Ibiza Clubs: Then and Now – Guest Blog by Danny Whittle

Danny Whittle: Then and Now

Before I get into detail let me say a few things; yes my grammar is s**t, yes my spelling is s**t and yes I don’t pretend to know it all, so anyone who wants to post about any of those things you have been pre-empted so you don’t need to waste your time, I know all these things already. So last week I decided to respond to a post about the Ibiza clubs closing times, the feedback was pretty amazing but at the same time I believe there are many people posting on social media without past knowledge of certain situations or at the very least a misunderstanding of the balance of this great little island.

I first arrived here to work (I had been on holiday before) in 1995, it could have been 96 but I’m not going to research it as that’s boring. Either way I was doing ‘Renaissance at Ku’ with Manumission. The year after we did Pacha every Wednesday.

The period of 1996 to 2000 is what many people claim to be the ‘Golden Years’. Let me add that in 1998 I moved to running Ministry of Sound at Pacha on Fridays and in 1999 I started the first 22 hour party at Space on Sundays with Darren Hughes, Home@ Space, I’m sure some of you remember it, it was a great party and just got stronger all summer. Pepe and Fritz gave me a beautiful watch as a thank you. I think it was these parties that convinced Space to move from being a daytime club to a night time club, I suspect that happened because as an after hours they were not making the kind of money they could make as a night time venue, this and being forced to put a roof on the famous terrace didn’t help either.

The following January I was offered a full time job at Pacha to run the content side of the club across the week.  I did this for 13 years and I don’t think I’m bragging when I say we did well and Pacha grew from a club that was only busy 2 nights a week to one that was busy for 7 nights a week. Anyway enough about me I just wanted to lay some history down.

  
So 18 years ago most of Ibiza’s clubs only had 1 or 2 nights that were doing great things.

Pacha had Ministry of Sound packing them in and also Renaissance that was probably the most underground thing in any of the big clubs doing ok but hanging on by their nails as there was not a big demand for it, believe it or not Ibiza was never that underground then.

Amnesia had Cream and maybe La Troya or Matinee were doing OK but other than that nothing to write home about. Ku/Privilege were doing Manumission and not much else in the big scheme of things but Manumission was as big as two nights in any other club.

Space had the amazing ‘Space on Sundays’ and the Manumission ‘Carry On’ which, lets be honest, was never about making money but was an incredible party.  Eden had Judge Jules and maybe another good thing but I can’t remember.  Es Paradis had the powerful ‘Clockwork Orange’ and again maybe another thing.

 DC10 at that point didn’t exist, so how lucky are we now that it does.  Sankeys also didn’t exist and yet now they have a good crowd most nights.

But essentially all the clubs had 2 good nights and the rest of the nights were mostly pretty average. Please excuse me if I can’t remember your night especially if it was good but I am trying to give a general overview of the way things were.

For after parties we had the amazing Zenith parties that Roberto and Ernesto did near the airport, they were soon stopped but it’s amazing that 20 years later the same boys are now running what is arguably the biggest night on the island with ‘Music On’, well deserved too.  We also had Escollera, which was amazing and Bora bora that was also flying.

We also had Space open every morning but was not that busy as there was not much demand except on the aforementioned 2 days when it was life changing for the people there.

Most of the other after parties were people putting on villa parties with wigs and fancy dress and nobody was blaming the clubs for closing too early. They just made their own entertainment and it was almost always amazing.

Also there were at that time some great bars like the Rock Bar and Base Bar and many others that worked perfectly and co-existed with the clubs and yet the opening and closing times were pretty much the same as they are now.

What really destroyed the Ibiza Town bars over the last 10 years was the lack of parking and that ugly glass wall, that they have at last put right, and I have to say its now once again a beautiful place to be. I believe the bars along the port should all throw 200 euros each into a pot and do a great marketing campaign through the right magazines and online to promote just how great the bars are in the port.  Now lets move 18 years into the future.

Amnesia works pretty much 7 nights a week, some busier than others and their weekly programming is kind of genre busting, going from Paris Hilton to Marco Carola, Cream to Cocoon and everything in between. That’s how you make a club work 7 nights a week, brilliant programming.

Pacha, again working almost 7 nights a week going from Steve Aoki to Solomun. Again great programming,

Space has some amazing parties with Carl and Richie, El Row and Luciano, although it’s a shame ‘We Love’ didn’t host Sundays alongside Luciano, but that’s just my opinion.

DC10 is amazing, a game changer for Ibiza but at the same time only open 2 nights a week (3 in August) which just goes to show that if you’re not prepared to host different genres its difficult to operate 7 nights a week and we all know DC10 will never compromise on cool and that’s cool too.

Sankeys, opened 4 years ago and managed to pull off what most people would never even try. It’s hard enough to make one night a week work in Ibiza for outside promoters, but to make a nightclub work all week even if some nights are quiet will only have admiration from me.

Zoo project, amazing venue that do great parties. Privilege have SuperMartxe, which by all accounts is really big, I think there are a couple of other nights that are good also however this is the most disappointing venue for me, their potential is incredible and I have my ideas of how this can work but I’m not going to voice them here. After all I have a job.

Eden & Es Paradis, well this is more complicated. I just feel having 2 nightclubs directly across the road from each other was only going to lead to disaster. It’s all about critical mass and once the clubs compete so much that both clubs stop working to a certain level then the clients go elsewhere – Amnesia, Pacha, Ushuaia whatever but basically those 2 clubs cancelled each other out, at that point it also effects San Antonio town. The 2 clubs can’t compete so the punters go to where the content is.

Ocean Beach and Ibiza Rocks, which we also didn’t have 20 years ago, and bars like Mambo and Plastik show that business done properly in San An can work. So in my opinion the owners of Eden and Es Paradis should come together, knock down one of the clubs and build a really cool hotel and a really cool club and split the business (and if they cant afford it get an investor). 33 % of something great will always be better than 100 % of something not working.

Also as we are talking about San An, I have always been a fan, it’s the gateway to Ibiza for young kids and they fall in love with San An and then move on around the island. We have an incredible return of service in Ibiza. I had a young lady working for me in 1998 as a flyerer in San An, she still comes here all these years later and she’s now a Professor of skin cancer at Kings College or somewhere yet still her love affair with Ibiza remains, that’s the power of San An and the power of Ibiza’s attraction.

So I think all the big clubs should support San An and allow, if not insist, that each of their big name DJ’s should do one show a summer in San Antonio, not just a pre-party to help fill their own clubs, but a proper gig in a proper club. That’s about 20 big dates in San An for the right club, we just need the right club, but that will take creativity, which is what Ibiza runs on. Why would the other clubs do that I hear you ask, well because they know ultimately all those people will end up coming to them at a later date anyway, even if it was a year later. It’s all about keeping that youthful gateway open for the island.  Ushuaia is the best thing that has happened to Ibiza in the last ten years. Amazing parties and amazing marketing not only for themselves but also for Ibiza. Even if you don’t like it you can’t deny the strength it brings to the island. Creative and smart. Don’t talk to me about it being only commercial, go to Ants on Saturday or a La Familia party with Nick and Joris, it reminds me of the Space terrace 18 years ago!

Beach Bars, lets talk about them, never really had them 18 years ago, Blue Marlin, amazing, I remember partying with Yela (the owner of Blue Marlin) many years ago at Escollera, that guy has lived it and grafted it, he deserves his success, Jonathan and Olivia with Chiringuito at Es Cavallet and Beachouse in Bossa again deserve their success, Dave Piccioni with Amante, and so many more that we never had before are all doing great things on the island.

The boat parties is a a relatively new concept but people love them and they should exist, they need to be safe and legal but at the same time they are a great addition to Ibiza options.

VIPS, I hate the name. I don’t think they are VIPs they are just a different type of client and to be honest a lot of them are the people who came here during the so called ‘Golden Years’ it’s just now they are not 20 years old anymore they are 38 years old and prefer to have a table. Just because someone has a credit card doesn’t mean they can’t like music and clubbing and its clear that some of the biggest underground nights also have the biggest table clients. In the end the tables are empty unless the dancefloor is full so it’s still all about the dancefloor.

So to finish I just want to say that Ibiza is stronger than ever, with much more on offer. To me the ‘Golden Years’ were more about me being 20 years younger. I see just as many smiles on faces now as I did back then. With regards to the competition between clubs, bars, beach bars, boat parties, hotel venues and so on, well the reality is no matter what your business is if you run it well with good content, good marketing, good customer service you will do well. Nobody should blame other businesses if theirs isn’t working correctly. Also Ibiza summer now starts the end of May and finishes beginning of October, so about a month longer than 18 years ago.

So for me Ibiza even with its faults is better than ever and all the changes, well that’s what Ibiza should be about, it has to be fluid, it has to reinvent every now and again to keep it fresh.


Danny Whittle lives and works in Ibiza. He is a Director at IBZ Entertainment, one of the largest programmers and bookers of artists for nightclubs, events and festivals both in Ibiza and worldwide. He is also one of the founding partners/organisers of the annual ‘International Music Summit (IMS)’ in Ibiza, Los Angeles, Singapore and Shanghai.

Published by

Martin Makepeace

Englishman living and working in Ibiza since 1991. Entrepreneur with a passion for villas, boats, sunsets and San Antonio. Owner of Ibiza Property Shop.

12 thoughts on “Ibiza Clubs: Then and Now – Guest Blog by Danny Whittle”

  1. great to see a “real” history of Ibiza rather than a tabloid invented one! I came 15 years ago, (horrified at the idea) and fell in love, you can dip in or out of anything you want, my advice, don’t knock it till you have tried it!

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  2. Great wiew point Danny . for me the golden years were late 80´s Late 90¨s . saying that ibiza is for ever evolving you have to move with it . ps im still coming after all these years . & your still here .
    Well done to you , all the past club nights / promoters & the current ones for making this island what it is 🙂

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  3. Thanks Danny! Great account of the history of music and clubbing here and suggestions for the future… Your San An hotel and one club idea is brilliant! I think everyone who had fallen in love in or with the island had their own “golden years”. And your discriprion of San An is spot on as a gateway for young British travelers. That said San An seems to be a rather English phenomenon so for many of us coming from elsewhere it’s been relegated more to amazing sunsets while places like Playa den Bossa were our gateways. Great article!

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  4. Danny Whittle The amazing voice of reason and common sense on all things concerning day and nightlife musical entertainment in Ibiza !

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    1. I agree with most of this, but I’d say it’s technology that really killed the bars in the Marina. In the days before Facebook – remember them? – you’d head to the Rock, Zuka or Base Bar to find out what everybody was up to. Then you’d head off to the clubs.

      Now you know where your mates are going and you’ve probably already organised guest list. So why go through the hassle of parking or taxis in Ibiza Town before you hit a club? Everything seems to happen earlier as well.

      The bars in the port have also suffered from something which has hit a lot of expat bars everywhere. Thats the ready availability of British satellite TV. A lot of the people who’d go out pretty much every night for a beer or two will now watch telly instead. Losing that nucleus of regulars has an impact way beyond the numbers. And again it becomes part of that thing of checking Facebook rather than heading for a bar to catch up with the gossip.

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  5. A great read , for me the golden years were defaintely in the 90’s
    I have to disagree with your comments on Ushuaia been the best thing to happen in 10years, as a concept 100% yes & as a venue but their music policy is awful, 2-3 years ago ANTS was amazing just like space , but now it’s just all about edm music which in my opinion is killing the scene.
    I do think that places like blue marlin are not necessary about going somewhere nice to listen to good music & let your hair down , it’s more about how much money have you got, who do you know , & how attractive are you , and how much will you spend , which again in my opinion is moving away from the true essence of what ibiza is or was all about.
    You must have had an amazing life & experiences we all admire.

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