As sure as the sun rises over D'Alt Villa and sets behind Es Vedra, so the season starts in earnest on the first weekend in June. And as much as the island remains the same immovable rock, with enough history packed into its last 500 years to last an entire civilisation, subtle changes and rumour that inhabit its shores and gather pace each winter always mean the opening weekend carries an air of anticipation and tension as Ibicencos and turistas alike wait to discover what the summer has in store.
With 2007's beginnings tarred with the heavy brush of closures, clampdowns and defections, and its final moments with hard-headed talk from the government of licensing restrictions, noise maps, and the much-publicised late-opening laws passed over the winter, there was an air of resignation from some, convinced that the island wouldn't be the same this year. It's a familiar feeling. But ask any local, or battle-hardened veteran, and they will tell you on the surface, little will change. Space still bursts at the seams with hedonists on Sunday, and so will the comparatively intimate and desolate environs of DC10, nestled on the end of the airport runway, south of Playa d'en Bossa.
And, despite its defiant position outside the established, cavernous nocturnal monoliths of Sant Rafael, Sant Antoni, Ibiza Town and Playa d'en Bossa, even the most visceral and revered underground club on the island isn't without its change from one year to the next. But while 2007 brought windows, CCTV, sound reduction, enforced closures and oppression, 2008 happily took in much more minor and positive changes. With a relaxed, scarcely noticeable police presence, in much contrast to the almost military occupation of last June, walking into the slowly swaying terrace was a hark back to the older days of the club, as the pink walls were once again yellow, the colour last seen back in 2003. And, much like those years, so the harsher, more discordant minimal techno of former summers, already edging out last year, was now replaced with subtler, sumptuous grooves, more deep house than deep (K-)hole.
The mood in general seemed lifted far above the unhappiness and struggles of the previous summer (though its packed dancefloors went some way to redemption), as if part of a unified effort to banish them to something less than a distant memory, and the club that's become so synonymous with dark, twisted music and a hardcore of serious partiers radiated with a warm glow of smiles, sunshine and positive energy. But do not despair, Circoloco has not gone soft, nor has its power diminished, but as a sea change that gathered pace in 2007 finally washed over Europe through the winter, house music well and truly made a triumphant return to the hallowed venue. Even Luciano himself in May stated: "I think there's a big movement back to house music".
With the annual turning over of the metaphorical new leaf in Ibiza as April's peace begins to be pricked by the arrival of the summer's population, starting afresh each June, this new wave of optimism, could be felt across the flowing sea of clubbers, much more laid-back and cheery than the almost frantic atmosphere of twelve months before. With the fiesta's 'guests' (though here they always feel more like new friends, part of the ever-expanding and changing Circo Loco family) of the worshipped Arpiar (Romanians Raresh, Pedro and Rhadoo) and Matthias Tanzmann joining the stellar list of residents, the line-up had a pleasingly familiar feel. Following the dependably consistent Andrew Grant, long-term Englishman-in-Ibiza Clive Henry towered over the booth with an assured and rumbling flow of exquisitely manicured house, raising the temperature, and handing perfectly over the Eastern-European holy trinity as the sun beat down through the windows, bathing the dancefloor in a yellow sheen.
Outside, the 'car park' (in the past throbbing to another arena, the antithesis of the polished, over-produced, over-sponsored environs of Space's own opening and closing fiesta) was instead festooned with a sun-ripened and resting palette of Monday-afternoon regulars and wide-eyed first-timers. Whether slumped on the benches, leaning over the bar for another vodka-limon, or gabbering over-animatedly with each other as the dull thud of the kick-drums and muffled cheering floated out across the blue sky, it only added to the feeling of renewal. Circo Loco was back, and it was better than ever.
Inside, while Frenchman Dan Ghenacia effortlessly cracked out track after track of taut, punchy electronic house that made the choice between darkness and light almost impossible to contend, the terrace was punctuated on an almost constant basis with shouts and cries of enchantment as the tempo was slowly raised. When it's like this, it's an almost irresistible force, hard to describe to those not lucky enough to have witnessed the spectacle - the dancefloor rising and falling as one, whooping with delight as the kick-drum powers into the end of a breakdown, or mangled, distorted synths spiral ever-upward. It's a unique experience, an intangible mix of extremes that feels like one of the last truly primitive clubbing experiences in a world of corporate, mass-marketed music. The sprinkling of nationalities, races, genders, and persuasions from serious, D&G-clad Italians and baggy-panted mainlanders to grinning multi-haircutted Brits and wily Ibicencos fits in so well here, and Monday afternoons seem to bring out the madness in even the most straight-laced person.
The music is near-perfect for the cloudless skies and sea of smiles. While lovers of the relic of ten-minute epics with brooding basslines and twitching clicks and shuffled, reverbed minimalism may have been shaking their heads, music, like anything, moves on, and 2008 will be the year that house music returns in earnest to DC10. In reflection, to those heading to the back end of the airport for the first time, some of the previous years' soundtrack may almost seem like anti-music, but regeneration is the lifeblood of Ibiza, and this year will be no different. Melody, soft percussion, variation, pace (and even vocals) dominated. The BPM limiter appeared to be well and truly broken as Tanzmann's ethereal beats, and Tania Vulcano 's muscular music carried the mood even higher.
Fittingly, Luciano was to close out the terrace. The place where he seems most at home, Circo Loco seems to bring out the best in the Chilean, and in a familiarly ram-packed booth, he made the last two hours his own. Gone were the harsh memories from the start of the previous season, and, as the terrace and main room reverberated to the music that DC10 and Circoloco calls its own, this felt like a new beginning for a club that some thought may not see its opening fiesta this year. Many things change on the island, but today, Circoloco proved it is as enduring and as phenomenal as it's ever been. DC10 is dead. Long live DC10!