It’s difficult to objectively make a list of the world’s greatest dance music cities. Having lived and spent more than 90% of my life in Los Angeles, I would, obviously subjectively, state that the best city is Los Angeles. I’ve seen more of it than any other city, I’ve lived in it, I’ve breathed in its air and experienced its festivals.
But when you start talking about “of all time,” the lines become a bit blurred. You start to look at legacy and impact. And not every city that is currently experiencing a dance music boom, like Denver for instance, has that history. Among the 15 cities that Billboard chose, they have all had a lasting impact on dance music from its inception to its current state.
It’s interesting to note how many US cities are on the list, considering there is a large group of individuals who believe that the US has somehow tarnished “true” dance music, whatever that means. At the bottom of the list are 5 cities outside the US: Montreal, Paris, Buenos Aires, São Paulo, and Barcelona.
Following that, you begin to see US cities pop up: Miami, home to Ultra Music Festival, Winter Music Conference and nightclubs LIV and Story; Los Angeles, one of the biggest US cities for bedroom producers and music labels; Las Vegas, likely the biggest and highest-grossing club city in the nation; and New York City, a hub for techno and garage.
Ibiza, the island clubbing capital of the world, comes in at #4. Berlin comes in at #3, an interesting choice for those in the US who don’t know of its multiple day-long parties and iconic nightlife. Detroit comes in at #2 for its legacy and impact on current dance music; its influence on techno and nightlife cannot be quantified.
Chicago is the #1 dance music city of all time, according to Billboard, and we wouldn’t even try to dispute that. Home to legendary artists, legendary venues, and one of the birthplaces of house music, this city has left an indelible mark on the trajectory of dance music throughout the last 20 years.
The full list is as follows:
13. Buenos Aires
12. São Paulo
9. Los Angeles
7. Las Vegas
5. New York City