It's not (quite) true that Madrid never sleeps, but its vast legion of clubbers seem to to cram all their slumbers into the early part of the week. On any night of the week at least some clubs will be open, but the main scene starts on Thursday night and lasts until Monday morning.
A Spanish take on Berlin-style electro-house is the current musical vogue, but there are clubs to suit every taste. Just don't bother turning up before the small hours, unless you want to be on your own.
The usual procedure is to hit a pre-club bar before heading to the nightclub proper: these will often have a DJ spinning tunes to rev up your dance mood. Pre-clubs are generally open till 3am, when the discotecas get going.
Try ultra-cool Démodé for electro and house in a former brothel decked out with L.E.D. chandeliers, red sofas and oil paintings. For a grungier atmosphere, try El Perro de la Parte Atrás del Coche - located in a brick cellar, with a dance room for grooving to eclectic sounds of hip-hop, house and funk.
El Juglar is the flavour of the season, where a talented array of guest DJs play mainly a house and drum-and-bass set.
By 3am most people have drifted to the night club proper of their choice: and there's some choice. A good Thursday option is Mondo, where a chilled crowd dance to electro-house, on a glass floor tattooed with light projections of the club's name and occasionally swooshed with dry ice.
On Friday try Madrid's only genuine superclub, Deep at Divino, where thousands of wild-eyed dancers let loose to the likes of Carl Cox and John Digweed. Pacha, part of the Ibiza-born chain, is a pricey but recently improved club in an old Art Deco theatre.
Siroco is the place to go on a Saturday for a soulful, funky mix from the resident DJs. Or try Low, where surprise guest DJs have included Mannie from Primal Scream and the Placebo bassist. If you are well connected you might get past the discerning doormen into Gabana, to rub hips with the Hola! crowd. If you can't get in but still want to mix with the pijos (rich kids) try, Moma.
Clubs tend to kick out at 7am, which is where the after-hours bars kick in. This is too early for the energetic (and sometimes chemically-aided) locals whose idea of a relaxing Sunday is having a few beers in a bar (try O Muñio) then marching on to the amazing Space of Sound. This club opens at 10am and keeps the faithful going until 7pm with a mix of techno and progressive house from DJs such as Steve Lawler and Deep Dish. Based in Chamartín station, Space attracts a mixed crowd, from dolled-up transvestites to curious "day-trippers".
Ample chill-out areas provide respite for those who can't last the pace, which is just as well, because it's quite a pace.
WHERE AND WHEN?
Démodé, Calle Ballesta 7 (Metro Chueca) 11.30pm-3.30am
El Perro de la Parte Atrás de la Coche, Calle Puebla, 15 (Metro Gran Via). 9.30pm-3.30am
El Juglar, Calle Lavapíes, 37. 9pm-3am
Mondo, Calle Arlaban, 7 Metro Sevilla. 1am-6am, (Thursday at Sala Stella)
Siroco, Calle San Dimas 3 (Metro Noviciado). 9.30pm-6am
Deep at Divino, Paseo Ermita del Santo 48 (Metro Puerta del Angel). 12am-7am, Fridays
O Muiño Galician bar, Calle Leganitos. Open until 7am daily
Pacha, Calle Barceló 11 (Metro Tribunal). 12am-6am, Thursday to Saturday
Gabana, Calle Velázquez 6 (Metro Serrano). 12am-6am, Thursday to Saturday
Moma, Calle José Abascal, 56. 12am-6am, daily
Space of Sound, Chamartín Station (Metro Chamartín). 10am-7pm, Sundays