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Review: Benimussa Park Opening Party, 2014

BBQs, beats and a spot of synchronised swimming...

With the first of its opening offerings, Benimussa Park (formerly Gala Night) yesterday opened its gates to a scantily clad, heavily painted Ibiza. The outdoor parties held in the legendary zoo-themed venue have become nothing short of a rite of passage for young British tourists hitting the white isle, and yesterday they were out in force. The event kicked off in the afternoon, but unlike many club nights that start in the daytime, which can sometimes feel like a waste of valuable tanning time, Benimussa is certainly one worth peeling yourself off the sun lounger for. With the BBQ on the go, beanbags at the ready around the pool, and a promising line up of underground house ahead, this is what Ibiza days are all about.

The park itself is nothing short of spectacular. Built to resemble an abandoned zoo, complete with animal cages and members of staff donned in safari gear 'catching' guests with giant nets (ok so maybe we could have done without that) it's one of the few venues in Ibiza to still go the whole hog and then some with their decor. Made up of three arenas and a whole maze of other areas to explore, there was barely enough time in the day to see everything that was going on. For those wanting to bring out their inner bohemian, there were meditation sessions and tarot card readings, hot dogs, BBQ and even a sushi bar to feed even the hungriest of animals and a shisha garden to recline in when your legs had had enough. Entertainment company Minx FX kept our eyeballs busy with live performances and art installations around every corner. Dancers in intricate tribal headressers joined DJs on stage, and there were even synchronised swimmers preforming in the Seal Stage pool.

Defex and Jon Woodall got things started both playing feel good, sun-drenched sets as the venue filled up, and by the time Jonathan Tena took charge of the decks at half seven he had a packed out stand looking down on him from the steps surrounding the Seal Pit stage. His set was an eclectic mix of ambient beats, with some grittier house mixed in to warm everyone up for the night ahead.

Zooproject residents Federico Grazzini and *riffraff's Lee Pennington were of course present and correct, with Grazzini headlining the Seal Pit with his usual mix of funky house and techno. Although stand out for the night had to be Spencer Parker, not someone who'd first jumped out at me looking at the line-up on paper, but whose feel-good set of classics and old school beats completely hit the nail on the head. Dropping tracks like Black Boxes Ride On Time, which whilst may have wrinkled a few noses at DC10 or Sankeys, felt spot on coming from a DJ booth shaped like an iceberg in front of a glitter covered crowd hyped up on bright blue cocktail buckets.

The first Saturday in June will see Ibiza descending on Benimussa once again this time for the Zooproject's official opening party, kicking of their season of Saturdays in the park, and if this is anything to go by its going to be a wild one.

Words | Joanna Wright Photography | James Chapman

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