TLDR? Medellín’s party scene is diverse, with some great places where you can go and hear underground dance music!
The Medellin party scene has become notorious for its intensity and vivaciousness. In fact, before arriving here, a friend of mine in New York described it as “mind-blowing.” Coming from a party-hungry place like NYC, that’s no small compliment.
After a couple of weeks here, I would have to agree with my friend: the party scene in Medellin is something else. Locals and visitors alike come together, let loose, and get wild in a passionate, explosive, and sometimes awe-inspiring way.
And, some of these clubs have some pretty unique music. Let’s take a look at the best places to listen to underground music in Medellín!
An Overview of Medellín’s Club Scene
Many of the clubs around Medellín play the music that you would perhaps expect out of dance clubs in Latin America.
However, several clubs in Medellin specialize in curating more left-of-center sounds and tastes. Visitations to these venues showed me that underground dance music culture exists alive and well in the City of Eternal Spring.
The appreciation of techno and house is at this point a global phenomenon; places like London, Berlin, and Ibiza have long defined the international scene, but other epicenters are popping up all over the globe. Medellin is a place that should certainly be added to this list, given the growing number of establishments it has.
Here are some examples of places you can go if you want a taste.
For consistent programming that you can look forward to every week, look no further than my favorite, Heard From. Heard From has an unassuming vibe. It wouldn’t be difficult at all to completely overlook the small club if you didn’t know what you were looking for.
The front of the building has only some neon icons indicating what one can expect inside: dancing, drinks, and some tasty pizza.
The club always seems to book the most interesting DJs from all over the globe. Just in one weekend, there were performers from Bolivia, Belgium, Romania, and The United States performing at the club.
The stage at Heard From has a distinctive neon purple heart that I think looks quite good. Additionally, they often have video artists improvising live visuals over the performing DJs.
The club is also perhaps the most active on certain forums, such as Resident Advisor. Resident Advisor is an online magazine for electronic music fans with event listings for cities worldwide. I would definitely recommend getting familiar with this resource, especially if you’re interested in attending more underground dance music events in Medellin and beyond.
I find that the crowd is often just as intimate as the club itself. Many of the attendees of the event that I went to seemed to know each other, and there were many embraces and hi-fives to go around.
The club also embraces 21st-century attitudes in terms of the kinds of acts that they seem to book. They prioritize booking women, artists of color, and other performers traditionally at a disadvantage in the music industry.
Heard From is a great choice if you’re looking for something a bit low-key and intimate, but what…what if you’re not? What if you’re looking for something more intense, more visceral, and with a knock-your-socks-off sound system?
If that’s the case, then I would point you in the direction of Moderna.
Moderna is a larger club that tends to book darker and more intense techno artists. Artists like this get the audience throbbing with their aggressive beats.
Moderna has a much larger room and sound system than Heard From. Because of this, they can often book larger artists from Latin American and international dance music worlds.
The interior is intense and almost brooding. Fully-fledged light shows crisscross the dark interior. The whole environment makes it easy to become entranced by the performing musicians. The environment almost has sort of a cave-like feeling to it.
The fact that Moderna is such a large capacity venue adds to the overall energy one experiences when the crowd is loving what the DJ is playing. It’s a great venue to get into the zone and the rave mindset, losing yourself in the pulse with a crowd that you’re completely in sync with.
And if you feel especially inspired after attending the show and want to try your hand at your own music at Moderna, you’re in luck. The venue is located directly on top of a Musical Cedar location, one of Medellin’s big music store chains.
881 is an interesting venue, partly because it was started as the brainchild of one of Medellin’s edgiest dance music collectives, Intelligent Division. This collective attitude bleeds into the atmosphere of the space itself. It seems particularly well suited to getting people out of their heads and into the groove.
Also, 881 films many of their performers through their entire sets. So, even if you miss out on a show that you might have wanted to go to, you can check it out later online.
In terms of club size, 881 is somewhere in between the size of Heard From and Moderna, making it kind of the perfect in-between. 881 is also committed to making its events safe and fun for everyone involved. Abusers and people who make others uncomfortable are consistently shown the door.
The collective that runs 881 is also involved with helping to throw events in other places in Medellin. That means you can track down some pretty cool parties!