Walking around Amnesia on a Monday night is as close as you can get to being transported to another dimension. Through the two main rooms retina-searing visuals whip past, huge acid-inspired inflatables hover in midair. Unlike some other parties, Cocoon fully inhabits the space. Here, everything is tailor-made to bend your mind and draw you further into the zany world of Sven and Co.'s Freakshow.
Behind every well-oiled machine is a master mechanic, and the man who keeps Cocoon rolling along in Ibiza is Johannes Goller, a tanned, urbane man (fluent in at least three languages) in possession of that finely balanced mixture of intelligence, assurance and the ability to sniff out and solve problems that makes a good promoter.
"What's my title? Don of nightlife," he laughs... Officially the manager/promoter of Cocoon he has spent the last seven years doing everything from picking up DJs (when we speak, he's at the airport. "Can you call me back in a minute ?" he asks "Ricardo's just arrived.") to overseeing the design and creation of the decorations, to selling tickets.
Of course, in Ibiza a manager's job is never straightforward. "The hard part is handling the surprises Ibiza has to offer. This year especially," he says. Having arrived on the island in May, better prepared than ever before, Cocoon was suddenly faced with the closure of Amnesia, just two weeks before the opening party. It's a testimony to their organisation that Johannes was able to oversee last minute negotiations with Privilege, move all of Cocoon's décor to the club in less than 72 hours, and run three parties there before smoothly switching back to their long-time home, Amnesia.
"The hard part is handling the surprises Ibiza has to offer. This year especially..."
He makes it sound easy, but the logistics are staggering. As some indication, the Cocoon crew start planning the coming season in December. After a few brainstorming meetings Sven scoots off on his annual January spa holiday, and Johannes starts doing the ground-work. "I start thinking about the line-up, who to invite. We do some photo shoots, things like that," he says. The former, at least, doesn't weigh too heavily on his time. "How long does it take to sort out the DJs? One email ! " he laughs.
There is no shortage of artists eager to play Cocoon. The work lies in choosing a select group - no more than 15-20 each season - and in gently turning down the other candidates. "We're always bringing young people, new talent so there are always sad faces [when] we have to tell friends they can't play."
When Sven's back in town preparations shift up a gear and the production begins. Artists in Germany create the visuals and, after doing mock-ups, the inflatables and other decorations are made in Ibiza. Johannes arrives in May to oversee the run up to the opening. He is also in charge of the logistics of Cocoon's infamous after-parties: finding the venues, setting up parking and security and - unenviably - dealing with the police.
"The police used to always be really nice about it, they know we're professional, we have security, we have parking. The police would come and see everything and say, 'okay…'. But this year they stopped our after-hours at the opening party. It was the first time that happened." They've managed to have several (private) after-hours since, but clearly it's another matter requiring close attention and negotiation.
"We're always bringing young people, new talent so there are always sad faces [when] we have to tell friends they can't play."
E ven the main Monday nights at Amnesia require three full days of every week (plus the two days it takes Johannes to manage the pre-sale tickets available at 60-odd venues around the island). Saturday the 40-strong team of door staff, PRs, decorators, etc meets to ensure everything is running smoothly for the coming Monday. Most of the DJs arrive on Sunday, and it's Johannes who fetches them from the airport, takes them to dinner, keeps them entertained (or, in the case of Ricardo, today, drops him off at DC10 so he can make a surprise appearance before heading to Cocoon later in the evening). Monday, it's back to the office, as it were, with a trip to Amnesia to check the decorations and preparations, and take care of sundries like sorting out guest list snarls, coordinating interviews and photo passes, and answering endless phone calls.
Ask how many messages he gets on a Monday and Johannes just laughs. "Let me see, last week I had 176 messages… and I'd say I spend half an hour of every hour on the phone… for 12 hours." You start to see why Cocoon brought Motorola on board as a sponsor. Incredibly, this is the workload with a close-knit, experienced team around him. "I know 100% whatever I ask for will be done, it makes it really easy for me. Most of us have been working together for seven years and I completely trust them," he says.
"Once everyone's in nothing can go wrong, then the party starts."
Surely the bigger challenge must be managing the boss, Sven? Johannes pauses, then says, tactfully. "We're friends for many, many years. When I'm not in Ibiza I'm travelling with him. We don't need many words to communicate." Nor does he need many words to signal to the crew when the point finally comes on a Monday night - as it does - when they can all relax and enjoy the show. "They say it's when I turn up in the DJ booth with a bottle of Hierbas, which is usually about 5AM. Once everyone's in nothing can go wrong, then the party starts." When does it end? "Tuesday night, maybe," he chuckles.
Which is the answer you both hope for and expect. It wouldn't be right if the ringleaders of one of Ibiza's wildest parties weren't, themselves, in the thick of it. Because the best planning skills in the world don't mean much in Ibiza if you don't have a passion for the party - and Cocoon has, in abundance.