elrow at Amnesia.
What lies in store for Ibiza in 2018? The nervous annual stalemate of who plays where is about to reach its conclusion.
Predicting what might happen in Ibiza is an extremely complicated task. But at the same time it's also tremendously exciting. Even by White Isle standards there are so many social, cultural and political factors at play right now that literally anything could happen.
Take a time machine back to this time last year and my inbox was full of Balearic party announcements. Fast forward to January 2018 and very little line-up info has been made available. The reason? The island's biggest clubs and promoters are extremely nervous about what went down last summer.
Apart from Elrow at Amnesia and to a lesser extent Paradise at DC10, no other weekly event really smashed it all season. Most parties managed to maintain workable numbers, but at the same time a handful of really experienced brand names promoting apex line-ups suffered badly. The result? For now, at least, the big players are choosing to stick rather than twist.
In many ways, the winter workings of the Ibiza dance scene draw parallels with Europe's soccer transfer window: the entire scene is forced to wait around for the biggest transfers to complete before a cascade of lesser deals can be sanctioned.
As things stand, early announcements are thin on the ground. Armin Van Buuren’s Wednesday and Glitterbox’s Friday residencies have been confirmed at Hï Ibiza and Tomorrowland are back on Tuesdays at Ushuaïa. Stormzy is back for two dates at Ibiza Rocks. For the rest, all we have are rumours to go on. Two huge techno parties were, up until last week, on the brink of leaving their long-term homes (and one of these still might).
Sankeys is rumoured to be close to changing ownership. One of their most successful parties Abode is rumoured to be talking with Amnesia. Pacha did not open this Winter so far and is rumoured to be undergoing a refurb although there is plenty of speculation as to which of their residencies will remain or move on. After playing the WooMoon room for Amnesia closing last year, Damian Lazarus is rumoured to be tying in further with the desert techno brand, and potentially even doing a new spin off party at Cova Santa.
Away from the dancefloor, one of the most intriguing stories to watch out for this summer concerns the continued hike in rental prices across the island. With many landlords now renting their properties to tourists at a daily rate, the workers and young girls and boys who keep Ibiza functional throughout the summer are finding summer accommodation harder to find at any price.
All basic accommodation in San Antonio has already been snapped up, meaning many of the young dance music fanatics who assemble on the island in late April to look for work will find housing much harder to score than employment. Exactly how this situation will affect the island's best clubs, cafés and restaurants remains unclear, but if the war on Airbnb and other illegal holiday letting websites continues to falter, then Ibiza's most famous brand names may be on the brink of an employment crisis.
What is probably the safest bet of them all is that Ibiza 2018 will feel more corporate than ever before. If you thought the controversy over the island’s pandering to the international jet was mere posturing, then you were, in hindsight, being extremely naive.
The Rubicon was crossed last summer. Club, café, bar, restaurant and hotel prices rose to such an astronomical level that many young ravers simply couldn't afford to party on the island. Ibiza remains as busy as ever, of course, but clientele demographics are changing year on year. And it's becoming noticeable.
Holidaymakers visiting the White Isle these days are certainly more affluent, but they're also older and typically they don’t want to go clubbing more than twice a week. The upshot of the shift? Less ravers on the dancefloor generating all that lovely primal energy, the wild rebel vitality that every party needs before it can truly kick off.
Only a few days ago, Space’s successors Hï Ibiza announced their new super early bird ticketing scheme for 2018, selling tickets for as low as €20. It may seem like a common sense approach to attract the traditional Ibiza clubber back onto the dancefloor. But this is Ibiza and common sense and clubs don’t always go hand in hand on an island that has pursued an aggressive “take, take take” policy from its fan base for as long as we can remember.
In contrast to recent years, sensible tiered pricing seems a radical move that hopefully will have knock on effect with its rivals. If only that common sense could be applied to drinks prices too. Eitherway, it's up to the island's other juggernaut venues to lay down a card and be brave in uncertain times.