Another year has passed on the magical isle of Ibiza and its been one of change, intrigue, conflict and the end of some well known institutions. Ibiza is a hard mistress to please and a benevolent smile or invitation into her velvet boudoir, is not something that can be easily bought. For those with the means to purchase anything or anybody they please, magical Ibiza will always be an elusive scent, as they chase glamour over substance. While those who have partied hard may suggest that Ibiza is not the same as it used to be, I have not seen much change in the countryside or in those special places of solitude. Magical Ibiza is still there, if people have an inclination to look for it. However big business and commercialism is steadily growing and smothering the magic that once sparkled in abundance around her shores.
They say all good things come to an end and this year we witnessed the sad demise of We Love Sundays at Space – an island institution for well over a decade. Like Manumission, it did not work at a new venue and one would question the logic of flogging a dead horse if, as expected, it continues in 2016. Space made an expensive mistake by booking Luciano to replace We love which was always going to be a tall order to fill. The party never took off and Luciano made the headlines for all the wrong reasons after a social media spat with Amnesia over contracts in April. The Amnesia tweet that so offended Luciano, remains posted on the Amnesia twitter page as a reminder of what could have been for the Swiss DJ, whose Ibiza revival, was a short lived one.
The big news story from a clubbing perspective was the end of Pepe Rosello’s lease at Space, a story we first covered back in 2013 when news began to surface that the Matutes family would take back ownership of the much loved venue. Rumours concerning the status of the lease and the ownership of the brand name, Space Ibiza, along with a court case contesting ownership of parking rights at the Club, suggested that the end of what was considered an amicable business arrangement between the two sides, had turned sour. In September, Carl Cox, came out in support of his old friend Pepe Rosello stating that he would not work with the new owners at Space and announced his retirement after a 15 year residency at the club. For the second time in three years, Space dithered over the dates of their opening party at the end of May and there were a number of unhappy clubbers after the club changed its mind in April due to a clash with the local elections which welcomed a fresh, socialist breeze to the island.
A new anti austerity party, led by Pacha DJ, Joan Ribas, held the balance of power in Ibiza town and they went into coalition with the Labour styled, PSOE party, who traditionally dealt with the pro business, PP party, that lost control of the city after allegations of corruption and bribery. They will have their work cut out to effect any real change against the traditional power of the big business interests and its move to protect Dalt Villa, along with the clamping down on beach venues pushing the limit of their licences, was evidence of a new brush sweeping clean. The big problem for lawmakers in Ibiza, is that when some people are permitted to bend the law, others see this as an example to do the same. There will always be those who will push the boundaries to see how far they can get and unless everybody is treated the same, pirates will continue to prosper on the island. Its what gives Ibiza its edge. Politics in Ibiza is highly parochial and one would have to be born Ibicenco, to truly understand how it operates.
In Clubland, once again Amnesia led the way followed closely by the EDM driven Ushuaia. Hyte was the new party on the Amnesia roster that attracted all the attention, but not paying punters. First seasons are always tough in Ibiza and the party will be given another chance next year but it will be hard to see how three Techno parties can survive at the club. Ushuaia played host to a brand new Creamfields Festival, which featured an excellent live performance from The Prodigy, while Faithless thrilled the BCC Radio 1 crowds at Ibiza rocks. DC10 had a busy and productive season with Jamie Jones ruling the roost and pulling in the savvy clubbers. Pacha thought it was a good idea to bring a horse inside its club to promote a donkey in the DJ box, but the publicity stunt backfired, as did relations with another clown, Steve Aoki, whose cake throwing days are over at Pacha. Sankeys had a season to forget as did Privilege in San Rafel and Eden and Es Paradis in San Antonio. Carl Cox packed out Space on Tuesday nights while Enter, once the shining light at the club, seemed to loose its drive and direction. The big question is, will it be back next year, and opinion is divided about its future.
Musically, House made inroads this year but Techno was King with EDM also performing strongly. Clubs promoting old parties found out to their cost, that they simply do not work in Ibiza, as the island is all about fresh ideas, not reprising old ones. Trance had a poor season but Live music made its presence felt, thanks in the main to Ibiza Rocks, Ushuaia and Hard Rock Ibiza, which surprised many with the success of its Children Of The 80’s party that featured live performances from well know electronic stars of the past. No one tune dominated the summer, and we had to wait until the closing parties before Maceo Plex unleashed the Four Tet remix of Opus on an unsuspecting crowd at Amnesia. The reaction the track received generated lots of debate, but Maceo deserves much respect for playing it. Marco Carola and Carl Cox dominated, while Bob Sinclare was a popular hit with the holiday crowd. Papa Sven made a rare appearance at Pacha and Ten Walls was shunned for his anti-gay Facebook rant.
Following the demise of Yemanja in 2014, the island lost another piece of simple Ibiza, with the Mambo Group takeover of La Torre. The service and food has improved, the sunsets remain stunning but like Yemanja, its lost its innocence and family appeal. The family market in Ibiza has been squeezed out in preference of trendy adult only hotels and those catering to the budget market. Everything is being upgraded and refurbished and as each year passes, the number of places that hold tradition and local culture dear, diminish. There is at most another 15 years left before the old generation is lost to the new and Ibiza will become a different island. 2015 was not a good year for the newest addition to the islands culinary scene, as Heart suffered from numerous teething problems, as it watched its rival Lio consolidate its position at the top. Booom did not open in 2015 and its unlikely it ever will as a club. The sale of the car park next to Booom also failed to go through, with the under bidder now rumoured to be the new owner.
2015 was a good year for San Antonio with Cafe Mambo and Ocean Beach Club performing strongly. News that Pepe Rosello is to invest in the sunset resort is an exciting development and there is plenty of interest in the mid to long term investment opportunities in the town. In my opinion, San Antonio will be where its happening in years to come and one can sense the change in the air, as a new style of client holidays in the resort. It’s beginning to bustle with lots of small local bars, businesses and restaurants, harping back to the 70’s, when San Antonio was the most popular resort on the island for artists, musicians and writers. The East side of the island has gone upmarket, the West now offers the best opportunity to be relevant and popular with the average punter. I much prefer San Antonio to Playa Den Bossa and do my best to stay out of the area, and with the departure of Space next year, will have very little to recommend it.
2015 was quiet an eventful year for Ibiza and above was a brief summary of how I saw the year unfold. To live and work there will always provide a different perspective but the one thing that I always find the same, is that everybody will have their own personal opinion on the island and its direction. Its what makes it such an interesting, rich and diverse scene and one of its most endearing aspects.