|Ibiza 2010 in review
Our man on the White Isle reports back with the winners, losers and everything in between with this round-up of the season.
Numbers, numbers, numbers. You'd be forgiven for thinking that was all anyone was bothered about in determining the relative strength of a party in Ibiza. Or the season as a whole, for that matter. Well, in short, 2010 was a lot stronger than the previous year and signaled, hopefully, a positive trend for the island and its clubs.
There were two things that stood out for me this year, though. The first was that numbers weren't necessarily conducive to a great party. 600 people watching Tony Humphries at DC-10 produced more memories than ten times that amount did for the fairly ordinary Space Closing. The best parties weren't the busiest ones—although I appreciate that is often a by-product—but those that actually felt like a party; a baying crowd, fanaticism for the DJ or music, like-minded people to share the moment, promoters prepared to go the extra mile. The best places to be this year dished out all the above and more, making the atmosphere at those events tangible; you couldn't deny the power of the experience whether Guetta, Cox or Tanzmann were your musical preference.
The second was that, musically, the boundaries on the island seemed to blur even more greatly and to their furthest point in the last ten years. Overall, the continued influence of classic house sounds were inescapable. Typically it was that mid-'90s jackin', funkin', US sound you'd expect of Sneak or Derrick Carter, but it even stretched to late '80s acid house (Villalobos), early '90s hard techno (Cassy) or late '90s tribal (Jamie Jones). It's been discussed at length how the underground has gone, for want of a better word, overground and the reality of this meant "No Worries" by Butch was heard everywhere. Likewise Joris Voorn's "The Secret" or "Cubism" by Davide Squillace or "Love or Leave Me" by Johnny D. Big commercial tracks, paradoxically almost, didn't have the same widespread appeal.
Ibiza has been "over" for every single one of the last 25 summers, so keeping positive is a virtue of the island; but given the economic improvement, the fierce competition that drove an increase in quality of parties and their programming, a rekindled carefree spirit that meant almost daily, free beach parties at venues like Ushuaia and Sands and, of course, the return of DC-10, Ibiza 2010 had a renewed sense of vitality. It was the best it's been for years.
Cocoon at Amnesia
Dyed Soundorom helped usher in Circo Loco's "New Era."
Circo Loco at DC-10
Swedish House Mafia at Pacha
If you still doubted when "party day" is in Ibiza, then Mondays in 2010 should have provided all the evidence you needed. Firstly, Cocoon can chalk off another phenomenal season that saw Loco Dice and Richie Hawtin as the biggest draws but newer faces like Nick Curly, Sascha Dive and Raresh also taking a piece of the action. Sven, Ricardo and others like Marco Carola were never far away from the increasingly eclectic and housier sounding fun and games at Amnesia, though. Techno had some strange bedfellows this year. I'm loathed to state the obvious, but it's deserved: Cocoon remains the most hyped, most in-demand and wildest party on the island.
The return of Circo Loco at DC-10, equipped with their New Era DJs like Seth Troxler, Zip and Cassy (to name but a few), could hardly have gone better. 10-15 DJs every week split between the two rooms provided a real mix of sounds and styles, ranging from the quintessential Circo Loco spirit that is Tanzmann or Squillace through to the wobbly stuff and disco preferred by Zip or Jamie Jones. DC-10 is a cult thing. It engenders a very different type of vibe and, more importantly, clientele, for although we all know about it, very little promotion is actually done on the island and thus an atmosphere ripe for music lovers is preserved. One year out of the firing line has done little to dampen the passion of Circo Loco's friends and family in what was arguably their most successful season yet.
Elsewhere, the Swedish House Mafia saw their stock rise exponentially, packing Pacha to the rafters in the process.
Tuesdays Amnesia/Release Yourself at Amnesia
Ibiza Rocks once again proved diversity can work.
Carl Cox at Space
Ibiza Rocks at Ibiza Rocks Hotel
One of the undoubted success stories of the summer was Carl Cox's continuing revolution at Space. Blending legends like Green Velvet and Danny Tenaglia against a new group of residents in the form of Yousef, Umek and Nic Fanciulli worked a treat. The event with Fatboy Slim and a Closing that featured Loco Dice were two of the biggest parties of Ibiza 2010. Much like Cocoon and Circo Loco, the impact of experiencing a party that actually feels like a party hits you straight away, as too many events often seem to be going through the motions—not just an Ibiza trait I might add.
Certainly worthy of mention is Ibiza Rocks, who celebrated five years doing it differently by having LCD Soundsystem, Calvin Harris, Pendulum and Chase & Status thrash it out to one of the liveliest audiences around. Top of the lot though were The Prodigy, who wrote another chapter in Ibiza's music history books, by going through 20 years of hits for two hours in July for the fifth birthday party.
Meanwhile, it seems that despite the trend for classic house sounds and associated DJs, some are feeling the pinch and none more notably than Roger Sanchez, whose Terrace residency at Amnesia struggled to finish the season.
Kehakuma at Space
Kehakuma and Seth had much to celebrate on Wednesdays.
Warung at Privilege
Various showcases at DC-10
Space's main in-house promotion, Kehakuma, can pat itself on the back for a job well done in its first full season. Sure, there have been lessons learned, particularly in terms of expectations and how the night is programmed. (This likely means streamlining top heavy acts like Booka Shade out of the equation, and concentrating on the (generally) younger stock of DJs that represented the core of the party.) The likes of Nick Curly, Glimpse, Radio Slave, Guy Gerber and Simon Baker outshone name bookings like Ellen Allien or Tiefschwarz and the mantra for 2011 should definitely be "less is more." At the Closing Party, it was great to see Space and Ibiza experimenting, when Seth Troxler and Guy Gerber went back-to-back in a surprisingly successful match-up.
Another new night on a Wednesday in 2010 was the famous Brazilian beach club Warung and its mixed assortment of lineups at Privilege. Bookings ranged from old prog heads like Dave Seaman and Nick Warren one week to Cocoon types like Karotte or Robert Babicz the next then onto electro house in the form of Dave Spoon. The lack of consistency meant the party's identity struggled to take shape and ultimately lead to many lineups being pulled. But the event itself did actually have decent production, a good vibe and offered good value, considering it was usually free to get in.
Quick mention to DC-10, which went deeper underground with August showcases from BPitch, Seth and gang's project Visionquest and a truly memorable 20 Year Anniversary for the club, which had Tony Humphries, no less, groove, bomb and Paradise Garage the wits out of an up-for-it crowd.
Cream at Amnesia
Deadmau5 played it experimental to mixed results at Cream.
Come Together at Space
F*** Me I'm Famous at Pacha
Thursday is a big commercial night in Ibiza with 10,000 or more clubbers making their way to David Guetta's F*** Me I'm Famous at Pacha or Cream at Amnesia. Briefly, on the latter, Eric Prydz and Laidback Luke proved to be smash hits and Deadmau5... well, Deadmau5 strained under the his Terrace residency, to the point where I think he was probably glad when it was over. For an island so accustomed to epic 4/4 experiences, ten minute beat-less intros and ambient dubstep wasn't exactly the way to endear himself to an expectant crowd.
Meanwhile, back at Space, Come Together did exactly what the name suggested, bringing in big commercial names like Calvin Harris and techno strongholds Monza and Meganite and put them all in a big pot to see what would happen. Given the strength of the competition, the end numbers were healthy enough and it seemed the potential clash of different styles never really materialised, such is the expanse of Space. One negative though: The live shows left a bit to desired with issues over sound (Faithless), programming (The Friendly Fires) and a straight-out "nobody knows who they are anymore" (Leftfield). A rethink is needed for 2011's live concept.
People from Ibiza / Amnesia Presents at Amnesia
The spectacle at Pete Tong's Wonderland.
Be at Space
Pandemonium at DC-10
Wonderland at Eden
Friday has long been a bit of dud day in Ibiza and 2010 didn't really do anything to change that sentiment. Space's attempt to make an underground techno night by offering various Ostgut DJs, Francois K, Surgeon and Ben Sims basically didn't work. The typical client they are looking for is more likely to be found holidaying in Berlin than Playa D'en Bossa.
Amnesia had a better idea and went big on various "Live" events for their Friday night program. You have to admire the creative vision, especially given the fact it is Amnesia, and Laurent Garnier, Etiene De Crecy, 2ManyDJs, as well as Richie and his Minus crew made for some great audio and visual experiences. Definitely something new for the island that is to be applauded.
The best quality option was Pandemonium at DC-10, hosted by Tania Vulcano with guests ranging from Art Department to Alex Celler to DJ Sneak. Free or cheap entry, a clued up crowd and a cracking selection of contemporary music, all within a small room, made for an unconventional but stimulating night out on the island.
Finally, despite boasting meaty lineups that ranged from Fatboy and Groove Armada through to Dubfire and Erol Alkan, Pete Tong's Wonderland at Eden peaked and troughed, wrestling with its identity and Tong's "tastemaker" selections for San Antonio's most expensive night.
A continuation of Friday's pedestrian pace, Saturday similarly doesn't have so much to offer, but the first stop is typically The Zoo Project. Now a firmly established "must-do" clubbing destination, their strong workers base, adorned in fancy dress of course, always make for a unique vibe in the outdoor, daytime surrounds of Gala Night. The soundtrack is that underground du jour vibe although this year the weighty roster of residents took even greater responsibility from the less emphatic list of headliners. After "the Zoo," everyone decamped to Privilege for the Saturday Night Project, which was the official after-party and served to merely continue the daytime goings on, but in a much larger and nocturnal environment.
Worth a mention is the Defected party at Pacha, which didn't do what it says on the tin (for anyone expecting fluffy house and vocals), but instead delivered solid house sessions, albeit for a fairly mainstream crowd. The likes of Kenny Dope and Dennis Ferrer, as well as label boss Simon Dunmore, provided one of the few places on the island to hear really deep, soulful, US-house inspired grooves.
Matinee at Amnesia was again a roaring success and along with parties like Supermartxe, Cafe Ole and La Troya represent the highly popular, gay friendly parties that meet the huge demand, especially from a predominantly Spanish public, for that fairly offensive brand of underground electro tech. All these parties will be satisfied with their season's results.
We Love... finally found competition in 2010.
We Love at Space
Cadenza at Pacha
Even as recently as last year, there was only one party to talk about on Sunday—and we'll talk about We Love... in a moment—but credit where credit is due, Luciano and his Cadenza Vagabundos turned around from a very sluggish start to create a right old fiesta. Many artists made debut or rare appearances—think Koze, Theo Parrish, Daniel Bell or Moodymann—and Carl Craig got on so well with the Swiss that, after a heralded back-to-back set in August, a repeat was needed for the additional closing party date. (Incidentally, Craig marked 2010 having played at Cadenza, We Love and also Cocoon.) One thing was clear from this party, brand Luciano is growing and still, somehow, manages to straddle any line you decide to draw between mainstream or not—at least as far as Ibiza is concerned.
At Space, We Love... had a humongous season. I've tried before to shy away from comparing this party with others; as the flyers rightly say, it is "Ibiza's Only Weekly Festival." The success stories included new residents like Joris Voorn and Funkagenda stamping their authority on the party, completely unprecedented and mind-blowing stuff from Aphex Twin at the mammoth Closing, a debut for Prins Thomas, unbelievable power and energy from Ewan Pearson and Claude VonStroke, the freshest sounds in the intimate environment of the Red Box and one of the best live club shows I've witnessed for Groove Armada's Blacklight extravaganza. Basically, it's impossible to do justice to what continues to be offered at a We Love... bash.
Published / Friday, 15 October 2010
Photo credits / Header, Saturday, Sunday - Phrank
Monday - Daddys Gotsweets
Tuesday - La Skimal
Wednesday - Space Ibiza
Thursday - Charlie Raven
Friday - Rachel Lines