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Review: The Zoo Project opening party, 2014

An Ibiza zoo is the best kind of zoo.

On an island where parties and events in the evening can quite often continue until midday the morning after, it is extremely easy for tourists to miss all of the beautiful sunshine as raving slowly turns them nocturnal. Enter ‘Zoo Project', the perfect antidote to the multiple parties happening every evening on the white isle.

For those that don't know, Zoo Project gained its name and popularity from hosting weekly day parties at Gala Night (now Benimussa Park), a venue built to imitate an abandoned zoo so cleverly that it'll make you wonder why there aren't more raves in zoos!

As the sun slowly began to retreat for the evening, we ambled over to the Seal Pit to check out Chicago house legend Roy Davis Jr's set to a pretty rowdy late-afternoon crowd. As a veteran of electronic music and having been introduced to house by artists such as DJ Pierre and Marshall Jefferson in the 80s, Davis Jr had no problems attracting partygoers to his stage for 90 minutes of groove-laden beats that worked perfectly with the vibe of the party. In spite of the laid-back sunset atmosphere, Roy Davis Jr's uptempo, high-energy set made for a great juxtaposition and the ultimate way to kick off the evening's proceedings.

I was most anticipating Pedestrian's back-to-back DJ set with Medlar at the Treehouse Stage. Pedestrian is notorious for not being constrained by any single sound or genre of electronic music, and yesterday evening provided visual and aural proof that his sets truly are tailored to the dancefloor he is playing to. A good back-to-back show is indicated by the way the DJs feed off one another and engage with the musical direction that their partner wants to go down. Medlar and Pedestrian were no exception to that rule, delivering an array of sounds from deep rolling bass, brass instrumentals to infectious melodic pieces that succeeded in drawing in large groups from every corner of the venue. The crowd clearly loved every second, particularly the guys dressed as zookeepers running around catching people dressed as animals in their giant nets.

Session Victim were up next with a live show that captured the spirit of Zoo Project. Having opened with more ambient pieces that included spaced out vocals, the German duo transitioned to more funk sounding tracks that took clear influence from 70s disco. The highlight of the show came early into their performance, when Matthias Reilling whipped out a bass guitar and began emphatically slapping the strings to give the set a greater kick. The bass guitar remained on stage for the majority of the show, culminating in a brilliant live solo that seriously got the audience moving.

We then took a break from dancing to take a stroll through the ‘Hippie Arena' where many of the party's guests formed a large drum circle in the centre, creating a totally different atmosphere from the other stages and providing a welcome change from their intensity, too. Zoo Project is unlike many of the other parties across the island – despite a stellar line up of big DJs and live acts across the season, it really isn't all about the music. Guests can also be seen ambling around the venue, chilling by the pool, enjoying a drink or three and even a barbecue; all of which contribute to the chilled vibe that the party has become so popular for.

Refreshed and ready to go, we returned to the Seal Pit for the final set of the night at half 10, which came from Dungeon Meat (Brawther & Tristan Da Cunha). It's fair to say that they were more than worthy headliners of the stage as they stepped up the intensity to heights unparalleled throughout the day. Their tracks of choice seemed to have a much more British feel and, for a largely British audience in the amphitheatre, it was a much appreciated change of pace and sound. Paired with the duo's gripping 90 minute show came entertainment in the form of a stream of various dancers. The crowd was greeted with a thrilling spectacle from acrobats, break-dancers and even a ballet dancer (I'm not sure I've ever seen a rave ballerina before). Tristan Da Cunha and Brawther's flawless mixing packed such a punch that by the time midnight rolled around, the crowd at the Seal Pit were more than ready to push on elsewhere to continue partying into the night.

Zoo proved itself as a party that holidaymakers throughout the season should donate their Saturday to. The event itself is more like a festival than any other on the island and feels as though it is tailored to those of us who enjoy day parties back at home but find ourselves disappointed by the weather. Zoo Project has become one of the more distinctive events on the island and one that we'll be heading back to as much as humanly possible.

WORDS | Janson Goldberg PHOTOGRAPHY | James Chapman

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