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Review: Benimussa Park (The Zoo) opening, 2015

All hail the banana.

It's impossible to be grumpy at Benimussa Park. The open air venue, popularly known as the old zoo and home to the Zoo Project and Holi Festival parties, is such a thorough homage to everything that is fun, playful and free in our lives that you'd have to be a real buttplug not to be entertained.

Though only a few minutes outside of San Antonio, it feels like a mini festival in the remote hills of Ibiza - a special secret that only you, your friends, and a few thousand sparkly zebras, snakes, lions, tigers and giraffes in skimpy swimwear know about. Animal bodypaint is a right of passage for many who attend Zoo - one girl on the way in expressed her sincere regret to me that her plan of filling a bath with glitter, covering herself in Vaseline and writhing around in it had fallen through.

But the stripes, glitter and high cut swimwear is only part of the story. There are so many different areas to explore within Benimussa Park that appeal to all tastes, and it's as good a place for an afternoon massage and BBQ as it is for a rave. We began our afternoon at the aforementioned BBQ, chowing down on potatoes and chicken breast and fighting it out for the affection of the stray cats. Once fed and watered we began to wander, first hovering around the Mandala Garden, where a wonderful juxtaposition was at play with a circle of white linen clad spiritual types joining hands near to a gaggle of giggling hens in the pink sash and tiara bachelorette uniform. I later saw the two groups joined in a meditative circle together, because Ibiza is cool like that.

Karina was pumping it out at the much improved Tree House stage, which now looks like the wooden fort of your childhood dreams (props to Stax Creations and Milou aka Nici aka Goldstube for the venue design), but the best energy was over at the Seal Pit, where Michael James and later Will Saul delivered warm, analogue sounds wafting between the realms of house and tech with plenty badass bass lines to get us on the hop. All manner of creative dancers crossed the stage including lycra leopard acrobats, panel-skirted booty shakers, feather-shouldered club dancers and a lively capoeira pair. The performers interacted not only with their audience but with the DJ; Will Saul in particular, no stranger to the Seal Pit stage, was perfectly at ease, dropping bass lines in time with flips in front of him, high-fiving the dancers and casually hoovering down a fag as he surveyed the amphitheatre before him.

As always, the music at Zoo was class. There's so much atmosphere that is independent from the DJs, that bookers must feel more freedom than the average promoter to book exactly the underground artists they want. There's more than enough to draw you up into the Benimussa hills even before you get to the music, and as an ironic result the music at Zoo parties is often some of the coolest on the island.

WORDS | Jordan Smith PHOTOGRAPHY | James Chapman


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