A world-famous club so nondescript it’s easy to walk past. A monster super club housed inside a multi-building complex in the industrial district. Clubs stacked on one another, creating six floors of dueling music. The entry prices are steep, around ¥2000 to ¥4500 ($24 to $54), depending on what night and who’s playing. Who’s filling these clubs? Trendy locals dressed in their finest and foreigners in the know.
We’re not in gaijin-friendly Roppongi anymore. And it’s time to party all night.
Consistently making the DJ Mag’s list of “Top 100 Clubs in the World” (peaking at #4), Womb is so discreet, it’s easy to miss. Tucked in a back alley in a residential area in Shibuya, the bouncers insist on no loitering and keeping quiet upon leaving the club as to not disturb the neighbors. When I arrived, I thought it wasn’t open yet.
Inside, the music is banging. Womb is a 1000-person capacity club spreading across four floors. The lower floor has a chill-out lounge and lockers, the upper floors supply intimate spaces and VIP area with glass windows letting one peer onto the action below. The main party is on the second floor, a huge cavernous space and bare walls. This allows the astoundingly gigantic mirror ball and the lasers creating phantasmagoric vortexes of light and color to keep everyone captivated. The acoustic are top notch, befitting of the quality of DJs. The resident DJ Shinichi Osawa was dropping electro house and everyone was going nuts. For an avid-club goer, this is exactly where you want to be.
The most popular club in Tokyo, ageHa would easily fit into the Ibiza scene. Another regular on the Top 100 club list, it’s the opposite of Womb. Vast and flashy, it’s where you go to be seen. When I arrived, the line was already wrapping along the perimeter of the building. It’s slightly outside of Tokyo, but a convenient free shuttle from Shibuya is available every half hour.
Inside, it’s a maze of spaces and rooms. The multi-level VIP area features an open air Jacuzzi. There were Beach and Park areas, with sand and hammocks overlooking the waterfront. Food carts when you need to reenergize. I could go on for days. The main stage, the Arena, has an incredible sound system, pumping out crisp Euro trance beats in every direction. My favorite area was the outdoor Box, packed and cranking funky grooves. Internationally acclaimed acts such as Deadmau5 and Tiesto have staked their claim here.
Atom is not one of the top shots like Womb or AgeHa, but it’s the club I went to the most. This club mainly appeals to the young Japanese aged 20-25. In Shibuya’s Dogenzaka, or Love Hotel Hill district, it is a few blocks from Womb. The layout of Atom is odd— the hip-hop club, Harlem, takes over the first three floors of the building, with Atom occupying the floors four through six. Atom offers an awesome happy hour deal, boasting a ¥1000 entrance fee +1 drink for those who arrive before midnight (+2 for ladies).
Each floor plays a different genre of music, which varies on different days. Everything from hip-hop, trance, and even Japanese pop is represented. I love coming on Thursdays, when the fourth floor is dedicated to psytrance. This floor is cave themed, with space shaping illuminated above the DJ booth. With ample space to move, I could dance hard all night.
Bonus: Their website always has a coupon for ¥1000 off regular entrance fee.