The season started brightly for many, but none more so than Apollonia. The French trio played an early contender for set of the season at the Amnesia opening, setting the tone for what would prove their most extensive Ibiza campaign yet. And then June arrived, bringing with it the World Cup and a sharp downturn in holidaymakers. As numbers on dance floors hit new lows, it wasn't just England fans holding their heads in their hands, with Fuse, Cocoon and Glitterbox among those affected. Even the opening of Carl Cox wasn't as jam-packed as usual.
With July came change. ENTER. and Paradise made strong starts, with the latter soon opening both rooms at DC-10 on a weekly basis to deal with the surge in numbers. On the day Germany were crowned world champions, Space celebrated its 25th birthday with a 2000-strong singalong of John Lennon's "Imagine." That night's hosts, We Love..., were one of several UK outfits to smash their targets, along with The Zoo Project and VIVa. Several UK acts, too, were particularly in-demand, as Eats Everything and Disclosure scooped the awards for most versatile (he played We Love..., Carl Cox, Together, Cocoon) and most mania-inducing respectively. Without question, watching the Lawrence brothers finish their 18-month world tour in Space's Discoteca was one of the summer's defining moments.
In terms of the DJs, there was some interesting movement among the heavyweights. Loco Dice, for example, was again on everybody's minds. After a summer spent playing anywhere that would have him, he played only twice in 2014—both gigs were mesmerising. His comeback feels inevitable. Marco Carola, though still many people's favourite, received some criticism for his surprising (and lucrative) defection to Ushuaia for the closing. It's his understudy, Joseph Capriati, who won the most hearts this summer. His two spontaneous stand-in performances on the Terrace at Music On were proof of his vast potential.
On the flip side, the shadow of EDM continues to loom over the underground scene. Ushuaia upped its count to five nights of commercial music, obliterating all records in the process, while David Guetta, Steve Aoki and Cream all enjoyed huge years. Sadly, the same can't be said for the deeper shades of house and techno, as Kehakuma, Next Wave and Flying Circus all suffered. Nevertheless, it was a robust summer for Ibiza, replete with the kind of magical moments—musical or other—that you won't find anywhere else in the world.
Jamie Jones and The Martinez Brothers were part of The Melting Pot at Circoloco.
Circoloco revisited its roots in 2014. With The Garden open on a weekly basis, the party's appeal widened, as revellers came early to dance in the daytime. Over the course of the summer, several DJs left their mark on the space, but none more so than The Martinez Brothers. Their boundless energy behind the decks was matched only by their music, working the crowd with an unpretentious blend of classics and feel-good house. Inside, crowd favourites Dixon, Tale Of Us and Seth Troxler regularly (and literally) reduced the Terrace to its knees, while the Main Room kept up the party's passion for deeper, weirder textures (Akufen, Madteo, Ben UFO), as well as many a banging set of '90s house from rejuvenated resident Ellen Allien.
One artist, though, stood head and shoulders above the rest at DC-10 this season. Armed with a wildly percussive style of house music, Black Coffee blew up the Terrace every time he played, sounding more at home than many of the club's longest-serving DJs. The South African's sets, alongside those of Jackmaster and Ryan Elliott, felt fresh and invigorating, helping sustain Circoloco's reputation as a platform for Ibiza's more forward-thinking talents.
Celebrating 15 years on the island, 2014 was always destined to be a landmark season for Cocoon. With Loco Dice out of the picture, and Ricardo Villalobos playing a reduced role, Luciano was elevated to second-in-command, a move that left some wondering whether Cocoon had lost its edge. In short, it hadn't—the Monday staple enjoyed one of its most successful seasons in recent memory. Forgetting June's island-wide dip, Amnesia was packed week-in, week-out, with all eight of Luciano's Origins takeovers doing particularly well.
Elsewhere, Papa Sven, who turns 50 this year, was as reliable and spectacular as ever; Richie Hawtin's return was a roadblock (even if his set was a little dull); and Seth Troxler, Craig Richards and Villalobos's three-way session in July proved that Cocoon is still the island's home for twisted techno. Adam Beyer, too, deserves a mention. His new, groovier direction led him to a well-deserved headline slot on the Terrace.
Going up against Circoloco, Cocoon and Duke Dumont, few would have predicted such a solid first season for Ibiza Rocks House. Concealing Pacha's glitzy veneer beneath a sea of colourful decorations and outlandish costumes, the Pikes-born party was all about acting silly and dancing to classic house. It wasn't all young English types either, as the likes of DJ Pierre, Derrick Carter and Kenny Dope regularly brought in an older crowd. I don't think anyone would be surprised if Ibiza Rocks House returned in 2015.
Defected were far and away Booom!'s biggest draw of 2014.
Ibiza's clubbing behemoth, Carl Cox, took a hit this summer. For years, it's been virtually guaranteed that, come October, the veteran's Space party would be crowned the island's biggest. Not so in 2014. It's hard to put a finger on exactly why, but it's likely that Music On and Defected's unbridled success played a part. But while this season may not have reached Coxy's sky-high standards, Music Is Revolution was still Space's top breadwinner by some margin. Highlights included Cox's 10-hour set at the opening, Cassy's deep Discoteca workout in September, and Loco Dice's much-awaited annual appearance at the packed finale.
Having made it through Booom!'s tough inaugural season in 2013, you'd have bet your house on Defected pulling off year two at the venue—and you'd have been right. Though up against Together and Carl Cox, both strong UK pulls, the party was packed full of Brits from the word go. The likes of Dennis Ferrer, Kenny Dope and especially MK were all partly responsible, though it was the residents—Flashmob, Noir and Oliver $—that made sure Defected upheld its reputation as Ibiza's premier purveyor of fun, carefree partying.
Pushing an entirely different brand of UK-focused club music to Defected, Fuse rallied through a season of highs and lows. To be fair to the London crew, they did well in their first attempt at a full 19-week season, riding out a barren June before attendances gradually increased across July, August and September. Numbers when tINI headlined were particularly high, but it would be unfair to give accolades to anyone but the residents. Enzo Siragusa, Rossko and Julian Perez stood out as the most consistently compelling members of the team.
Tribal Sessions at Sankeys was all about coaxing out your inner warrior.
It was clear by week four of Paradise that this was going to be a special season. The original plan was to operate in the Main Room as usual, only opening up both rooms at DC-10 on five occasions. However, barely a month in, with attendances at an all-time high, those plans were scrapped, and Jamie Jones and his team started running full-club shows every Wednesday. Drafting in residents and the odd guest (Jackmaster, Ryan Elliott) to make up the numbers, the move paid dividends. It meant more for the punters, too, with unplanned and extended Terrace sets from Disclosure, Joseph Capriati and Craig Richards among countless others. As for Jamie Jones, the rate at which his popularity increases is almost scary. If Paradise continues to grow at such a speed, there's no telling the dizzying heights they'll reach in years to come.
Over at Sankeys, Tribal Sessions operated a similar model to Paradise (house and techno, two rooms, UK crowd), but with deeper, more classic influences. Appearances from Jeff Mills, Danny Tenaglia and François K were the talk of the town, and anyone who manages to make Rødhåd, Marcel Fengler and Len Faki work in Ibiza deserves praise. Resident and co-curator Darius Syrossian did a tidy job of making sure The Basement was busy each week, even if the rest of the club, at times, was a little quiet. Most importantly, though, during what was the UK club's 20th anniversary year, Tribal showed Sankeys in its true colours: raw, sweaty and uncompromising.
You have to hand it to Next Wave. After several years of lost venues and failed residencies, the Slovenian-Chilean partnership remains as determined as ever, driven by an unwavering belief in the music they love. This year saw them ply their trade at Sankeys, which brought about mixed results. The opening and closing, both headlined by Ricardo Villalobos, were bustling, brilliant affairs, though without the maestro they didn't fare as well. Musically, the party is up there with the best of them, and hopefully with a couple more years spent plugging away they can become a fixture of the scene. Everything suggests they're up for the challenge.
Through a mixture of patience and talent, tINI has nailed herself firmly into Ibiza's clubbing consciousness. Rather than capitalise on her ballooning global profile, the German DJ's beach-bash remains free and its booking policy focuses on the scene's future stars. In return, she gains the respect of the public and her peers, ensuring that tINI And The Gang enjoyed another year that was full of happy, down-to-earth ravers.
Most will agree that kittens make a strange theme for a tech house night, but it doesn't seem to have done Suara's debut run in Ibiza any harm. Certainly, numbers on some nights were well below par, but guest slots from Kevin Saunderson, Kenny Larkin and Gui Boratto made sure Coyu and co. departed Booom! with their nerves intact.
It was another season of circles, sake and techno from Richie Hawtin and ENTER.
Having established itself in 2013 as a true promotional powerhouse, this summer was all about fleshing out the formula for ENTER. Shifting the focus onto the power of the human eye, Space's black dots were replaced with close-up shots of pupils and retinas, designed to remind us of our intrinsic individuality. There was certainly plenty to take in, as a darker, more atmospheric ENTER.Mind hosted sets from Voices From The Lake, as well as more pumping outings from ENTER.'s MVP, Recondite. The Discoteca followed a similar model to last year, with Sven Väth's August return the highlight, while the Terrazza veered off course a little more. Dixon's all-night set, for example, was the best I saw from him all summer. That said, numbers across the 14 weeks didn't always hit the event's targets, which was apparent on certain nights. Innovation lies at the heart of Richie Hawtin's vision, so it'll be interesting to see how plans for season four unfold.
Diynamic were apparently overjoyed when Cova Santa offered them a residency. As the season wore on, though, those feelings turned sour, as the Amnesia-owned venue was forced to shut its doors prematurely. Fast-forward three months and Solomun would be the first to agree that this was a blessing in disguise: subsequent events at Destino, Beach House and others were a roaring success. Their secret is simple: well-executed, sun-kissed dance music in the open-air.
Luciano suffered an identical fate, forced to see out the season at Destino. Though his Cadenza-focussed party wasn't as popular as Diynamic's, it was a vast improvement on last year's dull affair at Ushuaia. His reconnection with Cocoon seems to have given Luciano a new spark.
After three years at Amnesia, Marco Carola is Ibiza's undisputed king of the underground.
For Music On, 2014 was all about maintaining last summer's record-breaking form. Safe to say, they easily achieved that, and set the bar several notches higher in the process. This has a lot to do with one man—and it's not Marco Carola. In his short time as Main Room resident, Joseph Capriati has transformed the space from an afterthought to the party's definitive second room. While Carola spun six-hour-plus sets of gyrating tech house to a heaving Terrace, Capriati played harder to a sea of writhing bodies next door. In what was one of the talking points of the summer, Capriati played the Terrace for two weeks when Carola fell ill. As a double act, they never fail to deliver on that quintessential Ibiza experience: dancing till sunrise to music built to make you move. With Carl Cox down on previous years, Music On is now Ibiza's top dog.
With Fridays so heavily dominated by Amnesia, the only option available to rival promoters is to go for the opposite type of audience. Insane, with its wacky decorations, well-dressed clientele and vocal-led house, is exactly that, and as a result Pacha's in-house fiesta has triumphed this summer. A lot of that has to do with locking down MK for ten dates; the US producer has evolved into one of the island's most popular acts.
Flying Circus didn't fare so well. After a tough season at Sankeys last year, the party never really took off at the second attempt, despite a wealth of attractive bookings. In keeping with their events in Mexico, Miami and beyond, Audiofly et al. should consider moving their residency outdoors.
Though it only ran for five Fridays in August, those who attended Phantasmagoria will agree it left an impression. A wild mix of theatre, dance, circus, sex and sleazy club music, the new party from Mike and Claire Manumission was all set to take Ibiza by storm. But then it didn't. The events were never well attended, and programming on the night was chaotic at best, though Craig Richards' warm-up at the opening was slyly one of the sets of the summer.
Nowhere offered as complete a clubbing experience as The Zoo Project.
The Zoo Project is a promoter's dream. With such a strong model—a one-of-a-kind venue, circus-style performers, an up-for-it crowd—the team don't have to rely on the DJs to get people through the door. In other hands, the music would end up as lowest-common-denominator trash, but instead The Zoo is a haven for top-of-the-range deep house and techno, with a healthy serving of up-and-coming residents and locally sourced talent. This year the party has come into its own, regularly rammed and hosting show-stopping sets from Ron Trent, Margaret Dygas, Dungeon Meat and The Acid Mondays to name but a few. More than a party, Gala Night's sprawling layout transforms The Zoo Project into a weekly mini-festival, teeming with young Brits having the time of their lives.
It all looked so rosy for Kehakuma + Elrow in May. In theory, the collaboration would house Ibiza's most discerning booking policy and its most fun party under one roof. In practice, though, the two never really gelled. Elrow shone bright in the Discoteca, but Kehakuma failed to deliver the kind of attendances worthy of Levon Vincent, Tama Sumo, Matthew Herbert and the like. Even two exclusive DJ Harvey performances failed to rouse people. As honourable as Kehakuma's intentions are, they'll need to rethink their strategy for next year.
Launching a new night while the rest of the island is in the grips of World Cup fever is ill-advised. Glitterbox, Defected's classic house and disco venture, was testament to that. However, once those initial weeks were out the way, the party started gathering speed, filling out Booom! with a mix of mature tourists, music-heads and crazy characters. Live shows from Hercules & Love Affair were the biggest draws, though sets from Todd Terry, CJ Mackintosh and Kenny Dope were also popular. Ultimately, Glitterbox was loose, flamboyant and fun.
Walled-in by EDM, it was unclear whether ANTS, Ushuaia's in-house pledge to the underground, would sink or swim this season. With help from the hotel's bottomless bank account, it very much worked, as the ANTS phenomenon continued to enthral the island. Soundtracked by risk-free tech house, Saturdays were as much about the spectacle as the music, as a wealth of acrobatics, pyrotechnics and ice-cannons kept the largely European crowd bouncing from noon to night.
Movement Torino were behind all five Saturday showcases at DC-10 in August. Some proved more popular than others, with tried-and-tested favourites Better Lost Than Stupid and Apollonia trumping Innervisions' Lost In A Moment soirée. Numbers aren't everything though: at a quiet Hi-Tek Soul event to close out the series, Joe Claussell sent the Main Room into raptures with his animated blend of Afro-house.
We Love... flew the flag for UK dance music better than anyone this summer.
2014's most-improved award goes to We Love... Backed by all-star cast of UK residents (Dusky, Bicep, Ben UFO), the party expertly walked the line between club-ready house and techno and festival-sized fare. Never were the lines blurred more successfully than at Disclosure's Wildlife parties, where the chart-topping duo rubbed shoulders with the likes of Octave One and Midland. Whether performing live or DJing, no act in 2014—not Carl Cox, Richie Hawtin or otherwise—has brought such unbridled joy to the Discoteca. Outside in the Sunset Terrace, new concept Stripped got the party started early, offering tanned British teens the chance to dance in the sun for cheap. The Sunday institution recaptured its former glory in 2014, returning as one of Ibiza's flagship nights.
Solomun +1 did so well in its debut year, it's hardly surprising that there weren't many changes come round two. With many of last year's acts returning for multiple shows this summer (Miss Kittin, Âme, DJ Koze), a more varied guest-list would've made things more interesting, especially as Dixon's one-off performance was such a memorable night. Saying that, Solomun's own output has shifted considerably in the past 12 months, shedding his pop-leaning approach in favour of techier textures. All in all, Pacha was frequently at capacity, as the crowd continued to lap up whatever the towering German chucked their way.
With Diynamic moving outdoors, Steve Lawler and his bandana-clad disciples became the main draw at Sankeys. What was surprising, though, was how devastatingly they went about it. Frequently VIVa would pack out all three rooms of the Playa d'en Bossa club. In The Basement, Steve Lawler was on red-hot form, while thumping drop-ins from Todd Terry, Guti and Hot Since 82 had sweat dripping from the walls. Some people thought Darius Syrossian's departure to Tribal Sessions would hurt VIVa, but judging from the summer they've had nothing could be further from the truth.