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Carl Cox on reawakening Privilege in 2017

The techno kingpin discusses putting the world's biggest club back on the map.

Privilege Ibiza, a hulking haunt that's recognised as the planet's biggest club by the Guinness World Records, has become somewhat forgotten among music heads who seek straight-talking house and techno venom. Sure, Privilege's glass-encased Vista Club (now known as The Terrace) has harboured a solid share of underground heat in recent seasons, and it will continue to do so in 2017. However, when you consider that en route to Vista Club, punters bypass a main room the size of an aircraft hangar that's capable of sheltering close to 10,000 clubbers, you'd likely consider that to be an unfortunate misuse of space, and doesn't Carl Cox know it.

Without delving too far into his much-discussed history with Space Ibiza, when he announced that he wouldn't be continuing with the club once it had gone into the hands of Ushuaïa Group, we were left doubting whether we would see him back on the island at all in 2017. Fortunately for our demanding clubbing requirements, we now know that those concerns were unfounded, as this summer he's seeking a new spiritual home, and that home is Privilege.

"I'm an old school DJ with old school values. I don't want people to forget the reason we're here in the first place, which is the music."

What we're gearing up to witness on Tuesday 11 and 18 July is a high-octane instalment of the Pure events that he launched in Australia in 2016. At the time of our phone call he'd recently run with a second Pure series, which had him returning to Melbourne and Sydney and expand to Perth and Auckland. Off the back of packing out each of those events and having people rocking from beginning to end, Cox was enthusiastic in reinforcing the ethos that epitomise Pure, and it's all very simple. He wants you through that door confident in the knowledge that you're getting dance floor meat, and to reduce distractions, he's containing it to one room with DJs he trusts. “I'm saying that we're going back to basics,” he insists. “Right from when you walk through the door it's already game on, and you're getting the build-up and the journey from my mind. This is stripped back no nonsense raving. You're going to get lights, lasers and lots of smoke - like how it used to be in the old days. I'm an old school DJ with old school values. I don't want people to forget the reason we're here in the first place, which is the music. That's what's allowed me to stretch my wings on allowing myself and people around me to follow a path which is something I believe is still exciting and relevant.”

Relevance is a focal talking point here, as although Privilege has hosted capacity pushing nights from SuperMartXé, Tiësto and Armin van Buuren, if we're weighing in on events that really bolstered this iconic club and made a lasting impact, well-seasoned Ibiza clubbers and DJs automatically refer to the heady, debauched days of Manumission. “No one has really spoken about Privilege since Manumission as a venue to go to,” Cox concedes. “SuperMartXé is a very accessible, commercial-orientated night. You can have a really good time in there, but it doesn't put it on the map as something that inspires you. Privilege is the pillar or the cornerstone of Ibiza clubbing. It's been sidestepped in recent years, and I believe that this club matters, so I'm going in to smash the shit out of it.”

What this Pure venture also points to is that Cox isn't intimidated by the unknown, and on an island that has continuously pushed for progression in the dance music scene, you can find him striding ahead. “It really does expand the fact of what I'm about and what I do as a DJ. I try not to follow fashion. I try not to be comfortable in my DJ shoes, and I always will try to be on the edge or the cusp of everything.” That point leads us back to what he accomplished at Space in reinventing the club as a go to spot for night hawks. “When we started Space on a Tuesday night, everyone thought we were mad because it was only seen as a Sunday 24-hour running club. There was no night time ethos at the club at all at that time, and here I am coming from Sundays to play there on Tuesday nights when we were battling with other nights on the island, and I was not known for being a resident DJ at a club. But we managed to push through and eventually it worked. So as far as I'm concerned, I'm so pleased to be able to ascertain that and continue with what I started on at Privilege. I have no idea where it's going to take us, but what I do know is that at least for those two nights, it's going to go off.”

While we, as the audience, have much to enthuse over in witnessing Cox dominating this overwhelmingly enormous room, you have to consider the perspective from a majority of artists on his line-ups, as it'll be the first time that they'll abuse this club. “I would say that 80% of the DJs that have played for me at Space have never even been to Privilege. They don't even know anything about it. Can you imagine? You're a DJ - you're The Martinez Brothers. You've played at Pacha, Amnesia, DC10 and Zoo Project. The Martinez Brothers have never played Privilege and they're excited.” That attitude can also be applied to the other artists signed up, including Joseph Capriati, tINI, Archie Hamilton, Eats Everything, Hybrasil, Nicole Moudaber, DAX J, Cassy and Nastia. Speaking on behalf of them, Cox added: “All they're doing is going on my word that I will make sure that in such a coveted club, and with the proven success of Pure overseas, it's a match made in heaven. This club is too big for it to fail. If it fails for me, I fail all round and I don't do failure.”

"It's a massive team effort to get this back on its feet again, and back where it should be again as the biggest No.1 club in the world that can actually deliver one of the best parties on the island."

The DJs are gunning for this one, which undoubtedly boosts Cox's conviction, but he's quick to direct me to the laborious efforts of the GAME OVER crew – the brainchild of the Carl Cox at Space Ibiza team – in equipping Privilege with the essentials, including the fitting of a Funktion One soundsystem. “The thing is about me being positive about going into this room, I couldn't do Privilege without my team, and that includes Funktion-One founder, Tony Andrews. It's a massive team effort to get this back on its feet again, and back where it should be again as the biggest No.1 club in the world that can actually deliver one of the best parties on the island. It's not Space anymore, it's Privilege. But you have the same team, the same ethos, and the same passion.”

A big part of Cox's perpetual appeal is his inimitable passion, and it's in having a genuine sense of responsibility to us as clubbers, that he's back here. However, we haven't got a season full of dates, we've got just two gigs, and he wants you to understand that if you miss these parties, you've missed being in Ibiza. Dramatic it may sound, but those are words that will rouse a reaction with his fans, and if you needed any more cause to get your arses strapped into that plane seat, we'll leave you with these final words from the big man:

If you want to come to Ibiza and you want to have it large, I guarantee if you come down to Privilege on Tuesday night then it's there. If you're not into then just don't come. I don't care if there's only 3,000 people - that's not the reason I'm doing it. I want a spark to be in the room. I want people to go 'WOW. I wasn't expecting that.' I want them to be plastered against the wall with the Funktion One soundsystem, otherwise what's the point? That's the way I see it.”

And in what way do you see it? It should be a no-brainer.

WORDS l Aimee Lawrence

PHOTO CREDITS l Glastonbury Festival, Awakenings Festival and Privilege Ibiza

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