A last bastion of real Ibicenco style and culture in San Antonio, Es Paradis, will be 40 years of age next year. The second oldest club in Ibiza after Pacha, which opened two years earlier in 1973. Amnesia followed in 1976 and then came KU (now Privilege) in 1978. The four clubs, would be considered the pillars on which the Ibiza clubbing industry was built upon. All are owned by Spanish interests and are a true reflection of the islands musical culture and heritage. Pepe Rosello, a native of San Antonio, whose loss to the town was lamented when he left to establish Space in 1989, had earlier founded Club Playboy in 1962, the first organic club in Ibiza devoted to an eclectic mix of musical styles, influenced by the hippie culture, which left an indelible impression on the islands identity. San Antonio, Ibiza, in the 60’s and 70’s, was a vibrant bazaar of small music bars and bohemian culture. People like Pepe Rosillo and Javier Anadon worked in an environment that was full of artists, musicians and writers, all packed in to a quaint little fishing village with breathtaking views of a powerful Mediterranean sunset.
Small Bars and clubs like Nitos, Graffiti, La Tierra, Extasis, El Refugio, La Reja, Glories and Playboy were the places where music thrived. Jazz fused into Rock, Reggae and then Disco, which so much influenced electronic music, especially House. The first big purpose built club to arrive in Ibiza was Es Paradis, which grew out of the demand for music in San Antonio, a place where it was all happening at the time. Spanish, Dutch and Scandinavian were the predominate nationalities, mixed in with a few American, German and English tourists. In the style of the time, the local Aquirre family, hired celebrated Catalan architect, Lluis Guell, to build an open air club that would provide a theater to harness and home, the growing influence of music on the island. It was the beginning of an exciting time for worldwide club culture, as two years later, the legendary Studio 55 was opened in New York, a venue Guell was also connected to. He became a close friend of Es Paradis owner Pepe Aquirre, came to live in San Antonio for several years and went on to design the iconic Cafe Del Mar, which was located close to his home in Cala Des Moro. Guell also designed the hidden gem that is Summum, which Aquirre also owned. While Pacha originated in Barcelona, Es Paradis was born of Ibiza.
It took Guell two years to build Es Paradis and when it opened in August 1975, it was one of the most beautiful clubs in Europe. An open air venue with gardens, marble pillars and fountains that nurtured an expression of freedom and freestyle. Turntables and cassette decks were the hardware that DJ’s traded in, the only software available was the home-grown weed that was smoked with relish. Acid was the other drug of choice, before Ecstasy and Cocaine arrived in the 80’s. Commercialism soon followed and the factory styled, industrial business that is prevalent on the island today, is a far cry from what Ibiza was about when Es Paradis was first built in the 70’s. The anti-thesis of what Es Paradis stands for, resides less than ten meters from its front door. Eden/Gatecrasher has now become the type of corporate, litigious commodity that is all about making a buck and protecting a brand. Ibiza needs more clubs like Es Paradis and less of the Eden’s and Booom’s. So the next time you pass by the iconic Pyramid glass roof of Es Paradis in San Antonio, take time to reflect on what is a monument, to a romantic Ibiza that is dead and gone and fast becoming a distant memory, as sharks rather than hippies, infest its warm Mediterranean waters.