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Ibiza 2013 in review

With the season drawing to a close this week, Carlos Hawthorn looks back on a summer of extreme highs and lows.

Ibiza 2013 was a strange, turbulent sort of season. On the surface, the island appeared to be quieter than it had been for years, with some clubnights floundering due to poor attendance. In fact, while there was a slight dip in overall numbers, it was more the sheer number of parties that left many a venue empty. Next Wave, Get Physical and a slew of Booom!-affiliated ventures were all forced to shut their doors prematurely. Even internationally renowned brands such as Dirtybird, Flying Circus and We Love… suffered. Meanwhile, on the other end of the scale, the island’s heavyweights triumphed, with Music On, ENTER. and Paradise all enjoying record-breaking second seasons.

In terms of DJs, last year’s « swap » phenomenon reached dizzying new heights this summer. Though for every successful collaboration (Hawtin at Paradise, Väth at ENTER., Carola at Carl Cox), there were examples of over-saturation. Loco Dice gave playing every party on the island (and one bar in Ibiza town) his best shot, despite having just launched Used + Abused. It did, however, have its pluses. Desolat’s tINI proved herself as one of the most versatile jocks on the circuit, equally at home closing Sirocco Beach as she was warming up the Discoteca at Space.

For those that stuck to their guns, the season was kind. Solomun proved that Pacha is suited to the underground (or at least his version of it). VIVa Warriors and Fuse showed that the resident DJ is still as relevant a figure as ever. And over at Amnesia, Cocoon demonstrated just how much better a party is if capacity is kept at 80 to 90%.

Ibiza is going through a difficult phase, as DJ fees continue to skyrocket and VIP culture further integrates itself into the scene. 2013 brought many of these issues to light like never before, and it will be intriguing to see how many of them are resolved come May next year. Despite all of this, the season still had an abundance of magical moments. From Marco Carola’s Space debut to Eats Everything’s blinding and somewhat unexpected set at Cocoon, Ibiza is still the place for unique dance floor experiences.

Ibiza 2013 in review by day:
Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday / Friday / Saturday / Sunday

Monday

Circo Loco

It was business as usual for Cocoon in 2013, as they enjoyed another successful season at Amnesia.
This year’s obligatory tag line, Lifestyle, captured the essence of Circoloco like never before. It’s more than just a weekly party; it’s a way of life. Complete with smart new decking in the garden, DC-10 felt bigger and better than ever in 2013, with lineups that satisfied and surprised in equal measure. Of the residents, Tale Of Us, Maceo Plex and The Martinez Brothers caught the eye with their boisterous performances on the Terrace, while Seth Troxler and Cassy took things into deeper, more warped territory. The latter’s VS alongside Dan Ghenacia at the start of August was a particular highlight.

There was a strong UK presence over the summer, with Jackmaster, Boddika, Joy Orbison and Ben UFO all making their debuts. Carl Cox returned on official business, showing his class and versatility across a marathon five-and-a-half-hour set. And who could forget Black Coffee’s milestone percussive outing to welcome in the busy August programme? Even Sasha found time in September to drop by for his first DC-10 performance. And the likes of Ryan Elliott, DVS1, Ben Klock, Marcel Dettmann and Basic Channel founder Moritz Von Oswald made sure Circoloco maintained its reputation as the island’s premier house and techno party.

After a shaky opening, there were whispers of Cocoon‘s reign over the island finally coming to an end this summer. Indeed, with Circoloco pushing it as late as 4 AM most Mondays, the Amnesia staple only really hit capacity as the night’s headliners were taking to the decks. But for those keen to see some of the scene’s best in calmer, airier conditions, Dixon, Seth Troxler, Matthias Kaden, KiNK and Eats Everything all played much-lauded warm-up sets.Of the heavy-hitters, Loco Dice, playing a reduced three dates, showed why he’d be sorely missed if he were ever to fully defect. Richie Hawtin put in another rockstar performance on the Terrace, complete with the mandatory crowd-surf. Ricardo Villalobos, as unpredictable as ever, came through with one of the sets of the season at the start of August, thrilling the Terrace with his brand of oddball techno. And then there was Sven. Across both rooms, the Cocoon chief continued to exercise his dominance, with his Main Room outings sticking particularly hard and fast in the mind.

A word must be spared for Hypercolour, who were faced with the mammoth task of combating two Ibiza powerhouses (as well as following VIVa Warriors on Sunday). Despite a handful of attention-grabbing bookings—Pearson Sound, Floating Points, Space Dimension Controller, Four Tet—the UK outfit just couldn’t get enough people through the door. Whether they’ll return for next year, preferably with a kinder slot, remains to be seen.

 

Tuesday

Carl Cox

Solomun and co. once again were the lynchpin of Sankeys summer.

With Carl Cox choosing to DJ around the island for the first time in years—clocking up appearances at DC-10, Ushuaia and Amnesia—you might have expected his longstanding Tuesday night party at Space to suffer. In fact, it appeared to only heighten the superstar’s unbridled popularity, as The Party Unites further bolstered its reputation as Ibiza’s most popular event.

As ever, Coxy’s pounding peak-time performances led by example, but it was the likes of tINI, Laurent Garnier, Masters At Work, Dyed Soundorom and a special back-to-back live set from Guti and Davide Squillace that brought the party into its own. Future Disco’s takeover of the Sunset Terrace is also worth mentioning, warming up the crowds with the likes of Tom Trago, The Revenge and Huxley. And then there was the small matter of Marco Carola’s first ever gig at Space in July, which takes the prize as Ibiza 2013’s most talked-about moment.

After its ballooning success in 2012, Sankeys did well to hold ontoDiynamic Neon Nights. Alongside VIVa Warriors, it was the club’s principal breadwinner, packing out the place with a fun, knowledgeable cross-section of European fans. While the Basement and The Lab were rarely both full, you could be sure that wherever Solomun and H.O.S.H. were (usually side by side, spinning back-to-back) it was rammed. David August, one of the season’s brightest up-and-comers, deserves high praise for his live sets that blended his sparky machine-funk with a pop sensibility.

Luciano & Friends at Ushuaia moved from Thursdays to Tuesdays this year. While Dennis Ferrer, Mirko Loko, Josh Wink and Franco Cinelli all proved worthy guests, of all the heavyweight parties this seemed the most lacklustre. Granted, without the pull of huge Avicii-style brands the venue is difficult to fill, but nevertheless the Cadenza boss doesn’t seem to be the draw he once was. A back-to-back with Richie Hawtin in July showed flashes to the contrary, but across the season Luciano was a name that people on the island mentioned with increasing infrequency.

 

Wednesday

Steve Lawler

No one did beachside, sun-soaked clubbing quite like tINI & the gang.

Swapping Thursdays for Wednesdays in order to avoid any high-profile clashes meant only one thing for Jamie Jones: he was now officially one of the island’s top-tier DJs. 2013 saw Paradise go from strength to strength, which was testament to Jones’s loyal, heavily British following. It wasn’t all about Jones, however. From Four Tet, Roman Flügel and DJ Koze to Cassy, Michael Mayer and Magda, Paradise proffered some of the most appealing bills on the island. In what was one of the more interesting collaborations of the summer, Richie Hawtin took the Terrace apart with his housiest set in recent memory, while Loco Dice’s long-anticipated return to DC-10 was a resounding success. It’s hard to think how Jones will top this in 2014—but he more than likely will.

Debuting at Pacha, Guy Gerber’s off-the-wall Wisdom Of The Glove night offered the island, at least musically, a real taste of the underground. Bill Patrick, DJ Tennis and Shaun Reeves were regular players, while dOP, Lawrence and Four Tet all put in noteworthy shifts. While the music was of a consistently high-quality (John Talabot played an early contender for set of the season back at the tail-end of July), attendances were sometimes poor, and certainly a far cry from the VIP-led numbers reaching out for David Guetta, Chuckie and even Solomun. Whether Gerber had a strong enough fan base to man his own party is still up for debate; it will be interesting to see where Pacha and the eccentric Israeli go from here.

tINI & the gang enjoyed its most vibrant summer yet, based as much on the continued runaway success of its frizzy-haired leader as on the fact that it’s still one of the few official places in Ibiza to party for free by the sea. Rather than clog the lineups with high-profile talent, tINI used the event as a platform for some of her favourite, lesser-known DJs. A relaxed atmosphere, cool crowd and deep, dubby beats made this the island’s best-loved beach soirée.

Fuse were the season’s surprise package. Returning for a full residency after a handful of parties in 2012, it looked unceratin as to whether Enzo Siragusa and co. could translate their London dominance to Ibiza. Ploughing ahead with majority in-house lineups, Fuse proved all doubters wrong. The secrets to their success? Knowing their target-market and relying on a team of very good resident DJs.

 

Thursday

Richie Hawtin

Loco Dice’s debut residency pushed tough beats in the open-air at Ushuaia.

No longer up against Paradise, and with Kehakuma back flying solo,ENTER. took the opportunity to evolve into one of Ibiza’s most powerful brands. A sharp and ubiquitous PR campaign, coupled with the run of Space’s five rooms, enabled Richie Hawtin and co. to flex the full extent of their musical muscles. The Sunset Terrace became this year’s bigger, fully functioning Sake Bar, while El Salon (dubbed ENTER.Mind) was transformed into a misty recess for dance music’s more avant-garde acts, meaning you could sip a sake cocktail and listen to Recondite, Lee Gamble or Andy Stott.In the Discoteca, techno governed, with a mixture of Minus staples, guests and ENTER. residents supporting Hawtin’s thumping headline sets. Indeed, it was the residents that really made this season such a runaway success: Tale Of Us and Maceo Plex, especially, rarely failed to deliver.Last year it was Hawtin and Carola, this year it was Dice. As the Desolat boss moved on from the exclusivity of the Cocoon nest to form part of Ushuaia’s underground drive, many questioned whether his sound would work in the open-air. It did. While numbers were often a little lower than required, a wealth of intriguing bookings (Nightmares On Wax, Eddie Fowlkes) made for some captivating moments under the stars. However, in something of a bizarre move, Dice played as much around the island as possible, taking in gigs at Space, Amnesia, Sankeys and DC-10. While no doubt a lucrative decision, it meant his appeal, and thus that of Used + Abused, was somewhat diluted. If he found another home in 2014, it wouldn’t be the biggest shock.Another of Sankeys’ new-look residents, Claude VonStroke and hisDirtybird clan of bass-junkies put their all into their first full season on the island. Big nights up the road at ENTER. could leave crowds a little sparse, but on the whole the club’s largely British audience took to the party’s low-slung, smiley ethos. The closing event was possibly Sankeys biggest of the season, where Eats Everything, Justin Martin and VonStroke showcased their love for house, techno, jungle and everything in between.

 

Friday

Marco Carola

Marco Carola showed week in-week out why many consider him the island’s top DJ.

With little by way of competition, Music On built on last year’s stunning debut with another rollicking season. Carl Cox, Jamie Jones and Loco Dice all impressed while on warm-up duty, but really the party was only ever about one man. Marco Carola’s weekly six-hour sets were remarkable feats of DJing, executing with expert precision a blend of mostly new European house and techno. Maybe it was the fiery, Neapolitan-strong crowd, or the fact that there was a real feel-good, Friday-feeling about Music On, but nowhere on the island quite matched up to the atmosphere of the Terrace come 5 AM each and every Saturday morning. As a result, Carola heads into a busy winter season Stateside as Ibiza 2013’s outstanding performer.

It was a season of highs and lows for the Audiofly boys and their Flying Circus event. Attracting an older, more European crowd meant that Sankeys was never really as full as it could be, which wasn’t helped by a blind insistence on spreading the party across the venue’s two—and sometimes three—rooms. As a result, Blond:ish, Hector and dOP all played to less than 30 people. Nevertheless, the music across the board was of a consistently high standard, with Robag Wruhme, Lee Burridge and Carl Craig all turning out strong contenders for set of the season. A slightly shrewder approach for 2014 and this could evolve into a really strong outfit.

Another of Pacha’s new-look underground parties, John Digweed and Fritz Kalkbrenner’s joint Insane venture enjoyed a solid opening season. Uner rarely failed to wow the crowds with his accessible fare, while DJ Sneak, Derrick Carter and Mark Farina’s back-to-back-to-back Chi-town extravaganzas worked wonders on the moneyed, peak-time crowds.

Departing Pacha for the sunny climes of Ushuaia suited Pete Tong’s Le Grand Bazaar and its diverse band of guests. A plethora of party props—from dancers, lasers and CO2 cannons to fire and fireworks—lent performances by the likes of Dyed Soundorom, Eats Everything and Carl Cox an elaborate, festival feel. While Hot Natured’s only Ibiza show of 2013 was, by their standards, a little underwhelming, the masses were nonetheless left entertained.

 

Saturday

ElRow

The Terrazza at Space played host to some of deep house and techno’s most revered characters.

Once Ibiza’s weakest day of the week, Saturdays in 2013 proved quite the opposite. The most notable addition was ANTS, Ushuaia’s in-house party. An ingenious PR campaign, which at one point saw 150 black ants (people in morph suits) run riot through the city centre, coupled with the type of budget you’d expect of shows in Vegas, meant that daytimes at the beach complex were a vibrant affair. The only underground party to come close to filling the venue, it proved quite the spectacle to see 5,000-plus people bopping along to the polished sounds of Scuba, Maya Jane Coles or Andrea Oliva, the party’s real success story.

Despite a slightly rocky start, which saw Simon Dunmore’s outfit forced to host its first few parties at various venues around the island, Defected In The House closed out the season as Booom!’s most successful venture. One of two parties to follow Danny Whittle and Mark Netto from Pacha to the new club, they combined their classic house style (Frankie Knuckles, David Morales, Dennis Ferrer) with a wealth of adventurous new bookings (Skream, Eats Everything, Disclosure). As hordes of British partygoers queued up around the block to get a piece of the action, it’s safe to say the rebranding paid dividends.

Following their split from ENTER., Space’s in-house underground party Kehakuma found themselves flying solo again this year. The wealth of talent on show meant this was a party more suited to London or Berlin than Ibiza, with Levon Vincent, Matthew Herbert and Chez Damier all invited to spin on the Terrazza. While this made for some fantastic, unique performances, in all honesty Kehakuma’s is a sound that the island has yet to fully embrace. Keep plugging away, though, and change may come soon enough.

Elrow continued in splendid fashion at Vista Club, offering the island a clubbing experience unlike any other in the world, let alone Ibiza. Joris Voorn, 2manyDJs and Steve Lawler helped soundtrack the madness, but the real colour was the party’s undying, fun-loving spirit. It’s hard to see them still at Privilege in 2014, with Pacha the obvious destination.

Zoo Project enjoyed another great season, fusing animal-themed revelry with a consistently strong set of underground bookings. Margaret Dygas, Ralph Lawson and San Proper were highlights, maintaining Zoo as one of the island’s must-see attractions.

Over the course of four weeks in August, DC-10 became the official afterparty for Zoo’s endurance warriors. Run in conjunction with Movement Torino, the first two events started slow, until Better Lost Than Stupid and Apollonia rounded out the series in breathtaking style. In fact, the latter went down in many peoples’ books as one of the parties of the summer.

 

Sunday

We Love

Luciano and his Cadenza clan moved their party across the way this summer, plotting down at Booom!

2013 was defined by another typically diverse programme of events from the veteran Space party We Love…. Fatboy Slim, Groove Armada and 2manyDJs all showed that they still cut the mustard when it comes to pulling power, while JETS, Special Request and a set of intriguing back-to-back performances from Ben UFO, Pearson Sound and Joy Orbison helped preserve the party’s reputation for the cutting-edge. Far and away the highlight this year, however—indeed as it proves every year—was the Innervisions takeover on the Terrazza at the penultimate fiesta in September.

At first it seemed a bold move for Solomun to conceptualise his new venture around only one guest. However, even if it did crank up the pressure on the Diynamic boss, there can be no denying he came through the season not only unscathed but bathed in glory. Pacha’s opulent setting meant the likes of DJ Hell, DJ Koze and Miss Kittin all played differently to normal, and by making back-to-backs a regular feature of the night, a special moment was never far around the corner. As for King Solomun, Pacha provided the perfect setting for his increasing forays into poppier territory, making him one of the summer’s most revered and talked-about figures.

Regularly pulling in audiences of 2000-plus, VIVa Warriors was Sankeys’ success story of 2013. With less of a focus on big-name guests, this party was all about the residents. Newcomers Detlef, ANEK and Philip Bader all proved their worth, but it was the throbbing, full-frontal house of Darius Syrossian and head honcho Steve Lawler that really steered the ship.Originally billed as a pool party, due to licensing issues Never Say Never was forced to relocate to the rooftop of the Ushuaia Tower. Though perhaps not what Sasha had in mind, the event grew into the perfect breezy pre-party to Space, Pacha or Sankeys. Music-wise, the sounds were kept ethereal and trippy, with Cassy, Dusky and Butch tailoring their sets to suit the intimate surroundings and breathtaking views. An accident perhaps, but Never Say Never evolved into one of Ibiza’s more popular Sunday night haunts.

With the opening pushed back to mid-July, Cadenza Vagabundos got off to a stunted start. As a result, the party never really reached the heights of its Pacha days, failing to attract the same record numbers to Booom! For those that did make it, however, Derrick May, Carl Craig and Mirko Loko all put in memorable appearances, and it became an opportunity to hear Luciano explore the dubbier, more revealing side of his repertoire.