Ibiza Closing Parties (1)
Last 3 weeks of September
Notorious for its dynamic nightlife, Ibiza’s summer clubbing season is an annual orgy of hedonism that reaches a messy climax during September, when the main club promoters and venues host a series of stamina-sapping closing parties to round things off and extract a few final euros from their battered punters. These end-of-season events tend to attract an older clubbing crowd, who prefer to hop over to Ibiza for a long weekend (a “cheeky one” in clubber speak) in the relative sanity of September – thus avoiding the gangs of teenage pill-monsters that descend on the island in late July and August. The British rave dinosaurs join a resident hardcore of Ibizan clubbers and an international cast of party freaks and techno geeks, all brought together by a common appetite for Class A entertainment and a devotion to dance music.
The origins of Ibiza’s club scene can be traced back to the hippie-trippy happenings of the 1960s, when – as a rusty ferry- ride off the road south to Marrakesh – the island was an essential pit stop for the boho bunch. The first wave of “beats” found a poor, rustic island peopled by friendly locals, who remained largely tolerant of their acid- and mushroom-fuelled excesses and general aversion to swimming costumes, combs and soap. Ibiza was already well established as an outpost for assorted opponents of the Franco regime, its residents including a substantial community of Spanish artists and lefty politicos, many of whom needed little persuasion to join the party.
Two of Ibiza’s legendary clubs – Pacha and Amnesia – date back to the early 1970s; both were originally hangouts for this international wandering class. Steadily, the simple farmhouses that formed the structural base of today’s uberclubs began to sprout extensions, bars and dance floors, as the venues threw bigger and bigger themed events and parties. The sheer scale and opulence of Ibiza’s clubs, above all Ku (now Privilege), began to pull in the Euro jet set, plus a smattering of Hollywood faces and swinging Gulf sheikhs. Back then, the closing parties were much less commercial events, when anyone who was anyone (and plenty of nobodies) got in free, and there were cauldrons of special cocktails on the house.
The Ibiza scene remained cosmopolitan and mature – champagne flutes and cocaine spoons rather than pills ‘n’ thrills – until the mid-1990s, when increasingly rapacious British club promoters, including Cream, Manumission and the Ministry of Sound, targeted Ibiza and hosted nights in the island’s clubs. Steadily, British holiday-makers began to filter into Ibiza Town and the Sant Rafel clubs from the resort of Sant Antoni (where nightclubbing had traditionally revolved around tequila-downing contests and a footie-style “’ere we go” soundtrack) to these British-promoted events.
Today’s high-season club scene is unequivocally business driven, and very expensive, with twenty or so UK promoters, plus a smattering of Dutch, German and Italian clubs, scrapping it out over the summer, desperately trying to entice clubbers to their nights. The promoters organize elaborate themed parades to publicize their events, and if you spend any time in the bar area of Ibiza Town you’ll see stilt walkers, spacemen and bondage-clad dancers bearing club banners as they move through the narrow portside streets dispensing flyers. Ibiza’s mainstream club scene revolves around seven mega discotecas plus a few minor venues, which, for a few weeks every year, play host to the world’s finest DJs. In one season, the owners of the club Amnesia might hire their venue to the German techno promoters Cocoon on Mondays, the Spanish gay party La Troya on Wednesdays, Britain’s Cream on Thursdays and Made in Italy on Fridays. All the Ibizan clubs adopt a similar policy of booking different promoters on different nights of the week (except Pacha, which has pioneered an in-house party programme in recent years). Each promoter throws a closing party sometime in September, and each club also throws its own, so if you’re in Ibiza anytime after the first week of the month there’s sure to be plenty going on.
What’s so special about these closing parties? Well, it very much depends on the individual event – many are ridiculously over-hyped. Obviously, the bigger the club promoter, the more money goes into the night – so an organization such is the Ministry of Sound will book a really big-name DJ or two bring in troupes of dancers and put a lot of work into decorating and lighting the venue with disco spangle and sparkle. The negative side to some of these really big closing parties is that the venue is likely to be rammed and the entrance price hiked to as much as €50 or €60.