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Review: Phantasmagoria opening party at Booom, 1st August

Freeing Ibiza from the corporate clutches which threaten to asphyxiate it.

At a time in the late 90s when I was building the best ever Lego based spaceships with guns with the help of my Daddy, people were on Ibiza getting involved in what is best described as ‘heavy petting' whilst DJs played banging house tunes to soundtrack even your visit to the toilet. Afterparties then followed at their own motel for levels of tomfoolery even my admittedly quite filthy mind struggles to imagine…

I'd missed the Manumission boat, that ship had long since sailed. So naturally, when I heard that the team behind Manumission would be returning to host some parties on Ibiza this year I was psyched. Would there be live sex? Are the toilets big enough for a Fatboy Slim DJ set? How do I get an invite to the afters? Would ‘Phantasmagoria' live up to expectations?

Now, a few days have passed since the opening party on Friday night and I've come to the conclusion that whilst there were clear elements of this new party that you can link back to the Manumission days, for the most part we exist in a world where the vast majority of acceptable behaviour for the 90s is now entirely unorthodox. Phantasmagoria danced a delicate line between maintaining the wildness of its party predecessor, and creating a new atmosphere, with its share of classy, cinematic film noir moments. Although the majority of the photos I took on Friday will never see the light of day, there were plenty of true ‘wow' moments we can all share in. I guess many people would attend the party and take it as it was intended, a piece of performance art… telling a story, trying to bring back some of the unconventional to Ibiza dancefloors and 'free the island from the corporate clutches which threaten to asphyxiate it'.

Over the course of the party we were treated to a variety of shows involving Mike and Claire and their team of performance artists and dancers. There were many sex toys, lots of hot wax, some casual gagging, teasing, accidental murder, problems with the police, lesbian action, acrobatics, S&M costumes, live singing from Claire (who was celebrating her Birthday)… and cake. Thank god for cake. All against a stylish backdrop of black and white film projections put together by Andrew Daffy.

Over the course of the night we had flavours from three different sectors of the musical sphere. Craig Richards, well known for his diverse sets, Derrick Carter on disco and house classics duty and a semi-live performance from British collective The Ting Tings. Craig Richards took everyone on a dark and mysterious journey of musical discovery, as you would expect, which in every way suited the film noir setting of the party. His set was broken up by the aforementioned stage shows, with The Ting Tings following directly after - a hard act to follow indeed.

The Ting Tings slipped between making use of a vinyl scratch deck, various effects and controllers, to live vocals, drums and guitar. Flavours from Rappers Delight and Blondie's Heart of Glass rinsed in with tracks front heir upcoming piece of work Super Critical, a funkier departure from the more stripped back days of That's Not My Name. I do worry though that for many the performance didn't go as noticed as it should have been as they were crammed into the high DJ booth, perhaps the band would be better suited to the stage area used by Hercules & Love Affair at Glitterbox? Derrick Carter is a DJ that can always bring the party, no matter the time, place or brief. It's disco and house classics - and who doesn't love a night filled with that stuff? Kool and The Gang Open Sesame, some Deputy of Love and even Patti Labelle featured during the set. Smiles aplenty.

This being the first party in quite some time from the team though, it was inevitable to have had some teething problems. The production could do with being tidied up a little, with some awkward pauses on stage, some technical failures with equipment, and so on. But I honestly have a huge amount of respect for all of them for coming back to a hugely different island and putting on one of, if not the, most unique parties I've ever experienced. That being said, people shouldn't expect a trip to Manumission of old. The team don't want it to be taken as such, nor compared to directly. This is something new to be judged on its own merits.

I mean, Ibiza was born from a desire to challenge the status quo, to explore the mind, body and soul on an intimate and spiritual level through the medium of dance, music, peace and love. In some ways, Ibiza has lost its way in these respects, so we should be grateful to people and parties like this who strive to get back to that ideal… putting up a challenge and giving a few lessons to the scores of people who come to Ibiza thinking all we are is a 20 km wide piece of land built solely for big bass lines and epic EDM drops to party to.

Frankly, the island would be a much better, albeit slightly weirder, place if Mike and Claire were to be in charge. I'd vote for them.


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