While a certain generation will always regard the destruction of Space as a sacrilegious act of treason, those new to the island will find the state of the art club that now stands in its place to be very eye catching indeed. For its joint owners, The Night League and the Matutes Group, it represents a sizeable investment in the future of the islands clubbing industry, as its imperative that Ibiza retains its ranking and authority as the Worlds leading dance music destination, the place where trends are set. As a venue, Hi must be regarded as one of the Worlds finest Clubs, as it was purpose built with no expense spared, by a team of professional people with both musical and theatrical pedigree.
To review the venue I visited it three times over the course of the season. Eric Pridz, at the start, Glitterbox in the middle and Black Coffee at the end. For the closing I brought along a group of guests ranging in age from 25 to 50. I wanted to get a feel for differing opinions and tastes. All had been partying in clubs around the world and knew the island well. Some would have not have gone without the invitation as they either harboured nostalgic feelings for Space or felt it would be a messy, overcrowded experience.
The first thing that strikes you about the club is its clean and modern white exterior, lots of space, orderly ques and well managed security. The exterior olive trees root the islands landscape into its identity straight away, as does the fun water slide that protrudes from the upper wall. Access into the club is free flowing and it has a separate VIP and press entrance which for those working in the industry, is a much welcomed addition. At the start of the season it was clear the club barely made it to open on time. The amount of work that was completed in seven months was out of the ordinary for Ibiza construction projects of this size, a whole steel structure to house the futuristic, movable lighting rig was built before the roof was added. This was clearly the centrepiece of the club, its Mona Lisa portrait hanging for all to see. It duly delivered its intended wow factor, an asset that Eric Prydz used to dazzling effect.
The side walls of the Theatre room are clad in LED screens which pump out visual effects that coordinate and flow around the room. We were unable to get detailed information from Hi as to the technical specs of its sound and lighting rig so much of its audio visual arsenal remains a secret. To my ears, the sound at the start of the season was a little harsh but by the closing parties, it was smooth and more balanced. My guests were full of praise for the sound quality and the ease of access to the Theatre room which had entrances to the side and back and three good sized bars to cater to the crowds. Just like theatres in Paris or London, the VIP stalls were located above and to the side of the room looking down from its gallery position. This was one of the most clever design features of the club, as the VIP area does not feel like its encroaching into the space of the ordinary punter, you dont get that dividing feeling found in other clubs. At the back of the room you do not see the VIP area at all, its a clear view of the DJ booth, surrounded on both sides by a sizeable clubber friendly dance-floor.
The VIP area is comprised of booths of different sizes, areas and pricing, with a layout similar to modern theatre seating worldwide. At the rear there is access to a large roof terrace with its own open air bar which is reserved for VIP clients. This area also contains a number of private rooms or boudoirs with French styled furniture, thrones and thick velvet curtains which can be closed for privacy or opened to socialise with passing guests. Its piéce de résistance is the scheduled flying overhead of incoming jets landing at nearby Ibiza airport, a unique part of the old Space experience which is retained at the venue when wind conditions and flight paths are correct. This feature is also part of the famous Balearic open air experience for Joe Public in The Magic Garden (ex sunset terrace) and The Secret Garden (ex El Salon) which are located to the side the Theatre and Club rooms.
The centrepieces of the Magic Garden are its two neon lit trees, with tapering willow like branches and seating all around it to chat, smoke and drink with whoever is passing by or sits down next to you. There are three bars in this area one of which is a friendly Tequila shot Bar frequented by those sophisticated party animals that can handle the alcohols potent effects. My guests were impressed with the quality and selection of Tequila available and were soon chanting one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor. That was when we said goodbye to one, who joined an Italian couple for some holiday inspired debauchery. Past the Tequila bar, there is a side entrance to the theatre room which allows access to the DJ booth and backstage area with its own bar an intimate area that seems not to get over crowded.
The Wild Corner is the smallest room in the club but also the most talked about last summer. It doubles as a unisex toilet with cubicles to each side of the DJ booth and wash basins to the back. This room had all my guests curling up their noses to some funky bomb dropping but it did not seem to affect the many people enjoying its retro beats under a flashing multicoloured ceiling. They may have been dancing close to the gutter, but in true Ibiza style, some were happily looking to the stars. In my opinion, this is one area where a divide is required. With some small twerking of the layout and fewer bum notes, it could work out a lot better.
Across the corridor from the Wild Corner lies the Club room, once the Sunset Terrace but now its a more intimate room with a lower ceiling and DJ Booth. Its was clearly a design feature by Hi to have the DJ’s much closer to the dance floor interacting with the crowd and lending the club a more inclusive feeling. I really liked the copper wall feature which allows the rays of early morning sunshine to shine into the room similar to the laser effects bursting sharp beams of light onto the floor. There are three bars located here providing ease of access and its a more clubber friendly room with a nice vibe to it. It tends to empty when the main act goes on in the Theatre around 4am but it has lots of potential and my favourite room in the club as its the closest to the old Space experience.
Last but not least to review, is the outdoor Secret Garden area, which is full of design features, most notably the Tee Pees. Its also the VIP entrance, and for some parties its closed off to the public entertaining industry heads and their guests. There is more of a reserved vibe to it than the other open area, but once again, lots of people talking and socialising and one bar to cater to the crowd which borders the car park. It took me less than 5 minutes to walk from this area, through the Club and Theatre rooms to the other side of the club, which is impressive for a venue in Ibiza.
Service at the bars was above average for Ibiza and all my guests agreed that the staff employed at Hi were friendly and courteous, another first for Ibiza clubs. Drink prices were normal club prices, €12 for a bottle of water, €14 for a bottle of premium beer and €20 for a spirit and mixer. A complimentary bottle of water with each ticket sold, would go a long way to improve the clubbing experience in Ibiza and a gesture that would create plenty of goodwill for any cub willing to implement it. It was refreshing to see lots of bars, especially the outdoor ones and the addition of drink packages helps those out on a budget.
The free flowing design of the club, amazing production, the large outdoor areas, the roof terrace, quirky design features, friendly staff and attention to detail, were the features I took from the club. As an old Space veteran, I have to say I was impressed, as it holds a sense of free spirit with a good mix of people of all ages and backgrounds. In one of his last acts, speaking to the crowd at the Space closing, Pepe Rosello stated ” Your emotions and love will stay here forever”. Least we forget that the soil that Hi is built upon, is revered ground, that echos the memories of all the Space parties that took place there. That energy remains in the bedrock and the technological temple of dance now built upon it, is a fitting vehicle to transport it to the next generation of Ibiza clubber.