There's more to dance island than celebrity punch-ups. Let's go back to the old skool.
Last week, when grown-ass man Orlando Bloom (49) allegedly blindsided Justin Bieber (age 12 - gender unknown), the world's spotlight was thrown on dance music's beloved Shangri La, Ibiza, for all the wrong reasons. The Bieb-Bloom bust-up is just one outcome of a worrying trend for complete cock-bags from the celebrity world rushing to be seen on the Balearic isle, and we're worried the influx will have a detrimental effect on the public's perception of Ibiza as a messy old good fucking laugh for being mates together and pulling, being young on pills and dancing like shit. All that good stuff. Lindsay Lohan, who we were surprised to learn is even still alive, the Kardashians (standard), Zac "I'm considering fucking your girlfriend then your really old Mum" Efron and even middle-aged emo, Jordan Catalono have been spotted, as Ibiza threatens to become just another PR stopover for truly terrible famous people. It's only a matter of time before human cipher Alexa Chung is wanking round Pacha in a Palma Violets t-shirt, telling everyone "Me, I've always liked dance music."
In an effort to level the playing field, THUMP takes you on a magical journey through the island's great and grimy past to prove there's more to Ibiza than TMZ and intergenerational handbagging. See it as our way of reclaiming our Balearic home-from-home for those who make the place what is - people who actually give a fuck about dance.
The origins of 'Beefa's counterculture history, in the 60s London hippy types, McCarthy exiles, painters and also Terence Stamp migrated to the island to live in free harmony. Back then Ibiza was groovy and bohemian and people had sex not just when drunk, until it was then colonised by us complete bastards. Meh, hippies are boring anyway. Although they did give the island MDMA. When in the early 80s the Spanish police disbanded Ibiza's resident MDMA-using hippy cult, the drugs went directly into local circulation.
Star Youtube comment:
"We moved to Ibiza in early 1969 - we rented a house from a local farmer just outside of San Juan - no plumbing, electricity etc.. it was a wild and weird time - our house was often raided by the Guadia, holding us a gun point sometime for many hours before moving on to another location - fond memories of spending all day at the beach swimming and hanging out. We drove everywhere in an old London Taxi Cab."
The Early 80s: The Calm Before The Storm
Can you hear that? That's what Ibiza sounded like before one day someone cranked a house beat up then jammed the controls for all eternity. It's kind of like watching footage of G.I's milling around Hawaii one clear December morning in 1941. The armada was on route. By 1994, over a quarter of a million Brits were making the annual pilgrimage to the Med's glorious 'L'Illa Blanca'.
The Early 80s # 2
This travelogue from 1984, featuring a blatantly horrified Gary Crowley on a Club 18-30 package holiday, is a precious snapshot of pre-ecstasy Ibiza, back when Britain's national sport was darts and the Balearics were just another Med holiday destination for platinum blonde new-towners and people from Ayr. It's no coincidence that Wham chose Ibiza to shoot the video for 'Club Tropicana'. In the segment, which is more than a little Rita Bob and Sue Too, you quickly realise that your Dad has always danced like a dick and that in the 80s the phrase "getting your leg over" was mental funny, while the footage of a pre-rave Es Paradis showing a mock-Roman, nouveau riche, 80s horror palace for Darren and Debs from Romford, is a revelation.
It was around 1984 that an ex political prisoner from Argentina by the name of Alfredo Fiorita began spinning at the then failing Amnesia. In 1987 the Ibiza Four (Rampling, Oakie, Johnny Walker and Nicky Holloway) caught Fiorita's residency and the rest is history.
Star Youtube Comment: "OMG I cannot believe this footage has turned up!!!! It made my day (no year), I remember that holiday like it was last week!! Thank god for hair dye - I'm the gobby Manc shouting at her poor bloke on the balcony!!!! (We never did get married)!! lol"
The Late 80s: Golden Age Ibiza
1989: if there was one closing party that marked the end of the beginning and the beginning of Ibiza's second wave, as Ibiza's bohemian pioneers, the early rave adopters, handed the baton over to the masses, it probably would have been this one at Amnesia. The footage captures the naif, underground vibe of a Renoir-ian Amnesia populated by the marginalised and the mainstream alike, with German party-brüdders and Brit lads dancing alongside goth art-vamps and old money dowagers to Afredo's mix of Belearica Beat eclecticism and the piano house that would go on to dominate the early 90s. It really is a bit special. Proper utopian, mate.
Star Youtube comment: "There were girls in bikinis wearing backpack pressurised containers of diluted MDMA that would dose the crowd every so often! Good old days"
But who needs love and unity when you've got rave music? Slave to the rave, mate. Rave to the grave.
90s till I die - the one true 'rave decade'. By this stage Ibiza was unstoppable. Everyone's big brother had Altern-8's 'Activ-8' on cassette single, Pete Tong was actually a bit cool and ecstasy never killed nobody. Rammalammadingdong, indeed.
Star Youtube comment: "When space was not a fucking commercial machine"
The Mid-90s: Cafe Del Mar
No history of Ibit-za is complete without a nod to the iconic Café Del Mar, which we're almost positive translates as something like Cafe of the Sea, though I mean who really knows what it means? By the mid-90s watching the sunset at CDM had become the Ibiza equivalent of, say, frying a egg in Death Valley (which doesn't fucking work by the way) or that funny photo dickheads take that looks like they're propping up the Tower of Pizza. It was claimed that resident DJs like José Padilla could design their set to perfectly coincide with the sun's final disappearance and that you had to double-drop just as the little globe met with the water or else you weren't cool and had to go home that night on a plane full of other uncool people. After the cafe was immortalised in the 1997 Energy 52 track of the same name, that was the end of CDM as a cult concern: nowadays the beach more resembles a particularly anxious chicken farm, where a 1000 semi-irate couples muscle for legroom while pretending to feel really cosmic. Also shit: Café Del Mar gave the world the beaver-sounds and pan-pipes traveller-wanking post-rave genre known as 'chill-out'. Bleurrgh, fuck your panpipes.
Star Youtube Comment: "is Ibiza full of chavs?"
With late 90s reality doc Ibiza Uncovered the island's assimilation into the national consciousness was finally complete. Ibiza was mainstream now. Unfortunately for Ibiza, the producers made the then quasi-mythical dance Mecca look as about as magical as a day out in Wrexham, padding the fluff format with dreary storylines on the local killing-time-before-death ex-pats like stereotypical med promoter-spiv Danny Gould and John the barman, who has about as much screen charisma as a sock. The show's token gay, even Michael's all-male cruise looked mundane - history's only slightly boring gay meet. Interspersed with shots of tits and Geordies being really Geordie and some bikini bums was a class-voyeuristic depiction of Ibiza as a sub-Benidorm shit hole, bathed in the light of savaloy chippies and neon sex parlours.
Star Youtube comment: "John at 28:00, never kept the weight off did ya, you fat c*@t!!! dickhead stole my passport!
1999, the year of trance. And not 'trance' as the yanks have appropriated the term - we're talking Paul Van Dyke, ATB, Da Hool. This aggressively cheesy strain of trance that by the end of the 90s had eaten half of Europe was a derivative of Goa Trance - the utopian dance music popular with eternal backpackers who wanted a style of music that spoke to their their never-ever-going-home hedonism. Eurotrance kept Goa trance's ultra-euphoric vibe but upped the BPM and added pop vocals and life-affirming hooks: a bit like EDM's wait-for-it 'drop', in trance the big event was the "euphoric breakdown" (typically primed by a quickening snare roll), while it was mandatory for every trance-pop track to include meaningless aspirational lyrics about climbing mountains or flying, clouds or love conquering all in heaven. The purists hated it, but with its Universalist values, love-worship, optimism and spirit of dancefloor-as-church togetherness (the crucifix position was the trance move, along with the good old Anglo Saxon feet-planted hand-dancing position) trance honoured the original "summer of love" rave manifesto which 90s IDM and prog-house had turned its back on.
Off the back of the trance phenomenon, Ibiza was booming again. The vid shows Creamfields resident and Radio One DJ Seb Fontaine pretending to do things with his EQ at one of MTV's MTV Ibiza events, and features many ''Avin it' crowd shots. The music you can hear in the background (the Perfecto mix of JX's 'Son Of A Gun") is trance, the choice of an old generation.
Star Youtube comment: "two turntables and one mixer - massive old school djieng"
Rapture TV in Ibiza: 'Trainspotters', 1999
Ibiza meets post-The Word yoof programming on free-to-air Sky channel Rapture TV, with 'Trainspotters', presented by the era's regulation 'brassy Northern burd', Lishia Graves, and Colin Rothbart, the free world's most homosexual man (The director through the ear piece: "Quick Colin, say something about dicks") who's sporting the spiky rave-punk hair do popular at the time: a parody of a gay British man even he seems uncomfortable with.
The opening section is TV gold, featuring some people dancing in a studio in the middle of the day, stilted script-patter which definitely sounded funnier on paper and some end-of-the-pier innuendos involving maracas. The levels of forced frivolity are off the charts. There hasn't been car crash viewing like this since they allowed Richard Bacon to do live T.V. That said. dancing studio audiences really should be revived, while the pilled up presenters interviewing gurning Cream revellers is a fucking masterstroke - like watching a couple of happy stroke victims whale-calling each other from across the cosmos.
The Late Noughts
Packed with interviews and club footage, the We Love...Ibiza web series gives you an idea of where we were at by 2009. Ali of techno unit Tiefschwartz explains how, at the turn of the century, the electroclash movement rescued the Ibiza vibe from the sexless stylings of trance and prog-techno, while house titan Ralph Lawson tells of how house-style was becoming irrelevant as genres blur in the big club sets. The Miss Kittin interviews, meanwhile, explore the growing presence of rock sets on the scene. In 2008 Club Paraiso Mediterrane was renamed Ibiza Rocks and became the setting for their yearly rock festivals which some may argue have no place on dance island. Also evident is the changing economy of Ibiza clubs in the era of big business dance music. The footage shows a parade of gleaming hi-tech rooms, as well as the host of opulently fitted minor venues that have sprung up in recent years.
A harmless holiday promo or a vision of where Ibiza is heading? Filmed like the establishing shots of a TOWIE scene, is this really what Ibiza is all about? A bunch of over-groomed social-climbers posing around a swimming pool? Knowing looks and posturing and some champagne-drinking interspersed with the odd bit of sweat-less dancingt? Isn't that the very culture of cheap elitism that rave put paid to in the 80s? Worse still, squint your eyes and its fucking EDM Las Vegas I see.
At the weekend the Beeb ran a piece wherein Oakenfold, Afrojack and Steve Angello went on record to say that the local economy is pricing the normal people out of Ibiza. Afrojack describes a VIP culture where only the rich can afford the 79 euro entry prices and £11.00 drinks. The problem according to Angello lies with EDM (which, interestingly, Oakie believes was embraced in America only after Lady Gaga and B.E.P. began putting electronica beats into their music) - a culture in which the DJ is marketed as a popstar so that American initiates can understand the idea of the guy-with-the-records as a superstar, meaning that, in turn, promoters are forced to pay popstar rates. Angello also makes the point that the system operates to kill diversity in the town. Competing hard for numbers, each of the big clubs will offer the DJs a slot regardless of his or her style of dance, whereas, as Angello explains, in the past Space was the techno venue, Pacha the house venue, and so on. Pacha's musical director, Steve Hulme explains that, consequently, clubs can no longer run the risk of opening with a lesser known resident for fear of losing business, meaning that, as Angello explains, Ibiza ceases to be a place for ravers to discover new talent. If Yank EDM has indeed made it as far as the The White Isle, then heaven forbid Ibiza should become Vegas 2 for the douche glitterati and vogue-chasing celebrities like Justin Bieber.
Star Youtube Comment: "looks like wanker central!"
You can follow John Calvert on Twitter here: @JCalvert_music
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