alcoholic ice cream (yes, you read that right!).
OTO Basho (Kaohsiung)
OTO Basho is a club born out of a truly deep passion for underground electronic music — it's the only club in Kaohsiung dedicated to this particular scene. Unlike high-end clubs, OTO Basho doesn't rely on luxurious decorations or fancy stage lighting. Instead, the club creates a captivating atmosphere through the use of lights and shadows, enhanced by thick smoke. In the past, the club was one of the smallest you’ve ever seen, with a capacity of just around 50 people (if you're lucky!). They have since upgraded to a new venue with two halls, each with its own sound and identity. OTO Basho aims to provide young DJs with a platform to showcase their talents and offer fans of underground electronic music in southern Taiwan a sense of community. If you haven't had the chance to visit yet, you can listen to the sets on Mixcloud, as most of them are recorded and uploaded to their Taiwan Techno Podcast channel.
One of the most long-standing and well-respected clubs on the island is without a doubt the prestigious OMNI. Derived from the Latin words for "everything" and "omnipotent", the club undoubtedly lives up to its name because of its versatility. Intimidating screens and ever-changing visuals created by teams in the US greet you upon entry. The venue also features a world-class VOID Acoustic Incubus sound system that hits you right in your core (which also happens to be the name of the hidden cocktail bar within the club; Kor). But perhaps the greatest draw of OMNI is its ability to constantly reinvent itself for every event. Featuring impressive series such as basika and ZAMP, you never know what to expect...and that's what makes OMNI one of the most exciting places to be for pleasure-seeking night owls on the island.
FINAL is Taipei’s ‘if you know, you know’ club. The club has an edgy, cyberpunk vibe that feels like you've stepped into a dystopian future and the neon lights combined with powerful sounds from the DJ booth immerse you in the whole experience. FINAL often features an eclectic mix of artists on the same night, including live performers, singers, rappers and electronic musicians. Though it may sound like it could get chaotic at times, the promoters always manage to pull each night off seamlessly, keeping them always exciting and innovative. They strive to push the boundaries of the scene and create a club that's truly forward-thinking and they've definitely succeeded in doing so.
Right beside the river in Gongguan, you'll find a bustling street filled with nightlife. There are pop-up bars, restaurants and live music venues, all with breathtaking views of the river. The undeniable gem of this vibrant area is PIPE — an old water pumping station that's been transformed into one of the most electrifying spaces in the city, while still maintaining its industrial design with two huge water tanks on either side of the dance floor, often climbed on and covered by party-goers. The venue's spacious, warehouse-like interior hosts a wide range of international and local artists, genres and styles, with live bands and other artists often taking the spotlight. Meanwhile, the outdoor area is right next to the Xindian river and with Pipe now hosting more and more outdoor performances, it's slowly becoming a hub for culture and creativity. The events can sometimes be a bit hit-or-miss, but when they hit, they hit very hard.
GREY AREA is a cosy club located in the Zhongshan neighbourhood of Taipei with a capacity of only 150 people. Inside you are first greeted with one of the more boundary-pushing drinks menus in the city with an emphasis on Taiwanese staple cocktails and incredibly unique artwork of the venue's branding filling the space. The four-storey building has floors named after rooms in your house such as 'Dining Room' (bar), 'Living Room' (main dance floor), 'Bedroom' (cosy sofa room) and 'Private Dance Floor’ (which is exactly what it sounds like). The space is designed with cosiness and comfort in mind and aims to showcase Taiwan's talents in style. On Thursdays, GREY AREA turns into a listening bar where DJs can showcase their unique collections. On weekends, the club hosts regular monthly events such as Ho Soul Zai, which focuses on house, disco and other warm sounds as well as obscure, bass-driven electronic music between house and techno for their Why Party? and Unknown Party events.
23 Music Room
Tucked away in the corner of the Yuanshan Plaza is Maji Square; an expansive cultural plaza consisting of cargo containers and wooden barns adorned with pop-up food stalls and one-of-a-kind trinkets shops perfect for families. At night, this space transforms into a bustling, organised chaos with people from all circles converging at this central hub. When pop-up events and parties are housed here, they dominate the entire central area, ranging from Juicy’s drum and bass parties to Taipei’s famous Velvet Collective’s minimal house nights, providing endless excitement. Amidst the sea of bars, one establishment consistently stands out — 23 Music Room. Although compact in size, it never fails to attract hordes of enthusiasts, spilling out into the ample communal space. The venue nurtures creativity and innovation in its events, from break dance battles to club ragers and pulsating techno. 23 Music Room has played host to international DJs such as CFCF, DJ Swisha, Debonair and Suzi Analogue, while also showcasing local talents like ANKR takeovers and Queer Trash — one of Taipei’s most beloved LGBTQIA+ events. What sets 23 Music Room and Maji Square apart is their unique vibe, akin to a house party rather than a typical club, while maintaining the same quality and excitement one would expect from any top-tier venue.
The Cave (Taichung)
The Cave is an ever-growing and expanding staple in the Taichung scene. Starting in 2017 as an exhibition space and bar, it quickly outgrew its space and moved to an abandoned soap factory, kitting it out with a world-class sound and lighting system. The Cave is known for hosting impressive independent musicians from all genres. However, when COVID-19 hit Taiwan, they had to leave their factory home and shift their focus to digital content, music distribution and event planning. Despite the setback, they continued to organize successful events in unique locations, such as amusement parks and military bunkers and always stayed true to their "guerilla warfare" spirit. The Cave has even held festivals, cementing its place in the Taiwan music scene. Fingers crossed they reopen their own doors soon.
Henry Cooper is an intern at Mixmag Asia. Follow him on Instagram.