After the dust has settled over another Ibiza Summer season, it's beautifully quiet on our beloved island again. The clubbing circus has moved on to international journeys and now, with a bit of distance, we feel it's time to have a close look at the bygone Summer.
It might not have been the busiest clubbing season ever (even though airport arrivals have been record breakers), but it was certainly a very busy and exciting Summer on the White Isle, with a few surprises, some moves and much-needed novelties as well. Looking ahead at summer 2013 is interesting and exciting... but we're not spilling the beans just yet. Let's focus on the 2012 season first.
Trends & Changes
Thinking about the sound of Ibiza 2012, there are three music genres which stood out: deep house, techno and the ever-present big euro dance hits played by the superstars of this scene, the Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta, Avicii and such. Let’s start with this genre. Almost a blend between pop and trance to my ears, huge billboard chart hits like Otto Knows - Million Voices and of course also Avicii - Levels were around everywhere, from bars to supermarkets and from Ushuaïa to Pacha...and of course in your taxi when arriving on the island.
Then there was deep house. Many will still remember how big minimal was only a few years ago; nowadays, deep house is the ubiquitous genre on the island. That's no news as such, already last Summer (and even the year before) deep house was big, but this season, this style downright exploded and tunes like Finnebassen - Touching Me and Julio Bashmore - Au Seve were played in every beach club, every bar and club this summer. Deep house was everywhere and made for the soundtrack of the season, championed, unsurprisingly, by one of the Summer’s trendiest labels and DJs (Diynamic and Solomun - but more on that later).
And then there was techno. Not just the music, but also (and especially) the revival of more techno orientated nights on the island. The fact Marco Carola left Cocoon and Richie Hawtin also decided to (finally!) do his own thing resulted in two new and very successful nights and a massive techno buzz in Ibiza. Music On and, even more so, ENTER. were terrific additions to the Ibiza party scene.
Check out our Top 10 Tunes of the season for what we thought were the biggest and the best tunes of the Summer.
At this year's International Music Summit people talked about "Ibiza 2012 – the year of change," but isn’t it always a year of change in Ibiza? One thing that’s certainly responsible for the everlasting success of Ibiza is the simple fact the nightlife industry on the island always evolves. So, of course, there were quite a few changes this Summer: the IMS getting bigger and better, the first edition of the Ibiza123Festival, club managers changing (read on for this), nights changing venues and new nights trying their luck.
Another noteable change was the much more relaxed attitude of the authorities towards club closing hours and after parties. Ever since the after hours ban was put in force in 2008, doing an after party was a difficult thing and the fiesta mostly ended up getting shut after a few hours. Already in 2011, but much more so this Summer, the authorities were, miraculously, much more loose. Gone were the days when the music in the clubs always stopped at 6:45am latest, so that by 7am everyone was out of the venue. Parties often continued until the 8am mark or later, and after that the southern part of Playa d’en Bossa was mostly the place to go for after parties. Of course it’s not the same as pre-2008, when you used to simply walk into Space at 8am. Nowadays, most after parties only really kick into gear around noon time or early afternoon, but thinking about it, it is probably a good thing: you get a break in between, maybe a few hours of sleep and a shower which surely can do no harm! The closing party period, which this Summer was a full month long from the first to the very last closing fiesta, was again especially wild with parties going end-on-end and no one seemed to care about any opening time regulations.
Furthermore, there is the ongoing upscale evolution of bars, restaurants, clubs and hotels. Many old establishments are getting facelifts and becoming up-market venues that they have never been before. There are also new ultra-posh places like Cipriani, currently the most exclusive restaurant on the island. Parts of Ibiza are turning more and more into a playground for the rich. Ibiza always used to attract the wealthy and the famous, but there are voices claiming the island is turning into a new St. Tropez now. Fortunately, this statement is only valid for a small section of Ibiza and when you've seen enough Hummers, Lamborghinis and such, just drive up north. Time still seems to stand still in that part of the island and you can enjoy the rural Ibiza as it always used to be.
How did all the big Clubs perform this Summer?
The San Rafael venue stood out with a very consistent programming of nights and stellar line ups, with Summer 2012 probably being the biggest season in the club's history.
Their biggest change in their programming was a loss and a win at the same time; Cocoon, which easily had been the champion techno night on the island for the last decade, suddenly found itself short of two headliners. Richie Hawtin decided to go his own way (and headed for Space), but stayed in superb relations with the Cocoon gang and had two appearances at Amnesia this summer. On the other hand, Marco Carola's departure from Cocoon wasn't as friendly, we've heard. Both departures definitely had an impact on Cocoon's 2012 season. Even though their line ups were still top notch, with Sven Väth, Loco Dice and Ricardo Villalobos as residents and an impressive roster of guests such as Cassy, Joris Voorn, Seth Troxler and Adam Beyer (to name but a few!), Cocoon never got as busy as in their climactic years and it is going to be very interesting to see what the Cocoon crew will make out of their experience with this season. They had been the absolute techno king for a few years, but they're not alone in the game anymore and have some serious competition.
One could easily see people had a yen for something new in the techno sector...and one of those new things was Marco Carola’s new Friday nighter Music On (meant to say music on or then "musicón," which is analogous to "tuuuune!"). Even though the Main Room only really started working midway through the season for Music On and never got packed, the Amnesia Terrace – home to Carola – was bursting with people each and every Friday. And, as previously stated, it was simply something new!
Apart from the techno nights, Sundays saw PopStar on the Terrace and Espuma, the foam party in the Main Room. Sunday was probaly the weakest day of the week for the venue, but still worked very well during high season. Tuesdays saw Together (Tonight in 2011), another very successful night with what at first seemed a very odd style clash, combining Dubstep / Bass in the Main Room (with acts like Skrillex and Chase & Status) and House on the Terrace (with Eric Prydz, Annie Mac and so forth). Together was the second biggest night on Tuesdays, right after Carl Cox at Space.
Wednesdays belonged to La Troya. Often erroneously unnoticed by many English-speaking tourists, the gay-friendly night with great shows is a huge success with the cosmopolitan Ibiza crowd and succeeds Summer after Summer.
Last, but definitely not least, Thursdays are all about Cream. One would think it’s impossible the brand can still grow, but they do. 2012 has been their biggest Ibiza Summer ever; Amnesia was packed Thursday after Thursday (sold out a good few times) and Cream was the first promoter in a while to completely sell out Privilege for their BBC Radio1 party at the start of August. Huge respect for the Cream crew - 20 years in the industry and still on top of the game!
The Amnesia closing party deserves a special mention as well. Having been one of Spotlight's favourite parties of the clubbing year for a while already, this year was no different. Luckily El Cierre wasn't as unbearably packed this time, but the vibe was as electrifying as ever. We're already looking forward to setting our alarm clocks to around 5am Sunday morning for next year's closing fiesta!
Ibiza without Circoloco is probably like bread without butter. And even if the vibe might be a bit more civilised these days, their line ups still delight any undergound electronic music fan. Such a consistency of world class artists is seldom seen anywhere else.
There was no "from disco to techno" on Wednesdays this year, but during August several one-offs were held successfully on that day, with the Visionquest party making especially big waves.
Big DC-10 news this Summer was Jamie Jones' / Hot Creations new Paradise night on Thursdays. Again championing the deep house and disco sounds, this party was a welcome addition to the Ibiza party calendar. The closing night, where both the Main Room and the Terrace were opened, was one of the venue's busiest nights of the season!
First things first - both San Antonio clubs Eden and Es Paradis generally had a bit of a difficult season. The renaissance of Playa d'en Bossa as a cool holiday resort, together with the fact that most of the big promoters tried to get their nights into one of the San Rafael, Ibiza Town or Playa d'en Bossa clubs didn't make things easy for the San An massive. Furthermore, don't forget about the local competition taking away clubbers: Ibiza Rocks and also the new Ocean Beach Club.
All that said, both of the San An clubs certainly had their good nights which prooved their right to exist. In Eden, Ibiza Live on Tuesdays, Pornographic on Wednesdays and the ever-popular Judgement Sundays were the ones that attracted most people.
The lovely crew behind Es Paradis had a good and varied programme lined up for this summer and they put a lot of effort in it, but similarly to Eden, only a few nights really worked well.
Es Paradis' strongest night of the week was Saturday with Hed Kandi, a party which suits the beautiful club perfectly. Of course their famous and unique water parties, Fiesta del Agua, also continued to attract the masses, be it on Mondays or on Fridays. Ibiza Rocks' after party on Wednesdays also worked fine.
The cherry brand is growing from strength to strength on a global scale. And in Ibiza? Well, their 2012 season was another very successful one!
Big news for Pacha Ibiza was the Swedish House Mafia leaving and Tiësto taking over their Monday slot. Did it work? Of course - but the club wasn't always rammed to the rafters, which was a bit of a surprise. With such a big name, you'd expect the club to be sold out on each and every single night he's performing. Nevertheless, Pacha was very, very busy on Mondays in peak season and Tiësto's fans obviously liked his new Ibiza home.
Tuesdays were all about Flower Power, which this year took place on a weekly basis for the first time from mid-July until the end of August. We've said it before and we'll say it again - it is one of the nights you HAVE to do at least once - and get dressed up! Renaissance also threw a total of 6 parties on Tuesdays and brought both house legend Frankie Knuckles as well as man of the season Solomun to Pacha.
Wednesdays belong to Subliminal. No changes there. And also no changes in the simple fact that the night keeps on working! Of course Erick Morillo adapts his guests every season to keep up with the current trends and this year, Chuckie and Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano were the main residents on rotation.
Thursday - F*** Me I'm Famous - need we say more? David Guetta's night keeps on working as reliably as a Swiss watch.
Pure Pacha went all Pete Tong this Summer and Friday nights had some of the best Pacha line ups this year: from Calvin Harris, Sebastian Ingrosso and Axwell to Laurent Garnier, Maya Jane Coles and Jamie Jones and Seth Troxler, all of them graced the decks in the new DJ booth in the main room of Pacha this Summer. And YES, it was a very busy night!
The Pacha weekend consisted of Defected on Saturdays and Cadenza's Vagabundos on Sundays. Another four Pacha gigs for Solomun at Defected (apart from Dennis Ferrer, Bob Sinclar, David Morales and more) plus Luciano, his Cadenza family and guests (Carl Craig, Marshall Jefferson, Deetron,...) assured a very busy Pacha weekend.
Big news towards the end of the season was Danny Whittle and Mark Netto's departure from Pacha. The duo had been the driving force behind Pacha's programming in the last decade and were most certainly responsible in big parts for Pacha Ibiza's success in recent years. Ex-Privilege manager and Ibiza native Tallyn Planells has just started his new job at Pacha a few weeks ago and it will be very interesting to see in which direction he and the owner family will steer the Pacha brand. 2013 will also see the opening of Destino Pacha Ibiza Resort, Pacha's second Hotel on the island.
The people behind the second San Rafael venue had made some serious investments last Winter and the results were obvious. A powerful sound system was installed, as well as the island's biggest LED-screen, and the Coco Loco and La Vaca rooms were remodelled into what's now Vista Club. These changes and many more small details that had been improved meant a big push for the world's biggest club and reminded visitors of the absolute world class venue it once was, before the clubs had to have roofs etc.
A State Of Trance on Mondays was the island's biggest trance-only night this Summer and worked well, without being overly packed. A must-do night for trance fans, we think, and also a great dedication to the trance sound, ASOT presented a night that solely focused on this genre.
LMFAO's RedFoo invaded "Privi" on Wednesdays and presented his Party Rock Island. Championing electropop and getting support of Black Eyed Peas' apl.de.ap, this new night got a decent result. Next Wave then took over Wednesday nights at the end of August, doing some cool underground parties in Vista Club. The Face Of Ibiza on Thursdays, comparable to La Troya at Amnesia, is another often underrated night and always guarantees good fun and shows. Even more shows - probably the most spectacular ones of the island - combined with a mashup of the biggest hits of the Summer were presented at SuperMartXé on Fridays. Another night that you have to see at least once and for which Privilege is the perfect venue thanks to its sheer stage size.
The Privilege weekend was a bit of a mixed bag. Infamous Barcelona club El Row made Privi's new Vista Club their home for the Summer and quickly turned into one of the hottest destinations for Saturday nights on the island. The vibe and the atmosphere at El Row Ibiza was exactly how Circo Loco felt a few years ago...well done El Row! Sunday, on the other hand wasn't such a big hit with Don't Let Daddy Know, Privilege's second crossover night. At first, things looked really good with Nicki Minaj and Flo Rida on the line ups, but when the party didn't pull the expected numbers, more and more of the big artists were cancelled unfortunately.
All in all, Privilege had its best year in a good while. The investments were definitely a step in the right direction. It was really heartwarming to see old Privi shine again and we hope the evolution continues this way, even though its general manager just left to Pacha.
At the start of the season, we interviewed Sankeys' head honcho David Vincent and got a very honest review of the 2011 season and an outlook to Summer 2012. During the first two months the Sankeys crew tried several nights and then did the wise thing and almost completely focused on the three nights that ran really well:
Diynamic's Neon Night on Tuesdays. One of the most talked-about nights of the season with the headliner of the Summer - Solomun. Championing the deep house sound all the way, the DIY crew got huge support from both locals/workers and holidaymakers in equal parts.
VIVa Warriors on Wednesdays. Steve Lawler's sound really suits Sankeys' Basement and his guests (Steve Bug, M.A.N.D.Y., Derrick Carter,...) together with Lawler, made sure the punters weren't disappointed. A great vibe each and every Wednesday.
Carnival on Saturdays. Sankeys' home-made night, with Bones as creative head at the helm, surprised many a clubber with constantly brilliant line ups. DJ Sneak, Miguel Campbell, Benoit & Sergio and Heidi are just a few of the names that graced Sankeys' decks on Saturday nights this Summer.
With Sankeys also being open during Winter (their Halloween night was great!) and their crew heavily working on next Summer, we think it will be an exciting 2013 season for the club and clubbers alike!
Being the neighbour of Ibiza’s newest and most successful event venue isn’t exactly easy. With such a strong competition as Ushuaïa right on your doorstep, offering open air clubbing, you really have to pull yourself together. But Space fought hard this year and musically had some of the very best nights and artists of the whole island.
The week started with one of the traditionally weaker nights for Space. Ibiza Calling (ex-Mondays calling) was a low-profile night and got a decent result. Everyone knows Monday is a very busy night in Ibiza so beloved Space saved up their energy for...
Tuesday – Space's busiest night of the week with another terrific Carl Cox season. Packing out the club most of weeks and presenting a stellar line up Tuesday after Tuesday, there is no doubt Carl and the Safehouse crew did everything just right! Their closing party with Coxy and Loco Dice going back-to-back until 8:30am is the stuff legends are made out of and many other Tuesday nights this Summer were just as amazing. The vibe was always great and seeing all the rooms in Space busy is pure joy!
After such a busy Tuesday, Wednesday was a bit of a smaller scale affair again with Be. Mark Knight delivered, as did his guests, but being in the sandwich between such a huge Tuesday and then Thursday at Space, it is understandable Wednesday wasn't the strongest night for the Playa d'en Bossa venue – and don't forget the Swedes were just next door...
Thursday...our new love affair. Richie Hawtin's new project ENTER. first totally marvelled us and then completely convinced us. This was one party in Ibiza this year that planned every tiny detail perfectly well, pulled out all the marketing and design stops, showed us how close a superstar DJ can get to his crowd and how far sound boundaries can be pushed and ... well, we could address a good few more points (the ENTER.Salinas beach gig for example), but we’re sure you get it; this is how a new night establishes itself on the island. It was amazing to see Sven Väth returning to Space after a decade and the one-off joint production with Cadenza at Ushuaïa next door and then at Space as well was another big milestone in the Ibiza 2012 clubbing season. Hats off to the ENTER.crew and we can’t wait for 2013!
Friday wasn't the busiest night in Playa d'en Bossa overall. Space tried to follow on from the 2011 Come Together night and created Beat & Raw, a crossover night, combining electronic and live music. There were a few real crackers such as Cypress Hill and Morcheeba performing live, but apart of those, the night wasn't the biggest success.
Saturday has been Space's gay-friendly day/night for a few years already and this didn't change this Summer with the return of Café Olé. Another of those few nights that didn't make too much noise in terms of international media coverage, but which shouldn't be underestimated.
If Thursdays were our new love affair with ENTER., then Sundays were our long lasting love affair with We Love. Delivering a festival-like night week after week with hand-picked artists in all rooms, covering everything from classics, jazzy and nu-discoey tunes on Premier Etage and in El Salon, house music in all nuances on the Sunset Terrace and La Terraza to proper banging techno in the Discoteca, it's easy to see that for the We Love crew, quality music is the quintessential thing in their world. And that's exactly what you got if you went to Space on any Sunday this Summer.
Space's neighbour upped their game for their second season in a new home. They booked the biggest names of the industry, had the best dancers and performers and also generally improved their stage show, regarding lighting and effects. There are two additional advantages of Ushuaïa, when compared to all other venues: first, apart from the Ibiza Rocks Hotel over in San Antonio, Ushuaïa is the only real big open air venue and second, many clubbers still hadn't explored the venue last year, so it still had the "new-factor" this season.
On Mondays, David Guetta presented his F*** Me I’m Famous night at Ushuaïa and Wednesday was the Swedish House Mafia day. With artists of this magnitude, it was absolutely to be expected that both days worked extremely well. Add new superstar producer/DJ Avicii to the weekly programme (on Sundays) and you got the most sought-after artists nicely wrapped up. All those artists catered for the hit-hungry crowd and they came in hordes.
To balance their programme, there were two weekly nights with a more underground sound, Luciano's Cadenza night on Thursdays and Sasha's Never Say Never on Friday. Luciano had some very good guests such as Laurent Garnier, Maya Jane Coles, Stacey Pullen and Richie Hawtin (on the earlier mentioned legendary ENTER Vs Cadenza gig) and the night was mostly very busy. Sasha's night might not have been the busiest, but numbered amongst the best nights on the island, musically. Booka Shade, Paul Kalkbrenner, Eats Everything, Steve Bug, DJ Sneak, M.A.N.D.Y....what more can you ask for? Pooldisco on Saturdays was the connecting link between the three more commercial and the two more underground nights.
Ushuaïa simply had a fantastic season and with the Ushuaïa Tower opening next Summer, we're sure they'll continue to surprise us.
One-Offs, Special Events and Smaller Venues
BBC Radio1 Weekend
Always the climax of the summer, the BBC Radio1 Weekend this year found the right formula, we think, with having one outdoor party at Ushuaïa and another one at Privilege. Both nights were rammed with both clubbers and an impressive roster of artists!
The boat party sector is growing fast in Ibiza. This year, roughly twenty companies did boat parties; from small and...erm...semi-professional to really big and super professional, the choice was huge. We focused on the best in the market, Pukka Up, which had an absolutely amazing Summer. New regulations for next season should guarantee decent quality standards in this sector for all legitimate boat party brands, so we're sure boat parties will be even bigger and better next year.
Playa d'en Bossa's most pristine beach party venue is facing a lot of competition lately with new beach bars opening up left, right and center, but it is still the original daytime party place. Dancing on the tables is back on and they had some amazing guest DJs this Summer: Fatboy Slim, Felix Da Housecat and regular appearances of Cristian Varela and Sonique. And never underestimate Bora Bora residents - they understand their venue very well and always know what to deliver. Well done guys.
Ibiza 123 Festival
We've already reported comprehensively about the first edition of the Ibiza 123 Festival, read all about it here. We're already excited to see plans for 2013!
Ibiza Rocks Hotel
In one word: excellent! The crew behind Ibiza Rocks pulled out all the stops this Summer and presented us an extremely varied line up for their Wednesday gigs, reaching from Ibiza Rocks debutants such as The Maccabess, returning acts like Kaiser Chiefs and Kasabian and absolute legends as New Order.
Their new Friday evening bash We Are Rockstars was also very well received. Ibiza Rocks' take on electronic music with Mark Ronson, Zane Lowe, Disclosure, DJ Fresh, Major Lazer and more of that ilk was another great addition to the Summer party calendar.
International Music Summit
As mentioned at the start of this report, the IMS is getting bigger and bigger each year. We think that already for next year the IMS will be the official start of the Ibiza clubbing season. Those interested in music history and the electronic music industry in general can savour unique panels and interviews at the conference daytime, while the parties up in Dalt Vila belong with the best Ibiza has to offer all Summer. The location alone is amazing and when paired with some of the world's best DJs, those fiestas are simply not to be missed.
Ocean Beach Club
The new kid on the block in San Antonio. Even though the parties held didn't attract thousands of people, OBC still put its foot on the Ibiza map this Summer. It is also a very welcome addition to the San An scene and with the Hotel Bahia turning into the Ocean Beach Hotel next Summer, it is going to be exciting to see how things evolve further.
The Playa d'en Bossa daytime party strip (La Plage, La Sal Rossa, Sirocco)
Already well-known for after parties, La Plage also hosted some wicked daytime shenanigans this Summer. Marco Carola was there with his Music On gang, as was Jamie Jones and the Hot Creations crew, plus there were the fantastic Get No Sleep Friday evenings.
Cocoon's Tuesday daytime home was usually La Sal Rossa (what a closing after party!), whilst tINI and her gang graced the decks at Sirocco.
Big up to all those people keeping the Ibiza vibe alive by doing daytime parties out in the sunshine. That's what it is all about.
The Zoo Project
To end this season report, let's not forget about the animalistic festivities taking place at Gala Night, a.k.a. "the zoo". Throwing parties on Wednesdays (Channel Zoo - focussing on record labels) and on Saturdays (the original Zoo Project), the zoo crew keeps on pumping it nicely and this Summer they also successfully held their first big UK festival.
As a good friend of mine once said "there is no better place on earth to spend a fantastic holiday, with the world's best clubs and DJs, many wonderful beaches, tons of great restaurants and bars, everything close by, combined with the most interesting and cosmopolitan mixture of people invading the island Summer after Summer..." See you next year, dear Ibiza lovers.
Mournful, fascinating and full of tradition and fervour
A Spotlight favourite in Salinas.
A walk through the world of wine
Spanish Civil War and ancient history in Ibiza.
New series on Spotlight offering you an inside guide to the island.
Astronomical events on the White Isle.
Stylish and cultural evolution
Where to hang out....