Although the island had been a popular counterculture retreat since the early fifties, it wasn’t really until the late 80’s that Ibiza began it’s steady climb to clubbing capital. It’s ascent was largely due to a couple of British boys on a lads holiday. In 1987 Trevor Fung, Nicky Holloway, Ian Saint Paul, Danny Rampling and Johnny Walker accompanied Paul Oakenfold on his birthday week in Ibiza … enchanted by the Ecstasy island, these originators smuggled the Balearic vibes back to the UK, essentially initiating the UK club scene with nights such as “Ibiza Reunion” and “Spektrum”. Over the years, Ibiza has become synonymous with club culture and the promise of the world’s best DJs, golden sun all summer long, a host of amazing restaurants, bars and secret treasures has made it a tourist mecca.
Boasting some of the largest nightclubs in the world with the best production and consistently groundbreaking line ups, the Ibizous club culture is the heart and soul of the island. Ibiza has a handful of industrial nightclubs that run nights seven days a week, with each night operated by a different brand usually curated and run by a DJ or team of DJ’s. The nights at each club aren’t usually linked although there is some continuity as to what nights a club will put on. For Pacha see commercial House and Electro, for Space see Hard House and Techno. In Ibiza, it’s sensible to head to specific nights rather than specific clubs. Those that are hot musically and are consistently high quality are; Cocoon @ Amnesia, Carl Cox’s Revolution, Enter and Kehakuma @ Space and Circo Loco at DC10.
Amnesia is Ibiza’s longest running and arguably it’s most famous residency with the legendary Sven Vath still at the helm. Revolution and Richie Hawtin’s new night Enter are both huge scale spectacles with lasers, smoke cannons, dancers as a phenomenon not a tacky gimmick. Kehakuma is a great small night at Space that hosts the most up exciting underground and emerging artists. Captained by Nick Curly it’s a chance to see names such as Nina Kraviz, Steffi, Mano Le Tough and Levon Vincent in an intimate environment. Space has an incredible ability to craft line ups which marry new-fangled talent and old school heroes on all its nights, just one reason it’s my favourite club in Ibiza.
DC10’s Monday day party Circo Loco epitomises the wild carnival side of Ibiza, its naughty charm partly due to the fact that it was often closed down mid-party for breaching licensing laws. Recently, It has become a cult destination for followers of all things Hot Creations and Crosstown Rebels of late so in the glow of mid July can resemble a bank holiday BBQ in Luton with more tattoos than the Pirates of the Caribbean set. If you’re not one for naked gorillas beating their chests and screaming how hungry for their power they are, then hold off DC10 in peak summer. Same goes for Jamie Jones’ Paradise night … come on, you’re better than that!
Fledgling Sankeys has flown the nest and started contending with the bigger clubs. This year it’s hosting Dirtybird, Diynamic, Flying Circus and our very own Flux. This excellent roster of nights suggest Ibiza Sankeys has already pushed its Manchester counterpart out to pasture.
The Zoo Project has recently surged in popularity, It’s now even hosting its own UK festival. The Zoo Project was a huge highlight of my first year out in Ibiza. A mix of crazy face-painted revelers dancing in the dying light of an abandoned seal pit is certainly something to tweet home about. I returned 5 years later and I wish I’d stayed away. Any vestige of the original “animal” I felt at my first project has been capitalized and culled thanks to a hike in drinks prices and a slump in clientele quality.
Ibiza is always fresh, new nights are continually popping up, and the old nights are constantly evolving with new rosters, different locations and changing themes. Two new nights worth checking out are Marco Carola’s Music On @ Amnesia which debuted in 2012, and Loco Dice’s brand new Used & Abused @ Ushuaia. Both have a unfailingly superb roster of interesting artists throughout their series from Pan Pot, tINI, Visionquest and Guti at Music On to Dixon, Dubfire, Henrik Schwarz and Martin Buttrich at Used and Abused.
Though I would normally be weary of Pacha due to its penchant for average celebrity DJ’s playing premixed CDs to a crowd of sweaty Lotharios mouthing ‘damn you’re a sexy bitch’ it may be onto a winner this year. Guy Gerber has just launched Wisdom of the Glove, which may sound like a Catholic pedophile ring but is in fact a new night featuring luminaries such as Matthew Dear, John Talabot, Midland and Green Velvet.
Where to stay:
Obviously, where you end up staying is crucial. Although on paper “cheap” is attractive, try to avoid staying in San Antonio, it’s really not worth it, especially if you want to experience the “real” Ibiza. If you’re after Liverpudlian bars, KFC and cheap shots head to Magaluf instead. If Simba and Mufasa were standing on the Ibiza hills looking over their kingdom, then San Antonio is that dark shadowy place … and you must never go there Simba.
If you are looking for reasonable accommodation, try renting a cheap apartment somewhere central like Ibiza town or Playa d’en Bossa. Alternatively renting a villa if you’re a larger group is definitely feasible. There are numerous villa rental sites with reasonable prices when split between a few. I’ve only stayed in a hotel once and found it claustrophobic especially when you want to spend time either out exploring, partying or getting your strength back. Ibiza is about wildness and adventure, you don’t want to be told to turn your music down or that your friends scaring the other guests dancing in her pants by the pool at 7am.
Ibiza is very small island, it takes about 15 minutes to drive anywhere and 30 minutes max from top to bottom. Splitting taxis from further out becomes cheaper with enough of you, but consider where you stay as you will almost certainly get at least two taxis a day and a 15 min journey usually comes in at 30 euros.
Beaches are a big part of Ibizan life and partying on the beach is an experience not to be missed. The much-hyped Playa d’en Bossa, particularly in the thrust of the summer can be very hectic so don’t expect to find a quiet spot to Instagram you reading The Bell Jar. The mad Bora Bora beach club at the entrance of Playa D’en Bossa is very much the Oceana of beach clubs but a surprisingly good laugh in small measures.
Café Mambo in San Antonio is renowned for its sunset party and consequently it has the tranquility and ease of a Primark on a Saturday afternoon. If you do one thing, avoid Café Mambo and go instead to Salinas beach, located on the south of the island. Although busy it’s never heaving and Sa Trinxa right at the far end of the beach strip offers amazing food and cocktails including the distinguished Jockey Club and the best sunset experience. Where Café Mambo has a David Guetta warm up party with mid-level Radio 1 DJs, Sa Trinxa has a steel band playing House covers on the beach. It’s the only place on the island I’ve seen Kate Moss, Seth Troxler and Annie Mac so its definitely got some credentials.
Eating and drinking out:
Eating and drinking out is an easy way of blowing money with serious luxury spots like Blue Marlin, The Jockey Club and Pacha’s Lio all offering the experience with a billionaire’s bill added on the end. For a little extra, sushi and cocktails in the beach cabanas at Ushuaia is a great afternoon with music and just the right amount of people milling around. Ibiza has its offering of fantastic food from local fresh seafood and sushi to Spanish tapas. For great reasonably priced food check out Salinas Beach Hostal, Sa Trinxa or Pizza Piadina. If you do decide to take a night off the clubs, you should go check out km5. This beautiful bar has a great atmosphere, extensive cocktail list and as you might know from its CD releases, km5 plays incredible music.
The best advice I have been given, is to avoid planning your week down to the minute detail. It’s unrealistic to have a fixed schedule when there’s so much to do and you’ll probably be feeling awful for half of it. Whilst there are elements very similar to a festival, the pace of life in Ibiza is slow and getting into that spontaneous mixture of relaxation and partying is probably the best way to enjoy everything the island has to offer.