2 New England guys' week on the island (June 21-28)


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I just got back to the States after more than a month in Europe, so I'm posting this a bit late. It's pretty long, but I wanted to write down as much as I could about the trip because I'm sure that within a month, I'll forget that the whole thing even happened. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 21

After a long day of traveling (from Boston via Paris and Barcelona), I landed on the White Isle at 5:30 pm. My friend, who had flown in earlier in the day from Germany, had already picked up the car and was waiting for me at the airport. Grabbed my bag, and we were off to Playa d’en Bossa to check in at the Dausol II apartments. For those of you doing Ibiza on a budget (if such a thing is possible), I highly recommend Dausol. The location was great (5 minutes from Bora Bora and Space), the apartment was spacious and had a/c, and it was substantially cheaper than a lot of the other apartments in the area.

After unpacking, we headed down to the sunset strip for dinner and drinks. By the time we got there, we had missed the sunset, but the bars were still crowded. We found a table at Savannah, and had a great pasta dinner. By the time we had finished eating, I was tired as hell from jetlag, but we were determined to continue drinking, so we drove to Ibiza town to check out Base Bar. To be honest, I’m not sure what all the hype is about this place. The setting is great – right on the marina – but it was impossible to hear the music from the tables outside, and the drinks were overpriced. Anyhow, we hung out there for a few hours, and in talking to one of the managers, we learned that John Creamer was the surprise guest dj at DC10 on Monday. That was a very nice bonus – as if the club lineups for the week needed to get any better! While at Base Bar, we picked up our tickets for Space and some other amenities for the week, and at 3:30, we stumbled back to the apartment, drunk, exhausted, and very excited for the week to come.

Sunday, June 22

*We Love Sundays at Space Opening Party*

The anticipation for this day/night was huge. We went to Space last year, but we missed out on the full terrace experience because we went there directly after the club from the night before, leaving us exhausted by mid-day. We didn’t make the same mistake this year. At 2:00 in the afternoon, we made our way to Space. There was no line, and we walked into the club, to the sight of Space resident, Jonathan Ulysses, moving the terrace crowd to some uplifting, disco-influenced house. Now, normally, disco-house isn’t really my thing, but that day, it really was perfect for the time and place. It was a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, everyone was smiling, and this music really seemed to capture the mood on the floor. Highlight of his set: a remix of ‘Let the Sunshine In’ that drove the place nuts. After Ulysses came Space and DC10 resident, Jo Mills. Jo did a nice job of cranking up the intensity a few notches with some darker and more percussive house. The ‘Thrill Her’ mashup of ‘Thriller’ went down very well. After about three and a half hours on the terrace, we decided to head back to the apartment for a break. The music and the vibe were incredible, and we were reluctant to leave, but we knew that if we wanted to have anything left in the tank for the long night ahead, we needed to rest up. So, we went back to the apartment, changed, grabbed dinner at Morea, and we were back in the club by 8:30 (again, to my surprise, there was hardly anyone in the line for the ticket-holders). The terrace had really filled up while we were gone. The place was packed to the gills, it was intensely hot, and it took some effort to find some room to dance. When we got in, Smokin Jo was on the decks. While the woman is gorgeous, she doesn’t really amount to much as a dj. Big anthems seemed to be the order of the day – Two Months Off, Jon Carter’s ‘Let’s Go Down,’ ‘Big Room Drama,’ etc. Now, don’t get me wrong, these are all great tunes, but they’re a bit stale, and the set just didn’t really have any kind of flow to it – I had expected more. Unfortunately, Steve Lawler picked up where Smokin Jo left off. I saw Lawler at Arc in New York last year, and he totally blew me away. That night on the terrace, however, he sounded pretty flat. He just hammered out more big tunes without a strong sense of how the set was programmed. At around midnight, P. Diddy’s ‘Let’s Get Ill’ came on, and that point, we needed a change of scenery (that song literally turns my stomach – though I suppose that’s in keeping with it’s title).

We decided to head inside, and within half an hour, James Zabiela took to the decks. This kid is unbelievable! I don’t know how you would classify the stuff that he plays, but it all sounds great – lush, uplifting melodies, combined with some sophisticated, techno-ish beats. Combine all of that with a slew of effects and scratching, and you kind of get the picture. What he does with the turntables is totally unique – I’ve never seen anything quite like it before. After a little over an hour, someone from Space management came on the microphone and informed a very disappointed crowd that Sasha wouldn’t be showing up and that we’d be getting more Steve Lawler in his place. After the dose of Lawler that I got on the terrace, my heart sunk when I heard that news. I’m a huge fan of Sasha, and I didn’t think I could stomach any more of the crap Lawler had been feeding us on the terrace. However, Lawler came on after that announcement, and in the space of a two hour set, he managed to completely redeem himself. Dark, dirty house grooves – all perfectly programmed and mixed – simply an outstanding set. This was the Lawler that I had seen in NY, and this was what I had been hoping for out on the terrace. I suppose he plays a different type of sound for each room of the club – perhaps I just prefer one over the other. After Lawler, Zabiela came back on for a little under two hours and treated us to the type of sounds he had played earlier, though with more of a peak-time feel. After Zabiela, one last dj came on – whose name I never learned – and he closed the night out in style. Highlights included ‘Glitterball’ (which sounded phenomenal on that sound system), back-to-back remixes of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and ‘Seven Nation Army,’ and ‘Silver Screen Shower Scene’ (TWD remix). At around 5:30am, my friend nearly got his wallet plucked out of his pocket (warning: be careful inside Space during the last couple hours – there are some sketchy characters in there!), and at that point, after a combined 12 ½ hours at Space, we decided it was time to head home. The night had some setbacks – Sasha being a no-show, the peak hours on the terrace falling short of expectations, a close run-in with a pickpocket – but on the whole, the day/night had been amazing, and this was only the first day. . .

Monday, June 23

*Circo Loco @ DC10*
*Cocoon Opening Party @ Amnesia*

I’m not sure how, but we managed to wake up at 1:00pm the next day. After a quick lunch, we were off to DC10. What a great club! I loved it’s no-frills attitude. This place doesn’t have any of the bells and whistles that you find at Pacha or Amnesia – it’s just a big concrete box placed in an empty stretch of sand near the airport runway. Toss in a few really powerful speakers, a bar, and a poster of the pope smoking a joint, shake vigorously, and you’ve got a great club. When we arrived, Tania Vulkano was playing a nice house set to a medium sized crowd. After a couple hours, the place had really filled up, and that’s when John Creamer took over the decks. He played a fantastic two hour set of dark, deep, progressively minded house music. I’m not much of a trainspotter, but I do remember hearing Sander Kleinenberg’s ‘Work To Do,’ and the Lexicon Avenue remix of ‘I wish you know how much I wish that you were here with me.’ After his set, we stayed to listen to a couple other DC10 residents – Jo Mills and some other guy I didn’t recognize. Both were excellent. This club is just too much fun. Everyone there, dj’s and crowd alike, are happy to be there and are looking to have a good time, and when a plane flies over head, the place really erupts! At around 6:00pm, the place was still going strong, but we were drunk (excellent vodka limons at this club) and still tired from the night before, so we decided it was time to leave.

Down the road we went to Salinas. Took a great nap on the sand with the sun going down. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been that relaxed before in my life. After a quick pizza dinner and some beers in the apartment, we were ready to go back out again. This time, we were changing gears from house to techno, as it was the opening of Sven Vath’s Cocoon night at Amnesia.

This was a night that I was really looking forward to. We’ve got some great clubs in Boston, but good international techno talents don’t make their way into town very often, so this was a real treat for me. We got to the club at around 2:00 and made our way through the house floor to the main room. Richard Bartz was getting the crowd moving to his live set. I’m not sure what this guy was doing up there with all of that equipment, but it sounded great. Pounding, non-stop techno music – totally in keeping with the Cocoon motto for the season, “In your face.” Sven came on a little after 3:00, and he instantly ratcheted up the intensity. Honestly, this was music for the clinically insane: powerful beats that would hit you over the head like a sledgehammer; synth lines so evil they sounded like they were composed by Satanists; anyhow you get the idea. Sven might be a bit nuts himself – the guy spent more time screaming, jumping around the booth, and pumping his fists than he did mixing records. This wasn’t the kind of refined techno wizardry that you would get from a Richie Hawtin or a Jeff Mills, but it was amazing all the same. The crowd was eating it up, and the whole club was one giant, hands-in-the-air frenzy. Plus, the nitrogen jets were getting a ton of use during the first couple hours of his set, which only added to an already energized crowd. More clubs need jets like this – imagine dancing in a crowded sweaty club, when suddenly, the entire room goes white and the temperature drops 60 degrees (F). It’s an experience, to say the least.

By 7:30, Sven had pounded us into submission. We had been going out day and night for our first two days on the island, and we couldn’t take another step on the dance floor. Sven was still going strong (somehow I suspect that this man never sleeps), and our minds still wanted to be in the club, but our bodies just weren’t up for it. We dragged our sorry asses out of the club, found a taxi, and went back to the apartment.

Tuesday, June 24

*Underwater @ Pacha*

We took the day to nurse our wounds and spent the whole day sleeping. We grabbed a quick dinner at Bora Bora (the food wasn’t great, but it’s fun to eat while listening to quality house music), and then we were off to Mambo, where we missed sunset number two (this time due to haze rather than poor timing). Bear in mind, that this was my second trip to Ibiza, and my fourth visit to the sunset strip, and I still hadn’t seen a genuine Ibiza sunset. I was starting to get a bit annoyed. Anyhow, we checked out the Underwater pre-show, which was cool. Good music, nice pyrotechnics (warning #2: be careful at these pre-shows, some guy got a nasty burn and a hole in shirt courtesy of a stray spark).

Back to the apartment to change, and then we were off to Pacha. Along the way, we stopped for an excellent donner at King’s Kebap. I highly recommend this place if you’re looking for cheap, fast food. It’s right on the road from Playa d’en Bossa to Ibiza town. We got to the club a little before 2:00, and Wally Lopez was warming things up nicely. We got a couple drinks and hung out on the chill-out terrace for a bit. When we went back downstairs, Groove Armada had come on. I had always been a fan of GA’s production work, but I didn’t know anything about their abilities as dj’s. Well, after seeing them, I’ve got to say that they are just as good, if not better, dj’s than they are producers. They put together a great mix of house, reggae, hip-hop, and classics that all flowed perfectly. Trainspots: ‘Superstylin’,’ ‘Final Shakedown,’ ‘Born Slippy,’ ‘I See You Baby (acapella).’ After Groove Armada, Terra Deva came on for her live PA. After the masterful set by GA, we weren’t really in the mood for Terra’s squawking, so we bolted for the chillout terrace again. After a little under an hour, Terra was done, and Darren Emerson had started his set to close out the night. I hate to say it, but I wasn’t too impressed with Emerson. He played some nice songs (Cassius ‘Sound of Violence,’ KOT ‘Finally,’ King Britt’s ‘Contemplation’), but the mixing was terrible (I’m no expert on the finer points of dj technique – but it was even obvious to me that this was bad mixing), and there was no flow at all to the set. At 7:30am, a little disappointed, we decided to take off.

Wednesday, June 25

*Subliminal @ Pacha*

Started the day on the beach at Salinas. This beach is simply perfect – beautiful water, people, and scenery. After an excellent dinner on the beach at Guaranamo, we headed over to Bora Bora for a few drinks before going out. I love how on this island, you can always go somewhere to find people dancing to great house music – whether it’s in the morning at Space, in the afternoon on the tables at Bora Bora, or at night in a club – there is always something going on. Anyhow, after a couple beers, it was back to the apartment to change for another night at Pacha. When we walked into the club, the first thing that struck us was how different the place looked. While the previous night had a great Underwater/ocean type of theme, this night Pacha was made up to look like Subliminal Hell – fake torches all over the place, red lighting, and some really demonic looking dancers. When we got to the club, DJ Heather was getting things going with an excellent set of proper house music. By 3:00, the club was packed, and everyone was ready for the host of the evening, Erick Morillo. My God – he did not disappoint. This guy is the consummate dj – the programming, the mixing, the manipulation of the treble/bass on the board – he nailed it all. He started things off in the first couple of hours with some more traditional Subliminal stuff: ‘Shake It,’ ‘Corruption,’ ‘Do Your Thing,’ etc. But from about 5:00 on, he put the older tracks aside, and just went nuts – really powerful, intense dance music that never let you leave the floor. Sometimes he ventured into some driving techno; other times he would play more melodic house – whatever he did, it all worked perfectly together. It was obvious that Morillo was having a great time up there. For all five hours of his set, he had a huge grin on his face, and his head was constantly bobbing back and forth with the beat like a yo-yo. Anyhow, in the last few hours I didn’t recognize a single song, until he closed with Lenny Kravitz’s ‘Are You Gonna Go My Way’ – not remixed at all, just a straight-up rock song. It was a great way to finish the night, and the crowd loved it. It was that rare kind of night where you leave the club, after 8 hours, more wired than you were when you got there. All in all, one of my most amazing nights in a club ever, and at that point, it was the clear front-runner for our best night on the island.

Thursday, June 26

After going out for four nights in a row, we decided to take the night off from clubbing and made an effort to check out the rest of the island. After catching up on our sleep, we hopped in the rental car, put Subliminal Sessions III disc 2 in the cd player, and took a long drive to the northern part of the island. Anyone who goes to Ibiza should rent a car – there is so much more to this island than just San Antonio, Ibiza Town, and Playa D’en Bossa. Honestly, after driving for about half an hour, we felt like were on a completely different island. Those windy mountain roads make for some breath-taking views, and once we got near the shore, we saw some jaw-dropping cliffs overlooking the ocean. We stopped for a while in Portinatx, which was a really nice town, and had a great dinner on the water at Jardin Del Mar.

After dinner, we headed back to Ibiza town for some drinks on the marina. We checked out some of the shops in the old town, and got back to the apartment by 5:30am – which after the previous four nights, felt really early.

Friday, June 27

*Pure Pacha @ Pacha*

We woke up at a decent hour, and jumped back in the car to check out the northeast side of the island. We headed over to Cala St. Vincent for a day at the beach. This beach was great – not too crowded, free sunbeds, and some amazing scenery. Definitely worth checking out.

At around 7:30, we got back into the car and made our way to the sunset strip, determined to finally catch an Ibiza sunset. Well, after four tries, we finally had some luck. We grabbed a table at Café Del Mar, and stayed until the sun sunk right into the water. The whole thing didn’t quite live up to expectations (it is, after all, just a sunset – there’s one every day), but it seems to be part of the ‘Ibiza experience,’ and I’m glad we caught it. We followed that with some good Indian food at the Curry Club, and then it was back to the room to change for our third night at Pacha – this time for Deep Dish.

This was a night that I was very excited about. I had seen each member of Deep Dish perform individually during their mini-residency at Axis in Boston last year, but I hadn’t seen them for over a year, and I had never seen them perform together. When we got to the club at 2:00, Deep Dish had just started their set. The club looked great – the huge, black iron candelabras hanging from the ceiling made for a great effect. Dubfire was starting the night with some really lush, melodic progressive house. Their four set was amazing – they spun a great mix of progressive and deep house that put the whole crowd under a spell. We recognized a handful of songs off of their latest GU release, and a remix of Coldplay’s ‘Clocks’ (I don’t know which remix it was – it wasn’t the Cosmos remix) really got everyone going. Unfortunately, an amazing set like that had to be followed by Pete Tong. He came on at 6:00 and instantly killed the mood that Deep Dish had created over the course of four hours. After about half an hour of listening to anthem after anthem, trainwreck after trainwreck, we decided to cut our losses and headed back to the apartment. Had we known what the schedule for the night was going to be, we would have gotten there earlier to catch the warm up set from Behrouz, but we kind of missed the boat. We couldn’t really complain too much though because Deep Dish really were a treat.

Saturday, June 28

*DefMix @ Pacha*

I couldn’t believe this was our last day on the island. I don’t think a week had ever gone by that quickly in my life. We started our day on the beach at Bora Bora, made one last trip to King’s Kebap for dinner, and then it was back to the apartment for a very depressing hour of packing. Since I had to leave Pacha at 6am to get to the airport, we decided to get to the club a little earlier. We got there at 11:30, and since it was still early, we went into the Pacha Hotel bar for drinks. If you’re going to Pacha, definitely check out the hotel across the street. This place defines the word ‘luxury.’ The bar itself was a work of art – the whole room had pristine white walls, floors, and ceilings, with some really avant garde furniture. Plus, the drinks weren’t nearly as expensive as they are in the club, and they gave us free peanuts (which is probably the only free thing you’ll ever get from the Pacha franchise).

Anyhow, we got into the club at 12:30, and the place was pretty empty. Hector Romero was on the decks, but no one was on the floor. We decided to wander around the club, and we ended up hanging out in the Funky Room for the first time. It was kind of hard to believe that after three nights in the club, we still hadn’t taken in every nook and cranny of the place. That’s what is so amazing about Pacha – between the main floor, the global room, the terrace, and the funky room, there are so many different ways to experience the club. While we probably spent too much time at Pacha in our week on the island (the lineups there were too good to justify going elsewhere), this was probably the club that you could spend the most time in. We had a great time in the funky room. The art on the walls was excellent, and the music was a great blend of ambient and laid back, funky house. After an hour, the club had started to fill up, and we went back onto the floor for the last portion of Romero’s set. He really had the crowd moving at this point, and when David Morales came on, the floor was packed. I had seen Morales last year in the morning on the terrace at Space, and I wasn’t very impressed. This year, however, he was outstanding. He played a monster three and half hour house set that left the crowd wanting more. Highlights: Lee Cabrera’s ‘Shake It’ (this song is so great on a big sound system), the same remix of ‘Clocks’ we had heard from Deep Dish, and the Danny Howells remix of ‘I Feel Loved.’ At 5:00, Satoshi Tomie came on. Unfortunately, I only caught an hour of him because I had to leave for the airport. What we heard was great though –the Planet Funk remix of Kosheen’s ‘It’s all in my Head’ was an excellent start to the set. I was really thinking about missing my flight and staying on the island indefinitely, but better judgment prevailed, and I boarded my flight – sweaty, exhausted, reeking of booze and cigarettes, and very, very content.

Last thoughts: This was hands down the most amazing vacation of my life. As I had said earlier, I went to Ibiza for four days last year, and that simply wasn’t enough time to do the place justice. This year I gave myself enough time to do it right, and I really hope that I have the chance to do it again. There are a lot of places in the world where you can go to a gorgeous beach or a great club, but only in Ibiza can you make that your life, day in and day out. The island lets you live a lifestyle that simply can’t be found anywhere else in the world. In my opinion, that’s what is going to keep people coming back. Regardless of the changes in the music or the ‘scene,’ the outrageous prices, or the increased corporate presence on the island, what makes the island so special hasn’t changed, and I don’t think it will change for a good long while. To those of you who are going there this summer (and who have actually read this whole thing), have a great time!
Fab review matey, we were there similar times and did a lot of those same nights, maybe we were throwing a few shapes next to you on the dancefloor :D
Thank you very much for this excellent review of your Ibiza-trip. I will be there next Thursday for one week.this year it is the first time for me on the island and i can't wait any longer to go back there.Unfortunally I've never been to Pacha,but now I'm sure that I'll go there next week.last year i only were @ Space,Privilege,Amnesia. I hope ibiza 2003 will be as phenomenal as ibiza 2002.
(Jam man opens the envelope)

".....and the award for best review of Ibiza goes to...."


top Top TOP review

(applause rings around the auditorium) :D :D
Thanks for the excellent review. Nice to see so much Ibiza knowledge from a fellow beantowner. It got me really excited about my 4th annual trip coming up in a few weeks. I'll have to keep a diary to match this review.

Thanks for a great review. Makes first timers like me pretty excited. Sounds like some of the DJ performances left a bit to be desired at times which is disappointing, but you made the most of it.