This week we profile the island's best low-cost options.
Despite its reputation, Ibiza doesn't have to be an expensive place to party. This week's column presents three venues which offer dancing on the cheap, all located within walking distance of each other. We also discuss island life with one of this year's rising stars, Patrick Topping, and review three of the standout events from the past seven days.
For everything you need to know about the island in 2014, take a look at our comprehensive Ibiza guide.
Feature: Free parties
Ibiza was rife with free parties in 2013. New venues (Destino, Ushuaia Tower) relieved customers of entry fees as a means of promotion during what is a typically trying first year. As a result, the likes of Sasha, Nicolas Jaar and Solomun all played free shows last summer. This year, though, is a different story: Destino now charges entry, and the rooftop of the Ushuaia Tower is no longer open to the public. That said, the free party scene is still alive and well, restricted primarily to a strip of 500 metres at the far end of Playa d'en Bossa. Below, we profile three of the best places to hear top-quality music at no extra cost.
Location: Playa d'en Bossa (next to Nassau)
Drinks prices: Mid-range (Small beer, €6; mojito, €14)
Best party: tINI and the gang (weekly on Wednesdays from 5 PM until midnight)
Sands, formerly Sirocco Beach, is now Playa d'en Bossa's premier seaside party spot. tINI and the gang, with its weekly Wednesday night forays into dubby, underground house and techno, remains its biggest draw, though the venue also proffers several more sunny alternatives across the week. French house favourites Cassius announced a four-date residency on Thursdays back in July (July 24th, August 28th, September 11th, October 2nd), with an impromptu show added earlier this week (Friday, August 22nd.) Armed with bags of vinyl and using their own vintage mixer, the opening party saw the duo joined by Shonky and Dan Ghenacia for what was an upbeat, groove-centric affair. Expect more secret guests at future editions.
Saturdays is reserved for Ondas, an all-day, collaborative event set up by a team of the island's longest-serving residents. Andy Baxter, Clara Da Costa and Space's Jason Bye are all on rotation, spinning summery beats. And for those who like their house music a little beefier, Tuesday nights hosts Timeless, headed up weekly by German DJ Tom Novy.
Location: Playa d'en Bossa (behind Hotel Club Bahamas)
Drinks prices: High
Best party: Rumors (weekly on Sundays from 5 PM until midnight)
New this year from the team behind popular bar and restaurant El Chiringuito, Beach House might just be Playa d'en Bossa'a swankiest hangout. However, somewhere in among the rustic Italian menu, experimental cocktails and bottle service, is a solid music policy, spearheaded by Guy Gerber's Rumors residency on Sundays. Forced from its original home at Plan Be mere hours into the opening, the day party has finally settled on a new space and is so far proving a hit across the board. True to its name, Gerber's guests are kept under wraps until the last minute, but expect the occasional high-profile surprise. Rumors will run weekly until October 5th. The venue's other residency, Sun Set Lovers, has more of a loungey feel. Past guests include Robot Heart affiliates Benjamin & Alexander.
Location: Playa d'en Bossa (next to Beach House)
Drinks prices: Low (Pint of beer, €6)
Best party: No residencies.
Though it sits only a stone's throw away from Beach House, No Name couldn't look and feel more different. With moderate drinks prices and a modest, no-frills décor, this nondescript beach hut has proven a favourite afterhours spot with the likes of Jamie Jones, Apollonia and Richie Hawtin this summer. Luciano even dropped by in July when the opening of his Cova Santa party got shut down. Situated just as Playa d'en Bossa narrows, it's also one of the few bars on the beach that sits directly on the water, meaning revellers can incorporate mid-party dips into the rough-and-ready experience. Parties are usually announced very late in the day, so make sure to keep your ears as close to the ground as possible.
Interview: Patrick Topping
If you've never heard of Patrick Topping, chances are you'll recognise his music: "Boxed Off," "Get Beasty" and "Forget" have all played a prominent role in shaping the sound of Ibiza in 2014. But the young Geordie is more than just a hit-machine; he's also a talented DJ and an experienced promoter. On the eve of one of four gigs at Paradise this season, we sat down with Topping to gauge just what he makes of his recent sharp rise.
Let's start with some brief musical history. Where does your love of club music come from?
It started with a trance night. I went to see Eddie Halliwell at a club in the northeast called Tall Trees. I think it was the biggest club in England at the time, 5000 capacity. I went with no prior knowledge about dance music and since then have been pretty obsessed with it. I used to go and see trance DJs and stuff like that and then moved onto people like [David] Guetta. He was one of the first people I saw when I came to Ibiza. And then it was when I went to the first Cocoon In The Park in Leeds five years ago that my tastes started leaning more towards underground sounds.
So you found you just identified more with house and techno?
Yeah well, it's kind of a common story: the more you're exposed to dance music the deeper your tastes become. I mean I’ve seen David Guetta about eight times, but obviously now I'm not really into it that much anymore. I’ve probably seen Sven [Väth] about eight times now as well. It’s just kind of shifted like that.
Yeah I read you were a big fan of Väth's and Luciano's as well. How did you move from techno through to this big-room house sound that you're now associated with?
It wasn't planned at all, but I think it was through production. Because actually the first few tracks I made were in the vein of that 2009 techno sound that those guys were playing. From there I just started messing around with sounds. I think the fact that Jamie Jones picked up one of the first tracks I ever made impacted on my style. He was playing something of mine so early on in my career, while I was still learning how to make music. I think that really shaped my output.
Your sound is known for having these huge basslines. Have they always been a really prominent feature?
Yeah kind of. Especially since I've started putting more time into it. That's how I started doing it and then I got picked up and I just kind of built on it.
When you make a track do you start with the bassline and go from there?
No, not really. I used to take ages producing because I'd try and make each track sound a certain way. So then I'd be trying to make everything fit this idea I had in my head and it would take forever. Now I just look for samples or mess about with a sound, and run with whatever idea or direction pops up. It's much quicker that way.
I like that the tracks are really stripped-back and groovy, but that there's also a lot going on sound-wise. You obviously spend a lot of time moulding these quirky sounds in order to keep it interesting.
Yeah I suppose so, I don't know. There's no kind of preconceived idea. When I’m making them I just try build something something that's going to be exciting to listen to in a club.
I’ve been looking at you touring schedule and compared to 2013, this year has kept you incredibly busy on the road.
It went fucking mad, honestly. I'm still getting used to it because I've only been releasing music since April last year. Since then it’s been gradually building and building and over the course of the past eight months it's become Friday and Saturday most weeks. And then since May, it just went… With the festivals and Ibiza and all the bank holidays and stuff it's been mayhem. Amazing though.
Of course you've had some big releases, but to be getting booked so consistently means you must know your way around a pair of decks.
Well I’ve been DJing for about five years as well. Just locally around Newcastle and stuff. So I do have quite a bit experience in that, because I used to have weekly residencies in Newcastle, which definitely helped. It's funny because my first proper booking through an agent was the weekend before I played DC-10 last year. And my second ever booking, which was also my first time outside of the UK, was at D-10. Quite surreal really.
We can't sit here without mentioning "Forget" and the impact it's had on Ibiza this summer. Did you know it was a hit as soon as you'd made it?
Laughs. No way. I mean when it was done I knew it would feature in my sets but nothing beyond that. And then I sent it to Jamie [Jones] and he messaged me and said: 'This is your best track yet.' When he told me that, "Get Beasty" had just come out and had done really well in the Beatport charts, which I was surprised about. And so when Jamie [Jones] said that about "Forget," I secretly started to think that maybe it would do just as well. But I still never expected it to be this popular. I mean DJs have been playing it across the board, from Nic Fanciulli to Tiësto! That's pretty mad and definitely not something I ever would have envisioned.
Does Jamie [Jones] offer a lot of advice?
Yeah, he does. Actually two of the tracks that have come out have been slightly edited based on his suggestions. My first release with them, "Walk On," had vocals on it originally, which was why I called it that. Jamie [Jones] asked me to remove them, which I did, and then he said he'd sign it immediately. Another track has a similar story. I don't always get feedback, he's busy.
What's your relationship like with your own music? Are you sick of hearing and playing your tracks?
Yeah, but I mean that applies to all music, not just my own. After you’ve played any record about 20 times you're going to get sick of it. I've also got quite a lot of unsigned music that nobody knows, which I like to include in my sets. I like to play the stuff people haven't heard. But yeah sometimes I feel like I have to include certain tracks because people are asking for them.
I was going to touch on that. It must be hard trying to get the balance right between Patrick Topping the DJ and Patrick Topping the producer, especially when you've only got 90 minutes, or two hours to try and show enough of each.
Yeah I suppose I’m more known for my productions at the moment than my DJing, so I do feel that kind of pressure. I don't want to be like a trained monkey performing "Forget" all the time. I think it’s gonna have to drop out of my sets at some point.
Your routine at the moment has you gigging at the weekends and then you're back in Newcastle making music during the week?
Yeah it's Newcastle at the moment... Everyone keeps asking me when I'm going to move to London but I don't know. Newcastle is pretty bad for flying but apart from that I like it. And I try to work on producing every day if I can. It's important for me that I don't get carried away with the touring and neglect the studio.
And these new tracks, you send them straight to the Hot Creations lot?
Yeah exactly. I only really send them to Jamie [Jones], Richy [Ahmed] and Lee [Foss]. Like you said, though I'm not contracted, I've kind of got a bit of an agreement just to work with them for the moment. Which I couldn't be happier about really.
This week on the island
Kehakuma + Elrow at Space
A giant yellow wolf greeted partygoers upon entry to Space on Saturday. The razor-toothed mascot formed part of one of Elrow's extra-effervescent Singer Morning parties, as decorations spilled out of the Discoteca and into the Sunset Terrace. Outside, DJs span steady house beats from the wreckage of a plane, while revellers tried their luck on a bucking-surfboard, splashed about in a paddling pool or blasted each other with jets of high-pressured air from multicoloured cones. Inside, no inch of the main room was spared embellishment, as a huge orange octopus presided over wall-to-wall colour and chaos. Warming up for Tiga, Los Suruba were doing what needed to be done: keeping the throng moving with a persistent volley of meaty tech house.
In the Terrazza, meanwhile, Kehakuma couldn't have looked and felt more at odds with the mayhem next door. On early, Levon Vincent threw down eerie techno to a half-full floor, closing with a medley of what sounded suspiciously like (brilliant) new material. Shed, playing on Ableton and an AKAI MPC, came next, injecting the sober atmosphere with his stab-heavy warehouse sound. Given that the energy in the room was already slightly flat, the German's solemn techno did little to spark the vibe. While Marcel Dettmann's headline run-out was significantly better received, there can be no denying that Saturdays at Space have developed a strange reputation over the course of the season. Offering two parties for the price of one in Ibiza is a great thing, but so different are they that one can't help but feel that neither is doing the other many favours.
Movement presents Apollonia at DC-10
Apollonia have stepped things up a gear in 2014. Following a truly memorable headline set at the Amnesia opening, the Parisian trio have since played the first of two ENTER. shows at Space, treating the Terrazza to a masterclass in tag-team DJing. Last Saturday, though, Dyed Soundorom, Dan Ghenacia and Shonky prepared for their biggest date of the summer, returning to the club that raised them: DC-10. Presented in conjunction with Movement Torino, the trio's third Main Room showcase followed a smooth and gradual curve from summery house through to swirling, acid techno. The party's apex, circa 4 AM, was populated with big-room favourites, including Alix Alvarez's "Fayall" and Markus Schulz's "From Here To Eternity."
From there, Apollonia seamlessly edged towards harder terrain. Maurice's seminal 303 cut "This Is Acid," as well as Mike Dunn's "Let It Be House," formed a bridge between the trio's previous groove-centric exploits and the night's trippier final phase. Tracks from Heiko Laux ("The Silent Bass") and Ricardo Villalobos ("Lezarprezent") conveyed the full range of their tastes, while showing a depth to their DJing rarely witnessed. Crucially, though, no matter how twisted their choices became, the emphasis on groove remained intact, keeping the busy 7 AM floor in a state of perpetual motion. With an album out in autumn, and talent in abundance, it wouldn't surprise anyone if Apollonia returned to Ibiza in 2015 with bigger plans than ever before.
Cocoon at Amnesia
Week 13 of the Ibiza season was always going to be a pivotal one for Richie Hawtin and Sven Väth. Although last year's DJ-swap phenomenon was largely put to bed in 2014, the respective Cocoon and ENTER. bosses kept this particular exchange intact. Hawtin would honour the first leg of the agreement, with a headline set in the Amnesia Terrace on Monday, followed by Väth at Space on Thursday. At Cocoon, it was the German who would open up proceedings, already turning out slamming cuts of electrifying techno by 2 AM. Whipping the bustling crowd into a single, pulsating frenzy, Glimpse's low-slung beast, "L.E.D.: was among the more memorable tracks.
Anticipating a trippy start from Hawtin, Väth signed off with several tech-trance numbers. DJ Koze's remix of Moderat's "Bad Kingdom" kickstarted the shift, consolidated several tracks later by the boisterous big-room flavour of Alan Fitzpatrick's "Truant." At points, the entire Amnesia Terrace stood with its arms aloft, completely at one with Väth's every move. Safe to say, atmospheres like that don't come around very often. Keen to sustain the vibe, Hawtin opened with Recondite's new cut "Caldera," before settling into a routine of big breakdowns and dark, loopy basslines. Hawtin never quite captured the same soul and vibrancy of Väth's set. The fit-to-burst crowd might claim otherwise, but on home soil, Väth stood head and shoulders above the ENTER. man.
Evidence that Music On in August is not for the faint-hearted. View gallery
Steve Lawler works The Basement at Sankeys on Sunday. View gallery
Andhim line-up another drop on their return to Pacha for Solomun+1. View gallery
Tale Of Us show they're as popular as ever with yet another headline set at DC-10. View gallery
DJ Sneak lurks in the shadows at Tribal Sessions. View gallery
ENTER. - Igor Ribnik
Music On - David Pareja
VIVa Warriors - Justin Gardner
Cocoon - Phrank.net
Tribal Sessions - Justin Gardner
All others - Tasya Menaker
For more information on what's happening on the island in 2014, check out our comprehensive Ibiza guide below.