It got a little more interesting when Hï Ibiza unveiled their name and logo with little teaser video back in February. DJ residencies began to be announced in the more recent months and weeks, and then in the week leading up to the main event, daily countdown memes and custom hashtags made it impossible not to pay attention: the new kid had finally arrived in town. What was surprising over the last six months however, was just how few details had leaked about the design and decoration of Hï Ibiza. Knowing the marketing geniuses behind it (here’s one they prepared earlier: Ushuaïa – see what I mean?), there must have been some hefty confidentiality agreements in place there! So, when last Sunday, the Hï Ibiza Opening Party rolled around, I for one was dying to get in there and see what they’d made of the space once considered clubbing mecca.
First impressions: I’d arrived at the Disneyland of clubbing. And I mean that in a good way – anyone who knows me will tell you I am a big fan of Walt, Mickey and co. Gone is the asphalt car park and in its place a big, clean and well-lit welcome area, complete with oversized logos and hashtags (in case you forget!) perfect for about a gazillion Instagram moments this summer. You know that’s a selfie box people are going to want to tick – especially since the famous Eivissa sign was removed from the airport – though you may even need a wide-angle lens, as the sign is so big. A seamless entry experience meant everything got off on the right foot – no queues, swift entry, friendly door staff and smiling security. Are these the faces of Ibiza’s clubbing future? And when I stepped inside, I must admit, I was really surprised. I’d envisioned oversized neon lighting (a la Disney) and imposing VIP sections, or alternatively, I kept thinking I’d be walking into the old school sunset terrace but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself surrounded by a square shaped little room made up of big, black imposing doors, one of which was ajar, and once you poked your nose in you were greeted by the merchandise store. Obvs.
All of a sudden – I lost my bearings. As a former Space worker, I felt like a fish out of water. I knew right then, right there – I would have to abandon any sense of ‘the old space’ and simply get accustomed to ‘the new space’. It was like Alice falling down a rabbit hole – the doors almost seemed to say ‘push me’ (well, technically they kind of did, as each door has a pair of hands emblazoned on it to encourage punters to do just that) and I even had butterflies as I chose which ones I would push first… My initial choice led me into the futuristic ‘Theatre’, where ‘man of the Space closing match’ Paul Reynolds was warming things up nicely for Bedouin, who I was very much looking forward to seeing on a big stage. The production is mind-blowing, including super cool LED screens that cascade down from the roof to the stage reminiscent of a ribbon – something that created some pretty mesmerising effects as the evening went on. The dancefloor was completely flat and I swear, it was some kind of special ergonomic tiling as it just felt so good to dance on.
Next up, it was time to check out the Magic Garden for the obligatory shot of tequila in the venue’s dedicated shot bar. Completely open-air, and minus music, this is a great place to chill, unwind, make phone calls and (if you are that way inclined) smoke (not that I would ever encourage you to – gross). A little bit Burning Man-esque, with beautiful tree-like structures made out of twinkling lights and the stars shining brightly above… a beautiful backdrop to the planes flying in overhead. Back to the business of dance music, we went back indoors to check out the ‘Club’ however as we made a beeline towards the entrance, it was the huge throng of people swarming into the toilets that caught our attention – welcome to Wild Corner, the room that stole the show! Each side of the room is lined with loos – unisex – and in between is a DJ booth and dancefloor, where the Melon Bomb crew were winning hearts with their disco, funk and house grooves. Surely inspired by the legendary toilets of Manumission, it felt to me that this is going to become the local’s hangout at Hï Ibiza, boasting authentic back room vibes and a strong resident crew. My only slight misgiving about this room is, with a whole lotta toilets and a throbbing dancefloor in between, it makes the sinks (at either end of the room) a little hard to access… perhaps a little ‘un-hï-genic’! Nothing a few strategically placed bottles of hand sanitiser in each cubicle can’t fix before this weekend’s Black Coffee Opening Party.
After all the action in the toilets, we needed another break from the action, and this time it was the Secret Garden that drew our attention. Only accessible with a special wristband (thanks Miss L!), it was another Burner’s paradise, this time with chillout teepees surrounding the sparkly trees and flocks of music industry folk engulfed in huge puffs of cigarette smoke. Back indoors, the ‘Club’ room was totally full, with Hï Ibiza and Ushuaïa darling Andrea Oliva playing back to back with Davide Squillace. The room felt a lot more intimate than it had in its Space days, as Hï Ibiza have lowered the roof, added all new lighting installations and brought the DJ booth down to eye-level (previously I needed to stand on tip toe if I wanted to know who was playing!). All of a sudden, I realised something – where were all the VIPs? In the lead up to the opening, rumours were rife that 65-percent of the club would be dedicated to high rollers but I felt that it was more front-and-centre clubber friendly than ever.
It turns out, the VIP areas have been cleverly designed to blend in around the edges and on mezzanine levels in each room (minus the Magic Garden), with plenty of space and service and toilets to call their own. It seems everything at Hï Ibiza is perfectly balanced – there’s no visible hï-erachy or great divide between tables and the dance floor. There’s simply a perfectly designed place for everything (and everyone) and everything is in its place. The entire opening party felt like the beginning of a wonderful new era in Ibiza clubbing. To be perfectly honest, I thought I’d hung up my well-worn clubbing boots when Space Ibiza closed, but there they were, still on the dance floor at 9am while Apollonia provided the soundtrack and the sun was streaming in the windows as regular folk were on their way to work outside. Oh dammit – work. I knew I had something to do on Monday morning other than dance all day! Looks like I’m just going to have to get used to rearranging my schedule to start late every Monday morning for another year after all.