A Cream boat party enjoys an Ibiza sunset.
When it comes to booking artists, creating aspirational brands and selecting stomping tunes, British faces are still at the very forefront of making Ibiza tick. For the third instalment of our feature series reviewing the Ibiza 2017 season, we speak to Archie Hamilton, Cream's Nick Ferguson and Paradise's Nick Yates. Three influential British figures, all of whom had a massive White Isle summer.
Archie Hamilton (left) and Rossko back to back at Fuse closing.
Archie Hamilton, DJ: “Ibiza 2017 was a really special year for me. I feel as though I'm at the beginning of the next stage of my career and what transpired in Ibiza this season played a major part in that. I played some pretty high profile gigs - the Fuse Closing Party at Amnesia was really special, and the Carl Cox gig I played at Privilege was magic.
As for life on the dancefloor, we're very lucky at Fuse. We have a very loyal crowd. We had a solid foundation of regulars who came down for each of our four events. I was always able to look out at Amnesia and see plenty of friendly faces on the dancefloor. We had the benefit of having gaps between all of our parties; I’m sure it would have been harder work if we’d been weekly.
I think that's because the island is changing and generally becoming more high end. There seem to be a lot more selfies being taken and it doesn’t feel as ravey as it used to be. But the weirdest thing is that the clubs are just not as full as they once were, despite the fact that this season was the busiest the island has ever been in terms of tourist numbers. So the question is: where are people going? It seems as though they're spending more time in the fancy restaurants and having dinner parties at their villas. Apparently the private catering market is booming.
Ultimately, it does seem like the kids are being priced out and that the high prices are attracting different people to the island. And yet I'm flinching slightly when I say this because I don’t want to put people off. I don't want people to read this and think that Ibiza is over, because it's definitely not over. It's still the most amazing place on the planet to party and until somewhere else comes along with the same kind of magical vibe, people will keep going year on year.
So, Ibiza is going through a transitional phase that feels a little tough right now, but in the long-term it isn't necessary a bad thing. After all, there's so much room for new and novel things to develop. Just look at all the top notch music coming out at the moment. If the musical output on the island continues to evolve at the current rate then it will act as the glue that holds the island together."
Even Fatboy Slim can't get served in Ibiza.
Nick Ferguson, Cream promoter: "As a promoter, you used to know exactly how each month would pan out. You would open well, June would be average, then July would be super busy. August was traditionally peak season. Then, by the time September arrived, you would be quite happy to see out the season on decent numbers. But, for us at least, this paradigm has completely changed. Strangely enough, September is now our busiest month. For the last two years, our three biggest shows have all been in September. We always have another really big month in July. But August has become a bit trickier; there seem to be less English people on the island in August and our peak season numbers have literally moved to September, which means we've been finishing the season really strongly.
The big challenge now for British promoters in Ibiza is battling against festivals back in the UK. At the end of August, for instance, you're up against the likes of Creamfields, SW4, Reading and Leeds. For this reason, you can't expect to have ridiculously busy shows in the latter half of August anymore, because all the young British clubbers are at home in Britain, partying at [UK] festivals. These are the trends that started playing out two years ago and I think this is the ways things will continue.
Musically, Ibiza 2017 was the summer Cream pulled a little further away from the EDM sound. We still had a couple of EDM artists performing, but we tend to sell more tickets with acts that are not playing that sound. Artists like Fatboy Slim, Paul van Dyk and Above & Beyond worked really well as our main residents, with various established and exciting breakthrough artists supporting every week.
Moving forward to next summer, we will make a few positive tweaks here and there, but Cream doesn’t usually make big radical changes, simply because we don’t normally have to. We are always in good shape and excited for the following season. There's a lot to be said about building a history with a club and not switching venues year after year."
Nick (middle) and Kenlou (Kenny Dope and Louie Vega)
Nick Yates, Paradise promoter: "One of the biggest lessons I learned is not to live in Ibiza again. This year, I tended to fly in on a Tuesday and then fly out again on Thursday after the gig. Having spent ten summers in Ibiza I realised that I was missing my family growing up, my nephews. Next year I definitely want to do the same - fly in for my shows, do my job, then fly back out again. Ibiza is an amazing place, but the island can suck you in. It's all about finding the right balance between the clubs and normality.
Obviously there is more money coming into Ibiza these days and everybody likes to have a whinge about that, but so far it hasn’t affected us. Ibiza is what you make it. As long as you are with your friends and you are having a good time, it's a hard mix to beat.
Bookings wise, this summer was one of my favourite years. The line-ups we pulled together were the best we've had yet. We had a good split between slightly harder sounds in the inside room and a bit more house on the terrace. From bringing in Masters at Work, Adam Beyer performing on the Terrace, Jamie playing back to back with Tale of Us, both musically and in terms of bookings, it's going to be hard to beat that kind of output next year, but I'm working on it. Believe it or not, I'm actually going into the office today to start booking artists for Ibiza 2018. I like to set myself a challenge and next season we'll be looking to take that next step. It's going to be a massive task, but I reckon I can do it."