As the sun begins to really cast its rays across La Isla Blanca, the search for the World Dance Music Capital returns home to weigh up the quality of our island's discos.
I'm struggling to think of any other place on earth that is so synonymous with electronic music and club culture and words of introduction are hardly necessary, so here's what a few blokes think:
Sven Vath: The first time I came to Ibiza wasÂ 1980. The atmosphere was tropical and none of the clubs had aÂ roof - people were dancing under the moonlight in the clubs.Â People likeÂ Grace Jones,Â Jean Paul GaultierÂ andÂ Duran Duran were hanging out, taking drugs and having a good time. The people on the dance floor... it was quite glamorous for that time. I think it inspired a lot of people during that era. There were also a lot of hippies and freaks that were already there since the 60s. Ibiza always attracted the birds of paradise, people who like to party and go out of themselves.Â Ibiza for me was always, well, nature was always a very important aspect and partying with everyone on the island, too. If you do a party, I always wanted a very international crowd. That's whyÂ IbizaÂ was so special - people came from all over the world to party there. I played during the 1990s when it was still half legal to do parties at the beaches. At the end of '90s, I said to myself, "Sven, I like this island so much that I want to come here and do my own night, myÂ CocoonÂ night."
Erick Morillo: Ibiza is awesome! You have the best clubs in the world and the best (and most informed) clubbers in the world - it's club culture at its very best and then you have the beautiful beaches and the serenity of the island. I love to spend my summer's there, using it as a base for my residency every Wednesday at Pacha! Those who say Ibiza is over just don't have a clue, IÂ know it gets a little too packed sometimes over there but that's just what happens when something gets popular - but speaking as a DJ it's still the best place in the world to play!
Tiesto: IÂ do spend time here and I can really relax on the island, you'd be surprised. I don't go out so much, just to a few really beautiful places where people don't know who I am. There's an amazing energy to Ibiza, it is magical, it's indescribable really and I like the mix of people,Â Americans, Brazilians,Â EuropeansÂ - everyone is here.
Despite being around for over 25 years, this outpost of buildings known as Can Miquel or dc10 is Ibiza's most talked about and controversial club of the last decade - bar none - and it's all thanks to one party. The club, that once had a plane on the roof, began life as just another bit-part small space for random parties until the now very well known Italians Andrea and Antonio, with a little bit of help from Charlie Chester, started a Monday morning afterhours to complement the popular Home Sundays at Space, which finished at 6am. Circo Loco was marvel of Ibiza afterhours clubbing; free entry, true open air clubbing and top quality house music that never wavered far from tribal, which was flavour of the month. That people like Sasha, Danny Tenaglia,Â Pete Tong would turn up unannounced and play for free, and sometimes not be allowed on the decks, became part of the growing legend of the club. Gradually, the afterhours party became a party in its own right and the whole operation became much more commercial, even Mixmag was doing cover features on it by 2002. Yet, the madness that had existed in the early days continued as the event embraced minimal techno and the hype surrounding it went into overdrive. Mickey mouse, fancy dress, people sitting down in clubs and a sarcastic motto of "Sorry we are Circo Loco" guaranteed Circo Loco and dc10's place in the history books. But it was a constant source of aggravation to the authorities, who cited blatant drug abuse and a totally inadequate licence as reason to close the clubs on several occasions in recent times. As of 2009, it remains closed and we can only keep fingers crossed that we'll see the likes of Ricardo and Luciano back there in the future.
VIP - Not really, squeeze your way into the DJ booth with a thousand others. In the old days, things were so informal that the DJ would let you join him behind the decks if you wanted your picture taken!
Signature Parties - There can be only one......Circo Loco.
Andrea Pelino: When I met Antonio, he was running a party onÂ SundayÂ night in DC10, the clubÂ had a very bad reputation at the time. I went to his party on Sunday night and on the morning he still had a couple hundred people dancing under the sun in the terrace, I looked at him and said "well you should have started the party now", and from there, with the help ofÂ Cirillo, we decided to team up to launch theÂ Monday Morning Sessions.
Tania Vulcano: When I started playing at Circo Loco, everybody was like, 'why are you doing it? Nobody's going to go to a club on a Monday morning!'Â It was really shitty, a horrible place, it was aÂ mess. No good sound system, nothing. But I was there from the first day. I was happy.
Address: Carretera de las Salinas KM1 - Sant Josep de la Talaia, Balears Spain 07817
The Godfather of Ibicenco Nightlife, Pacha has been at the top of the tree since 1973 when an old finca in the marshland outside Ibiza Town was used for parties bearing the now globally franchised name. Pacha has more charm and character than the rest of island's clubs put together; its endless stairs that interconnect all the rooms, the maze of tiered levels in the main room, the first time you discover the funky room and then stay all night - this is Pacha's virtue. There is something about Pacha that oozes class - the original 'clubbing with style'; this is where the rich and famous come to party, yet the music has always been the core component of the club's success. Although there have been the odd variation with nights like Perfecto or Renaissance, Pacha is generally a house music only zone, though it must be recognised that that tag includes everything from the deep and smooth of Def Mix through the high energy and singalongs of Erick Morillo to the blatant populist sound of F*** Me I'm Famous. In fact, the popularity of Pacha, combined with the extensive VIP culture, has made it the uncool parent amongst Ibiza discotecas, at best a little bit too grown up and civilized and at worst.....downright snobbish. Sure, it might not have the cutting edge of dc10, but it doesn't try to either; moreover, the main room has an unparalleled intimacy that means it smashes like a jackhammer when it goes off.
Rooms - 6 - Main Room, Global Room, El Cielo (Funky Room), Sweet (formerly Pachacha), Roof Terrace, Restaurant
VIP - The most extensive VIP area of any Ibiza club, in fact half the main room is taken up by various levels of VIPism.
Signature Parties - Heavyweights of house music from a legendary Friday night Ministry of Sound residency through parties hosted by Roger Sanchez, Erick Morillo, David Guetta and Defected. The best of all though is Flower Power, a definite box to be ticked in order to get your full Ibiza clubbing stripes.
Erick Morillo: I've been playing Pacha since 1994 and doing my own parties since 2001. With over 30 years of history, Pacha is still the most glamorous club on the island and is now my spiritual home.
Frankie Knuckles: The thing that makes Pacha so special is its longevity. The club is legendary! Some of the world's most famous celebrities, superstars and superstar DJs have passed through this room. To see how well it's held up over the years is a testament to quality production. There are other great clubs on the island but none that can hold a candle to what Pacha is all about.
Address: Avda 8 Agosto - SN - Ibiza, Spain 07800
If the walls of this old finca could speak, their tales would fascinate you, you may have even been a part of them. From Alfredo's early days to the Oakenfold/Rampling/Holloway experience in 1987 through mammoth residencies such as Up Yer Ronson, Cream and Cocoon, Amnesia has always been a true temple to clubbing. A cavernous main room with the god like elevated DJ booth that has seen pretty much every name in dance music history grace its decks, from which point nights of pure hedonism and lucid malevolence have been composed and experienced by the swinging multitude in the pit of a dance floor below. The secret weapon, which has to be felt to be believed, is the dramatic ice cannon whose infrequent use means it still remains a mystique despite its notoriety.
Since 2008's renovation, and the removal of the bus stop DJ booth, the Amnesia terrace is now without doubt one of the world's premier clubbing spaces, enabling 7000 punters to cram in here on the big nights. An integral part of the authentic Amnesia experience, it was still partly open air until the late 90s and then spent 10 years of sporadic success, most notably La Troya and more recently with Cocoon and Cream. BUT, 2008's renovation changed everything, even creating friction between main room DJs and their terrace counterparts, as it became obvious the terrace was the place to be.
VIP - Amnesia VIP area is like another club in itself and is situated above the dance floor; on balconies in the terrace and tiered upwards in the main room. With a capacity, across both rooms, that is close to 1000 when full to bursting (try every Monday at Cocoon for example), the VIP alone has 4 bars and extensive tables overlooking the masses below.
Signature Parties - Cream and Cocoon are both due a testimonial, whilst Armada has a solid fan base. For me though, Wednesday nights, or more like Thursday mornings, at La Troya drinking Coco Loco represented everything you needed to know about Amnesia's ability to host a party.
Paul Van Dyk: Amnesia is my summer home, I have been playing there for over 10 years now and it is always a lot of fun to play to my fans there. The main room has such a special atmosphere and I couldn't believe it the first time I saw the ice cannon. Amazing!
Sven Vath: CocoonÂ was always known for quality - the club night, promotion, label, music. We always did really nice decorations every year, with different themes and costumes. People also know that when the party is over, there's always some special bonus party here or there. But I can't tell you these days if we're going to keep doing it - but we're working on it. It's really illegal right now.Â And 2008 really was the bomb. A breathtaking atmosphere at every party. I think we have established ourselves so well that we're leading the club sound on the island. We won awards and featured lots of exciting new talent as well - Reboot, Johnny D and Villalobos playing live for the first time.
Address: Carretera Eivissa-sant Antoni KM 5 - San Rafael, Balears Spain 07816
Another monster of the Ibiza clubbing scene, regularly voted amongst the world's best clubs in polls and since 2004 has undergone a transformation that has seen its size grow exponentially. Ibicenco PepeRosello 's club has grown to become a part of dance music culture folklore; largely helped when Alex P and Brandon Block inadvertently 'created' the most famous terrace in the world, Sundays at Space developed to become an ritual of clubbing in Ibiza unparalleled to this day. A byword for the type of open air, free spirited, smiley clubbing that made Ibiza the clubbing mecca of the world; Sundays on the Space terrace were the ultimate in sunglasses wearing silliness and happy times all round. Typical of how things were then, the DJ booth on the terrace was located behind the main bar and not centre stage like now. By 1999 Darren Hughes had made Home a reality; a 22 hour clubbing marathon from Sunday 8am till Monday 6am that saw some truly mouth watering lineups of house music on the terrace during the day and progressive and techno inside in the discoteca at night. Despite the success of Home, later to became We Love Sundays, for the rest of the week Space was still predominantly an afterhours venue with Carl Cox's event the first real exception.
As clubland was reaching the end of one huge crest of a wave, and perhaps lulled by a false sense of security that the success during this time had given them, Space started a building plan in 2005 that converted the perfect day and night (terrace and discoteca) venue into a labyrinth made up of side rooms and corridors leading to staircases channeling back to more corridors and side rooms. The capacity shot up from about 3000 pre-2004 to today's 6000 - make that 15000 when the Parking terrace is in operation. In recent years, and now as a result of legislation, the club has extended its nocturnal activity and the earliest opening time is on Sunday at 4.30pm, although the club is rarely busy until well after the sun has set. Despite Space's rightful place as one of the world's finest arenas for epic and high octance dance music, it's hard not to lament the loss of one of the essential Ibiza clubbing experiences into an overall cleaner cut and sterile venue. Away from the masses, the Sunset Terrace, El Salon and the Red Box provide a little more of the old enchantment Space was so brilliant at enrapturing you with.
VIP - A relatively new aspect of clubbing life at Space, with the terrace now housing VIP areas on a raised level and the Discoteca having a small space behind the DJ console
Signature Parties - Mammoth Opening and Closing parties (the traditional symbol for the beginning and end of the clubbing season) Sundays at Space (although it is more like Monday morning now), Manumission Carry On (you had to be there!), Carl Cox and Matinee (another sadly confined to night time activity rather than the legendary afterhours entertainment)
Danny Tenaglia: What's there not to love about Space? Just arriving at the venue, there's something magical about it. It's like being a child going to DisneyworldÂ - if you love nightclubs. You feel like you've left reality and entered Space!
Darren Hughes: Compared to other Ibiza clubs, Space always had the unique nature of the terrace. It's grown into a bit of an institution really.
Address: Carretera de Platge Den Bossa - Sant Josep de la Talaia, Spain 07817
The self-proclaimed 'World's Biggest Club', the club formerly known as Ku had been a classic open air party place for the Ibiza jet set during the 1980s with a swimming pool (over which the DJ booth would later be situated) that became emblematic of the club's flamboyance. After legislation banning open air clubs, Privilege had one roof collapse in a storm before the aircraft hangar of a club we see today was created in the early 90s. Changing from Ku to Privilege in the early 90s, though it was still called Ku by most people (and promoted that way on flyers), it was to be Manumission from 1994 that would bring the club its greatest notoriety. For over a decade, but particularly from 1997-2002, Manumission was quite simply a monster, bringing in close to 13,000 on the busy nights and influencing the whole modus operandi of bars and restaurants on the island each Monday evening. Nobody did it bigger and better than the Mish; unannounced DJs, full scale acrobatic productions, Fatboy Slim DJing the in The Toilet, themes that really meant something and of course the sex shows - Manumission is still regarding as the quintessential example of what is different about clubbing in Ibiza. Since the acrimonious departure of Manumission in 2007, Tiesto and Supermartxe have ably filled the gap, and the 10,000 capacity, with some spectacular shows and glitzy productions. Meanwhile in the Coco Loco room, Privilege has one of the true delights of Ibicenco nightlife.
VIP - The royal box of Ibiza VIP areas, getting behind the velvet rope here offers views right across the huge main room and is the best place to see the many extravagant productions that have helped Privilege utilise its size to maximum potential.
Signature Parties - Manumission (no more), Renaissance Live (mammoth live shows featuring dance music's finest live acts, errr.....and Kylie too) and later, Meganite,Â Tiesto and Supermartxe.
Tiesto: Privilege is only place in Ibiza that I can do my shows and it is a show - a DJ set mixed with amazing live concert elements.Â There's a beautiful screen and it's a powerful and solid synced up show.Â Â TiestoÂ the DJ and Tiesto the artist combined in one.
Freddie Mercury:Â Ku was my playground during the 1980s with other friends like Grace Jones and Elton John and even Brigitte Bardot, when I was invited to perform Barcelona there in 1987 with the marvelous Monserrat CaballÃ© - I jumped at the chance. (Taken from Freddie Mercury: The Definitive Biography by Lesley Ann Jones)
Address: Apdo. Correos 94 - San Rafael, Spain 07816
A rather forgettable club called Kaos during the 90s, 5000 capacity Eden arrived in 1999 with the ambition of giving San Antonio clubbing some teeth in the increasingly competitive summer seasons. In 2008, the cheque book really came out as Pete Tong followed the dollar to parade his Wonderland event, which has been followed in 2009 by big crowd pullers Hed Kandi.
The club is basically set out with a figure of 8 shaped dance floor and the DJ booth at the one end close to the entrance. Upstairs, a balcony runs right around the figure of 8, with the portion closed off to make a separate space called 'The Looking Glass'. The Lovebox (back room), what was once the Star Bar (grotty afterhours par excellence) and later became 'The Garden of Eden' offers the main alternative to the music in the main room.
Rooms - Main Room, Lovebox, Looking Glass, VIP room, VIP chill out
VIP - There is a small VIP space behind the DJ booth in the main room, which adjoins a private VIP area. In addition, since 2008, there has been an outside VIP chillout space but let me be the first one to inform you that the very VIP price of a couple of drinks (close to 50 euros) is in stark contrast to the view of a union jack towels hanging off the balconies of a dilapidated building nearby.
Signature Parties - Historically Judgement Sundays, Garlands and Dave Pearce have been the staples at Eden over the past decade.
Pete Tong: "I'm very excited about finally having brought Wonderland to Ibiza and 2008 couldn't have gone better. It was time for me to start a new mission; Eden and San Antonio matched my ambition to create something fresh on the island.'.
Address: Calle Salvador Espriu - s/n - Sant Antoni De Portmany, Spain 07820
The fact I nearly forgot El Divino for this guide, tells you everything you need to know about its status amongst Ibiza clubs. Situated in the New Marina, the idyllic backdrop of Dalt Vila and Ibiza Town makes the terrace of this club one of the most frequently populated by island glitterati albeit it has faced increasing pressure from the monopoly that Pacha, Space and Amnesia seem to have over clubbers, DJs and promoters alike. Typically described with words like 'chic' and 'glamour', El Divino worked best with beautiful people parties like Miss Moneypennys and Hed Kandi, the latter of which ended their relationship in 2008. With a capacity no bigger than 1500, the size of the club was both an asset and an obstacle, providing a cosy vibe for the parties it did host but lacking the scalability that the bigger promoters wanted. With further developments plans earmarked for the area, El Divino remains one Ibiza club with a most uncertain future; enjoy it whilst it lasts.
Rooms - Disco, Terrace, Restaurant
VIP - One of the most famous on the island thanks to the views across to Ibiza Town.
Signature Parties - Miss Moneypennys, Hed Kandi, Salvacion
Louie Vega: We really feel we have re-introduced our soulful sound to the island during 2008 with our Soul Heaven event and this is in no small part thanks to El Divino, one of the most beautiful clubs I've played. We had a great crowd of regulars who stayed on the dance floor all night & were true music lovers and beautiful people.
Address: Puerto Nuevo - Ibiza, Spain 07800
Es Paradis Terrenal translates as Paradise on Earth and anyone who has stepped inside this beautiful arena will testify to the worthiness of such a title. Like a cross between a Greek temple and a garden centre, this arena is perhaps the most ornate clubbing space on the globe. Established in 1975, Es Paradis is one of the founding fathers of Ibiza clubland, yet it is the notorious water parties held here, combined with its pyramid roof, that make it iconic of Ibiza's extravagant and majestic clubs. Its San Antonio location meant that it was one of the first used by British promoters and in the mid to late 90s saw the likes of Sasha, David Morales, Erick Morillo, Danny Rampling gracing the podium like DJ booth above the small central amphitheatre of a dance floor. Since the dawn of the new millennium, Es Paradis' fall from grace could hardly have been more spectacular, with the exciting nights of the 90s long forgotten, the ubiquitous water parties remain the unique draw but if its cutting edge electronic sounds you seek, then look elsewhere.
Rooms -Â 3 Main Room, The Gallery (located upstairs on the front face of the pyramid), CafÃ© Paradis
VIP - The traditional VIP area is located upstairs on the back face of the pyramid. Recent additions include further VIP spaces in an area called the Red Room and another roped off part of the main club, called PrivÃ© Divine.
Jose Padilla: "In about 1976, I had the chance to play in Es Paradis, which was the main club in San Antonio, an open air place. It was beautiful during those years, you know? It was cosmopolitan, but there was also freaky hippie, you know. It was open air. It was a different vibe. Different people, different drugs. It was more relaxed, put it that way."
Address: Calle Salvador Espriu - s/n - Sant Antoni De Portmany, Spain 07820
The zoo that never was! How we still laugh that people actually believe Siberian tigers and polar bears used to chill there! Anyway, the former restaurant, that occasionally had animals, is one of the most unlikely clubbing spaces on the island. Situated out of San An near Benimussa, from the 90s onwards, it was commandeered by Club 18-30 who held many of excur$ions here, a free-for-all daytime club event basically. Then a few years ago, the Zoo Project turned up and have made their Saturday afternoon/evening parties one of the must-do events on the summer calendar. Utilising the uniqueness of the location to its maximum, as well as feeding the ongoing minimal beast, the Zoo Project's other big draw is that it offers outdoor and daytime clubbing, a particular attraction given the increasingly draconian laws governing the clubbing timetable. So whilst super cool labels like Freak n Chic and many of the Circo Loco supporting cast and have provided the compositions, the venue itself has provided an extraordinary clubbing space fit for a wild atmosphere. This is perhaps no better emphasised than by the 'Seal Pit' arena where banks of fancy dressed disco kids have a rave up around, well, a Seal Pit! Without question one of the workers' favourites and the good news is that the owners of the club have political connections, so don't expect it to be closing anytime soon.
Rooms - 2 outdoor arenas, the Seal Pit and a Pool area. There is also an indoor space called The Bunker
Signature Parties - The Zoo Project of course
Zoo Project: "The people that attend the Zoo are the Zoo and that's the way we're gonna keep it. The aim of the Zoo team is to bring more fun & entertainment to the techno music scene. We have mastered the art of making any venue into a zoo with the help of our wild animal theme, tribal percussionists, jungle fire spinners and animal dance performance hosted by The Minx FX. The Zoo Project is original and is definitely the Ibiza workers choice, the ones who really know what's up. Our aim is to show the world what the best UK clubbers have to offer and as a group unite all nationalities so we can all live in a safer and better world."
Address: Benimusa Hills - San Antonio, Spain 07820
The name says it all. Located opposite Privilege, this bastion of proper Ibicenco clubbing loves putting two fingers up at the status quo of clubbing life on the island, typically by offering cheap or free entry, affordable drinks and top notch unannounced international DJs. Take an average summer week and you might encounter Matthias Tanzmann, Rhadoo & Pedro and a Bar 25 (Berlin) hosted event, all promoted simply by an SMS to those in know. No hype, no PR, no bullshit. The venue itself is a throwback to an off the beaten track Amnesia or Ku in the early days; lots of plantlife, enough terracotta to start your own garden centre and the clichÃ©d idyllic terrace. 2008's laws mean it now has to close at 4am, but it still remains a popular island hang out for purists and industry folk alike. Best of all, you have an honest to goodness night out to quality electronic music without your wallet being assaulted
Juanito (Underground co-owner):Â "What I miss about the old days, is that it was like a family. You knew everybody: you went to Amnesia, orÂ PachaÂ or Ku and you knew everybody in every place. And what was best about it, and what we try to create here at the Underground, is that you went there because of the place. So we always had this idea for a little place, where if a DJ comes to play, it's because they want to play, not because you paid them money. And that's what's happened now, people that can charge a lot of money elsewhere, but they come here and play because they like the idea of the place"
Address:Â Carretera Eivissa-sant Antoni KM 7 - San Rafael, Balears Spain 07816
The name derives from its former function as a strip club called 'The Blue Rose', before becoming an underground delight in the heart of Figueretas. Its reputation has no doubt been helped by the fact Sven Vath loves the place and mini Cocoon events, called Nano, have been the main highlight in recent years, including appearances from Loco Dice, Tobi Neumann, Cassy and Sven himself. Inside, the club is tiny and always reminds me of the type of place Tony Montana might frequent in 1980s Miami, low ceiling, lots of mirrors and a cool (or is it hideous?) black and white checkered dancefloor. Blu is still something of an unknown within the wider Ibiza clubbing market, but the calibre of the nights it has hosted thus far signify that it has the potential to go in the right direction. Moreover, we welcome anywhere that has the balls to have a go at breaking the stranglehold of the big clubs.
Address: C navarra24 Figueretas 07800 Ibiza, Spain
I almost find it bizarre that this place even makes it to the list given its previous existence as the disco for the Garbi hotel. For years, it was cheesey pop, euro dance, lots of lobster coloured 40 something Brits with fat bellies having it large to S Club 7 and DJ Otzi. Then as part of the Hotel's makeover to a swish 4 star in 2008, the Garbi Disco became Martina, also having a makeover to give it a clean design and soft lighting as it became a real clubbing space, albeit quite a small one. Aside from the baggage it carries because of its history, the major problem thus far has been the lack of any worthwhile events with free/cheap nights with island residents about the best thing on offer. That said, if the owners decided to put a fraction of the money they've invested in the refurbishment of the hotel complex into booking some DJs, then the place has potential. More to the point, similarly to Blu, somebody has to give the Disco Mafia something to moan about.
Address: C/ de la Murtra 15 (Playa d'en Bossa) junto Hotel**** Garbi. Ibiza
Even more of a weird one, this club is another hotel based spot, located downstairs in the Hotel Ibiza Playa, Figueretas. Somni, the Catalan word for dream, was another new face on the clubbing scene in 2008 taking over from the former euro-pop heaven that was Spasmos. It shares a very similar story to Martina actually, in that most of the events held here have been local and resident only affairs, although that has included some of the more popular off season clubbing events. One plus point is the experimental programming that has seen non-electronic music events such as the fantastic Los Fabulosos and the contagious beats of their tropical world music.
Address: Calle de Tarragona 07800 Eivissa, Spain