The nightlife in Basel depends on your taste in fun. There are a variety of dance clubs and live music venues across the city. Many Basel residents also go to Zurich to look for more clubbing/concert options. There are numerous smaller cocktail bars, pubs and several places where expats tend to congregate, often based on their cultural background. Starting in the north is one of Basel’s main nightlife attractions, the techno-behemoth that is Nordstern. Situated between Voltaplatz and the Novartis Campus, in an old electricity plant, the winner of the Swiss Nightlife Award for Specialized Club 2012 has seen 12 years of struggle, before it was remodeled as a specialized technoclub in 2010. Renowned for its state of the art sound system, the intensity at Nordstern is one of a kind, equally beloved by its audience, as well as its international performers. Its rammed, dark and hot; the music has an immense physical presence, the staff make sure that taking pictures is not welcome and the tough door policies make sure that the audience-age-threshold doesn’t drop below 20. For the real, authentic club-experience, this is where you’ll want to go. Door-prices may vary, depending on who is playing, but are generally in the 20-30 CHF range.
A tip for those working in or around Novartis Campus: the owners of Nordstern have just opened a small Café right on Voltaplatz, called Conto 4056. Its selection of excellent Mediterranean snacks and sandwiches, carefully chosen wines and elegant interior have made it the place to go in the area, for a quick lunch or an after work drink. Taking a big jump to the south, beyond the SBB railway station, Hinterhof sits right on the border of Basel-Stadt and Basel-Land. The old battered fruit warehouse has been lovingly turned into a massive bar- and club-complex, by a group of friends over the last few years. The main room welcomes international artists every week, from the latest club-DJ’s to the odd huge act like Cut Copy or Efterklang. Attached is Offspace, an open room for all sorts of art-projects, plus an adjacent miniature-club (aptly called MiniClub), which will be open on busy nights, fully equipped with DJ’s and an intense sound system.
On top of the building is a spectacular wooden roof-terrace, with a wonderful view over the industrial landscape of the area. It opens in the afternoon and runs until about 2 AM. Perfect for an after work-sunset drink or a warm-up for a night of partying. Its meticulously organised and passionately run cocktail bar is the stuff of legends, all while maintaining moderate prices. Bang in the middle of the city, just off Steinenvorstadt at the Heuwaage-end, sits the new Balz Bar. The owners also run Jägerhalle, all the way in Kleinhüningen, and have now received permission to open a new venue in the same building. Make sure to check it out, as this could turn into a decent alternative in an otherwise very commercialized center of Basel. If your thing is dancing to the latest chart-topping craze, there are numerous spots scattered all over town: Kult Club/Velvet just off Heuwaage, Fame at Claraplatz, Obsession just up the road between Clara- and Messeplatz, the infamous Bar Rouge on top of the Messeturm or MusikPark A2 out by St.Jakob football stadium. Most of these locations have special nights with drink-discounts and sometimes international guest-artists.
Club Obsession, is especially known for presenting the occasional US-superstar, even if they just hang around for a few hours. Whatever your tastes are, there is no shortage of possibilities to let your proverbial hair down in Basel. There are, of course, many places not mentioned in detail here, which also deserve a closer look, such as Kaserne,SUD, Parterre, Hirscheneck, Cargobar or Borderline.