Circoloco has had it's fair share of ups and downs, but 20 years deep is definitely a testament to their passion
As Circoloco prepares to enter its twentieth season, we examine some of the ingredients responsible for the magic of one of the world's most influential clubs of the past two decades.
Carbonaro, second from left and Pelino second from right.
Only those industry people familiar with the industry machinations of Circoloco are aware of the work of “Andrea and Antonio,” the promoting partnership behind Circoloco. Both Antonio Carbonaro and Andrea Pelino have doggedly stuck to a practice of routinely refusing interviews over the years although Ibiza Voice is one of the few outlets to have been granted an interview by Pelino. Pelino is one of the founding promoters fathers of Italy’s rave scene and was the first promoter to book The Prodigy outside of their native United Kingdom.
The terrace at DC10 has become the room of choice in recent years
Boxing has Madison Square Garden. Football has Wembley and the Camp Nou. So why shouldn’t dance music have its own special arenas?
Few rooms can match the energy that DC10’s glass roofed terrace can generate. It started life as an afterthought to the club’s main room, an outdoor area where dancers would escape the then impenetrable darkness of the main room to dance in the sunshine still listening to the music from inside. A ramshackle bar and a DJ booth on a trolley were added and soon DJs like Danny Tenaglia, Clive Henry or Dan Ghenacia found themselves playing music for the island’s party freaks and counter culture odd balls.
With each year as the energy escalated and the crowds grew, so to did the attention of the island’s superclub owners and local authorities. The Terrace roof was covered with a glass ceiling to protect the club’s neighbours from sound pollution but for a few years, at least, ruined the acoustics of the room and the listening experience on the dancefloors. For the past decade however thanks to a succession of improvements and a treated acoustic space, the sound of the Terrace is back to its best and it retains it status as a litmus test for DJs. If you can pass the test of keeping the Terrace rocking, great things await.
Longtime fans of Circoloco know all too well about the tension that gathers around the club’s fraught relationship with the island’s authorities. Countless parties have felt like the last ever Circoloco and the question of whether the club is going to remain open is often on the lips of fans even just up to a few months ago.
DC10 began as an out of the way afterparty for the island’s locals on Monday mornings. For the island’s super clubs, Mondays were a quiet day and Ibiza’s clubbing week usually peaked on Sundays with We Love Sundays at Space. Circoloco began life on Mondays at DC10 out of the way of the island’s mainstream club circuit but when the attention of the crowds began to turn away from clubs like Pacha, Amnesia and Space and towards DC10, their problems began to mount.
During one infamous session, the police came good on their word and shut the Terrace down in 2008 during a set by then resident, Luciano. A tense standoff between the crowd and the police ended with two officers of the Guardia Civil escaping through the dancefloor in a hail of insults from the crowd and the DJs alike. Luciano played on but sadly the season finished there and the club remained closed due to a licence revoke until the following season and were hit with a €300,000 fine.
Skirmishes with local authorities have continued up until recently. In October last year the venue was charged by local police for exceeding noise restrictions for their closing party.
Jackmaster is one of the latest Circoloco idols
For those playing Circoloco for the first time and unaware of the club’s traditions, the first set can be a testing rite of passage. Aside from the superstar guests like Ricardo Villalobos or Carl Cox, most DJs are given a 90 minute set time and are not told when their set time will be in advance. This is not normal.
Instead they have to keep an eye on the club’s Facebook page where set times are usually announced the evening before the party. The 90 minute set time for such a crucial gig is a head spinner. On the global touring scene, the two-hour set has become the industry norm apart from a minority of parties in countries like Italy or scenes like drum’n’bass where it is still deployed and in some cases even shorter. That time is being gradually expanded with the popularity of all night tours, where DJs play from club opening to the end. And by clubs like Berghain who often ask their DJs to play minimum three to four hour sets.
By contrast, for a DJ, Circoloco’s 90 minute set time is barely enough time to loosen up and relax into your set. Instead, it requires the DJ condense their story, which can go one of two ways. Maximising the excitement or creating an anxiety laden mess.
Finding out the set time so late in the day leaves little time to prepare. Each of the different rooms asks different questions of a DJ. The Main Room is often harder, the Terrace is often housier while the Garden is often lighter and slower during daylight hours. The opening hours are often played by big DJs so an earlier or later set time can be a common surprise leaving a DJ little choice but to prepare for all eventualities. Those who do, generally get asked back.
Tania Vulcano - the first lady of Circoloco
Picking the DJs to play each Monday must involve a tactical balancing act for the party’s promoters. A balance of international acts seems to be a priority, with acts popular in the United States, France, Italy, the UK ever-present on each lineup. Keeping a connection to the spirit of the club’s earlier years also seems to be a priority with the presence of long time residents like Cirillo, Tania Vulcano and Clive Henry a nod to the old guard who made the club what it is today.
Few feelings beat partying on the terrace on a Monday afternoon, when you are usually slogging it out at work. And there are fewer feelings of smugness in the world as potent as sipping a vodka limon by the bar, and texting a co-worker or a friend back home with an update of what’s happening. Few feelings of FOMO hit quite as hard if you are that co-worker or friend trapped behind a screen back at home. And few memories feel quite as magnetic as when you find yourself back at work, on Monday a week later knowing that all the same craziness is still going on. In short, Mondays are like nowhere else in the world at DC10.
It’s only with the distance of a couple of decades that we can truly appreciate the part Circoloco has played in birthing multiple generations of stars. In the early days, its team of residents came out of nowhere to become some of the scene’s most popular DJs. As the minimal sounds of the mid 2000s caught fire around the world, DJs like Luciano, Loco Dice or the a:rpia:r trident of Raresh, Rhadoo and Petre Inspirescu found fame while gunning the terrace hard. Others like Matthias Tanzmann, Cassy or Davide Squillace were afforded an elevator trip to the next level thanks to their time playing for the club. When Circoloco ushered in its ‘New Era’ in 2010, it set about initiating a new wave of Terrace stars such as Seth Troxler, the Martinez Brothers and later Jackmaster and The Black Madonna.
The guests invited to play that do well often find themselves on an invisible game of lineup snakes and ladders. Moving up the ranking or down depending on how their tenure of playing for the club is going. Some disappear off the lineups after a season, some last for a decade or more and the politics and gossip that go on behind the scenes about it all just shows how important playing for Circoloco remains to this day.
From ravers to headliners... How things can change
One wonders if the promoters had any idea that some of the young ravers in the crowd at their early parties would later become some of the future stars of the club. Dyed Soundorom, Jamie Jones, Richy Ahmed, Laura Jones, and many others became friends on the Terrace dancefloor in the early 2000s before going onto become guests and residents for the party. Apollonia became one of the biggest star acts of the 2010s, but its members Dyed Soundorom, Dan Ghenacia and Shonky were playing for the club long before their Apollonia guise and raving there right from the beginning.
Hey, what's going on back there...
For anyone visiting the club, the “bit out the back” has always been a curiosity. You can’t help but notice the endless queue of stars, clubbers and sometimes famous celebrities ducking through a door near the DJ booth to the mysterious area behind. Over the years this area has gone from a dirt patch, to a collection of seats to a bar with its own set of impeccably maintained toilets. And then sometime over the past few years that “bit out the back” has spawned its own breakaway area on the other side of the club for those on the inner, inner circle of DC10’s social circus. Many yearn to get back there only to discover themselves caught in an endless cycle of rave guilt for having missed most of the action on the dancefloor while talking nonsense “out the back.” These days it serves as one of the industry's most intensive green rooms but as its popularity increases, it is at odds with the inclusivity that was paramount in the party's earlier days.
All hail Andy Kayll, the soundman extraordinaire
Ravers on the dancefloor often wonder who the mysterious guy in the hat with the long peering from behind a DJ in the booth out into the middle distance. Soundsystem guru Andy Kayll has been working at the club since the early 2000s. As Danny Tenaglia’s tour manager and a former sound engineer for vintage UK superclub, Cream, he attracted the interest of Cicoloco’s promoters while working with Tenaglia at Space and during his unannounced sets afterwards at Circoloco. His tenure at the club is typified by a purist approach to sound. There are no heavy compressors applied to the sound like in other venues. Instead Kayll hotfoots his way around the club’s three rooms, keeping an eye on the DJs levels and maintaining the soundsystem’s gain structures. These days he’s assisted by his apprentice Rich Walsh, who jacked in a bright career in the medical industry to learn his trade under Kayll.