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Review: Ushuaïa Ibiza opening party 2016

Techno fuel spills out into the open air

What makes Ushuaïa's rip-roaring open-air parties stand out from the pack is the feeling that you have landed at a mini festival. The commercial realms of dance music dominate at Ushuaïa, while its homegrown spinner, ANTS - along with the openings and closings - gather the head honchos from across the underground spectrum. My past dance trip experiences have mostly been on the commercial side, so I was eager to see how house and techno fared at the venue for its big opening.

Last year's opening bill was all about recruiting your best partner in crime, with eight B2B sessions footing the day to night event, and this year it was a case of solo sleaze with a selection of eight big names on mixing duties for the 14-hour session.

Boasting a 5,000 capacity, it must have been hitting this limit by the time I´d slotted myself for a bit of Joris Voorn´s touch on the decks. Movements of sunset triggered, he pushed the pace with firm installations of dance-steady tech house and on attempting a shuffle at the bar for a drink, you could tell everyone was desperate to get away back to the crowd. After cranking out his own dry kick-laden remix of Röyksopp's 'I Had This Thing', it was time to let Brit bruiser, Hot Since 82, have a word. I'm always up for a lingering eye-spy perv on the dancers – it was actually once my burning ambition to be up there – and the opening party troupe's outfits were thigh-rub worthy. Hot Since 82 gave them plenty of material to exert their grace, launching in on heavy steam with chubby bass drums and soliciting tech-house snares. He careered from techno to tech house with Pele & Shawnecy's sex-laced bumper, 'Sixtynine' to samples of Junior Jack's classic house burner, 'Thrill Me'. My spot for most of his set was smack bang behind one of the speakers, where I stumbled across a fellow Scottish lass who just about lost it when he layered in his own chuggy track, 'Veins'.

Anticipation of the main headliner and techno magnet, Richie Hawtin, was rife, and as headliner choice, despite the openings having an underground centric line-up, he was a surprise pick for a fair few. But, my god, were punters happy to see the dance floor experimentalist in pole position. After a flicker of arranged sonic ornaments, he was in, wading deep into the depths of blistering horse power. He's a good advocate for earplugs, with a sense of viciousness characterising his breed of guttural techno. Occasionally taking the pedal off a thickened kick drum, and sending in a series of overflying crystalline sheens, he always reduces his victims to a blanket state of euphoria. We got a cooling cover of rain, and for someone whose sweat glands seem to be all on my face, a cool breeze did wonders. Richie beasted on until 2 AM with his biting, snarling rhythms and insisting beats that are rarely heard in this part of Playa d'en Bossa. On coming to a close, he deceived the crowd at various turns, only to bang back on the techno pedal, but it all had to come to a finish, even though I reckon there were good few hours of stamina left in those who stayed.

I came for a dosage of what I more often hear in darker, sweatier confines and Ushuaïa hosted a an absolute banger.

WORDS | Aimee Lawrence PHOTOGRAPHY | Ushuaïa

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