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Review: Departures opening party at Ushuaïa, 2014

EDM's Batman and Robin lift Ushuaïa Ibiza to dazzling new heights.

As the low-flying aeroplane roared across the sky above, I couldn't help thinking what Ushuaïa might look like from such a view.

From my view (perched on a six-foot Canadian's shoulders) it looked incredible; a grand domed stage at the rear of the outside arena, shooting laser lights, crowds of people dancing and jumping around the great pool which is slap-bang in the centre of the venue, palm trees, fireworks, flames, the largest ice cannon that I have ever seen that momentarily gasses the bounding clubbers at the front! This lavish super club is a slice of festival heaven, right here in Ibiza's back garden.

Departures is the love child of high-flyers Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso, better known as two thirds of electro royalty Swedish House Mafia. Every Wednesday they are set to play at Ushuaïa together, joined by an array of carefully selected special guests. Many house fans' hearts were crushed when, in 2012, the trio announced their split via their website. Fortunately Departures unquestionably fills that SHM shaped-hole.

I arrived at Ushuaïa as fellow Swede Alesso warmed up the crowd with Calling (Lose My Mind), his hit with Ingrosso. The atmosphere was taking off, soaring into full on, fist-pumping, festival mode. “It's been an absolute pleasure” he cheered, before making way for the main act of the evening, the dynamic duo.

As the revellers splashed and skipped in the miniature pool behind me, the familiar electro-delicious tones of One pumped out of the first-class sound system sending everyone into a tizz. Axwell and Ingrosso are the perfect partnership; think an EDM Batman and Robin. With more ascends and drops than a plane ride with turbulence, their set was a stupefying mash-up of their smash hits; In My Mind, Reload, Save The World Tonight. But they also interwove many other bangers like this summer's freshest track Gekko (Oliver Heldens), One More Time (Daft Punk) and one of my personal favourite tunes at the moment Liquor Store. Empire of the Sun's We Are the People proved to be the perfect comma in the set, giving the party-goers a chance to catch their breath.

The Balearic sun set and out pumped Swedish House Mafia's Leave the World Behind. I couldn't help smiling at the irony. Ushuaïa is unique and so colossal that it really does feel like you've left the world behind. I cannot even compare it to anywhere I've ever been before. It's like America's Ultra festival has fallen out of the sky and landed right here on the island. If the gigantic fountains that danced to the beat weren't enough of an eye-gasm already, a fairy (okay, an acrobat on a harness) flew down a wire from Ushuaia tower. She contorted and curled while being suspended above the luxury pool in the middle of the arena.

Axwell and Ingrosso's set came to a smooth landing, finishing with my dad's favourite, Don't You Worry Child. I'm talking smoke coming from the bottom of the stage, confetti and streamers EVERYWHERE and the dancing fountains spurting up to the starry sky above. No one was left with any doubt; these boys really are the hosts with the most(s).

“Today was make some fucking noise day!” the Swedes exclaimed! With such an extensive catalogue of hits between them, Departures promises to be an electro euphoria every single Wednesday. As the ravers filtered out I overheard one lad say “Last ten minutes of that I was dying for a wee but I daren't go in case I miss something.” And that just sums up the night for me: Unmissable. The extravagant fireworks, fountains, flames, the elaborate stage production, the extraordinary size of the outdoor amphitheatre, the unexpected aerial acrobats, the experience.

Just make sure you are not on one of those planes flying overhead Ushuaïa, looking down thinking “Wow, I wish I had gone to Departures!”

WORDS | Francesca Evans PHOTOGRAPHY | James Chapman

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