We focus on Ibiza's small cousin this week, taking a closer look at its most relevant nightclub.
For everything you need to know about the island in 2014, take a look at our comprehensive Ibiza guide.
Feature: Clubbing in Formentera
For most of Ibiza's summer seasoners, a visit to Formentera is the one thing they never get round to. Caught up in the hedonistic wilderness of the superclub scene, it can be hard to envisage a time when you'll be able to stumble to Salinas, let alone travel to another island. Before you know it, it's September, Formentera is shutting down for winter, and the opportunity's gone.
The fourth largest of the Balearic islands has always upheld its reputation as a safe haven away from the bright lights and frenzy of Ibiza. It's a place of relaxation, home to good restaurants, an older, more moneyed crowd and what many describe as some of the best beaches in the world. In short, it's never been known for its clubbing options. Since 2011, though, that's begun to change.
As the legend goes, tipic. first opened its doors in 1971 with a performance from Pink Floyd. For several years after that, it operated as a breezy disco bar, popular by the island's strong hippy community. Jump forward 30 years to the early 2000s and the club is reopened by a collective that included esteemed Italian DJ Claudio Coccoluto. Quite what happened next is not documented, but according to one of the club's current partners, Marco Sala, the project was never given the attention it deserved and by the end of the decade, it had run out of steam.
In 2011, Milanese promoter Sala and his co-owners completely rebuilt and redesigned the venue. Their aim? "To do our bit to convert the island to electronic sounds." From year one, they had a strong ally in Cocoon. "In the spring before we opened I invited [Cocoon's Ibiza events manager] Johannes [Goller] to take a look at the club and I remember there were builders still working on it! But Johannes liked the place and said, 'Okay, I think we can do something together.'"
Alongside their flagship events at Amnesia, Cocoon ran Thursday night parties at tipic. The first year was slow, but the lineups were strong, with Dan Ghenacia, tINI and then resident Marco Carola all making the trip over. "I think we grew a lot from the second season," says Sala. "We started doing the right numbers and found a sort of consistency with our programming." They also gained the support of the locals, offering the hordes of Europeans (mostly Italians) that spend the season living and working in Formentera somewhere proper, and nearby, to party.
This season has been the club's best yet. Sven Väth, Seth Troxler and Carl Craig all performed at Cocoon, while Tuesday night visits from the likes of Tale Of Us, Luciano and Fritz Kalkbrenner showed that the club is about more than just one party. It also runs a throwback '80s night, as well as one that caters to more commercial tastes. “I mean the club is not commercial, but we try to give different content to the people.”
Last week's visit to Cocoon tipic. was my second. In 2013, I travelled to see Cassy perform, and there was something about the novelty of leaving Ibiza, as well as the club's intimate size, that made it one of the more memorable nights of the summer. This time around, it was a more unorthodox lineup, headed up by Subb-an and Claude VonStroke, who had stepped-in for an absent Richy Ahmed.
The boat ride from Ibiza was a bumpy ride. As the moonlit mediterranean fizzed past at breakneck speed, a slightly worse-for-wear Claude VonStroke made DJ small-talk with Subb-an about recent gigs and past releases. Moments later, VonStroke suggested the pair go back-to-back for the first couple of hours of the night. Subb-an, hesitantly, agreed. The rest of the passengers, mostly older residents returning home, lounged about in silence. About four rows in front, a woman threw up into her handbag.
Once on the island, we headed straight to the club. tipic. resides in Es Pujols, the most touristy part of Formentera. In the surrounding area, couples and groups of friends milled about, sitting down to their first drink of the night. The venue itself is an inviting size—the capacity is between 800 and 1000, according to Sala—decorated in warm blues and greys. The decks are positioned directly in front of the only inside bar, flanked by two raised platforms that the public are free to prance about on. The VIP area, meanwhile, sits directly above the dance floor, completely out of sight. It struck me as a thoughtful touch. Drinks—about €8 for a beer and €12 for a spirit—though not cheap, were acceptable by Ibiza's standards. Outside, a large tree provided the ambience, standing opposite a nailed-down "Cocoon" sign.
The club didn't get busy inside until past 2 AM. Outside, it was the usual story: an entire dance floor's-worth of people sat about smoking, waiting for everyone else to make the first move. On stage, Subb-an and VonStroke were engaged in the most laissez-faire back-to-back I'd ever seen, playing four or five tunes each before sending someone to find the other once they'd had their fill. The result was a slightly slapdash back-and-forth that would shift suddenly between groovy techno and booty-shaking house.
By the time VonStroke took the decks for his solo set, the room was nearly full. As he played sexed-up cuts of low-slung tech house, the crowd cheered and whistled along, their cries cultivating an electric atmosphere. In between songs, VonStroke would jump down from the decks and hug members of the audience. "That's nothing," his tour-manager told me. "At ENTER. and Paradise he was up on stage gyrating with the dancers."
As 4:30 AM approached, VonStroke quit the booth and rushed off to catch a water taxi home. Subb-an played for the next 90 minutes, looking happy to finally have the booth to himself. He played well, harnessing VonStroke's energy and translating it through his strong, groove-centric style. In among the multitude of rollers, cuts from Todd Terry ("Putting Your Hands Together"), Levon Vincent ("Six Figures") and Tuff City Kids ("Breacher") stood out. By this point the audience, which seemed mostly Italian, were practically bouncing off the walls. On more than one occasion I was told to dance with more vigour. "Dancing is my life," one woman informed me.
In the car to the ferry everyone was in jubilant spirits. The driver told us that the club had opened for an extra 12 days this summer and that Cocoon alone was up by at least 20 percent from 2013. Judging by those figures, tipic. may well be the fastest growing club in the Balearics. Forced to cancel its official closing on Sunday, September 21st, by the time you read this it will have shut its doors for 2014. If you, like countless others, have missed the boat for another season, my only advice is you make it top of your priority list come next May.
Ibiza histories: Tuccillo
Giuseppe Tuccillo has lived and breathed Ibiza's club scene for the best part of 15 years. From his work alongside DJ Pippi and Roger Sanchez, to residencies at Space, Pacha and the former Ushuaia, the Naples-born DJ and producer has experienced the island from every angle. And as with every long-term relationship, there have been a fair share of ups and downs. Early last month, Tuccillo kindly invited us to his home studio in Jesus to talk at length about his island past.
You first moved to Ibiza in 2000. Paint me a picture of your life on the island those first few years.
I started to make music with DJ Pippi and César de Melero and other older producers from the island, and then in the winter, just to support myself, I looked for work in Ibiza's many studios. I remember I landed a job working for Roger Sanchez, who was a superstar at the time. He made an album in Ibiza where he gathered some of the best musicians from the island. Man, it was a great job. I'd only just arrived and there I was playing keyboards every week for a living.
It was a house album?
Yeah, house from the time. I've still got a copy somewhere.
That was a particularly special time to arrive on the island, what with the underground surge of Circoloco and Cocoon. Did you feel that? What were those parties like?
I came here knowing an older crowd, people from Ku in '80s and '90s, and they'd already told me things about Ibiza. They spoke ill of certain changes that had taken place. Back in the day the island had four DJs, and now there were hundreds. Everyone wanted to be here, for the energy, for the clubs. It was booming. So I kind of witnessed first-hand their reactions to some of the changes, which for them weren't positive. But for me... I remember these parties MTV were throwing in private villas, such amazing parties. Mostly around Santa Gertrudis in the middle of the island. Now the whole private party scene is a little complicated in Ibiza. If you open the newspaper you'll see something about Paris Hilton coming the island, and then on the next page there will be a piece on some villa they've shut down and fined. What do they want?
So you were going to Circoloco and Cocoon?
Yeah definitely. Actually, I was a resident DJ in Space from 2002 through 2004. Then I moved to Pacha and that's where I met Tato and Tania Vulcano, who introduced me to DC-10. For us it was something magnificent. We were coming from playing The Funky Room at Pacha, where it was all classics. Everything was a lot more simple back then too. I remember that Pandemonium, Vulcano's party, sometimes wouldn't even do any promotion and it'd be full every Friday.
Tell us about your residency at Space.
It was on Mondays, playing for a label called Casagrande. The party was called So Fresh, or something like that. When I started it was still an afterparty, we'd open at 8 AM. I'd get up at 7 AM, drink a coffee, and head to work. Me super-fresh, everyone else out of it. I'd play the warm-up slot in the Terraza, sometimes in El Salon or The Premier Étage.
I get the impression from speaking to people that there was more of a community of smaller artists back then, which I don't see so much now.
I think the financial crisis played its part. You might not think it in Ibiza, but it did. Last year the season got going around the first week of June, this year it's been even later. I used to run a sushi restaurant with my wife and we can tell that things have been slowly decreasing. It's about the kind of customer, too, the quality. I'm referring to the masses. Today it's all about buying your flight, hotel, club ticket, having your hoLiday and leaving. And then you've got the super-rich who have their zones and never move from them.
This is the thing, a lot of holidaymakers these days aren't all the clued up on the music, so they're unlikely to want to experiment away from the big parties.
Exactly. No one takes any risks. These parties invest so much money in promoting what they do—on buses, on billboards, on planes—that it's hard for anyone else to compete.
And do you feel like the superclubs were more supportive of up-and-coming DJs back then? Of local artists?
Yes. Before there was a balance between residents and guests. It was straightforward: the club would have various residents and then one guest. So you'd have your two or three hours to warm-up and you'd feel proud of your set. But these days you have a lot of labels throwing parties, for example, and they pack the bills with artists off their rosters. So suddenly the resident has 30 minutes. I remember having three-hour warm-up slots at Pacha sliced to just one hour, or even half that. I'd be excited to play at their Sunday party, which was a little more underground, and I'd get there and I'd get to play five tracks before being kicked off.
I was speaking with José Padilla earlier in the season and he mentioned that clubs these days are really tight paying smaller DJs. They'll often claim to have no budget, while they're paying some headliner thousands every week. It's quite an ugly attitude.
This year I've heard that people like David Guetta are getting in the region of €80,000, while my wage has actually gone down to €25! How is that fair? It's only a numbers game to them.
That's what's so striking about these clubs, is just how greedy there are. I suppose it's just basic capitalism.
They're brands just like Mercedes or Adidas. They're businesses. The only club that seems to have stuck to its principles is DC-10. Today it's more mass-market but the music remains the same.
Yeah, I remember at IMS Seth Troxler said everyone was paid the same, €500 or whatever, whether they were at the top of the bill or at the bottom. There's no hierarchy.
It's true. But that's because it's such a pleasure to play there. It has something special.
We're sat here in your impressive studio. Tell us a bit about it and what you've been making recently.
I've been doing a lot of collaborations. I always take advantage of the summer and invite people into the studio, interesting things always come of it. I've been working with Robert Dietz, I've got something coming out on Ovum at the end of the month. Some stuff with Shaun Reeves, who's moved to Ibiza this winter, and whose girlfriend weirdly used to live in this house. With Ralph Lawson as well. Last winter we spent a week in winter here recording. We cut about 14 or 15 tracks essentially playing live, running loops and moving faders. He's putting them out as a special series of 12-inches called Lost In Space, Lost In The Island. Chez Damier is on one of them. The response has been great so far. It's surprised me, to be honest. I've also just started a label called Unblock, which had its first release in July.
Do you find Ibiza an inspirational place to make music?
Yeah, more so in the winter. It's quiet, there's nothing you do. You have Pacha, but it's hosting Latin American parties and whatever. It's a time to eat well, watch films and hit the studio.
I get the sense that over the course of these past 15 years you've become disillusioned with Ibiza and the way things work.
Listen, I'll be honest, I'm coming out of quite a heavy depression because of it. Two years ago, I was ready to stop DJing here altogether. I got really tired of always having to chase people. You know what the problem is here? If a promoter calls you up, asks you to play and it goes well, immediately they'll try and tie you down. "You belong to this party!" It's like they're football teams, and we're their new signings. As a music producer it's really important that I have my freedom, that I'm able to work with whoever I want.
So maintaing that kind of professional freedom is difficult in Ibiza?
Yes and I don't think it's fair. If you're an artist making good music that works in various contexts, why shouldn't you be able to pursue that? They look at everything here as if it's a product. But I view things from more of an artistic point of view.
This week on the island
W.A.R! presents Rinse 20 at Ibiza Rocks Hotel
Rinse FM is currently in the midst of its 20th anniversary celebrations. In addition to events at fabric, Ministry Of Sound and Notting Hill Carnival, the East London outfit is broadcasting six successive "genre weekenders," inviting esteemed figures from the worlds of jungle, dubstep, garage et al. to pay homage to the sounds that shaped the station. Last weekend saw the turn of house, and so Rinse fittingly decided to set up shop in Ibiza. Camped out at the Ibiza Rocks Hotel in San Antonio, Friday daytime saw the likes of Mr. G, Ryan Crosson and Yasmin spin live at the pop-up studio, before the action switched over to Rinse's evening takeover of W.A.R!
Yasmin was first up on the festival-sized stage, diligently blending bangers from Dennis Ferrer, Butch and Tru Faith. Singer Sasha Keable performed balmy pop hits for the crowd to sing along to, particularly raising the roof with "Voices," her collaboration with Disclosure. It didn't take long for Oneman to top that, however. Across 60 minutes, the dab-handed DJ flitted through genres on a record-to-record basis. Dropping cuts from The Streets, Gorillaz, Kendrick Lamar and Crystal Waters, he showed that few can party-start with as much swagger. Route 94, meanwhile, didn't appeared to have read the script, closing with a volley of bass-heavy tech house. The crowd bobbed along politely for the first 40 minutes, until, out of nowhere, came his ubiquitous summer smash, "My Love." In a matter of seconds, the crowd assembled to form a euphoric festival scene.
Insane at Pacha
I admit I'm a little late to Pacha's Friday night party, Insane. Back for a second season, the in-house, mostly house-centric affair has been quietly and triumphantly going about its business since May, rubbishing claims that Friday nights belong exclusively to Marco Carola. Last week was my first time at the party this season, and I was pleasantly surprised. Pacha resident Angel Linde was spinning from a makeshift booth right by the stairs to the Main Room, directly opposite the booth employed by Solomun. I preferred it, as it allowed regular punters, rather than VIPs, to crowd round the DJ and get in on the action.
Big room house sounds at home at Pacha. Tasked with warming up the floor, Dennis Ferrer dropped a slick if slightly stale set of the season's biggest tracks, including a groovy take on Hot Natured's "Benediction." DJ Sneak judged the middle slot well, steering clear of the hits and leaning instead on rougher, funkier flavours. While his mixing at times was audibly slack, his presence and programming more than made up for it. MK, one of this season's high-achievers, took over at 4:30 AM. Opening with an epic, extended accapella from Wankelmut's "My Head Is A Jungle," he had the room in instant fits of frenzy. Judging by the reaction to the first kick drum, it's not hard to see why MK is being heavily touted to start his own party next year. Pacha, it seems, would prove a great fit.
We Love... at Space
There was something in the air at Space last Sunday. Really, I should've guessed earlier than I did. The queue to get in snaked all the way around the back of the club, making it the longest I'd encountered in two years on the island. Once inside, things weren't much better, as an overflow of young, British revellers poured out from every corner. In the Discoteca, Paul Woolford was warming up for what must have been his biggest crowd of the summer, stretching all the way back to the main Red Bull bar. Even Soul Clap, who were spinning vocal house and disco in the Terraza, were playing to a suspiciously large audience. And then, the realisation: Disclosure.
Not only were the UK duo performing the second of two live shows at Space, and hosting the last of four Wild Life takeovers, but this was the final date of their 18-month world tour. Thirty minutes before they came on stage, the main room was the busiest I'd ever seen it. In all respects it resembled a festival scene: all eyes trained on the stage; the dramatic pre-set pauses; the fervent applause as they took up position. In fairness, though, the performance lived up to the hype. Playing synths, drums and bass live, the duo were tight and charismatic, and their flagrant pop-house sounded ripe on the faultless soundsystem. Not once did their set feel cheesy or overdone, and it was hard not to get swept up in the 2000-strong love-in brought on by the likes of "F For You" and "Latch." Forget about Marco Carola, Carl Cox, Jamie Jones or Richie Hawtin: Disclosure have been Ibiza's biggest underground act of 2014.
W.A.R! presents Rinse 20 - Luke Dyson
Insane - Victor Moreno
We Love... - Nel G Photography
ENTER. - Igor Ribnik
Music On - David Pareja
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.
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