Ibiza – Cheap Eats

Originally published in Mixmag, summer 2009

Ibiza’s 10 best budget restaurants/snack bars/soup kitchens

1. Comidas San Juan, Calle de Montgrí, 8 – Ibiza Tel.: 971 311 603
They don’t take reservations and there’s always a queue. That’s because you can get a hearty meal, with wine, for under €10. Croquettes or calamari are a good bet.

2. Bon Profit, Plaza del Parque Ibiza Town
Don’t let the chic bistro vibe fool you. Food here is ridiculously cheap. Huge hunks of lamb, fillets of fish and hearty paellas all for around €6 a plate.

3. Jamal’s Bistro, C/General Prim 16, San Antonio, 971340117
Just off the West End, Jamal’s has a winning combination of classy looks, great food and alluringly low prices. It’s been voted the worker’s favourite restaurant.

4. Croissant Playa, Pais Vasco, Figueretes
The best breakfast/lunch/take-out place in Figueretes with amazing pastries, vast bocadillos and delicious homemade quiche. Works equally well as a breakfast spot or a morning-after comedown hideaway.

5. Casa Ana, C/. Ginebra 8, Ses Païsses (San Antonio) 0034-971 80 36 13Cheap With homemade pizzas, bacon cheeseburgers for under €5, roast chicken and take-aways Casa Ana is just the place to soak up the booze after a night on the town – or line your stomach before you get started.
http://casa-ana.ibiza-restaurants.net/

6. Fisherman’s Kitchen, C/Madrid, San An10 971 34 57 72
All the stodge you need – but nicely made. Homemade pies, chilli, bangers and mash and lasagna will set you back around €7, a full English €5.50. Its sister bar down the road has wi-fi and TV sport. http://www.digitalibiza.com/fishermans/rest.html

7. Il Veccio Molina, C/Navarra, 12 Figuretes 34971305520
Gorgeous homemade pastas in huge quantities – €6 or 7 euros will fill you up quick plus cheap, decent house wine. It’s just up from the Figueretes taxi rank, making it easy to hop to your next destination.

8. Chill Cafe, Ibiza Town Via Punica, 49, Ibiza Town
Chill Café has internet, printers and a fax machine, making this the perfect spot to sort yourself out if you’re looking for work or want to catch up with folks at home. Great coffee, homemade baked goods, vast bocadillos, quiche and salads.

9. JDs, Playa d’en Bossa promenade, 971 307 062
Run by English expats Jo & Darren this popular beach-front hangout does everything from bacon butties to Sunday roasts to cheese & Branston pickle sarnies. It has wi-fi and a shelf of English newspapers and magazines to pass the time.

10. Can Joan, Playa d’en Bossa C/Murtra, 10, 971 30 66 93
Proper belly-filling fare but a cut above the plastic-chair-and-tablecloth competition. Homemade pizzas and pasta, paellas, grilled meat, and plenty of hearty breakfast options.
http://www.ibiza-hotels.com/restaurants/canjoan/

Mixmag Special: Ibiza’s Best Restaurants

Posted by Cila Warncke

If eating out in Ibiza calls to mind McDonalds, pizza or chicken-and-chips it’s time to spread your culinary wings and discover the island’s eateries. From cosy country restaurants to luxurious seaside fish shacks Ibiza has memorable dining for every taste. From the hills of Sant Rafael to the white beaches of Formentera, we’ve unearthed Ibiza’s finest restaurants. Buen approveche…


Es Xarcu
, Cala Es Xarcu, Porroig, 971 187 867
A case of “more than meets the eye” Es Xarcu is a seriously luxurious (and pricy) restaurant masquerading as a casual beach shack. The clue is in the fact it is more easily accessible by yacht than by car – and in the opulant villas on the cliffs above. Try the meltingly fresh fish, the gallo de San Pedro cooked in white wine sauce is a favourite.
Best bit: Leaning back and sparking one of their expensive cigars while you ogle the floating palaces of the rich and famous.

La Paloma

La Paloma

La Paloma, Sant Llorenc 971 325 543
There are pizza places by the dozen but La Paloma, in the quant village of Sant Llorenc, is where locals go for genuine Italian cooking. Bright, airy and rich in charming details (the heart-shaped backs of the white wooden chairs, the candle-lit garden) it is an ideal peak-season alternative to buzzing seaside dining.
Best bit: If you or your guest is vegetarian La Paloma’s organic vegetable garden and amiable attitude make this an unusually welcoming experience.

Café Macao, Santa Gertrudis 971 197 835
There are two Café Macao’s in Ibiza and most websites still point you to the location at the end of the harbour in Ibiza Town. However, the original owners have taken their expertise and loyal following to the countrified comfort of the it-crowd’s new favourite village, Santa Gertrudis, whose homey comfort is the perfect setting for their refined Italian cuisine.
Best bit: The cosy décor has been lovingly sourced by the owners over the years – every piece has a story.

Sa Punta, Talamanca beach 971 193 424
There is no shortage of beachside nibbles at Talamanca but for the best nosh head past the first parade of snack shacks to Sa Punta, a favourite destination for the beach’s regular visitors. Not to be confused with the Sa Punta in San An bay, this relaxed eatery is situated at the far end of the beach past the salt flats of Ses Feixes it cultivates an atmosphere of intimacy against the sweep of the sea. Painstakingly fresh seafood is a speciality, naturally.
Best bit: Near enough Ibiza Town to have a civilised evening meal before strolling to Pacha.

KM5 Caraterra Sant Josep, km5 971 396 349
The spot for luxurious lounging, KM5 is a magnet for everyone from DJs to disco dollies to minted Continentals. Owner Patrick Soks and his partner Philip have created a 1001-nights meets Eurotrash vibe that ticks all the right boxes. Come for cocktails, stay for elegently presented modern European cuisine.
Best bit: Wallow in the ample cushions of the lounge area while ogling the barely dressed molls wandering past.

El Olivo, Plaza de la Vila 8-9, Ibiza 971 300 680

Catch of the day

Catch of the day

There are a multitude of good restaurants lining the Plaza de la Vila, but Ibiza veteran’s unanimous first choice is El Olivo. Owners Pierrick and Frederic have carved a niche with simple but fresh, lively modern French cooking. If you’re looking for a break from seafood try their lamb with raspberry vinagrette or sample foie gras.
Best bit: Book a table outside to enjoy the fantastic free show of Dalt Vila’s bustling nighttime streets.

Juan y Andrea, Carretera La Savina-es Pujols, Formentera 971 187 130
If you only go to one restaurant on Formentera make sure it’s Juan Y Andrea’s. King Juan Carlos I and Bill Clinton have both visited, but you don’t have to be an upper-crust politician to enjoy the elegant ambiance. If you happen to arrive by yacht they’ll ferry lunch to you, otherwise sit beneath the palm trees with sand beneath your toes as you tuck into specialities like labuna a la sal (sea bass baked in salt crust).
Best bit: Picking a live lobster from the tank and having it end up a perfectly cooked delicacy on your plate.

L’Elephant, Plaza Iglesia, San Rafael 971 198 056,
The sort of place that lures in reviewers from both the Sunday Times and the New York Times, L’Elephant earns its “destination” status with a delicious menus and fabulously stylish surroundings. They serve up incredible food, including some of the island’s best sushi. And if the cocktails don’t make your head spin the stunning vistas from the roof terrace will.
Best bit: Jaw-dropping views from the sexy minimal-chic rooftop.

El Ayoun, San Rafael Calle Isidor Macabich 6, San Rafael 971 198 335
Possibly the hardest-partying Moroccan restaurant on the planet, El Ayoun lost its music license last summer after one too many amazing parties. They’ve spent the winter working on improvements which won’t irk the noise police. As well as renovating the decadent interior they’ve added Vietnamese cuisine and sushi to their much loved repetoire of French and Moroccan classics.
Best bit: Their new Club Sushi menu makes them one of a handful of restaurants where Itsu junkies can get their fish fix.

Casa Colonia, Santa Eulalia Road 07840 Santa Eulària 971 338 001
There are gardens and there are gardens; Casa Colonial boasts the latter. Tuck into exquisite French or Thai food as you sit amidst flowering bougainvillea on the grounds of this converted country-house. Book on a Monday and you may find yourself rubbing shoulders with the Cocoon crew – it’s Sven Vath’s favourite lunch spot.
Best bit: Quite simply, the setting. Be sure to book ahead for a sun-dappled spot beneath the palm trees.

La Brasa, Carrer Pere Sala 3, Ibiza 971 301 202
Fairy lights woven amidst banana fronds turn La Brasa’s courtyard into an enchanted oasis just beyond the bustle of Plaza del Parque. Try the Ibiza sea crab salad, salmon in a delicate langoustine cream sauce or tuck into rustic rabbit – roasted whole in front of you on their outdoor grill.
Best bit: Homemade ice cream washed down with an espresso.

Cami de Balafia, Sant Llorenç, Carretera San Juan, KM15.4 971 325 019
Cami de Balafia is possibly the best argument on the island for simple food done to perfection. All they do is grill meat over a variety of woods including olive, almond and carob, but the results are mouth-watering. Expertly cooked cuts are served up with incredibly fresh salads and plenty of wine. Come in the early evening to grab a seat near the succulent scent of the grill and watch twilight turn to starlight over the campo.
Best bit: According to Erick Morillo, the salad – “I’ll bet anyone a 100 bucks they won’t ever taste nicer tomatoes.”

Es Camp Vell, Sant Mateu 971 805 036
You can’t miss Es Camp Vell because there is very little in San Mateu apart from it and the church, which stands watchfully next to this classic Ibicenco restaurant. You’re far more likely to be rubbing shoulders with local families here than with designer-clad tourists, which is remarkably refreshing. The food is reliable and unpretentious: grilled meats, paellas and fresh produce from nearby orchards make satisfying repasts.
Best bit: Walk off lunch with a stroll past fruit laden vineyards and emerald green fields.

Cala Jondal

Cala Jondal

Blue Marlin, Cala Jondal 971 410 117
Possibly the most iconic beach bar in Ibiza, Blue Marlin is a favourite sunset destination and – once or twice a year – home to the most exclusive parties on the island. Last year Kate Moss and her posse rocked up for Ibiza Voice’s Blue Velvet closing party. But even sans supermodels it’s worth a vist for thoroughly chic seaside dining.
Best bit: Lying on a huge, 360 sunlounger drinking one of their exquisite mojitos as the sun sinks into the sea.

Yemanja, Cala Jondal 971 187481
Rubbing shoulders with Blue Marlin, Yemanja offers a slightly more laid-back, familiar atmosphere than its glamour puss neighbour. Lively groups and extended families decamp around long wooden tables laden with paellas, salads and fresh seafood. With attentive staff ferrying out endless bottles of wine lunch can easily turn into dinner, so book ahead if you want to guarantee a seat.
Best bit: Swinging your feet in the sand as you knock back a glass or three of their speciality cava sangria.

Jockey Club, Salinas 971 315 788
A relaxed yet decidedly chic hangout, the fifteen-year-old Jockey Club is one of Ibiza’s most iconic beach bars. Rows of gleaming white sunloungers stake out the restaurant’s turf, creating a champage-bucket and oyster-platter littered oasis of fine dining amidst the Salinas crowds. Snap your fingers for another drink then lie back and gaze out towards Formentera as the world goes by.
Best bit: A spot on one of the Jockey Club loungers is a front-row seat to the action at Ibiza’s most glamorous beach.

Es Cavallet

Es Cavallet

Chiringuito, Playa d’es Cavallet, Sant Josep 971 395 355/971 395 485
The laidback jewel of the southern beaches, Chiringuito Es Cavallet has been a magnet for fans of beach cuisine for more than twenty years. Founders Cristina and Jose Luis started with a kiosk in the 80s which has grown into a beloved restaurant. Hire an umbrella, stake your place in the sand and enjoy specialities like tuna carpacchio, smoked cod salad or grilled meat.
Best bit: Taking in the parade of fit, bronzed, barely covered flesh parading past while sipping on something from their excellent wine list.

Es Torrent, Playa d’es Torrent 971 802160
Reputedly the best fish restaurant in Ibiza, Es Torrent is a gourmand experience. Owner Xicu Sala built it up from a humble chiringuito more than a decade ago and it’s now a favourite hangout for chic foodies who like having their meals caught-to-order (they’ll take your fish requests when you call for reservations). Eating here may be the closest you ever get to royalty, quite literally, so make an occasion of it.
Best bit: The uniquely Ibicenco vibe of pure indulgence in a completely relaxed, unhurried atmosphere.

Tropicana, Cala Jondal 971 802 640 http://www.tropicanaibiza.com
Completing the Cala Jondal trio is Tropicana, a favourite destination for the yacht-club set thanks to their cheerful boat-catering service. If you arrive on dry land you make the most of their services including speedy delivery of fabulous caipirinhas or, if it’s been a long night/day before, freshly squeezed juices and an ample Mediterranean menu.
Best bit: Their massage service – the perfect way to rejuvenate and prepare for your next assault on the clubs.

Ama Lur, Ctra. Sant Miguel, Km 2.3 971 314 554
Taking its name from the mother-goddess of Basque mythology, Ama Lur is the crème de la crème of Ibicenco eating. Blending Basque-country cooking with Mediterranean touches, it offers hearty cuts of meat, fresh cheeses and splendid homemade puddings. And it’s been voted best restaurant on the island for three successive years, by its competition.
Best bit: Enjoy its intimate, country-house setting in the garden overlooking nearby orchards.


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Mixmag: Farewell, Trash

Originally published in Mixmag
Erol Alkan
Everyone’s huddling against the walls to avoid the spitting rain. It’s not just any Monday night, it is Trash’s 10th birthday – and their farewell party. After a decade of trendsetting, musical innovation and eye-popping fashion Erol Alkan and friends are bowing out. These days Trash’s giddy mix of sex, dance and rock ‘n’ roll is standard practice, but it wasn’t always. “What everyone’s doing now, in terms of live music in clubs, Trash did years ago,” observes Liam O’Hare, The End’s general manager. From its earliest days at Plastic People, to its stint in Soho’s Annexe, to its triumphant years at The End, Trash has become a byword for what’s fresh and adventurous in clubland. So much so no one is surprised at the volume of bodies crowding the pavement. “It’s the Blitz spirit,” 28-year-old Sam observes, looking over his shoulder at the throng flowing seamlessly around the building till it comes face to face with itself. Everyone’s smiling, talking to strangers. Sam passes around a bottle of Strongbow. A blue-haired girl called Charleigh and her bandmates are discussing the video they’ve just shot. Like Bloc Party, Klaxons and New Young Pony Club before them the budding pop stars are regulars. “I can’t remember most of it,” she confesses.

Charleigh’s not the only regular with amnesia. Graham, a 24-year-old roadie who has been coming for five years says, “You don’t remember the really good nights.” He does remember, though, how Trash changed his life. “Where I grew up in Essex even wearing a white belt was asking for a fucking smack. Trash was the first place I fit in. I used to come on my own and just dance. Then I’d wait till 6am to get a train home. Without it, I wouldn’t be the person I am today,” he says. Inches away a girl is swinging from the ceiling, knickers flashing. No one pays any attention. If you want a fashion eyeful just look around: there’s the bearded bloke in an apron, the pint-sized brunette wearing Superwoman-style pants and suspenders, the trio sporting multi-coloured rave gear.

Trash style

Trash style


“Trash is a one off. It’s the people that make it,” Rory Philips says. A resident DJ for nearly seven years, Rory’s seen a lot happen on the dancefloor. “One of my friends married a girl he met at Trash. No surprise really, it’s been ten years of drunken fumbling,” he chuckles. As if to make his point a couple reel past, joined at the lips. There’s an air of barely controlled chaos as The Lovely Jonjo whips up the crowd. “I was getting quite tearful,” he says later, but it doesn’t show. Jonjo is typical of the parade of clubbers who’ve reinvented themselves at Trash. He started out as a door picker but “hated it.” So when Erol invited him to DJ instead he jumped at the chance. “I get all soppy when I talk about him. He’s been a mentor to me.”

As the newest member of the Trash crew Jonjo reacted like many fans did to the news it was ending. “I was upset, devastated really.” For a lot of people it was a question of: why cut off a night in its prime? “There’s a lot I want to do I couldn’t do with Trash every week,” says Erol, who missed one night in a decade – for his honeymoon.

“A lot of people talk about going out on a high, but carry on. We didn’t want to outstay our welcome,” Rory adds.

Jonjo’s come around to the idea. “My first thought was, ‘this is over’. My second reaction was, ‘if I don’t grab it by the balls someone else will.’” By “it” he means Durrr, the new Erol-endorsed Monday night at The End where Jonjo and Rory will preside over a rotating cast of DJ talent and new bands. “We’re going to get a breath of fresh air. You need to embrace change.”

Justice @ Trash

Justice @ Trash


Change is on everyone’s mind tonight. Trash will be missed. Joost is over from Amsterdam, resplendent in a handlebar ‘tache and a tee-shirt reading Kids Want Techno. “There’s nothing like it in Europe,” he shouts over the music. There’s nothing like it in London either. George, another half-decade veteran, is sweating his glittery green eye shadow off as he waits in the crush by the bar. It took him two and a half hours to get in, and it’ll take him another forty minutes to get a drink, but he’s happy to be here. Where else can you get beaten up by Selfish Cunt? “He just grabbed me by the throat for no reason!” he shrugs, smiling brilliantly.

Celebrities, violent and otherwise, are part of the fabric of Trash life. Everyone has their favourite. Rory plumps for Suicide, Erol for Gonzales, Jonjo remembers Kelly Osbourne and Simon Amstell queuing (separately). “Grace Jones came once. She doesn’t queue!” he laughs. Liam O’Hare fondly remembers the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. He saves his highest praise for Erol though. “I had faith in him and he’s never let me down. He’s always pioneered.”

It’s a compliment Erol would be pleased with. Stepping up to the decks, wearing his trademark specs and an inside out D.A.R.E. tee, he is an unlikely focal point for frenzied adulation, but there’s hysteria in the air. Outside riot police have arrived to calm a crush of disgruntled clubbers. “We can make this a funeral or a celebration,” he says. Then he drops LCD Soundsystem’s ‘Losing My Edge’ and the crowd erupts. They get the joke. Later, when the dust has settled, he says softly, but very emphatically, “The only thing I’m frightened of is resting on my laurels. I relish the future.” For now, Trash’s loyal following is relishing the present, and the string of favourites ricocheting around the room. ‘Take Me Out’, ‘Danger! High Voltage’, ‘Lust For Life’ and, finally, at 4AM, long after reality has melted away, ‘Dancing Queen.’ Manager Liam should be on holiday, but he’s here instead, beaming. “It’s like the last party on earth!” Surrounded by the blurred grins and flailing limbs one thing is certain: if this were the last party on earth no one here would mind.

Mixmag: The World’s Most Advanced Clubs

Originally published in Mixmag

Cocoon, Frankfurt
The nearest thing to a Being John Malkovich-style tour of the inside of Sven Vath’s head, Cocoon is a psychedelic playground from the 23rd century.

Cocoon

Cocoon

It took 3deluxe – one of Germany’s hottest design agencies – two years just to work out the concept, and the result is a staggering audio-visual-sensual orgy that is to ordinary clubs what acid tabs are to Haribo. Along with its stupefying 130K sound system the star of the freaky show is a 100m “membrane wall” where synchronised visuals (run from the DJ booth) envelope the dancefloor. It’s like being trapped in an IMAX film, but with a better soundtrack.

Cielo, New York City
Cielo is the ultimate swanky Stateside club – complete with hard-nosed door whores, expensive bottle service and a retro-chic interior and sunken dancefloor that punters report feels like “a cross between a ski chalet and a swimming pool”. The cherry on the cake, though, is Cielo’s soundsystem – the first ever exclusively Funktion One rig installed in an American club. As any frothing sound geek will tell you Funktion One is the atom bomb of club audio equipment. In Cielo’s miniscule space (250 capacity, no VIP room) the sound is an experience that will be stamped indelibly in your memory – and your eardrums.

I Love Neon, Canada

I Love Neon

I Love Neon

I Love Neon proves that sometimes the most cutting edge clubs aren’t clubs at all, but ideas brought to life. The brainchild of a bunch of music-loving graphic designers, Neon uses static lighting, projections, screens and mini-strobes to create a mind-melting audio visual experience. Based in an art gallery, Neon transforms the space for every party, moving the entrance, DJ booth and amenities so each event takes a completely new shape. Fans of this Through The Looking Glass experience include Boys Noize (whose album launch they just hosted), Hell and Tiga – who helped start the Neon collective.

Zouk, Singapore
Housed in a pair of 90-year-old warehouses, Zouk redefines “warehouse party” with four rooms of razor-edge technology set in baroque splendour. Thirty plasma screens dot the club, which boasts a 3-colour RBG exterior lighting system with fibre optic-laced tensile roofing and a million-dollar Gary Steward audio system in the Gaudi-inspired main room. The Phuture room mixes luridly organic furnishings and an MPIX LED wall. While in the Velvet Underground opulent Chinese-inspired designs swirl across the ceiling and the walls are studded with priceless Pop Art by the likes of Andy Warhol and Keith Haring. You don’t get that in Shoreditch…

Womb, Tokyo
Womb is pure science fiction: where space-age Japanese technology meets their national fascination with kitsch as the world-beating lighting system bounces off the 7-foot disco ball that revolves above the central dancefloor while the Phuzon-designed soundsystem (they created Twilo New York’s legendary PA) rattles the three storey- main room. Unsurprisingly, Womb is known to leave even the most jaded clubbers and seen-it-all jocks slack jawed with amazement. After a gig there Loco Dice was at a loss for words: “I can’t even explain it. It’s like science fiction, like being on a trip, you keep thinking ‘am I going to wake up?’”

D-Edge, Brazil

D-Edge, Brazil

D-Edge, Brazil

Set in the heart of ultra-modernist Sao Paulo, D-Edge is South America’s most futuristic club. A magnet for the techno A-list (Richie Hawtin loves it so much he once cajoled the owner to boot the night’s headliner off the decks so he could play instead) it’s also an epileptic’s worst nightmare. Every available interior inch of the tiny, 350 capacity club is ablaze with light. The sloping disco-dancefloor is lit from beneath, while acres of LEDs turn the walls into giant EQs, and pulsing veins of light flash across the ceiling – giving the terrifyingly cool sensation of being suspended inside a beating human heart.

Ambasada Gavioli, Izola, Slovenia
A two-thousand-year-old fishing village is an unlikely destination for cutting edge nightlife. Nevertheless, Izola (pop. 15,000; chief attractions: walking tours and olive oil) is home to one of clubbing’s best kept secrets: Ambasada Gavioli. The unashamedly over-the-top 2,500 capacity club is a highly stylised architectural jumble of Baroque and Art Nouveau, married to blinding laser system. Sheets of glass connect the two rooms allowing continuous sound-and-light programming, while the walls splashed with psychedelic paintings inspired by Baudelaire’s sex-and-death obsessed poems The Flowers of Evil turn the club into a post-modern Brothers Grimm fairy tale cave. Unsurprisingly it’s one of Sven Vath’s favourite destinations.

Cavo Paradiso, Mykanos
Cavo Paradiso is famous for its open-all-hours swimming pool, but this is no sandy, sweaty terrace club. There is a seriously high-tech pulse beating beneath the sunny, seaside façade. Set in the face of a 50 metre cliff above the Mediterranean the club is literally built out of the rock that surrounds it – 80% of it is native stone. The rest? A booth that’s a DJ’s wet dream (five mixers, eight decks, bespoke monitors…) and a brand new custom sound system, six months in the making, that has caused nearby hotels to demand they soundproof the club before next season.

T-O 12, Stuttgart

T-O 12

T-O 12

Flying pigs? Mirrored ceilings? Feel like you’ve double dropped and you’ve only had a beer? It must be T-O 12. Set in a former office block, this multiple award-winning monochrome design melting pot evokes Barbarella, DC Comics, Hitchcock, Apocalypse Now and Stuttgart street life. Huge black-and-white silhouetted illustrations splash across the walls: upstairs a fleet of helicopters cruise over the bar, downstairs Venus Fly Traps hover by the urinals. In the chill out space the scattering of mirrors and strobes make the lounge look endless. Owner Niko Tonidis says he “wants people to remember it in 20 years,” we reckon they will.

Watergate, Berlin
Designed by top Berlin architects Bolwin & Wulf, Watergate boasts eye-popping vistas – inside and out. From the second floor huge plate glass windows look across the River Spree to the old East Berlin, taking in a glittering picture postcard view of the city skyline, making the club a favourite location for TV crews. Inside, the angular space is dotted with minimal Stylomat-built furnishings which crouch beneath the main room’s Vegas-style ceiling. Color Kenetics programmable LED lights run the length and breadth form a pulsing arc that has been known to cause regrettable whiplash injuries from too much time spent gawping upwards.

Mixmag: Ibiza 2008

Originally published in Mixmag

Ibiza club art

Ibiza club art

Ibiza’s love affair with house music has made it the dance capital of the world – and turned a sleepy Mediterranean island into one of the hottest tourist spots on the planet. This year, though, things are different. The Spanish government has passed strict new laws banning after-hours parties; the police are on high alert to clamp down on private villa parties; Ibiza’s most revered underground club, DC10, has been shut by authorities for reasons which are frustratingly opaque and the tourist board seems bent on discouraging clubbing. Is this the beginning of the end for the Mecca of electronic music?

It is 5AM. The terrace at Amnesia – once an open-air haven for barefoot hippies – is packed tighter than the Northern Line at rush hour. Luciano and Ricardo Villalobos are whooping it up in the booth as lasers strafe the room. At the bar a raver, pouring sweat, orders a round: six drinks, €90. He hands over his credit card without even blinking. Even in San An, the traditional haven of cut-price package holiday makers, kids get sticker shock as they pay €12 for a Jack and Coke. In the El Divino VIP mini-bottles of cava are a cool €25. At Pacha, Privilege and Amnesia tickets are up to €60 on the door. Ibiza, at peak season, is a study in raw capitalism.

The island hasn’t always been so money-driven. For centuries it was a haven for those who live slightly outside the law, a place where wits mattered more than wallets. Pirates came in search of plunder, as the watchtowers dotting the coastline attest. Smugglers stashed their wares in the caves at Sant Miquel. Jews built secret synagogues here and Nazis skulked in after the war. Ibiza’s benign indifference absorbed them all. Throughout the 20th century a Moulin Rouge cast of Bohemians, painters, poets, musicians and chancers drifted to Ibiza, lulled by the whisper of the turquoise Mediterranean and embraced by the red earth of its hills.

Over the centuries Ibiza was an imperial outpost for the Moors, Romans, Carthegenians and Catalans but none left as indelible a mark as the foot soldiers of rave culture. Hippies were the first to drum and dance beneath the stars but it was the arrival of house music, in the 1980s, that forever changed Ibiza. As the cocktail of ecstasy and electronica melded in the Spanish sun legions of kids fled the cold grey of Thacherite England to look for a new life on a magic island. From that moment, the fate of Ibiza has been intertwined with the rave culture. Clubs fuel Ibiza’s economy, spread its fame and draw millions of visitors who might never otherwise visit.

“Ibiza was incredibly important to acid house. It wasn’t a huge number of people who went there but those who did – like Oakenfold and Danny Rampling – had a huge influence. The knock-on effect was phenomenal. Now, Ibiza season is like the World Cup Finals, every summer. Whether you’re a DJ, promoter or run a record label it dominates your year, it provides an infrastructure to the whole scene,” says Pete Tong.

However, twenty years on from the original Summer of Love music is playing second fiddle as the island lies in the grip of a summer of suspicion. “The government is trying to get rid of the clubbers,” DC10 resident Clive Henry says emphatically. “The mood isn’t good. People are feeling down.”

It isn’t just twitchy, post-rave paranoia either. Ibiza’s tourist council publicly takes a dim view of ravers. “There are different kinds of clubbers. Some have good jobs back home and appreciate the beauty of the island. But others come and want to party for a week. That isn’t an image we want,” says Ramon Balanzat, a spokesman for the tourism board. It’s the “some have good jobs” attitude that particularly rankles.

“I lived hand to mouth my first seasons here, surviving on nothing. I was on the verge of having to go home when I finally got a break,” recalls Bora Bora resident Oliver Lang, who has spent 10 summers in Ibiza. Like many DJs and island faces his first visit wasn’t to a swanky villa, but to a grotty San An hotel with a bunch of mates. “I was the kind of person they want to get rid of,” he says.

DC10 resident Clive Henry echoes Lang’s words. “I was an ‘undesirable’… running around with no money, trying to get in everywhere for free,” he chuckles. Henry, too, has spent a decade on the island, pouring his heart and soul into the scene. He understands how essential it is to the pulse of the island to make a space for those who don’t come with a platinum card in the pocket of their designer jeans. “DC10 is for the workers. A lot of them can’t afford to do anything else. Rich people might come for the casino but they aren’t interested in the majority of the island. Our whole economy and livelihood is based around the clubbing fraternity.”

It isn’t just adventurous music buffs who come to Ibiza to scrape a living from the club scene. Some of the island’s most famous high rollers started off with nothing. Anthony Pike – whose eponymous hotel is a watchword for jet-set glamour – says he arrived “basically broke,” while Es Vive and Rock Bar owner Jason Bull worked as a bartender and PR before becoming one of the island’s legendary success stories.

DC10 Ibiza 2008

DC10 Ibiza 2008


It has never been exactly easy to survive in Ibiza but plenty of people found the lifestyle compensated for little money and less sleep. “I came here and found a freedom I didn’t have in Britain,” says Nick Fry, owner of Underground, one of the last free entry clubs on the island. “I always intended Underground to be a place for workers and locals, people who couldn’t afford to go to the big clubs. Now we’re being squeezed,” he says, as new licensing laws mean the club shuts at the same time as the bars in town.

This – along with DC10’s closure – means workers are running out of ways to enjoy the island. “I thought it was going to be 24/7 parties, but there’s nothing. By the time I finish work I have a choice of paying €50 to go to a club for an hour, or going to sleep,” says Adam Steedman, a waiter who lives outside Ibiza Town. Across the island in San An money – and fun – are in equally short supply. Tracy Jones runs Shipwrecked, a Wednesday morning boat party which is the last legal after-hours option on the island. Their 230-capacity vessel is always sold out and disconsolate late-comers shuffle home from the pier as it sets sail. “A lot of them work six or seven days a week, this is their one chance to party,” she says.

It is a safe bet Shipwrecked’s high-seas antics would curl the hair of any passing member of the Ibiza tourist board, but the stubborn fact remains these pie-eyed kids with their Ray-Bans and bottle-blond hair are essential to the island economy. Danny Whittle knows better than most how a trip to Ibiza can change a life. He was a fire-fighter in Stoke-on-Trent when he discovered raving and it was a cheap holiday to the island that set him on the path to becoming manager of Pacha, Ibiza’s most glamorous club. “Pricing young people off the island is the worst thing that could happen. Sure, they stay in San An and don’t spend any money the first couple years, but they fall in love with the place. They get better jobs, get a credit card, then return to stay in good hotels and go nice bars and restaurants. They come back, year after year,” he says.

There is little indication the tourist board understands this dynamic of rave culture, or appreciates clubber’s fierce loyalty to the island. The recently launched official tourist web site Ibiza Travel doesn’t mention clubbing at all on the home page. Keep trawling and you’ll find “nightlife” buried beneath items about sport, beaches and conference facilities on the “what to do” page. Notably, there is no mention of DC10 in their list of clubs – further fuel for conspiracy theorists. This reluctance to even acknowledge Ibiza’s biggest tourist draw smacks of stubbornness. It is like Paris refusing to talk about the Eiffel Tower or London banning any mention of Beefeaters. Even Balanzat thinks the tourist board is in danger of alienating its friends. “Officially, our stance is nightlife has enough publicity so we don’t talk about it. Personally, I feel if you want to communicate about Ibiza your first target should be the group that’s coming now, and that’s clubbers,” he says.

Pete Tong has had a front row seat to Ibiza’s evolution and he suggests the government’s approach is less to do with malice and more to do with misunderstanding. “I don’t think they realise how important daytime clubbing is to people’s perception of Ibiza, around the world. Or take Café del Mar – the most iconic image of the island. Why invest millions of euros in reinventing San An then not allow them to play music for sunset? That’s mad,” he says.

Cocoloco @ Privilege, Ibiza

Cocoloco @ Privilege, Ibiza

Not all the blame should be laid on the government’s doorstep though. While they are openly favouring other types of tourism and making life difficult for some clubs they certainly aren’t the ones setting outrageous ticket prices or charging €10 for a small bottle of water. If clubbers are being priced off the island it is at least partially the fault of the money-grubbing tactics of its most powerful venues. But who sets the prices? Who decides whether a bottle of beer is €7 or €12? DJs, according to Danny Whittle: “you have to cover the cost of your talent.” It is a rather glib argument though. DJs in Ibiza demand huge fixed fees in part because they don’t get a cut of the bar proceeds. The more money a club makes on the bar the more DJs can ask for, creating a price spiral where the only losers are ordinary clubbers.

In the past, when the pound was strong, British ravers were happy to pay the price. Everyone moaned, but most thought it worthwhile for a once or twice a year blow-out. Some still do, like the lad queuing for Tiesto who lost his original ticket and bought another. “I’ve paid €100 to get in tonight but fuck it, I’m on holiday,” he grins. That attitude is becoming rarer as the credit crunch bites harder, though, and clubs are nervous. Tourist numbers for June are down 8% on last year, according to official figures, and promoters are fighting tooth and nail over every last punter. The promoter of SuperMartXe, which has taken Manumission’s old Friday night slot at Privilege, went into restaurant kitchens the day before their opening party, giving out wristbands to dishwashers and waiters. While even nights headlined by big name stars like Danny Tenaglia are offering generous free entry.

Ravers who take advantage of the freebies will save a bit, but “in before midnight” usually means an few extra drinks at the bar, which easily makes up the cost of a ticket. As in gambling, the house always wins. “People built the clubs over the last 20 years and made the rules as they went along. It’s a bit backstabbing. They all try to bend the rules in different ways,” says Tong. The major clubs are locked in bitter turf wars and just how far they go to undercut their rivals is a matter for endless speculation. Some are perceived to be more favourably enmeshed in Spanish politics than others and it is clear outsiders like DC10 and Underground are leaned on by everyone. “I feel demonised. Circoloco is treated like a monster,” says Circoloco promoter Andrea Pelino.

Ibiza Town

Ibiza Town

One thing is very clear: the egalitarian, tolerant spirit which made Ibiza famous – which drew dreamers, crooks, idealists, refuges, hippies and finally ravers – is in danger of disappearing into a maelstrom of opportunism. The clubs, in their panic to protect profit margins, and the government, in its understandable desire to give the world a broader picture of the island, are in danger of colluding to drive out the people who love Ibiza best, those who are here for the long run. High-rolling VIPs may come and drop €100,000 in a few days, but the next week they’ll have vanished back to Knightsbridge, Monaco or St Tropez. Workers sharing roach-riddled apartments and sitting on the beach swigging San Miguel don’t offer an immediate cash boost, but they are the ones who will return. Some to visit, year after year; others to make a life in Ibiza.

They are people like Oscar Casu, who started off flyering and now owns ultra-hip bar Noctambula. Or Emilie Antigny, who came to work a season and fell so in love she opened Ibiza Town’s favourite coffee spot, Chill Café. There are countless like them, scattered across the island, running bars, restaurants, hotels and record shops. They don’t have mountains of cash to flash, like some do. (“In a recession the wealthiest are the least affected. They might only have €9 million instead of €10 million – but they still have millions,” points out Whittle.) However, unlike easily bored celebrities or the idle rich, ravers who have come to Ibiza to dance and found a way of life that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world, won’t flit away when the weather turns, their future is the island’s future. Drive them away and some of Ibiza’s magic will be gone forever.

Mixmag: South America guide

Originally published in Mixmag

Brazil:
Brazil mixes ostentation and poverty like nowhere else, throwing dollops of sex, sun and sleaze into a bubbling cauldron of music and culture. For lazy, sun-drenched days and spontaneous partying head to Rio, where the whole city turns with the indolent revolutions of the sun. Beach parties replace after parties, and the best way to get hooked up is to strike up a conversation. Clubbers and promoters rely on networks of friends and instant messaging to spread the word about events, or fuel spontaneous after-parties. For something a little more familiar head to Sao Paulo, home to a thriving scene running the gamut from drum and bass and hip hop to ice cool minimal. With a population of over 10 million it’s like London on steroids, and has the clubs and thriving music scene to match. It’s full on, full time, but if it all gets too much there’s always Warung.

Best clubs:
Warung Beach Club: Is Warung the ultimate beach club? Probably. It’s worth the trip to see Itajai beach anyway. Throw in acres of beautiful tanned flesh and A-list DJs and it’s downright unmissable.
D-Edge: The neon-laced D-Edge is Sao Paulo’s coolest underground venue and a magnet for world-class DJs. “It has a huge soundsystem, it’s beautiful and attracts really cool people,” explains Gui Boratto.
Love Club, Rio: Because you can’t be at the beach all the time… Love Club is Rio’s answer to D-Edge. It’s intimate but equipped with cutting edge music, pumping sound and gorgeous people.

Chile:
According to locals national character is a matter of coastlines. Brazil and Argentina, sitting on the Atlantic coast, are brasher, livelier, more cosmopolitan. The Pacific countries like Chile are more conservative, less Euro-influenced. Which meant dance music took longer to find its way into Chile, but when it did it was bleeding edge European electronica and Detroit techno (Juan Atkins and Derrick May played the country’s first ever rave). “There were a lot of Chileans living outside the country in the 90s and when they came back they brought electronic music, with them,” Luciano says. You can still see the effects in the clubbing culture where huge events like Creamfields are balanced out by house parties or intimate after-hours bashes. Santiago, the capital, is the heart of the year-round club scene. In the summer hire a car and head 120km to the seaside clubs of Valparaíso.

Best clubs:
La Feria, Santiago: With huge aquariums built into the walls, porthole windows and white leather everywhere it looks like a Bond villain’s lair – if only Dr No had been into techno.
Dominica 54: An after hours club-cum-sushi restaurant? It shouldn’t work, but it’s a favourite haunt of Chile’s expat DJ A-list (Villalobos, et al). Sushi till 1am, dancing till 10am.
Deck-00, Muelle Baron: Set on Muelle Baron, the main public access to Valparaiso’s seaport, Deck-00 hosts huge one-off events with the likes of Fatboy Slim in a glittering setting.

Argentina:
Buenos Aires boasts the same mix of sun, sex and tunes as Miami or Rio, but for about half the price. It’s also the most European of South American countries, which means plenty of English-speaking clubbers to befriend and a cosmopolitan flair to its nightlife. A tragic club fire two years ago led to a huge safety crackdown on club venues (Pacha Buenos Aires saw its capacity reduced from 4000 to 2200) but massive events like the 10,000 capacity Moonpark festival have filled the gap. With a mix of international tourists and out-going locals Argentina is an ideal start to a South American clubbing adventure. “The people make Argentina totally unique,” Hernan Cattaneo says. What he means is last time he played Southfest the crowd literally stretched as far as the eye could see – all going mental. “In other countries people go to the bar. Here, they dance like it’s the last time they’re ever going to dance.”

Best clubs:
Crobar: Buenos Aires’ best Friday night, the newly established Crobar sticking with the formula that’s made its US clubs successful: big international talent (Armin, FC Kahuna, etc) and a sleek setting.
Pacha Buenos Aires: Though its capacity was scaled down after the Buenos Aires club fire tragedy Pacha BA is still one of the biggest draws in town. A host of A-list international guests keeps crowds flocking in on Saturday nights.
Club 69 @ Nicetoclub: Like many South American clubs Nicetoclub hosts everything from rock ‘n’ roll to hip hop, go on Thursday for dance music accompanied by fancy dress, cabaret performances and general madness.

Uruguay:
You could fit the entire population of Uruguay into London comfortably. Twice. But there’s nothing you can tell the three million strong population about partying. Every year in January the young, rich and beautiful flood to the seaside paradise of Punta Del Este to romp on the beaches and soak up the bar life. “Everyone’s there – Brazilian, Argentine, Peruvian… It’s a millionaire’s playground. I went to a private party there with 2000 people, a huge swimming pool and an open bar pouring with champagne and vodka. It went on for days,” says DJ Greg Vickers. The season is blink-and-you’ll-miss-it short but look out for big outdoor events like East Festival, which hosts the likes of Sasha and Erick Morillo. For year-round clubbing head to the capital Montevideo. “Check out Milenio, it’s underground but everyone goes there,” Tania Vulcano advises. And after you get your club on go replenish your tan on one of the white sand beaches that surround the city.

Best clubs:
Milenio: A big-yet-cosy three-storey affair, Milenio has a reputation for top notch music and a liberal attitude, which has made it a magnet for hedonistic tourists, the gay crowd and hip locals.
W Lounge: You’re never far from the beach in Montevideo, especially not in W Lounge which capitalises on the Ibiza-of-the-southern-hemisphere vibe with two dancefloors and a gorgeous seaside terrace.
Punta del Este: Not a club, but a destination. Throw caution and credit rating to the wind and head there in January to party at the many beach bars and mini-festivals that spring up during its brief season.

Peru:
The club scene in Peru is small but cutting edge – the rule is minimal music, maximal partying. “You’ve got people in their 20s and people old enough to be their grandparents, all getting involved. It is purely hedonistic. By the end of a night here I can never remember the name of my hotel,” says Greg Vickers. A typical night finishes at 8 or 9 in the morning then everyone staggers to Larcomar, a huge shopping mall-cum-hangout overlooking the Pacific, to catch the sun.

Best clubs:
Gotika: Handily located on the fifth floor of Larcomar you won’t want to leave before sunrise. Better write the name of your hotel on your hand before you go out.
Aura: A slick, trendy, industrial space in a Soho chic style, Aura hosts a mix of local and international talent. You’ll want to put on a fresh tee-shirt before you go.
Home: A distant memory in the UK, Home is alive and well in Peru, where it’s just celebrated its first birthday. Think high stakes glamour and non-stop house music.

Columbia:
For serious eye candy try Circus in Medellín. Ministry events manager Nick Leonard has fond memories: “Every woman in the room had her nose and boobs done. God I wished I could speak Spanish!” Apart from a few big clubs nightlife revolves around warehouse parties thrown by promoters like Techsound and Ultrabass. Despite the headlines you’re more likely to be hanging out with working class kids than narco villains. “People are very outgoing and friendly, even if they have no money they manage to party,” says Techsound boss Luis.

Best clubs:
La Sala, Bogota: One of Bogota’s hottest clubs, the slickly styled La Sala plays host to the likes of Poker Flat, Subliminal and Ministry tours, as well as top local talent.
Circus Club, Medellín: An hour’s flight from Bogota this Pacha style club holds 3000 glammed up clubbers. And with an average ratio of two gorgeous women for every guy it’s worth the trip.
Warehouse parties: You’ll have to do a little legwork (try the phrase “donde está una fiesta de techno?”) but for authentic Columbian clubbing head to one of the regular bashes thrown by local promoters.

Mixmag: Luciano

Originally published in Mixmag

Luciano @ DC10, Ibiza

Luciano @ DC10, Ibiza


One image summed up Ibiza 2007: Luciano standing in the DJ booth at DC10, music off, flanked by stony-faced Spanish cops as a chorus of protest rose from the dancefloor. Slowly, the boos turned into a chant, “Lu-ci-an-o, Lu-ci-an-o.” It was a classic confrontation between young and old; freedom and restraint; hedonism and joyless authority and the 29-year-old Chilean represents everything the Ibicenco police were trying to stamp out. That moment turned him from a star into an icon.

In the past twelve months Luciano has gone from underground hero to bona fide A-lister purely by refusing to compromise. Unhappy with his old management, he left and – with new label partner An Reich – created Cadenza booking agency. Like everything else in Luciano’s life, Cadenza (the label he started four years ago) has a newfound sense of purpose. They’ve released their first two LPs and expanded their roster. As well as running the agency Luciano and An have taken Cadenza’s successful residency at Berlin’s Panoramabar global, establishing nights in Paris, Madrid, Italy, Bucharest, Barcelona and Moscow.

In the midst of all this, while the rest of the world was moving to Berlin Luciano packed his bags to take his young family to Geneva. “It was hard for my career, it would have been easier to stay. But you have prove you have the strength to fight, to re-build your life,” he says.

Lest anyone mistake this move for a retreat, he’s thrown himself into DJing. As Cocoon and DC10 resident he was the biggest star of the Ibiza season – tirelessly igniting the terraces every Monday. Plus he racked up the air miles playing in different country, or two, every weekend. “It’s scary. Sometimes I wake up and have to turn on the TV to find out what country I’m in,” Luciano says.

Describing 2007 as “exhausting and beautiful,” he is eager to keep pushing in 2008. “We’re touring Japan, Malaysia, India… I don’t know if they like techno in India, we’ll find out,” he laughs. It’s a safe bet that if they don’t yet, they will by the time the Luciano is through with them.

An Reich says simply, “He seduces people with music,” and this was the year the world fell under his spell.