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
Circo Loco at DC-10
Swedish House Mafia at Pacha
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
Carl Cox at Space
Ibiza Rocks at Ibiza Rocks Hotel
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
Warung at Privilege
Various showcases at DC-10
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
Come Together at Space
F*** Me I'm Famous at Pacha
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
Be at Space
Pandemonium at DC-10
Wonderland at Eden
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.
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.
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.