The Bullshitter's Guide to Ibiza 2015
Club by club, DJ by DJ, exactly how to spend your trip to the Balearic Islands.
So here it is – another burning hot summer season on Ibiza has begun. Now, after months in hibernation, the island's mighty PR machine will crank into gear, pushing out a seemingly endless stream of "content" into the British media from in-depth analyses of wAFF's sets on dance music blogs to pictures of TOWIE stars 'avin it in Es Paradise on Mail Online. In aggregate, all of this "noise" will seemingly persuade most of the UK to drop mad stacks on the White Isle for at least a week, and often more.
There have been many contenders over the years — Aia Naipa, Croatia, Romania — but nowhere in Europe has rivalled the sheer staying power of Ibiza as an electronic music destination. It's a feat made all the more improbable by its seemingly unshakeable reputation for up-chucking football fans, fostered by Ibiza Uncovered in the 90s. If you love the place then it's a guarantee that you will find yourself uttering some variant of the following as friends and relatives look at you pityingly when you reveal your holiday plans: "Actually, the north side of the island is really beautiful", or "if you stay in Ibiza Town then you avoid all the lager louts." Face it: the majority of your mates think Ibiza is a Magaluf-like skidmark on the underpants of Europe. Only those who are into clubbing fully appreciate what a gem it still is.
That's not to say everything is perfect. Yes, the West End in San Antonio is a bit of a shithole. And at the other end of the scale the invasion of the super-rich, plus government attempts at gentrification in recent years have resulted in a bottle-service-and-velvet-rope-bollocks culture in some places that can be pretty fucking tacky. But let's face it, where else are you going to go that attracts pretty much every DJ of worth in the world while simultaneously drinking sangria, getting a tan, and oggling anyone or anything in beachwear? With that in mind, here is THUMP's cheese-free guide to the most unmissable events of the 2015 season.
With a capacity of just 1,500 DC10 is nowhere near the biggest club on the island, but in terms of global significance this former shack in bucolic fields out by the airport blows everyone else out of the water. Which you should remember as you throw your head back and pour heinously expensive bottled agua down your new All Saints vest trying to keep cool.
The jewel in the venue's crown is of course Circoloco. From an inauspicious start as a Monday afterhours party featuring a bunch of crazy Italians running around in red clown wigs, to becoming the heavyweight global brand that broke the careers of Tania Vulcano, Luciano and Loco Dice, this party has for seventeen years had a gold-standard reputation for quality music. Playing here can pretty much seal any DJ's reputation, as has happened for Mees Dierdorp, whose sublime tunes rocked the main room last year. In 2015 the line-up includes Circoloco stalwarts The Martinez Brothers as well as David Squillace, Black Coffee, Art Department and Dan Ghenacia among many others.
From July 1st, Wednesdays are once again given over to Jamie Jones' weekly shindig, whose name has been marginally adjusted from Paradise to A Planet Called Paradise. With a stellar (geddit?) line-up that features Jones along with Magda, Maya Jane Coles, Patrick Topping and Hot Since '82 and more, you can expect underground sounds along with flamboyant décor and entertainment.
From 31st July, Italian label Life and Death will host a series of five showcases on Fridays. Much-anticipated on the Island, these shows signal a firm commitment on the part of the venue owners to keep it all about the music, with a palette that includes Tale of Us, Joy Orbison and the charmingly named Thugfucker.
Seismic shifts are afoot in Playa d'en Bossa, as We Love Sundays, the all-day, all night-event run by ex-Cream boss Darren Hughes departs for Sankeys after seventeen years. With the White Isle experience pretty much defined for a generation by standing around on the terrace at Space wearing huge sunglasses and wafting fans to Groove Armada, this is big news indeed.
With large shoes to fill, Ibiza-mainstay Luciano has stepped in with his decadent Vagabundos party. Running from the 7th June to 27th September, expect plenty of top hats and ripped tuxedos along with underground techno and Latin rhythms. He's got Cadenza label-mates Michel Cleis, Mirko Loko and Dandy Jack coming along for the ride so it's shaping up to be a very special season indeed. Even more excitingly, don Carl Craig is appearing for four dates with his Detroit Love takeover in the Discoteca along with Mad Mike Banks, Derrick May, Moodyman, Octave One and others.
Other events of note are the Space in-house promotion Kehakuma, which this year teams up with Elrow in the Discoteca, putting on such diverse acts as Groove Armada, dOP and Ellen Allien; and Richie Hawtin's mighty Enter, which, from July 2nd offers line-ups including Dixon, Nina Kravitz and Daniel Miller and looks likely to continue as the defining techno behemoth on the island. Or something.
With a policy of not advertising and attracting devoted regulars by building up events over years rather than seasons, Underground has maintained its reputation for quality over hype, as well as for being the more sophisticated clubber's hidden gem of choice. An attractive villa set in a fine garden close to Amnesia and Privilege, Undergound this year offers a number of choice parties. Tuesdays showcase record label Art of Dark with resident DJ Colin Chiddle; tINI and the Gang, starring the island mainstay and her mates, runs on Wednesdays from 24th June; and Thursdays bring Rhadoo and Friends with the Romanian DJ of that name.
A DJs'-favourite with big names sometimes dropping by to play unannounced, Underground is well worth seeking out for a less ostentatious night out than at some of the bigger clubs.
Arguably the most iconic Ibiza club of them all, it was here that New Order allegedly ran around off their nuts during the recording of Technique in the eighties. Whether or not the freezing ice canons, that these days regularly turn the dancefloor into a post-nuclear apocalyptic wasteland except with more cute bods in neon vests, were there then remains unconfirmed
Amazingly, the club retains its reputation for Balearic excellence with a credibility-stretching roster of nights that spans Sven Vath's Cocoon on Mondays (rumoured to have peaked in popularity with some dates undersubscribed in 2014); Together & Defected in the House on Tuesdays and Matinee & Foam and Diamonds from Saturdays in July, featuring dance music's favourite nemesis Paris Hilton from 1st August.
Wednesday sees the start of new party Hyte, helmed on alternate weeks by Loco Dice and Maceo Plex until the end of September with guests including DJ Harvey and Chris Leibing. Definitely worth checking out.
"Pacha is Pacha", as the somewhat tautological (and meaningless) Ibiza expression goes. If you've never entered its sedate, whitewashed portals then you should, if only because Pacha is one of the most beautiful clubs on Ibiza and you can say that you've inhabited the same physical space as Freddie Mercury and Grace Jones once did.
Beyond that, though, the club has unfortunate tendency towards "glam" (read: pants) promotions and tolerating an uncomfortable level of overcrowding on the main floor. If you're into parting with the best part of a ton to see the likes of EDM buffoon Steve Aoki and nerd-cum-multimillionaire David Guetta (on Mondays and Wednesdays respectively) then that's fine. If you prefer your music with a little less sledgehammer obviousness then your best bet is to check out Thump columnist Solomun's Solomun+1 party on Sunday nights. Here the mighty Teutonic love god pits his melodic twilight electronica against one other DJ each week. Guests include Pete Tong, Miss Kittin and Sven Vath on 20th September.
Also worth a look is Pure Pacha on Saturdays. Headed up by Bob Sinclair, it offers a tasty selection of high-class house names including Todd Terry, Bassment Jaxx and Felix da Housecat.
There's no doubt that Privilege is an impressive space – it's bloody massive. This, though, is a curse as well as a blessing. In the glory days of Manumission a sell-out party with a great vibe every week was assured. But less popular events can suffer. When an-underfilled house party can sometimes seem a little bare, imagine a 10,000 capacity club with a honking great swimming pool in the middle of it on an off-night.
Supermartxe, the long-running Ibiza brand, remains OTT enough to fill the space on Fridays with residents Abel the Kid and Alex Guerrero keeping it pumping in the main room and gay party Superman doing the business in the Vista Club.
On Sundays from 12th July Darius Syrossian, Sante and Sidney Charles, having left Sankeys, start their own Do Not Sleep event at Vista. Curating a season of back-to-back sets they'll be welcoming Dennis Ferrer, Flashmob and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs along to bring the music.
Hidden away in the backstreets of Playa D'en Bossa, Sankeys (which started life hidden away in the backstreets of Ancoats, Manchester) has in the last four years achieved what was previously thought almost impossible: launched a strong club brand in the face of robust competition from the island's seemingly unassailable big names. In four years it has built a reputation solely on the quality of the underground music it offers.
As mentioned, We Love . . . is moving here after 17 years at Space. And it's not even on a Sundays anymore, but Wednesdays. The first party, on 17th June, stars Rudimental (playing a DJ set) and The 2 Bears – artists after that are still to be announced. Without a doubt – and not to detract from Sankeys in any way – this signals the end of an era. With a much smaller capacity, that the event will be qualitatively different in its new home is a certainty. Still, all clubs must change or die in the end, and hopefully We Love will have a great run in its new venue this year.
For a slightly different take on house, it's well worth checking out Monday's Cuff where Anime Edge and friends bring a tough, rap-infused sound. On Sundays Steve Lawler invites Skream and Detlef and others to his anarchic VIVa Warriors party.
Ushuaia — a lush Vegas-like hotel complex where the DJs play on a vast outdoor stage in front of a swimming pool and everyone looks as though they've walked off the pages of How to Spend It — put on a great opening party with underground talent ranging from the Martinez Brothers to Miss Kittin to Szczecin's Catz and Dogs. A promising start. Then they go and ruin in all with a roster so filled-to-the-gills with EDM that if they flew in a job lot of Prosecco they could hold the biggest cheese and wine party in history. If a grim roll call of Guetta, Hardwell, Axwell, Van Buuren and banjo-and-beats hawker Avicii dilates your underpanted-regions then look no further. If you prefer your music a little more nuanced then save it for ANTS on Saturdays (3pm – midnight) where Andrea Olivia, DJ Sneak, UNER, Hot Since '82 and Timo Maas take it in turns to lay down the beats.
San Antonio is full of stragglers in Primark vests enjoying the dregs of nighttime entertainment before a wolfing kebabs and picking fights on their way back to the hotel for some casual sex. But there are downsides to the place too – namely, that the music on offer there hasn't always been up to much. This year things are looking up, with Ibiza rocks offering not only W.A.R. (which was co-hosted by THUMP on 12th June) but also the Colada Club, with bookings including DJ EZ, Fatboy Slim and Sigma.
An elegant and palatial venue in San An whose programming is sadly not as memorable as the faded grandeur of its art deco pillars and indoor vegetation. Check out Hed Kandi on Saturdays for handbag house and the Fiesta Del Agua on Fridays if you like getting soaked while frugging to Disclosure remixes.
Having been revamped in 2013 and surviving a season branded as Gatecrasher last year, Eden is back with a new logo and a revamped roster including Harder, Faster, a night dedicated to Dutch hard house; Faux Basement, which features Tom Novy and specialises in deep house and Judge Jule's perennial Judgement Sundays event.
So that's your lot – Ibiza's finest in a nutshell. Oh yeah – there are loads of restaurants, beach bars and hotel parties too, but you can Google those. What do you think this is, Trip Advisor?