Black Coffee Opening - May 26, 2018.
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When: Saturday May 26, 2018
Where: Hï, Playa d'en Bossa, Ibiza
Who: Black Coffee, &Me, Mandar, BLOND:ISH, Salomé, Serge Devant
What to wear: Smart club gear (and lipstick)
Clientele: Equal numbers of English, Spanish and Dutch, aged 24 - 45
Hï's second season in Ibiza was always going to be massive. But never as huge as their first. In fact, whatever happens to this new Balearic superclub, from now until eternity, there's a tendency to think that the crew running the show have already surmounted the biggest challenge they will ever face - overcoming 27 years of nostalgia. The mission now? To start building their own legacy.
Walking into Hï on Saturday night the first thing that becomes apparent is that this is now a fully built super club ready to flex its muscles on the biggest stage in global dance music. It's not that there were any major issues in year one, but it goes without saying that you can't properly tune an engine until you've turned it over a few times, which is exactly what team Hï were able to do last summer.
Following a winter of fine tuning, the venue now feels more at ease with itself, comfortable and confident in its own skin. Walking between the Club Room and the Theatre, for instance, there's now a continuity about the Adamson sound rig. And the old Premier Etage rooftop is now open to everyone, not just the VIPs, a move which greatly improves the flow of foot traffic around the club, not to mention increasing the level of fun we're having exploring the three indoor and three outdoor rooms that comprise this gargantuan super club Mecca.
But the most notable difference in year two is the general ambience inside the venue. The clubbers, the DJs, the bar staff, the doormen, the guestlist crew, the journos covering the event - everyone seems to be more relaxed. Last season, people were still seeking glimpses of the old venue beneath the new. But on Saturday night no one cared about any of that. Why? Last summer an entire generation of ravers were busy acclimatising to their new surroundings. Having come to terms with the future, the only thing left to do now is enjoy Hï Ibiza, which means heading out onto the dancefloor to stomp around.
Shota - Smile (Manoo Vocal Remix)
2am and &Me are on the decks in the Theatre room, dropping this emotive deep house masterpiece layered with those poignant African vocals.
3.30am and the arrival of the man himself, event headliner Black Coffee. This tune is all about the drums, building the anticipation and atmosphere inside the Theatre.
Cristian Viviano feat. NatMor - Creatures Of The Night
At 4am Russian DJ Serge Devant drops 'Creatures Of The Night' in the smaller, more intimate Club Room, where rolling tech-house is the strict order of the day.
Basement Jaxx - Jump N Shout (Erik Hagleton Remix)
The Melon Bomb crew unleash this ragga-infused bad-boy at 5am; the high energy mood of Erik Hagleton's rework defines the musical output in the Wild Corner.
De Cave Man & TonicVolts - Rebel
Back in the Theatre room, club life has taken on an even more mysterious edge, the eerie pads that delineate this Afro-house favourite enveloping the room.
Vestaa - The Creation
A bona-fide Afro-house masterpiece, this ridiculously intense, psychedelic banger is one of Black Coffee's trusted peak time weapons.
Cristoph - Alone
7am, the Club Room has closed, but the Theatre remains open. Who's DJing? BLOND:ISH or Black Coffee? Who cares!
London Grammar - Hell To The Liars (Kölsch)
We fall out of the venue at 8am, 'Hell To The Liars' kicking off in the background. A pure acid hit to end the night or begin the morning, courtesy of Mandar.
It was a really bold move for Hï Ibiza to enlist Black Coffee as a headline artist in 2017, but it didn’t take long for the South African-born DJ to establish himself both as a super strong DJ and as a figurehead for the venue. All of which didn’t come as much of a surprise to dance music historians, because even though Black Coffee has only recently become popular in Europe, when he joined Hï as a headline resident he had already been active in South Africa for 15 years, releasing three artist albums. Indeed, south of the equator this guy is as revered as Sven Väth, as influential as Carl Cox, as respected as Solomun. Which is why it was only a matter of time before Black Coffee went global - all he needed was the right club to believe in him as much as he believed in himself.
And so while the meteoric rise of Black Coffee is something of a myth, his ascent to superstardom here in Ibiza has been truly exponential. After all, how many other credible DJs can you name that have made headline status with such a limited performance history on the island? Before last summer, in addition to a showcase appearance at the IMS back in 2015, Black Coffee had played DC10 twice. Otherwise he was pretty much a White Isle novice. Fast forward three years and here he is, headlining the official opening of one of the biggest, most important nightclubs on the island.
So how did Black Coffee do it? A combination of undoubted star quality and an ability to dig deep into a record bag full of atmospheric techno that pulls at the heartstrings as much as it fits the consciousness seeking vogue of the era. But his debut-season success wasn't only a reflection of his skills in the booth. The man is also rather savvy when it comes to programming his weekly event line-ups, which support his Afro-house heritage without placing excessive emphasis on it. Tonight's DJ roster, for instance, is balanced in much the same way as it was last year. Salomé's disco house output is drum-led and insatiably funky, BLOND:ISH are known for their emotive, melodic sets, while Audiofly are deeply eclectic. It's a line-up full of acts who, without being considered niche, stand slightly apart from the tech-house spectrum, yet the music they play remains wholly accessible to dance music newcomers hanging in Playa d'en Bossa. Factor in artists like Themba, who are responsible for delivering a more African take on house and techno, and the you have the perfect product for a European dance music audience currently salivating over underground 4/4 beats tinted with beauty, mysticism and real instrumentation.
"This is a place that I started visiting when I was a teenager to listen to music and have fun," says Fatima, 33 from Ibiza. "For we locals and residents who have been living here for many years, the transition from Space to Hï has been a big change, because the club has gone from one concept to the other. The structure is different, the people are different as well - or at least they look different.
"Let me give you an example: coming here five years ago I never cared too much about how to dress, but Hï is a little bit more stylish, socially it feels at a higher level. At Space I would wear jeans and trainers; tonight I'm wearing a dress to feel more elegant. Usually I would wear high heels, but I'm wearing flats tonight because I've been partying over the road at Ushuaïa since 7pm.
"I feel like the locals have adapted to all the changes quite well. But the change is not just here at Hï. The strategy of the local government is changing too. Which is completely normal. It doesn’t matter where you are on the planet, you cannot keep the same concepts forever without getting stale. Ibiza's newest customers want more glamorous nightclubs and regulars like me want them to be a little smarter than they were with better service, which I think is what is happening. Yes there might be 10 times as much VIP in this club as there was two years ago. Do I care? Yes and no. Before everyone was equal and at the same level, but it doesn’t stop my friends and I from dancing and having fun.
"But I think the thing you really have to understand - and it's not something I've ever seen reported in the media - is how this nightclub is really making an effort to make the locals feel comfortable with the change. The local community are being invited to so many of the openings, so that we can integrate with the new concept. Many people have accused Hï of only being interested in money, but as a resident of the island that isn't my experience. If it was, I wouldn't be here."
Even by local standards, last week was a truly hectic one in Ibiza, with numerous venues across the island opening their doors for the start of the summer season. Damian Lazarus headlined HEART on Thursday. Then on Friday, the fun started with the IMS party at Dalt Vila, followed by Marco Carola and Loco Dice at Music On, the Privilege Opening Party with Faithless and Hot Since 82 holding sway at Pacha. On Saturday night, island incumbents craving a big room experience had a straight choice between the Hï Opening Party with Black Coffee or heading inland to elrow at Amnesia. Yet despite the sheer mass of top-tier competition, Hï still drew in a full house. A good sign for the bean counters, because we're still only in May.
Based on what we saw and heard on Saturday night it seems entirely logical to assume that his party is on the verge of cementing itself as one of the island's top underground attractions. Why? We've already mentioned the beauty and accessibility of the music, but the fact that this gig starts just moments after the last beat drops at ANTS means that Hï will also have thousands of potential customers on their doorstep every Saturday night during the summer. And as we all know, when you find yourself slightly twisted in Playa d'en Bossa at midnight with a few notes in your wallet the tendency is to stay out for as long as you can.
In terms of competition for tickets, Black Coffee finds himself going head-to-head with elrow at Amnesia for Saturday night custom. Taking on the busiest night on the island is a huge challenge, of course, but elrow's audience demographic is a few years younger and less musically sophisticated than Black Coffee's. Elsewhere on the island, Pacha's Saturday night offering, fronted by Bob Sinclar, is aimed at a more commercial audience, which means in terms of direct rivals Black Coffee finds himself in the luxurious position of not really having any.