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Review: Openlab at Elements

Openlab had been gracing the radio waves of the Spotlight-mobile all summer, so off we went to see them live for their closing party at Elements, Benirras. And we're so very glad we did.

I arrived at Elements embarrassingly early at 8pm. It seemed strange to be arriving at Benirras, this beach so famous for its sunsets, in the dark. Despite the fact that the doors had only just opened there was already a nice, friendly ambience, the kind of place where strangers nod their heads and smile if you catch their eye. Nice.

I walked into a huge smiling welcome from perhaps the friendliest receptionist I've ever come across. Then the next thing to happen was a lovely chap by the name of Ivo presenting me with a complimentary book of inspirational stories, all based around Ibiza, called Seeds of Light. That was a great start to the evening and characteristic too, of the artistic, creative, Ibiza winter community. It's fair to say I was charmed before I'd even ordered my first drink.

The restaurant tables, clearly fully booked, circled the outskirts of the dancefloor, separated only by a fabric screen. This was food with a groove and Openlab had clearly made a massive effort with the visuals, atmospheric light patterns and projections bouncing all around the room, giving an authentically clubby feel to this usually innocent looking Ibiza beach bar and restaurant.

The music began down-beat, with Openlab's signature chilled, dubby sounds and gently rhythmic, atmospheric grooves. Again, hands up. Openlab has been without a doubt my new favourite Ibiza radio station this year and so I'd been really looking forward to seeing the boys - Robert Miles, Alex Wolfenden, Andy Baxter and Manu Gonzalez - in action.

As the place began to fill up, the music adjusted appropriately, becoming deeper, heavier and dare we say it, just a little bit dirtier. Andy Baxter played a particularly blinding set with some serious getting down moments, expert, imaginative mixes and just the right balance between thuddingly funky and edgily experimental. In fact, the quality of the music was exceptional all evening and when yours truly dragged herself away at 2.30am, the dancefloor was packed. The event itself went on till 4am.

It was a genuinely music-loving crowd: flamboyant, friendly and definitely not afraid of crumpling their trouser pleats. It was impossible to not get swept up in the good-natured whooping, whistling and stomping dance-fest. I don't know whether it was the time and weather (dark and raining) or the tent-like structure of the Elements terrace or just the sheer good energy, but somehow, I felt like I was at a festival in some clandestine dance tent. A guy jammed along with the DJs on his didgeridoo and the whole scene had a friendly, underground vibe with the kind of having-it crowd who instinctively gel.

The prices at the bar, unsurprisingly doing a roaring trade, were very reasonable - €4.50 for my glass of (very nice) white wine. There's a minimum €10 spend on cards and having no cash at all, the very cool barman simply let me pay for two and graciously bent the rules a little to accommodate my €9 bill. And did I mention it was completely free entrance?

You get the drift ladies and gents. Wall-to-wall excellent music, great people, good vibes and gorgeous surroundings. It was Openlab's last Elements party this year too (sob!) so I'm sorry to say that this year's ship has already sailed. But watch this space next year folks and we'll let you know when they're back. An absolutely rocking party.

Editor's note: Elements remains open for two more Sundays - the 7th and 14th December from 3pm with Vibration party. For lunch or dinner reservations just click here

WORDS | Jane Charilaou PHOTOS | Salim Lamrani

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