It's been a tumultuous last few years in Ibiza. Closures, licencing problems, restrictive opening hours: Many clubs and promoters have suffered through the most difficult years in their existence. But any self-criticism and subsequent re-assessment seems to have only served to create positive waves for the 2010 season. In fact, it was in reaction to the ban on daytime parties in 2008 (and the pessimism surrounding it) that helped create the phenomenon of organised beach parties last year, thanks in no small part to Luciano's free gatherings at Ushuaia, a venue that had intended to take this further in 2010, with an almost daily schedule of events. But, with the season barely under way, there are already rumblings and Luciano's party will no longer continue at Ushuaia.
By night, the status quo of popular parties looks set to continue and for good reason; the Cocoons and We Loves of this world have spent years building and refining their product, the latter in particular has continually striven for more innovative line-ups while remaining popular, no small feat in the cut and thrust of Ibiza. Those two parties have been instrumental, along with Circo Loco, in popularising the underground sound that now becomes anything but the exception in Ibiza; Space have two new in-house promotions built on essentially German house and techno artists and sounds, new events at Privilege and Amnesia both also looked to this influence as starting points and Luciano has even breached the hallowed walls of Pacha.
Quite simply, there has never been so widespread a representation of this music on Ibiza as there is now. Disregarding this is just further peddling of stereotypical urban myths. And, more importantly, you miss the party. To help you sort through the madness of the Ibiza schedule, what follows is a handy guide to what's going on when in Ibiza this summer.
After witnessing one of the busiest Circo Loco sessions in memory at the end of May, DC10 is firmly open for business in 2010, with further encouragement from local reports that cite approval from the authorities for the opening. With 2009's events limited to a single party in October, past heroes Loco Dice and Luciano are now long gone and this year's event is billed as "The New Era" with residents Seth Troxler, Zip and DJ W!LD and the usual strong supporting cast in Arpiar, Matthias Tanzmann, Clive Henry, Jamie Jones and Dixon. I'll try to avoid using the term elsewhere but it just can't be helped for Circo Loco: Roadblock.
Cocoon show no sign of letting up their dominance as the biggest and most hyped party in Ibiza, despite sticking to the formula of recent years in their selections. Who can blame them, though? The additions are few and far between with only the odd date for the likes of Seth Troxler, Sascha Dive and Pantha du Prince freshening up the status quo, although Cassy is taking an ever more prominent role, and Raresh takes Luciano's place for the legendary closing party. Elsewhere it's business as usual with Papa Sven in the Main Room and Ricardo the principal host on the Terrace, though the four dates for Richie Hawtin and five dates for Loco Dice position them as front line support.
On a commercial level, expect the Swedish House Mafia to make a dent in Tiesto's crowd at Privilege. The Swedes battled their way through a potentially tricky first season and will be looking to capitalise on their ever growing brand. Tiesto is just Tiesto.
Day Parties: Well it'd be a brave thing to go up against Circo Loco, so...
Tuesdays are notoriously murky territory for making a night work in Ibiza, though Carl Cox's Revolution at Space does everything in its power to overcome that. The well-established party welcomes Yousef, Umek and Nic Fanciulli as rotating residents alongside Coxy and the rest of the line-ups provide the usual melting pot of styles and sounds we've come to know and love from this fiesta. That means a bit of everything from Dubfire to Digweed, Fatboy Slim to LTJ Bukem. Returning again this year is Danny Tenaglia for two dates, including a huge closing event alongside Cox and Loco Dice.
Ibiza Rocks continue their trailblazing with loads of bands I'll admit to having never heard of, but in amongst that, there are the mass appeal shows of Calvin Harris, Dizzee Rascal, Ian Brown and The Prodigy, the latter of which appear in Ibiza for the first time in forever. Elsewhere, Pacha play it safe with house music vets like David Morales, Louie Vega and Frankie Knuckles for their party Pacha Seduction, but look out for the sporadic Flower Power parties, when the club timewarps to the swinging '60s. Dressing up like Austin Powers and getting lovey dovey to some classic John Lennon can actually be a lot of fun away from the jungle of 4/4 beats. Finally, there's no doubt that Amnesia's inspirationally named Tuesdays Amnesia will continue to attract the mainstream end of the island's punters with Armin Van Buuren in the Main Room and Roger Sanchez on the Terrace.
Day Parties: There are good and bad aspects of nearly all the beach party action being contained around Playa D'en Bossa, but the fact that Fuse at Ushuaia and Mumu at Sands (after clearly working it out so their parties would not clash) are offering an almost weekly post-DC10 Tuesday afternoon beach session is fantastic. Expect all the usual cutting-edge names, with some unannounced artists, that these well-loved brands have made their reputation on.
There are two big new parties for Wednesday this year. Firstly, Kehakuma at Space shifts from half-a-season on Fridays last year and continues very much on the same tip with underground house and tech. Nick Curly is the main resident and his peers from Mannheim and Frankfurt, such as Johnny D, Ray Okpara, SIS and Federico Molinari all feature. But that's just one small niche in a comprehensive program that also promises multiple appearances from Tiefschwarz, Jamie Jones, Booka Shade, Seth Troxler, Radio Slave and Ellen Allien. Moreover, it's not just the calibre of artists on offer, it's the quantity, with seven or eight strong guest artists being the norm for each event. Highly recommended.
Also new and noteworthy: A party from the famous Brazilian beach club, Warung, which takes over from Mauro Picotto's techno stronghold Meganite. Warung will continue the theme of quality label showcases in the Coco Loco with brands such as Mobilee, Get Physical and Supernature. However, the Main Room programming is very different, embracing a plethora of genres in a clear attempt to navigate the artist exclusivity issues in Ibiza that are barely a consideration for Warung on their home turf in Brazil. Live performances come from Dirty Vegas, Inner City, Gui Boratto and Charlie May while the full spectrum of electronic music is represented from DJs like Nick Warren and Danny Howells through to Karotte and Robert Babicz. In short, it looks good on paper, although the reality of putting parties on in Privilege can often be another matter.
Best of the rest are Subliminal, whose guests this year include the ubiquitous M.A.N.D.Y., and Reclaim the Dancefloor at Eden; the Ibiza Rocks spin off again goes ballsy on alternative line-ups featuring Chase & Status, Benga, Aeroplane, Tiga, Skream and Pendulum.
Day Parties: There's a really cool program of label showcases at Ushuaia with 8bit, Supplement Facts, Spectral, Playhouse and a Detroit 25 Year Party with Carl Craig, Kevin Saunderson, Kenny Larkin and Stacey Pullen in September. 4pm till midnight.
There are usually one or two parties in Ibiza on each day that soak up 80% of all the clubgoers on the island. On Thursday, those nights are Cream at Amnesia and F*** Me I'm Famous at Pacha. Huge mainstream parties that most will experience at least once, Cream have at least reinvigorated their trance reputation by bringing in Eric Prydz and Deadmau5 as Terrace residents. Judging by early signs this summer, I dare say that FMIF now outdoes Cocoon on the hype stakes. The only saving grace is that it's so rammed you're unlikely to actually get into the club to hear golden boy Guetta.
The demise of Monza's plans leaves a hole for the house and techno heads, as they had earmarked Amnesia-owned Cova Santa as their base for this year before licence problems put an end to that. Nevertheless, there is still the likelihood that they'll head to their winter HQ, the tiny Blu in Figueretas, which is no bad thing.
That leaves a new party at Space called Come Together to battle it out with Cream and FMIF. The party comes from the team behind the Carl Cox events, so there is some crossover of artists, but there is a strong emphasis on live acts including, rather phenomenally, Leftfield and The Friendly Fires. Also on board are Armand Van Helden, Calvin Harris, Felix Da Housecat, Mark Ronson and Grandmaster Flash.
Day Parties: Anyone for a Pukka Up booze cruise?
On Friday, we have to start at Space, who have transformd Be, their in-house event, into a techno feast du jour. Radio Slave and Francois K have four and three dates respectively, while Berghain is well represented thanks to Marcel Dettmann, Ben Klock and Len Faki all making multiple Ibiza summer trips. On top of this Steve Bug, Joey Beltram, Mathew Jonson and old stagers like Luke Slater, Ben Sims and Surgeon will also be making rare Ibiza appearances, although M.A.N.D.Y. and Booka Shade pop up again, leaving this one teetering on the edge of whether you can have too much of the good stuff, bearing in mind the Kehakuma party takes place in the same club two nights earlier. Whether it works or not, the programming makes a clear statement of intent of where Space is positioning itself, particularly in terms of its own promotions.
Pacha is always busy on Fridays and their Pure Pacha line-up has taken a twist with a rotating line-up that sees the Club 75 posse (Cassius, Justice, Busy P & Mehdi) as monthly residents, as well as four Sasha/Renaissance combinations and Wall of Sound who bring in Royskopp, Aeroplane and Ocelot. Over on the other side of the island in San Antonio, Pete Tong's Wonderland enters its third season and again pulls out a corker of a line-up with big acts like Fatboy Slim, Groove Armada and Calvin Harris alongside big room players like Mark Knight, Gui Boratto and Steve Lawler. Others like Felix da Housecat, Dubfire, Boys Noize, Erol Alkan, 2000 and One and Tim Green seem a little out of place, though you can't blame Tongy for trying, though all judgments are reserved until after an Opening Event that features Bryan Ferry no less. Finally, not wanting to be left out on the hype around "live" events, Amnesia have revamped their People From Ibiza party to include Amnesia Presents showcases that so far have Laurent Garnier, Richie Hawtin, Jeff Mills and Etienne De Crecy lined up to perform.
Day Parties: Located on Es Cavallet beach, El Chringuito is a cracking little place to eat and on Fridays they have an event called Beats on the Beach with a Brazilian live act called Som Da Praia providing the soundtrack.
What to do on Saturdays in Ibiza? It's kind of always been a quiet affair thanks to a combination of artists seeking their weekend gigs across the globe and the calm before the storm of the huge Sundays at Space. Of the main clubs, Pacha have Defected, which entails the pot luck of Bob Sinclar one week and Dennis Ferrer the next. Space and Amnesia go head-to-head for the gay-friendly, electro-loving, Spanish crowd with either Cafe Ole or Matinee on offer, while Es Paradis have come up with a big coup by locking down Hed Kandi to a weekly residency. For something totally different, there is also a weekly psy-trance party at Las Dalias in San Carlos.
The Zoo Project at Gala Night has secured itself a solid place on the Ibiza agenda now by making full use of its unique location, and the fact the party mainly takes place outdoors and during the day, to create a notorious infusion of fun and good quality music. You'll feel left out if you're not dressed like a tiger and losing it to one of the strongest roster of residents around as well guests in the order of Monika Kruse or Simon Baker.
Honourable mention goes to Underground, the best bar and small club on the island with a solid booking policy that draws from artists on their travels to and from Ibiza. Located in Sant Rafel, there is a no-nonsense party every night with no door tax and anyone from Rhadoo to Mathew Jonson to DJ Sneak likely to be playing. No question, Underground should be a permanent fixture in your options every night.
Day Parties: Check out the Zoo or for something a little more laidback, and with decent food, try S.O.S. at Sands in Playa D'en Bossa with Pacha resident Andy Baxter.
I'm hard pressed to think of any other party that quite faces the challenge We Love do in programming their events at Space. A festival of electronic music every week of the summer? I'm overwhelmed even trying to cover a selection of who's playing but again proper techno is prominent with Carl Craig, Jeff Mills and Derrick May alongside new resident Joris Voorn. And then there's diverse quality throughout like Prins Thomas, The Juan Maclean, DJ Hell, Zombie Nation, Claude Von Stroke and DJ Pierre. Staples like Steve Lawler, James Zabiela and Paul Woolford sit comfortably with better known acts like Groove Armada and Hot Chip and we've not even mentioned the now customary We Love magic trick, which this year produces Aphex Twin for an ultra rare Ibiza gig. In addition, the six distinct spaces provide room enough for the best of Ibiza's residents to represent and the Burlington Project in the Red Box also serves up cool acts like Levon Vincen and dOP. In simple terms, no words can do this party credit. We Love just has to be experienced.
After years of being the only kid on the block, this year We Love faces some competition as Luciano, Cadenza and Pacha threw us all a curveball by bringing their Vagabundos party to Sundays at the old finca. The carnage caused by the Swiss in Ibiza needs no further explanation and suffice to say that pretty much every club and promoter has had bids tabled for his services at some stage. While the Pacha link-up may seem paradoxical at first, it doesn't take too much of a leap of faith to see how the party could work, especially given the new fans Luciano has attracted in his global tour schedule in the last year, as well as a quality of guests that include DJ Koze, Henrik Schwarz, Moodymann and Theo Parrish. But (and it's a big but) such is the dynamic of how the island works that not even Luciano in Ibiza is enough to guarantee definite success. Let the Sunday battle commence!
Day Parties: We'd say Ushuaia for the Luciano & Friends bash, but it was just recently canceled. Only time will tell where they might end up. Until that's sorted out, you could do worse than the Blue Marlin: Paco Fernandez's flamenco sessions have become somewhat of a ritual at Blue Marlin.