Ibiza morphs into a different beast after dark. The crisp blue lines of the horizon become hazy; sea salt clings to the body, prickling the skin; and a hush-hush, clandestine atmosphere is ushered in. Anything can happen on a hot Balearic night, when every second brings fresh opportunities to the fore and the air crackles with possibility. These are unequivocal facts at chic Ibiza beach club, El Silencio Ibiza, on Cala Molí. Set on the sands of a usually quiet cove on the island’s southwest coast, come twilight, it twists and transforms into El Silencio Ibiza Cabaret, where world-class performers contort and writhe for the sensorial pleasure of a select few.
Hidden behind a heavy green velvet curtain that shrouds the spectacle still to come after dinner, El Silencio Ibiza Cabaret unfolds in a low-lit space on the beach club’s upper terrace. Walls and ceilings are painted in lucid tones of turquoise, purple and orange, and in the centre of it all rises a giant, phallus-shaped installation adorned in mirror ball tiles, glistening in the kaleidoscopic light. Tight-knit tables are peppered across the floor, a low ceiling evokes the feeling of being in a slightly sleazy, Parisian backstreet bar, and the stage sits at eye-level, within touching distance of eager and excitable spectators.
First brought to life from the wildly vivid imagination of Rodolphe Salis, who unleashed the now infamous Le Chat Noir on to the streets of Montmartre back in 1881, the concept of cabaret was initially deemed too off-the-wall for the well-to-do residents of Paris. But for the city’s slew of bohemian-minded artists, writers, poets, and philosophers, it promised a kind of exoticism that was hard to resist. Providing a nightclub experience where contemporary music entwined with performance, erotica and shadow play, it was the beginning of a new era for entertainment – one that would play out in Ibiza, at El Silencio Ibiza Cabaret, over 100 years later.
Today, creative powerhouse and multi-hyphenate Ali Madhavi has reimagined the idea in the creation of El Silencio Ibiza Cabaret. Artistic consultant to celebrities including Dita von Teese, Karl Lagerfeld and Kylie Minogue, as well as high-end fashion houses like Balmain, Thierry Mugler, Jean Paul Gaultier and Agent Provocateur, he cites a fascination with the human body and the exuberance of beauty, as well as the fantastic and subconscious realms, as influences. Respected across multiple genres, including photography and filmmaking, each visual element forms a pillar of the captivating show that unfurls at the legendary beach restaurant.
A groundbreaking production in which tradition and modernity collide, El Silencio Ibiza Cabaret plunges spectators into an immersive world conjured by Madhavi and his right-hand man, Djanis Bouzyani. Whisked on a journey that merges the ambience of Le Chabanais, a luxurious French bordel, with the seedy, post-Franco underground of Spain’s La Movida, every night, six sensational performers take to the diminutive stage in six distinct productions. No two nights are ever the same, as world-class artistes improvise and respond to stimulus from the crowd, weaving their way from stage to floor to aerial hoop in fluid motion to the hypnotic sounds of a soundtrack that wouldn’t be out of place in an episode of Euphoria.
The night’s proceedings are led by the divinely dramatic performance artist Mina Serrano, whose slinky, figure-hugging gown is painted with vignettes of intertwined body parts (mirroring the evocative prints on the ceiling and the floor), and whose playful ribbing of the crowd deepens as the night darkens ¬– be warned: she speaks multiple languages, so no one is safe from her suggestive soliloquies. Drinks flow freely as Mina meanders through the maze of tables at El Silencio Ibiza Cabaret, introducing an ever-evolving parade of performers whose talents range from pole dance and flamenco to classic burlesque striptease and daring acrobatic feats – each carefully crafted movement more sensual and intriguing than the last.
Though the staging at El Silencio Ibiza Cabaret is minimal — all eyes here are on the voluptuous curve of a silhouette or the sky-high heel of a stiletto thanks to expertly wielded lighting – abstract visuals can transport the crowd to something akin to a David Lynch set. Picture a veiled cinema screen with a live action film noir scene being acted out in the moment. Two magnificent burlesque dancers appear, dressed in classic French trench coats; cigarettes languidly hanging from their mouths as smoke snakes around their necks. They begin to strip, slowly, removing one item of clothing at a time, until eventually, just the dewy reflection of skin glowing beneath the light remains.
On other occasions, El Silencio Ibiza Cabaret plays host to solo performers, with dazzling artists defying gravity as they fly through the air, limbs wrapped seductively around an aerial hoop or strategically placed pole. One statuesque beauty sports a towering pair of perspex platform heels and heads out on stage to tempt the crowd with a trance-like simulation of sensual self-gratification, before reaching a breathy, hypnotic climax, while another performer, glistening in equal parts body oil and silver shimmer, dons a diamante-encrusted g-string before swinging up and down a pole with deft. At other times, trios take the spotlight, a jumble of mesmerisingly entangled body parts symbolic of the salacious acts that usually take place in secret.
When they’re not performing, members of the beautiful cast pop up in unexpected places – at behind the bar, in the crowd, at the tables – before graciously heading back to the stage to take a well-deserved bow at the end of the night. The crowd is kissed, embraced and thanked, and as the curtain falls, they snake their way out onto the terrace to mingle with their now adoring fans – sheer stockings, high heels and red lips silhouetted in the moonlight. Exclusive but never exclusionary, there are two showings at El Silencio Ibiza Cabaret each night at 9.30pm and 11.30pm, and though everyone is welcome, seating is limited.
Bringing flashes of ebullience to the island in the style of Crazy Horse or Moulin Rouge, El Silencio Ibiza Cabaret is a dazzling addition to Ibiza’s cultural line-up, and a fine example of the unique creative vision of the beach club’s founders, Parisian tastemakers Arnaud Frisch and Antoine Caton. While you’re there, be sure to check out DJ and producer Dan Ghenacia’s immersive installation, The Oracle, a 15-minute sensory journey guided by unique soundscapes and frequencies that conjures similar emotions to a psychedelic trip – the perfect pre-amble to your cabaret experience. A slice of sultry Paris on Ibiza’s pristine shores, open minds will relish this prismatic experience.