Hï's first season in Ibiza should be viewed as an outstanding success. Why? Well, cast your mind back to October 2, 2016. Never before has the electronic dance music scene witnessed the level of nostalgia generated at the last ever Space Closing Fiesta. For many diehard ravers, the closure of Space felt like a bereavement. And in their mourning those affected acted accordingly, castigating the advent of Hï and all it stood for.
But the hate didn't last long. Team Hï refused to react to the social goading that came their way over the winter time. Instead, they kept their heads down, preferring to concentrate on the job in hand.
And what a mammoth job that was. By the time the International Music Summit rolled around in late May 2017, Space was more or less gone. The old structure comprehensively remodelled, refurbished and rethought, inside and out. Love the redesign or loathe it, it was impossible not to marvel at the speed and thoroughness of the work carried over the wintertime. Typically, Mediterranean work crews don't work that fast.
About what was once the Discoteca, instead a crescent of VIP booths swept down from the ceiling, totally transforming the ambience of the room. The legendary Sunset Terrace was now an alfresco courtyard. El Salon, once dark and devious, gave way to an alfresco garden littered with tepee tents. And what about those grim shopping mall-style toilets? Torn down, broken up and metamorphosed into a brand new tourist attraction - that's right, a state of the art, bespoke DJ booth banging out in the middle of 50 chrome-plated toilet cubicles. In other words, everything had changed. Initially, it was a shock to all of us. Even the DJs.
Todd Terry, in town to headline the Glitterbox Opening Party in June, is just one case in point. Joining up with the 'Keep on Jumping' star for a backstage interview prior to his set, Terry, a Space regular for two decades, seemed as perplexed as the rest of us. For as much as we searched, it was impossible to catch sight of the old venue peeking out from beneath the new.
And perhaps that was the grand plan all along? A broad top to bottom refurb contrived not only to regenerate the venue architecturally, but also to hinder any comparison with the way things were before. After all, how many of us harbour affectionate memories of Space? The old Carry On parties. Sundays with James Zabiela. Stomping about to Richie Hawtin in Enter's first season. And the last ever Closing Fiesta with Carl Cox at the helm. Hazed memories, perhaps, yet undeniably deep. Constantly triggering the sweet memory of bygone summers wouldn't have done anyone any good - you, me or the new team running the venue. And so they changed the lot. Lock, stock and barrel.
Another factor behind the sweeping changes, in particular the addition and augmentation of the aforementioned VIP areas, might have been to discourage the old purist rave sect from attending the new venue at all. After all, digging up the past only gets you dirty. Or maybe not. Maybe we're being too conspiratorial. Perhaps the redesign is best explained as a prophetic vision. A gleaming, glistening dance music complex designed to cater for the Balearic raver of the future. Either way, team Hï paid homage to the past in dignified fashion. Then eradicated it.
No doubt, whatever transpired on the dancefloor in year one would be seen as a bonus. Yet to be fair there was plenty to shout about. Glitterbox was the only party to survive the shift from Space to Hï, but as you might expect Defected's disco premise thrived amongst the argent glitz. Musically, Black Coffee lent the venue a sense of culture, the South African star digging deep every week, taking us on extended electronic journeys, his output traversing continents and genres with equal aplomb. But arguably Hï's trump card was In The Dark, a new deep-tech party which quickly became a bona-fide workers hangout. Here Kölsch, Joris Voorn and Steve Lawler set about indoctrinating a new generation of dance music disciples as to the new curriculum. For many of those worker kids on the dancefloor it was their first summer in Ibiza. They never had the chance to party at Space and after a few nights out at Hï the thought of what clublife used to be like in Playa d'en Bossa never crossed their minds again.
Of course, Hï didn't get everything right in their first season. The new Adamson sound rig lacked punch in those early weeks of the season. By the end of June, however, it was purring away, albeit with less oomph than the old Funktion-One.
Moving forward to season two, the big news coming out of Hï this summer is the arrival of iconic trance brand Cream. After a huge 22-year run at rival superclub Amnesia, Cream's switch to Hï is one of the most high profile Ibiza brand transfers of all time. But even so, if Cream had of been available last summer, do you think Hï would have pounced?
Generally when an international brand license of Cream-sized proportions becomes available every venue in clubland throws their hat into the ring to sign them up. Put simply, having the name Cream stencilled above your doorway guarantees ticket sales. Even a nightclub like Hï, who prefer to create their own brand names and generally fashion their party concepts around a central act, appear to regard the option a no-brainer.
But it is our contention that Cream to Hï wouldn't have worked last year. A flagship, fiesta-style event, Cream would have drawn too many comparisons to We Love… Sundays at Space and maybe even elrow. And that wouldn't have made any sense at all, because the biggest hurdle team Hï had to surmount in season one was overcoming the iconic weight of the past. Remarkably, it’s a feat they achieved within a few months of opening, either consciously or subconsciously, but nevertheless brilliantly. Had they made the mistake of allowing history to linger, even the kids who never raved at Space would have felt its legendary essence lingering about the ether, haunting the dance floor like some phantom double beat.
After the reading, comes the listening: