In the first of two columns dedicated exclusively to the season finales, we review Paradise, ENTER. and Fuse among others.
Carl Cox: The Party Unites
Running for 12 weeks between July 9th and September 24th, Carl Cox's The Party Unites was the last of the heavyweight residencies to open and the first to close. In keeping with tradition, Loco Dice would join Cox in the Discoteca, with tINI tasked with warming up. In the Terrazza, Safehouse Management staples Jon Rundell and Yousef played before DJ Sneak. Given its status as the most popular party on the island, it was no surprise to find Space jam-packed from the off. Playing to full floors almost from the first record, Rundell and tINI were forced to infuse their respective selections with more bite than usual. In the Terrazza, Rundell's springy techno received a welcome reaction from the crowd, who seemed eager to skip out the customary foreplay.
Over in the Discoteca, which saw every inch of its sprawling layout occupied by fervent dancers, Dice was busy working his way through cut after cut of hard-edged tech house, including Parallel Clouds' remix of Underground Resistance's "Transition." Keeping it tough in expectance of Cox's arrival, Dice's stern 4/4 pulse suddenly deflated, morphing into a slice of low-slung, southern-drawl hip-hop. It was arguably the night's stand-out moment. Carl Cox came on to a thunder of cheers, accentuated by balloons, CO2 cannons and streams of confetti. Initially, he kept the grooves thick and swinging, dropping The Martinez Brothers' remix of Green Velvet's "Bigger Than Prince." As the night wore on, he moved techier, stopping only for one last Discoteca rendition of Ninetoe's "Finder," adding in a perfectly timed "oh yes, oh yes" just before the bass kicked back in.
Jamie Jones presents Paradise
For the third and final time this season, DC-10 laid bare its cavernous two rooms for Jamie Jones and his invitees. An action-packed lineup advertised sets from the likes of Cassy, Heidi, Magda, Dan Ghenacia back-to-back Dyed Soundorom and Roman Flügel. The latter, in particular, seemed an odd but inspired choice. However, arriving a little before 1.30 AM, I was disappointed to find Flügel already winding down. As incongruous a booking as it might have been, why have him at all if only to warm-up? In the Terrace, Heidi was throwing down her signature full frontal style, using Cajmere and Wayne Williams' "Acid House" to whip up an early frenzy.
Following Loco Dice and Richie Hawtin's roadblock appearances earlier in the summer, I was expecting to find the closing an uncomfortable, sweaty battle. It turned out, however, just right. There was enough space to dance, the crowd was mixed and friendly, and the sound was the right side of musical. Richy Ahmed took over from Heidi, and bar one super-sloppy transition, excelled himself. An uncomplicated mixing style coupled with spot-on selections made for a rampant display of tough, groovy house. When executed well, nothing suits the Terrace more. Ghenacia and Soundorom followed with a slew of mean, classic grooves, keeping to Ahmed's high pace. Jamie Jones, present in the booth for the majority of the Apollonia duo's set, segued neatly, albeit with more modern, snarling beats. Tom Flynn's "Hoochie| and an upfront edit of Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It" ensured he held a strong grip over his crowd from the off—just as he has all season.
Rounding off the trio of closings would be ENTER., or as it was cleverly dubbed, EXIT. Space, once again, would find itself at full capacity for the entirety of the night, although this time overrun by a much stronger European contingent. Disheartened to discover Andy Stott had failed to show in ENTER.Mind, I made my way to the suggestively housier confines of the Terrazza. There, Maya Jane Coles took to turning out considered, streamlined techno, despite being allocated the middle headline slot. Her fusion of dreamy pads and meandering vocals felt a little too soft for the occasion. Confident that the start of Hawtin's marathon set would prove punchier, it was no shock to find the Discoteca filled with the sound of slamming warehouse techno.
After a brief, overwhelming spell, it was back to the airier second room, where Claude VonStroke was already into his stride. Spinning a chunky, if slightly safe set peppered with seasonal smashes (Jimmy Edgar's "Strike," Breach's "Jack"), it was at least interesting to see the Dirtybird chief away from his own Sankeys party. Flashes of throbbing 303s and moments of deep, driving techno harked back to VonStroke's more minimal days. Back in the Discoteca, Hawtin was still at it, tirelessly interweaving track after track of clinical techno. After the silly, ostentatious fun that was Carl Cox's goodbye, EXIT. seemed to be lacking a certain farewell spirit, but then again, given the party's serious, stripped-back ethos, that was probably the point.
The Zoo Project
Keen for a break from the dark, stifling trappings of nightclub finales, The Zoo Project seemed like an obvious choice. Though Gala Night too was brimming with people, the venue's expansive site meant moments of respite in the cool night air were easy to come by. By the Pool, the Acid Mondays were laying down trippy, driving house to the flamboyant swarm before them. Meanwhile at the Seal Pit, Margaret Dygas was easing into her closing set.
Even taking into account Zoo's sharp, underground booking policy, the Perlon-affiliate, on paper, felt like a step too far. Especially to close out the entire season. Would the party's young, British crowd take to her steadfast style? In short, yes. Dygas did all the work, making sure to keep her vinyl-only selections as upbeat and infectious as possible. Despite the odd slapdash mix, the programming was spot on, treating the mini-amphitheatre to 90 minutes of captivating electronic house. In truth, it was up there with the best sets of the season. As the habitual wave of decadent dancers, hula hoopers and six-foot penguins took to the stage to bid farewell, a young girl, dancing to the grooves of Margaret Dygas, shouted out: "Pingu, you the man!" Amen.
After taking the weekend to recharge, it was straight back into the melee on Monday night for the closing of Cocoon. Arriving at Amnesia early to avoid the subsequent swarms of Circoloco defectors, Raresh was already implementing the sparse Terrace with his take on warm, melodic techno. In the busier Main Room, Matthias Kaden was playing much harder, diligently mixing the likes of Roman Flügel's "More More More." Therein lies Cocoon's class: the party can showcase such disparate styles across its two rooms, while never wavering from its staunch dedication to top-quality sounds. As Sven Väth and Ricardo Villalobos' peak time slots approached, it was time to make a decision.
Manning the Terrace, Villalobos began sprightly, inviting full-on warrior moves from the dance floor. Throwing down slabs of his signature rich techno, complete with interludes of rave stabs, the wiry eccentric really took it to the room. Soon however, careful not to overstep the mark, he settled into more rolling grooves. Around the same time, the sound inexplicably reduced by several notches in the Terrace. A common occurrence throughout the season, it was time to lock into Väth. The Cocoon controller seemed totally charged up, seamlessly conveying his love for plump, emotive techno until he finally, and literally, bowed out at 10.30 AM. Agoria's "Scala," Ten Walls' "Gotham" and Tale Of Us' "Another Earth" were all aired in the early hours, rewarding the party's following for another season of unwavering support. It was a pity the Terrace wasn't its usual, booming self, but ultimately, it mattered little.
After a much needed interval, it was off to Sankeys for Fuse on Wednesday eve. Sad news met the faithful throng as they entered the club's double-doors: Enzo Siragusa was ill and would be unable to perform. In his place, Julian Perez and Guti would act as stand-ins. The former opened up proceedings, engaging in a three-way back-to-back-to-back alongside warm-up specialists Rossko and Seb Zito. The trio turned in the set of the night, moving from tempered, tumbling house through to funkier techno. Throwing in the odd breakbeat and sensuous vocal for good measure, it's hard to think of anywhere showcasing more competent warm-up DJing in Ibiza this summer.
Similar to Paradise, the make-up of the crowd seemed less noticeably British than usual, with all ages seemingly represented. Less busy than the Dirtybird closing, which was at times unmanageable, there was space to move freely and to dance. Guti, possibly the season's most prolific performer, expertly tailored his live show to the room, focusing less on attention-grabbing hooks and vocals, and more on boisterous, thumping basslines. Up next was tINI, who given the nature of her Sirocco-based beach party, has made Fuse her most expressive stomping ground. Displaying darker, more angular selections than usual, it nicely rounded off a bold, telling first full season for the London brand.
Lead - James Chapman, Ibiza Spotlight
Carl Cox - Nel G Photography
The Zoo Project - The Zoo Project Photo Team
ENTER. - Igor Rubnik
Cocoon - Amnesia Photo Team
Used + Abused - Roberto Castaño
ANTS - Roberto Castaño
Defected In The House - Shane Webber Photography
All others - Tasya Menaker