Ibiza is Europe’s premier clubbing Mecca. It inspired the UK’s dance scene when a gaggle of DJs had an epiphany at island club Amnesia in the summer of ’87, and exported acid house back to London. Meanwhile, in Manchester, Graeme Park, and Mike Pickering were importing house records from New York and Chicago and helping to kick off the dance scene up north.
Clubs have been a part of Ibiza for forty years or more, since its place on the so-called ”Ëhippy trail’ from the 1950s onwards. Disco may have fallen out of favour in the late ”Ë70s, but in the ”Ë80s Ibiza clubs like Ku (now Privilege) picked up Studio 54’s baton of hedonism, glamour and excess. Grace Jones, Freddie Mercury and the like would get involved in the decadent Bacchanalian parties, and clubs since then have expanded and multiplied on the island.
In contrast, in the UK, nightclubs were generally places playing chart music where young people went to pull, after the pubs shut. The dance scene ”â after it exploded following the acid house Summers Of Love ”â grew from quite a punky DiY ethos. Indeed, quite a few ex-punks ”â from Orbital to some of the Spiral Tribe collective ”â got into dance music as a new sonic evolutionary step.
Night-time licensing restrictions meant that there wasn’t much to do after the pubs kicked out in most cities, so people began putting on their own parties ”â illegal warehouse raves, in squats, free parties in the outdoors, or massive cop-dodging pay parties. Electronic music converts had a go themselves at putting on events, DJing or making some rudimentary dance tracks in their bedrooms. Feeding the thriving scene were scores of 12-inch white labels, independently distributed.
After its ecstasy honeymoon, the music got darker in the UK in the early ”Ë90s ”â reflecting the darker drugs seeping into the scene ”â but Ibiza, with its eternal sunshine and good vibes, kept the house music spirit fully ingrained in the fabric of life. By the late ”Ë90s, as UK clubbing brands like Cream, GodsKitchen, Gatecrasher and Ministry Of Sound expanded their events onto the island, trance music started to dominate, and with this commercial explosion came tons more UK visitors.
Until the late ”Ë90s, an Ibiza clubbing excursion was pretty much reserved for those ”Ëin the know’, but when TV programme Ibiza Uncovered exposed and sensationalised the drunken antics of Brits abroad it temporarily gave the island a bad name.
There are still your fair share of drunken Brits abroad in the San Antonio area of Ibiza, but in truth there is probably less trouble here than most UK city’s high streets on a Saturday night ”â possibly because ecstasy is still often in the mix. San An clubs like Es Paradis and Eden still cater for young people who could almost be at Benidorm or Magaluf, yet there is a whole other side to the island that sets it apart from those Easyjet/Ryan Air-accessed tourist hotspots.
In San An itself, it’s a tradition to watch the sun set on Sunset Strip, populated by cafÃÂ© bars such as Mambo, Savannah and the legendary chill-out zone CafÃÂ© Del Mar. There’s a surviving hippy bar around the bay, Kumharas, and in recent years Ibiza Rocks has brought rock and indie music to Ibiza. With weekly gigs in its hotel complex ”â including the likes of The Prodigy, The Libertines and Dizzee Rascal in recent years ”â and now their own bar, this offshoot from former Manchester institution Manumission is catering for music-lovers who still like to rock ”â as are dance/rock ”Ëcrossover’ nights like the Annie Mac-fronted Tonight at Amnesia (Chase & Status, Erol Alkan, dubsteppers Skream & Benga etc) and the weekly I Want My MTV Ibiza show, featuring bands such as Primal Scream doing ”ËScreamadelica’, Snoop Dogg and even Duran Duran.
Over the other side of the island in Playa d’en Bossa, a branch of Sankeys Manchester has opened up and there are also glamorous clubs like Pacha ”â with weekly nights run by Pete Tong, David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia ”â and Space, possibly the best club in the world. On the night our gang goes here, it’s Carl Cox’s Revolution night, featuring French techno maestro Laurent Garnier, Radio 1’s jazz-world aficionado Gilles Peterson and born-again DJ Moby, who told this writer a while ago that he now prefers playing other people’s records in a dingy basement to 100 people than performing his own music in front of 10,000.
The cosmopolitan crowd, massive cavernous rooms, ice cannons that blast the crowd at appropriate intervals, and a pukka Funktion 1 soundsystem make this a fantastic place to experience underground dance music in many shapes and sizes.
There’s something magical about the island, and the beautiful outlying villages like Santa Gertrudis, San Jose (if you know the way) and San Miguel are as picturesque as anything in France, Italy or Greece.
Ibiza has something for everyone, and even if you aren’t into clubbing of any sort whatsoever, you’ll still sure to find some special experiences for a relatively cheap price.