We jump aboard some of the island's favourite floating events this week.
Nowhere is the joyous simplicity of Ibiza life better summed up than aboard one its many boat parties. Fusing sun, sea and breath-taking surroundings with loud music and an ebullient crowd, they make for a fusion that's impossible not to love. Just like with its bars, clubs and restaurants, the island offers a wide range of boat parties, from the raucous pre-parties of Ibiza Rocks and We Are Rockstars, to the tech-inflected jaunts of Sub Tropic. Prices, too, vary wildly, with some factoring in a free bar and discount entry to clubs, while others make you fork out for the luxury of being able to sit down. The majority leave from one of three destinations: Marina Botafoch (just up from the Port in Ibiza Town), Playa d'en Bossa and San Antonio bay.
Cirque De La Nuit is one venture that's hit the ground running in 2013, offering several variations on a theme. Up to five or six times a week you can jump aboard their standard party, which leaves Playa d'en Bossa at 1 PM and heads to Formentera for a lengthy stop at the picturesque Illetas beach. Most importantly, drinks are free. Alternatively, there are the Sankeys affiliated events, which will suit a more music-focused crowd and include entry to either Dynamic Neon on Tuesdays or VIVa Warriors on Sundays.
If you're after something a little more upmarket, however, the Tuesday evening parties in-conjunction with Carl Cox's The Party Unites and local radio station Ibiza Sonica bring together top-notch DJs and a moneyed European crowd. Last Tuesday saw Just Be (Bushwacka!) put the crystal-clear Void soundsystem through its paces. While it took the crowd a little while to ease in, once the free beer and sangria started flowing, the dance floor quickly filled up. Its VIP policy felt divisional at first, but the feeling soon dissipated as the night wore on and the sun began to set. Jon Rundell guests next week, with Nicole Moudaber, Mario Basanov and Seth Troxler all in the pipeline.
Outside of CDLN's all-encompassing reach lies a selection of more straightforward operations. Well into its fourth year, Thank God We Are Rebels run parties every Tuesday and Friday, leaving at 5 PM from Marina Botafoch. Proffering nothing but sun kissed tech house sounds, this year's residents include Chad Andrew, Randall M (tINI & the gang) and ENTER.'s Bella Sarris. Your boat party ticket will also get you entry to Carnival Cities at Sankeys, where TGWAR help host the Basement every Saturday night. On another tip, Ibiza Rocks The Boat and The W.A.R! Ship continue with their brand of pre-hotel mayhem every Wednesday and Friday afternoon. Expect nothing but hits on the Wednesday, with an urban, UK-lean courtesy of Doorly and co. on the Friday.
Glasgow's legendary Sub Club (perhaps one of the last places you'd associate with boat parties) are turning heads this season with Sub Tropic, a series of intermittent sea-bound shindigs. With the likes of Ivan Smagghe, Ralph Lawson and Slam all scheduled to appear, this is the most cutting-edge choice on the market. The boats leave from San Antonio on Wednesdays at 5 PM, with warm-up, as ever, provided by Domenic Cappello.
Also in San An, and tailoring to a younger, almost exclusively British crowd, are Lost In Ibiza, who offer no-frills fun every Thursday set to a strong house soundtrack. Hot Creations star Mark Jenkyns played this week, laying down tough, groovy beats to a jubilant top-deck. 2013 marks their third year in business and it's not hard to see why: they've totally nailed the formula. DJ Sneak, Crazy P, wAFF, Flashmob and Marshall Jefferson, who plays on August 1st, are all to come.
Behind the scenes: Zeles
If you've spent any time in Amnesia's Main Room, the work of Zeles, the club's premier lights man, will be familiar to you. A fixture at the venue since current owner Martin Ferrer took control in 1991, Zeles has grown symbiotically with the space, overseeing its transition from a place of local hedonism to one of the biggest and most advanced nightclubs in the world. We caught up with Zeles at Amnesia to try and figure out what makes lighting such an art.
You first entered the scene as a percussionist. Tell us a bit more about your musical past.
Yes, I started my career playing electronic percussion. In 1990 Martin [Ferrer] saw me play and liked the way I was incorporating electronic sounds into rock music. He offered me a residency at a club called Fibra Óptica in Barcelona where I spent my time alternating between playing drums and manning the lights.
You joined Amnesia in 1991, when Martin bought the club. What was it like back then?
Let me tell you something, the '90s were a special time. Of course, the technology wasn't anywhere near as advanced—we had basic strobes, a few rotating lights and there was no colour at all—but the crowd, the people seemed a lot happier. It was a simpler, freer time—I mean, there were dogs running around the dance floor! The club changed a lot, especially in my line of work, when computers started getting involved. It gave the whole venue a much more futuristic feel, less stripped-back and raw. And of course, this went hand in hand with the rise of electronic music, which came to dominate Amnesia.
Tell us about the current lighting rig at Amnesia.
You're talking about one of the most advanced systems in the world. Given Amnesia's status as one of the best clubs in the world, it has to be kept completely up-to-date so as not to fall behind. Today we have things like LED screens, which I'm not a fan of, but we have to have them there, ready to use should we need them. Personally, I think there's much more to a great light show than how hi-tech your equipment is. With lights, I see myself as capable of creating a mood in a room as a DJ is using music. In fact, I feel I bare a significant influence over the way a DJ is perceived. On any given night I could take a second-tier DJ and turn them into a superstar.
Could you expand on that?
Simply using the lights. I believe I'm one of the few that delves deep into the music. I don't just follow the usual patterns and await my cues; I try to really get in there in order to stay one-step ahead of the tracks and the crowd. At the crucial moment it's not enough to hit the button when the beat comes in, you have to be there a millisecond before to achieve the full impact. When I'm in total synchrony with the music, that's when you'll hear people start shouting and responding. The dance floor is my canvas. The walls and the bars mark out my perimeters and I paint using my various lights, effects and colours on the space before me.
Does your job vary wildly from genre to genre?
Oh absolutely, a huge amount. Cream on Thursdays is my favourite night of the week; trance music is the ideal soundtrack to an amazing light show. The likes of Cocoon and Music On are much more difficult to work. On those nights I find it hard to follow the DJ, the music is more linear and much less expressive. Often all you have to work with is the cutting and releasing of the bass. I don't get it to be honest, the way some people react you'd think they were gods! I come from a musical background, so I place more stock in more lively compositions, preferably ones that were created by man and not machine.
What are the key skills required to be a great light technician?
For one, I wouldn't call myself that. I'm a performer of lights. As a musician at heart, I've come to feel like I'm playing my own instrument when I'm performing, manipulating my apparatuses as if they were strings and drums. It's very important that you keep on top of all the advancements in technology and find what works for you and your system. Just because something is flashy and new, it doesn't mean it'll fit into your routine, your style or, of course, the type of music that's played at the club. This year I accompanied Martin and some of the other technicians to a lights conference in Frankfurt to see what was on the market and whether there was anything that would work for us. Doing the lights is an art in and of itself, it's not just a robotic accompaniment to the music.
And you control the CO2 and smoke machines as well?
Yep, I'm in charge of absolutely everything that isn't the music.
And you only work the Main Room?
Yes. For me to do my job properly and to the level a club like Amnesia requires I have to put in a lot of hours, tweaking and adjusting the rig so that it's perfect. I've been programming the system since May, and each show I keep adding bits, it's a never ending process. As a result, I need to stay working on the same canvas the whole time so that I can get the best out of it each and every night.
Everyone who does the lights works in a different way, so it doesn't make sense to keep chopping and changing, it would get confusing and the quality of the performance would drop. Every now and then certain DJs bring their own lights people. I've set up the rig in such a way that anyone can use it to a basic degree, but if you pay attention you'll really know the difference between my performance and that of anyone else, just because of how many hours I've spent fine-tuning and getting to grips with the rig.
And you work every night of the week?
Six out of seven. I get Mondays off.
And when you work, you work all night long?
From the first beat to the last. I'm the only one that stays there the whole night, while the DJs change every two or three hours. If I'm honest, it can get to me sometimes, but at the same time I wouldn't want an assistant. When you come to know a system in such a personal way you become very protective over it, neurotic almost. It can get tiring, though. If you consider that most nights have between two and four DJs playing, and each of them is going at it 100%, that means I have to be concentrating and on point for the duration of the night. The only time I can feasibly get away is when the DJs switch over, but these days each DJ requires such a grand entrance that these are actually the times that I have to be most attentive. These new dubstep acts—Skrillex, Knife Party, Pendulum—are the ones that really take it out of me. They require so many strobes and fast reactions to the music. On any given night, my head runs at 100mph.
This week on the island
As one third of the increasingly in vogue Apollonia collective, Soundorom is garnering quite a reputation amongst the scene's more recent disciples. He kept his selections buoyant and groovy as the sun dipped over the largely British turnout. Taking over the reigns with a flurry of popular house tracks, Tong's set had the feel of one of his iconic Radio 1 weekend warm-ups. Wankelmut & Emma Louise's "My Head is a Jungle," Paul Woolford's "Untitled" and Jamie Jones's remix of Azari & III's "Hungry For The Power" elevated the vibe on the floor in preparation for the main event. However, if truth be told, Hot Natured themselves were a slight anti-climax. The set was solid and well-executed, but with none of the high-end production values that defined their milestone shows at the Brixton Academy —Jamie Jones performed in jeans and a t-shirt—something of the magic was lost.
As Copyright threw down their trademark polished take on house to warm-up, which included MK's remix of Storm Queen's "Look Right Through," the club appeared comfortably busy. Frankie Knuckles seamlessly took up the mantle, rolling back the years with a mixture of classic records and deep, soulful jams. By focusing on the past, Knuckles never fell foul of the cheesy, contemporary house music that went on to define David Morales' subsequent set. As edits of Temper Trap's "Sweet Disposition" met Adele remixes, the groove fell out of the night, lost as soon as Morales emphatically removed his vest. That aside, with Danny Tenaglia, Derrick Carter and Luciano lined up for coming weeks, Booom! could well start to make a name for itself for all the right reasons.
Talabot, nevertheless, was in fine form, cutting his usual studious figure as he stood over the controls. While the music was nothing short of superb, his intense, synth-heavy output felt a little ill-matched for the tepid floor. Closing with L.B Dub Corp's "It's What You Feel" and Motor City Drum Ensemble's "Escape To Nowhere," the floor finally began to stir, with the occasional whistle and cheer heading the Spaniard's way. Over in the Funky Room, numbers weren't faring much better, so it was time to head back to catch Reboot's opening. The former Cadenza man, acknowledging there was work to be done, instantly picked the pace up several notches, leading the way with his driving, percussive beats. With the music so on point, it was just unfortunate there wasn't a larger, more receptive crowd.
Zeles - Amnesia
Used + Abused - Roberto Castaño
Defected - Gavin Mills
Cocoon - Phrank.net
All others - Tasya Menaker