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Early club closings chaos – Tongy's tuppence

Ibiza's licensing shit fight is a hot story throughout Spain right now. Radio 1's Pete Tong enters the fray.

It’s been even messier than usual on the White Isle this week.

Cocoon’s closing party at Amnesia on the Monday just been (September 19) was among the first to be truncated by the new 6am ruling. The San Rafael macro disco closed at the stipulated time, but in "protest" re-opened again at 8am as permitted by the terms of their licence. However a further edict by José Sala, the mayor of San Antonio (under whose jurisdiction Amnesia falls) has closed this loophole.

According to local newspaper reports owner Martin Ferrer cited commitments to customers who had already bought tickets expecting a longer session.

Pete TongThis sentiment is echoed by the BBC’s Pete Tong (right), resident of the Friday night gig Pure Pacha, whose party is not affected by the ruling as it finishes on a morning when there is no school. We spoke to the influential broadcaster last Friday (September 16).

“I think it’s a devastating ruling. Whilst I’m all for safety and respect and looking after the island, to my knowledge I’ve never heard of school kids getting hurt or in an accident with clubbers leaving a club.”

Mr Tong predicts suffering for the local tourism industry.

"It would basically suggest to the world outside of Ibiza that you’re attempting to shorten the season by two months. Because if you’ve got the choice of coming to Ibiza in June, July, August or September and you hear every club shutting at 6am, there’s a good chance you want to come in August or July. Maybe half an hour would have been a good compromise. I think for Pacha and Amnesia and Privilege it’s bad news."

He witnessed one of the first 6am closings at Yoshitoshi on Thursday last week (September 15).

“[There were] a lot of people cheering and booing at the same time. I think it’s completely thrown people. If you’re in the VIP and you’ve just ordered a 250 euro bottle of vodka at 5.45 and the music gets turned off at 6 you’re going to get pretty peed off. Equally if you’d bought a table. It’s very very disappointing. It encourages things that aren’t strictly legal. People are going to be going on to afterparties and you’re gonna have more house parties and things will move to another level rather than keeping people in the clubs."

Do you think having lots more cops in Ibiza will solve problems associated with drugs for example?

It will certainly be a deterrent. It has helped the state of the roads - the policing of them has been a lot more effective over the last couple of years. And if that cuts down the number of accidents and fatalities particularly involving people that have come out of clubs driving when they shouldn’t then that’s obviously a very positive thing. I’ve already witnessed more plain clothed police inside clubs than I’ve even witnessed before anyway. I’m certainly aware of it at Space.

You know the police?

I don’t know them but you can kinda tell when plain clothed police are in the club. I’ve been doing this for a long time.

Have you ever been searched in the car park at Space or anywhere else?

No. I’ve seen it happen.

David de Felipe from Amnesia has responded to the criticism by pointing the finger at what he terms “illegal” venues. Does that help the situation?

That’s a big question and a big answer. I’ve had so many interviews people asking ‘Where are you favourite beaches?’ and 'What's your favourite cocktail?'. I didn’t realise that this was going to be this type of interview. The biggest thing is if people are doing things illegally then it’s got to be dealt with. But I think clubbing is such a massive part of the spirit and soul of this island it needs protecting, It needs looking after like anything else and I think the big picture is that the authorities should be working with the club owners to make that work for everybody. To make it safe, to make it more enjoyable and a more reliable experience. That would be the goal I would be trying to achieve if I was in control of this island. Not to stamp down and make the job more difficult. In terms of illegal clubs you walk a tightrope with this one. If illegal clubs are running on a regular basis, they should be shut down. The odd one-off party, spirit of Ibiza, dancing under the stars on a beach somewhere if it doesn’t do any harm to the environment, doesn’t hurt anybody, I’m all for that. Anybody involved in the island, Martin Ferrer, Ricardo Urgell, I’m sure they all support that spirit. I hear about regular house parties being run and people being charged on the door and drinks getting charged. I think if there’s a regular pattern of those then that needs to be dealt with. Last year we had all this with Bora Bora being shut down or Dc10 getting attacked. Bora Bora bounced back I presume they’ve got their licenses in place and Dc10’s open again so I presume they dealt with whatever they had to deal with. I’m not one to say they were or they weren’t run in the proper manner before that, but if those things have been sorted out afterwards then it’s not been a bad thing. The amount of money, time and effort that goes into maintaining Space, Amnesia, Pacha, three magnificent venues, three of the best venues of that ilk in the world, which the island should be proud of, they’re obviously gonna be concerned about people doing stuff illegally when they’re spending a fortune doing it the right way. I think David was right to say that.

Do you feel that you are in a position to do something about the situation?

If I was asked to help, then yeah, I might help. I‘ve obviously been quite heavily involved in bring the BBC here and promoting the island to the rest the world. I’m not a club promoter per se. I’m a resident dj that takes a very healthy and active interest in how his night runs. But I suppose the more you come here the more you understand the infrastructure of how it works. I’ve got big respect for Ricardo Urgell, Pepe Rosello and Fritz Pangratz and Martin Ferrer for the operations they run. I don’t know the guy at Privilege.

Do you compare different years in Ibiza, or do you just get on with it?

I’m not one to go on and on about how it’s not as good as it was. For me it just gets better and better really - working with Pacha, working with the Family. Nothing happens quickly in Ibiza. You do realise that the more you come here year on year. The Spanish crowd and the Italian crowd particularly, it takes a while for you to under their skin and then once you do they’re very very loyal. Establishing a night, when you’re just here for the summer every year, can take a few years to bed in. This is the third year I would say it’s really arrived, and it’s as solid a night at the club as Erick Morillo’s Subliminal party which has obviously been going a year or so longer than me, and Def Mix.

Was that a conscious decision to reach out to the Spanish and Italian crowd?

When you play Pacha it kinda comes with it. The great thing about playing Ibiza really, outside of San An, it’s a truly international mix of people. That’s the most appealing thing of all. I’ve done a lot more work on the Spanish and Italian market in the last few years, particularly in Italy for some reason they seem to like me, I keep getting invited back there. The Spanish and Italian crowd, Hispanics, Spanish-speaking crowds all over the world are just a fantastic audience. They just know how to party in a cool way, and the Italians similarly, the Italians are really passionate about their music and probably more so than other countries in Europe seem to be more on the cutting edge really. They just seem to know what’s right. Your average Saturday night in an Italian club with quite a glamorous mix in there, you’d be surprised how dirty and underground the music can get. We done IlMuretto’s closing again on Saturday [September 10] in Venice, it’s just amazing what you can get away with in a relatively big room. It’s not like you’re playing to a Dc10 crowd or anything. It’s quite a mix of young people, upscale people and everything. They’re really into their music.

What records went down well?

I’ve got so many great records at the moment, dirty lo-tech electro house, a lot of stuff from Germany at the moment, Trentmøller’s music, M.A.N.D.Y, a lot of stuff from Get Physical.

How are the pre-parties at Mambo going?

Every week, most of the time I’m here. Andy Kato from Groove Armada is gonna do the sunset for me tonight and then I’m gonna come on afterwards. It really helps, particularly with the English crowd, to vibe ‘em up, get ‘em organised, get ‘em tickets, get ‘em on coaches and get ‘em over to Pacha. Get ‘em out of San An.

What was your highlight this year?

Kelis @ Pure Pacha - July 8, 2005Just every time I walk in there and walk into the booth really, usually when my guests are on. It’s just a huge buzz, it’s like a European cup final every Friday night in there. It’s just one of the biggest stages you can play on really. I don’t mean physical size, the mix of people, the intensity in there. I’m very happy with it, very proud, the audience is fantastic, kinda got quite a loyal regular following in there now. I’ve been playing a lot at the end, between five and 7.30, 8 o’clock,. Whereas I tended to play more in the middle in the early couple of years. I tend to do more finishes which I think works really well for the residents. You kind of get three crowds, you get the really early evening crowd, you get the middle bit which is the peak in terms of sheer numbers, then at the end around five you got the workers from around the island. It’s been great. We’re very happy to have Carl Cox doing the opening again like last year, that’s always special. Groove Armada stepped in for me when I couldn’t be there, it was my brother’s wedding, that was the second week of the season and they came and played the main room which was great. It’s a different kind of challenge from Space.

Who's playing at your closing party on September 30?

In the main room it’s Alex Neri, me and Francesco Farfa. Two of my favourite Italian djs. Alex with his residency at Tenax in Florence is probably my favourite club in Italy. It’s just a shade ahead of IlMuretto in Venice, one of the best clubs in the world. He’s good friend and a great guy and his band is doing really well, Planet Funk. Francesco isn’t necessarily the biggest name in Italy along with Ralf and Claudio Cocolutto, but I think he’s highly underrated, a very very good dj.

So, what is your favourite cocktail?

When it comes to the end of the summer and I’m asked to write lists about what I hate the top of the list is vodka limon. I’ve been battling with the Urgells for years and they’ve finally managed to get a decent vodka and cranberry juice. It’s a thrill.

- click here for an ongoing forum discussion about the issue plus links to local newspaper articles

- Pete Tong appears tonight with Jacques Lu Cont (1 - 3am) & Danny Howells (3 - 5.15am) @ Pure Pacha

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