You beetha, I beetha, we all beetha for Ibiza
Color me converted: after damn near 10 years of writing about dance music—and three and a half times that being one of the more cantankerous, irrationally prejudicial people I know—I finally ventured off to Ibiza to see what the fuss was all about. Incredible as it may sound, even a notorious fussbudget like myself couldn't stay mad at the island. The landscape was ten times nicer than I expected, there wasn't a fish and chips shop in sight, and I only saw two cowboy hats the entire time I was there. Granted, the only party I attended was Sven Väth's Cocoon blowout at Amnesia, which was hardly the bangers'n'mash set; I heard more Italian (and German, duh) in the audience than English.
I'll have more to say about Cocoon @ Amnesia in an upcoming review for Groove and possibly the next "Month in Techno" column. A few highlights will suffice: Roman Flügel's main-room DJ session, a good three hours at least, split the difference between "Rocker" and his Soylent Green project to turn out a set that was bristling with tough rhythms and tender atmospherics; his peak moment was undoubtedly dropping Radio Slave's remix of Chelonis R. Jones' "Deer in the Headlights," which remains my peak-hour track of the year. (Listen or purchase on Beatport or, for subscribers, eMusic.) Was pleased and surprised to run into a couple of Kompakt hochos in the upstairs VIP—Reinhard Voigt, promo goddess Jeannine, Wolfgang and his girlfriend Claudia, of c-o pop. The spiky-haired former Mike Ink was enjoying his first visit to the island, suggesting that the Germanification of Ibiza may be almost complete. Reinhard "Baby" Voigt, meanwhile, couldn't stop enthusing about the island's food, as well as its celebrity—they had just come from a restaurant where Kevin Spacey was seated at the next table. If Mr. Lex Luthor took up Väth on his offer of guest-list, though, he must've been socked away in one of the super-VIP hideaways, because I never saw him. (That is, unless Spacey made like the many Cocoon fans that came to the party in full "Wildlife" mode, made up to resemble the (in)famous press photo of Sven, Richie, Ricardo and André Galuzzi in Kiss mode.)
Villalobos and Luciano tag-teamed away the night in the terraza (slightly misnamed—the island's laws prohibit open-air clubs, so everything these days is roofed), interspersed with several sets from Playhouse/Ongaku/Klang co-founder Ata, who proved himself a fantastic selector and nimble mixer, teasing out hidden threads and rolling between peaks and valleys so subtly you hardly notice you've changed altitude. The dynamic duo, meanwhile, were in fine form for about two thirds of their set, opening with slinky, sexy funk in the vein of Daze Maxim's unbeatable Simply Driving Gold; by the home stretch of the night, though, the two were solidly in bang-bang-bang mode, with an infernal, overdriven kick obliterating all details and any semblance of a groove. Ata's return to the decks put the party back on course, and things ended promptly—way too promptly—at 7 a.m. with the lopsided disco of Soft Cell's "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye."
The first thing you notice on arriving in Ibiza is the publicity—every billboard, it seems, is given over to club advertising, and every taxi is plastered with magnetic panels emblazoned with still more club adverts. Even sugar packets turn out to be valuable promotional real estate.
Make no mistake, Ibiza has some of the most stupidly named parties in the history of clubbing. These doozies were painted on the outside of Fun Factory Morning Club, the afterhours spot in the basement of my hotel.
Roman Flügel gets his crowd noch-ed up.
Those charming men.
Ata at full attention.
Just before Ata was beamed back up to the Mothership.
Ricardo reaches out for a little crowd support.
Waiting for taxis outside Amnesia, as glimpsed from inside the "disco bus." Not as bad as the line for the bus home from Sónar Noche—but under a much, much hotter sun. Who can even think of afterparties in heat like this? (Obviously, a lot of people. Me, I hit the hay for three creaky hours of sleep before catching the flight home. Recovery: still in progress.)