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The aerial magic of O Beach

Brightening up the skies over San Antonio

Anyone who has visited the incredible O Beach over the past seasons cannot have failed to be blown away by the sensational daily aerial displays. The giant animatronic spectacles, combined with colourful live-action performers, have also become a regular fascination for the people of San Antonio.

For the creative minds of Event Director, Gemma Charters, and her talented team, each year is a challenge to improve on the last. The awe-inspiring results were achieved by merging two of O Beach's production companies together - London based, Studio Souffle recreate the vision aesthetically with inflatables, while the in-house Ibiza production team, Arte Volante, work on the inner mechanics. It has proved a winning combination - every prop is made from scratch, exactly to the finest detail.

Gemma says “we always try to take everyone on a journey” and “the name of our game is FUN, with our motto being ‘we're here to celebrate not educate', and that's exactly what we want our customers to do – celebrate life and be in the moment”.

Now, Gemma has kindly lifted the lid on the meticulous production process – taking us on a trip down memory lane, with the pick of her favourite shows.

The show with a bite!

This snappy little fella was created as the main focal point for our ‘Under the Sea' theme for the Friday Pool Party events in 2016. The idea behind it was inspired by the cult classic film Jaws and an image taken for Harper's Bazaar, featuring singer Rihanna inside a shark's mouth.

The shark show featured one of our aerialists soaring across the skies in the mouth of the beast, screaming for help, while the Jaws soundtrack played eerily throughout the club. The shark's tail swung ferociously, CO2 blasting from its mouth until the music reached its crescendo. When the classic dance track ‘Make the World Go Round' by Sandy B dropped, perfectly in time with the confetti cannons, it was so much fun to watch everyone screaming, laughing and having a right good dance.

It was retro, camp and it worked!

A Royal Welcome

Last year, one of our event themes was ‘Wanderlust', meaning ‘the desire to travel'. Every Friday, it saw us fly the beach club around the world to different locations, via the power of imagination. O Beach is English owned, so we thought it would be really fun to create a patriotic show dedicated to Britain.

The show began with our very own ‘Drag Queen' Elizabeth (AKA Ruby Murry), complete with a corgi dog, arriving by crane on her very own Black Cab. Once on the ground, Her Royal Highness was flanked and protected by her Beefeater Guards, as she made her way through the club to the sounds of ‘God Save the Queen'.

Simultaneously, a life-size red double-decker London bus descended from the skies, accompanied by three of our beloved Mary Poppins, flying by their umbrellas and giving us an aerial performance. The sounds of Big Ben chimed across the venue and you could really feel everyone's anticipation building, wondering what could be coming next. Then, as the final chimes rang out, there he was - Freddie Mercury, appearing just as ‘We Will Rock You' belted out across the club!

This first time we revealed this show I actually nearly cried – the crowd participation was just insane! Knowing that we had created such a special, fun moment for everyone made me feel really proud.

Bird of Paradise – Carnival

For the 2019 Kisstory events, we studied the incredible Rio Carnival, which gives you so much inspiration. We spent hours on Pinterest (my favourite hobby), looking at all of the incredible floats in Brazil – the time and effort that goes into the staging, costumes and choreography for their infamous street parade is just another level!!!

Our Bird of Paradise show could arguably be presented with the crown for our ‘most beautiful yet'. It took a while to come to the final choice of materials - a combination of neon, iridescent feather-effect elements and glittery fabrics, combined with mechanical wings, which all ensured it looked like it had flown in direct from Paradise.

The show wouldn't have been complete without a lion float on the ground, dancers in wonderful, bright feathered costumes and drumming zebras who danced to our mix of mardi gras beats.

A monster of a show….

In 2018, we wanted to create a crazy wonderland of characters that you would only see in your wildest dreams. Step forward, Queen Kong! - our parody version of the fearsome movie monster.

For this prop we chose the campest shade of pink faux fur for the gorilla, to sit alongside her glittery pink belly. Queen Kong appeared overhead to the sounds of gorilla roars, police sirens, helicopters and screams. Her angry fists would beat her chest, as she ran riot across the beach club skies, with her kidnapped victim perched on her shoulder screaming for help.

On the ground, our marching army, under the command of our very own Sergeant Sassy, sat upon her big pink tank, would aim at the gorilla … Ready, Aim, Fire! But in our version, they would only shoot out love, confetti and CO2!

When the roars reached their angry peak, the track, ‘Devotion' by Bingo Players, burst out through the speakers and you could literally feel the energy explode in the venue. The excitement from everyone, feeling the Ibizan vibes under the Mediterranean sun, used to create the perfect moment.

Roll up, Roll Up the Circus is in town….

The circus was a perfect theme to get super creative, with lots of tongue-in-cheek performances, including a stunning vintage horse carousel, a big, bright helter-skelter, giant, inflatable pool hook-a-ducks and (would you believe?) a three-boobed, freak show lady that fired out pyrotechnics from her nipples!

We really wanted to create a spectacle from all levels for this show. So, while our commanding ringmaster arrived upon a beautiful circus elephant, floating through the blue sky on a hot air balloon, on the ground we had a cage of (human) tigers causing mischief with the customers throughout the beach club and clowns on stilts leading the way.

It was important that we chose the right fabrics for the elephant and the hot air balloon. To ensure the showstopper made that grand entrance we were after, we chose a mix of brightly coloured ripstop fabrics and beautiful metallics, along with an accompanying circus music medley.

We hope this stirs some happy memories for the thousands of O Beach fans out there. We really cannot wait to find out what weird and wonderful themes Gemma and her team come up with when the season finally gets underway.

WORDS | Gemma Charters & Tim Dackombe

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