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Review: Used + Abused Opening Party

Ushuaïa has only just given Loco Dice the keys and he's already moving the furniture around!

Instantly something felt different. As I traipsed through the usual entrance to Ushuaïa and emerged poolside I was faced the familiar pool and stage vista … and yet it wasn't familiar; some subtle re-arranging and decorations had made the place seem, well, cooler.

Red and grey camouflage netting stretched high above our heads over the area in front of the pool, which later twinkled with some classic white fairy lights (awwww). The VIP section had been elbowed out to the right hand side only, creating a lot more room for the regular stompers in the area in front of the stage. Large raised platforms had also been erected at the edge of the pool and either side of the DJ booth; naturally these were overflowing with bodies, as was the stage behind the booth, so that dance floor and stage area had merged into one writhing mass of party people surrounding a very comfortable looking Guti.

It was a nice set up, and really felt like the DJ was in the midst of the party with you, as opposed to the stage/audience separation which is the Ushuaia norm. There were a few casualties of the new arrangement, like some dodgy sound pockets either side of the stage, plus the area behind the main pool just wasn't part of the action like it usually is… but Ushuaïa do not muck about with this sort of thing and I anticipate these details will be fine-tuned very quickly.

Guti was spinning at a laid back pace, knocking out deep beats peppered with occasional forays into something more festive and melodic, like his collaboration with Luca Bacchetti ‘Finale'. When Loco Dice took over he pushed the tempo forward, grooving about on the stage with his trademark swagger and looking absolutely in charge. You can always feel his hip hop background in his sets, as Dice rarely plays straight, unadorned rhythms – there's always a swing or an extra step in there. That's the side of Dice that I like best and we got a good sampling of it last night, like when, around the 10.30 mark, we all slumped into some deep off-beat swinging with a re-working of Cream, by Harvard Bass. Dice hammered it out a bit more later, but in general kept a pretty safe balance between the hard, heavy and easy-going beats.

As seems to be the case for a lot of new parties this year, it will take some time for dust to settle. Holiday-makers can no longer go to a certain venue assured of hearing one kind of music, so inevitably at the start of the season some people get caught out. Not everyone was totally ready for a pre-midnight Dice pounding, and though this was reasonably mild by some standards, there were still some lost rabbits up the back who didn't know what hit them. I'm adding that lot to the temporary casualties box however, because as far as I'm concerned the collaboration is a winner: Dice and his team have marked their territory and made the space their own, Ushuaïa continues to prove its chameleon qualities and I get a proper rave in before midnight.

Photography by James Chapman

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