This week we lend our attention to the island's most famous nightclub.
Ibiza celebrates several important anniversaries in 2014, but none more so than Space's 25th birthday. In the lead up to Sunday's celebrations, we caught up with owner Pepe Rosello to reflect on the club's sun-kissed past. We also have the next instalment in our Behind The Scenes series, as well as reviews of Cocoon, Fuse and Defected.
Space 25th anniversary
In 1989 Playa d'en Bossa was a quiet, residential corner of Ibiza. But then Pepe Rosello opened Space, a club that would not only transform the surrounding area, but would go on to change the face of clubbing across the world. In the week leading up to Space's 25th birthday, we took a walk around the venue with Rosello to discuss the club's long and winding history.
Space opened in 1989. What did the club look like then?
It was very different. The Discoteca behind me had three steps leading down from the level we are on now to the dance floor, all the way around. Today it's all on one level as you go in from the Sunset Terrace, to keep people together and to save any accidents! The bars on either side are still raised though, which gives people a view of the stage. The stage has evolved with the sound system, which has increased in power and size over the years. We also needed to develop a stage that was flexible to the requirements of each party, who would take it in turns to try and out-do each other on the production front. At the beginning we just had some lights, a good sound system and one DJ all-night. Things changed as the crowd began requesting more of a spectacle.
We had two rooms: the Main Room (Discoteca) and the Terrace. The latter famously used to be open-air, standing exactly where the current Terrazza is. It had no roof at all, with gardens running along the walls. At that time we were open during the day, opening at 8 AM. The party would start in the Main Room and then we would move it to the Terrace around 11am or midday.
What was the vision for the club when you opened? Was there a gap in the market you thought Space could fill?
I'd come from San Antonio, where I'd run my own club, Playboy, since 1963. We were one of the first places to mix live bands and DJs, as was popular in the UK and America at the time. Before we'd just hosted bands alongside each other, which never really created the right kind of atmosphere. It never made sense. But then we started playing records and things changed. However, at that time in Spain you needed a licence to play vinyl, which I didn't have. At one stage I had 600 records confiscated by the authorities! At the end of the season I went to see them and ended up buying back my entire collection. After that, I made sure I had a licence.
But then the culture shifted in San Antonio and things became spoiled. Agencies were offering packaged holidays, pub crawls and things like that, which in my opinion totally stripped the customer of the possibility of seeing the island for themselves. People were carted about from place to place, drinking lots of alcohol and being told how to enjoy their holiday. That wasn't what Ibiza was about for me. So I decided to move to Playa d'en Bossa, which at the time was a family area. At the start it was really hard. I was a new club competing with all the old favourites: Pacha, Amnesia, Ku. We just couldn't get people to come. But then I soon discovered I could open really early in the morning and that become Space's niche. That was around 1990.
So you were the only club doing this?
Yes. The others were allowed but none of them did it.
Right. You would open for 22 hours a day.
Well that was later, from about 1999, and just on Sundays for We Love... That would run from 8 AM through 6 AM. The law permitted it. We had to close for two hours and then we were free to open again. On any other night, we would open at 8 AM and close around midnight. And then of course the politicians changed their minds and we were forced to run solely as a nightclub, so as to stop Ibiza's party scene from continuing without end. They were adamant: "No sound outside!" So we covered the Terrace, which gave the room a completely different feel. And now they've changed their minds again! Music during the day is now permitted... It's enough to send anyone mad.
And the Sunset Terrace has always existed?
Yes. It was a sort of garden where people would just hang out. In 2007, when the laws changed, we updated it to try and replicate the vibe of the old Space Terrace. It's not the same, but it's important for people that come to Ibiza to at least enjoy a part of that old experience. Dancing outside is one of the main reasons people are here.
And what about Le Premier Etage?
That was also just a terrace area. There wasn't any music. Then in 2007 we installed a sound system and received permission to play music, as long as we kept it down.
How many parties were you running when you first opened?
Every day. We never closed. Some of the parties we ran ourselves, some were from British or German promoters. Parties would come and go all the time.
The Space Terrace was famous for its residents and none more so than Carl Cox. When did he first play for you?
It must have been about '95, '96 with React. I remember one of the first times so vividly. He wanted to play the Space Terrace, which didn't have a booth at the time. So I took a table from one of the go-go dancers, covered it in Space flags and stood it on top of two sandbags to make sure the needles didn't jump. It was a very windy day and during Carl's set a particularly strong gust of wind lifted a record off the turntable, stopping the music. The next moment it landed back on the same deck! Carl's face was a picture. He said to me, "Pepe, this is where the DJ booth needs to be!" So that's where we built it.
In 2007 Space essentially changed from a daytime venue to a nightclub. You must have totally had to rethink your approach. What were the main changes that were implemented during this transition?
Everything, absolutely everything. From installing air-conditioning to putting in the new roof. It's this area [motions to the new Terrazza] which required the biggest effort. We joined the old Space building to this new one and created all the walkways to link one to the other. When it was done, people congratulated us for what we'd achieved. El Salon was part of the new building and we also added a second entrance for VIPs. The idea was to create new spaces so that the club could be open to varying degrees—having 5000 people inside is not possible every night.
When was the Flight Club introduced?
Quite a while back now, about 12 or 13 years ago. It was very homemade in the beginning. We just put a small stage against the back wall of the building. The crowd loved it so much that we kept bringing it back. And on Sunday, at the 25th anniversary, you will see something I have never seen before. Spanish flamenco dancers will perform to electronic music. I think it'll work.
Looking back over the years, what do you class as Space's golden era?
Anytime before the 2007 law was introduced. I created this club so people could dance outside, in the sunshine. It was always my belief that during the day people had nothing to hide. People dressed like they wanted, danced like they wanted, acted however they wanted. People were completely themselves and it made for an atmosphere like no other. At night, people are hiding something. They put on special clothes and make-up to compete with everyone else. It's more of a personality transformation.
Behind The Scenes: Alex Perez
It's not hyperbole to claim that Alex Perez has one of the best jobs in the world. For most of the year, he tour manages for Seth Troxler, following the globetrotting DJ from club to club and festival to festival. What the job actually entails, however, is somewhat shrouded in mystery, so we sat down with Perez at DC-10 to get the lowdown.
Let’s just start with a brief history of how you got into electronic music and how you got into tour managing.
I'm from Miami so from quite a young age I was exposed to WMC and things like that. My family was always into dance music and disco so I got a bit of a taste of that from them. I got into tour managing through Danny Tenaglia. We met one day, sort of hit it off and and stayed in touch. One day his tour manager couldn’t make it to a gig in Miami and he asked me if wanted to help him out. So I started doing a few gigs for him around the city.
What year was that?
That was in 2005 and then from there Danny asked me if I would like to come with him to Ibiza. Of course I accepted and my first international gig as a tour manager was at Space. I’ll never forget it, it was amazing. It was a place I had been reading about for years and finally I was there.
So how long did you work with Danny for?
For like eight years.
Wow, quite a while. How do you reflect on the experience?
Danny was awesome. I’ve learnt so much from him. He’s an amazing person and to this day is still my favourite DJ. It was just amazing to be able to hear him play night after night. His marathon sets where he played for 15 to 18 hours... I mean, they're the stuff of legend and for that I owe so much to him. He’s taught me so much and he’s the one that really pushed me to get more into this and really gave me a future in that regard and I’m forever thankful for that.
So how did you start working with Seth?
Seth and I had met at BPM a few years ago and we always stayed in touch and I helped him and Danny connect and do a few gigs together. I don't know, the timing was just right. Danny was taking some time off from touring and I knew Seth needed a tour manager at that time and I think we both wanted to work with each other.
So you’ve been working with him since last year?
It’ll be two years in October.
Let's break your job down into its elements, what is it exactly that you do?
I help with the planning of the flights and stuff like that. We have someone do the logistics and everything. So we get together, talk about that, and work with Seth and make sure everything is taken care of and verified and that he has whatever he needs. You know, his preferences for certain things, just also making sure we’re having fun and enjoying it along the way because that's the most important thing. To enjoy the ride.
I guess one of the greatest difficulties is balancing the professional and personal aspects of the job. On the one hand, you're there to make sure everything runs smoothly, but you're also there to be the artist's friend.
Yeah and I can't lie, that can be difficult at times. But you know, there’s a way to do it, to be professional and still be friendly. To make sure that everything is taken care of without the whole process becoming too rigid or serious. I think the aim is to try not to make it feel too much like a job. Sometimes you're in mad situations, on the road or at an airport, the flight is delayed and shit is not working out. Those are the times when you really just have to be cool. When you're there for each other during those shitty moments, it's kinda awesome. Rather than the artist be on their own, they have someone to share the experience with.
So you travel with Seth everywhere?
Pretty much, except a few gigs throughout the year that I might miss.
So if something goes wrong is it your fault? Are you the first in the firing line?
No, Seth isn't like that. If it's my fault I have no problem admitting it. You know, sometimes it can be, occasionally. It happens but for the most part luckily it's other people that fuck it up [Laughs]. But I just make sure to do my best to make the situation better, no matter whose fault it is. It's my job to make sure we keep rolling.
What is it about your relationship between you and Seth that you think works so well? I mean it’s a lot of time together.
I think one thing that definitely helps is that we come from the US. We both have a similar taste in stuff, in music for example, and a lot of the same reference points because of our backgrounds. It's a very close relationship, not just like some weird work thing where at the end of the night we'll go and do our own thing. We hang out and have an amazing time together, and that's important. You know, tour management isn't something where you just hire someone random and think it's gonna work out.
You must know Seth Troxler the DJ better than anyone. Do you talk a lot about his sets, does he discuss them with you?
No, not really. I mean Seth does his own thing. Of course I let him know when he's rocking it, and similarly I'm not afraid to tell him when he's not so hot, but no Seth totally does his own thing. I personally like to give him 100 percent. It's his artistic expression and I don't wanna influence that or try to be like "maybe you should play this." That's not my place.
But yeah my favourite part of the job is just hearing him every night. I love what he does and I totally believe in it and it's amazing to be a part of this trajectory that he's been on. You know, seeing it develop. I got involved at a really amazing time, actually. I finally agreed to move to London to work with him and then I woke the next day and he had gone to number one in the RA polls. I was like, "fucking yeah!"
What's the most challenging aspect?
The touring sometimes. It can be really heavy.
Getting no sleep.
The airplanes and airports are really the shittiest part of it. But once we get to the show it's on. Staying on top of everything else that goes along with it sometimes it does wear on me. Being away from home, as well. Not even really having a home! That can be tough sometimes.
What's your worst airport?
Charles De Gaulle in Paris. Actually, pretty much any airport in France.
This week on the island
Cocoon at Amnesia
Observant clubbers will have noticed Sven Väth doing the rounds in Ibiza last week. Present at both Paradise and ENTER. openings, the DJ cut a jubilant figure as he shared jokes and shots with those around him. He was in a similarly buoyant mood at last Monday's Cocoon, clearly enjoying DJ Koze's varied warm-up set in the Terrace. The Pampa boss moved fluidly through periods of spacey house, tougher techno and warmer, more percussive fare. As the end of his time approached, out came the stuttered bassline of his ubiquitous Moderat remix ("Bad Kingdom"), almost on cue.
While numbers were slow to start with in the Terrace, over in the Main Room Luciano and his Origins gang had the place packed. Performing beneath huge fluorescent lattices and backed by a wall of flaming red sun, Luciano played energetic tech house, which at times bordered on the generic. Back in the Terrace, Väth took control of the gently swelling space, segueing superbly from Koze's feisty finish. Over the next hour or so, he span dramatic—at times glitchy, at times frenetic—techno, showcasing his freakier side. Not long after, the room was practically at capacity. Several days later, a photo surfaced on Facebook depicting Väth dancing amid the Terrace throng, arms fully outstretched. 30 years into his career, it's clear he still loves a party as much as anyone.
Fuse at Sankeys
For most promoters in Ibiza, June is a slog. Low numbers on the island mean irregular attendances in the clubs. However it does, at least, give a party ample time to find its feet before the plane-loads arrive, which if, like Fuse, you're facing your longest season to date, can be a welcome lead-in. Last Tuesday they played host to arguably their strongest lineup of the season, inviting Desolat duo Martin Buttrich and tINI to the fold. Entering around 1.30 AM, the place was comfortably busy. Behind the decks, Ittetsu span back-to-back with Luke Miskelly, treating to the crowd to some boisterous, shimmering techno.
Principal resident Enzo Siragusa followed, but rather than latch onto the pair's peak-time trajectory, he mellowed the mood with dreamy cuts of dubby house. The Londoner seemed intent on sculpting his own vibe, making use of Cassy and D-Julz's recent workout on Bass Culture, "Not What U Thought." Towards the end of his one-hour set, Siragusa picked the pace up slightly, making the transition through to Buttrich's bullish basslines all the smoother. Numbers stayed strong all night, and that was with the adjacent Spektrum room open. Few parties on the island do club music as well as Fuse, and for that reason alone, I hope the coming months prove fruitful.
Defected In The House at Booom! Ibiza
One night that doesn't seem to have been affected by June's dip in traffic is Defected. The UK outfit returned to Booom! after a triumphant first season, settling into their 2014 groove with admirable ease. Week eight looked and felt like business as usual, with Booom!'s heaving dance floor rocking vigorously to the sounds of Oliver $ and Jesse Rose. The pair were clearly in the party mood, chain-smoking their way through a medley of classics. Stardust's "The Music Sounds Better With You" kicked things off, followed by Tony Lionni's "Found A Place" and a closing, hands-in-the-air rendition of Lionel Ritchie's "All Night Long." Needless to say, I was as into it as the next man.
Faced with the tricky task of following the hit-parade were FCL. Playing Booom! for the second time in four days (the duo headlined Glitterbox on Saturday), the Belgians looked nothing but comfortable on the decks. Rather than pander to the well-oiled crowd, they started slow, building up to a run of weighty house tracks. Though it meant they lost a certain portion of the crowd, those that stuck it out were rewarded with a flurry of danceable grooves. The night's two headliners perfectly captured why Defected remain such a dominant force: it's a party for house heads that's unafraid to let its hair down.
Music On - David Pareja
Elrow + Kehakuma - Ana Ruiz De Villota, Nel G Photography
We Love... - Nel G Photography
Carl Cox - Nel G Photography
All others - Tasya Menaker
For more information on what's happening on the island in 2014, check out our comprehensive Ibiza guide below.