Ibiza clubbing: Dubfire – Restoring balance

It was 1998 when Ali Shirazinia, aka Dubfire, first stepped foot on Ibiza. An island novice at the time (everything he knew he’d read in magazines), he stepped over the threshold at Pacha Ibiza as one half of Deep Dish, wide-eyed, optimistic, and unaware of what the island would come to mean to him in the forthcoming years. “We thought it was just a party island in the early days,” he ponders. “We were immersed in nightlife culture so we didn’t notice the island’s other qualities.”

Ali is still heavily immersed in that scene 20 years later – and just about to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the aforementioned night at Pacha with a special Deep Dish performance at A Labyrinth Story – but over time, his connection to Ibiza has deepened. Now he comes here seeking balance, in whatever form that presents itself on this complex mass of Mediterranean rock. “Ibiza has grown on me over the years,” he explains. “After I broke away from Deep Dish I was looking for meaning in my life – musically and spiritually – and I spent a lot of time here. I dragged many friends here to come and explore it with me and became very inspired by all the DJs who were here bringing their A-game. It became a really important part of my life in finding a new direction.”

Today, Ibiza’s multifaceted personality remains an intriguing mystery that brings Ali back year on year, regardless of a jam-packed gig schedule. “Peace is a loaded word,” he muses. “I can be in the middle of the dance floor at DC10 listening to Damian Lazarus surrounded by zombies and still find peace! But us veterans are also striving to reconnect with nature and that’s why we’ve drawn a link with Ibiza – it’s played a huge part in helping to restore the balance that we’ve all been missing for so many years. Everything we’re about as musicians runs counter to that. In Ibiza, we get to load up on nature, and that helps to carry us forward”

Do you still get a buzz when you land on the Ibiza airport tarmac?
Actually, I’m always a little nervous. Especially before DC-10 opening and closing. To the point where I can’t really eat! I always book a big dinner with a bunch of friends and over the years, I’ve noticed other people are nervous too, for some reason or other, so all we do these days is end up drinking! I never usually get nervous but I think there are so many of our colleagues at DC-10 who are there listening, so you’re going to be judged! Plus, the crowd is hungry. They want you to bring your A+ game and we really feel that pressure.

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive?
I like to unpack and lay out all my things. That’s the one thing that makes me feel connected to where I am. I don’t just pull things out of my suitcase randomly, I like to settle. No matter where I go or how long I’m staying, everything comes out!

Does being here feel like work or holiday?
It feels like a holiday, always. Even when I’m working. That’s why everyone ends up moving here!

Where do you stay?
The Ibiza Gran Hotel has kind of become like my second home. A lot of the staff there know me now and they turn the other cheek when I’m doing the walk of shame in the morning! They’ve caught me in so many uncompromising positions and they just laugh about it.

Where are your favourite places to eat?
I usually don’t eat breakfast but the breakfast buffet at the Ibiza Gran Hotel is insane. I try not to overeat so I’ll just have a bowl of berries and a cappuccino. Typically for lunch, I like a simple fish restaurant. I like simply prepared food that’s been sourced from the finest farms, whether it’s fish, meat or whatever, and to eat in rustic environments. So I love places like La Granja, Can Domo and Sa Capella. There are a lot of Japanese restaurants on the island now too, and the quality has really improved. I like Zela Ibiza and IZAKAYA, and of course Nobu, though everyone knows what that’s like, besides being incredibly expensive! I live half the year in Barcelona so I also eat a lot of Spanish food.

Where do you like to drink?
I’m kind of prone to just drinking sake, so wherever there’s sake! I’m actually a level two certified sommelier – I studied in Japan and it’s just fascinating. It’s so simply made and handled with such care. It’s all Richie Hawtin and I talk about when we’re together! Anyway, here on the island maybe I’ll go to Zela Ibiza, Km5 or La Granja because the bar is super elegant, especially before sunset.

Where’s your favourite place to dance?
I like listening to Damian Lazarus play the closing slot in the main room at DC-10. And I love the terrace at Amnesia, you’ll find me there when Ricardo Villalobos is playing.

Do you have a favourite part of Ibiza?
In the past I used to drive north to escape all the craziness. I love to venture off the beaten track on long drives, looking for remote beaches. Anywhere there are less people – the fewer the people, the happier I am!

What’s your favourite swimming spot?
If I’m here for more than two days, I like to hire a boat and sail to Formentera. We’ll jump off and swim along the way, exploring caves and being stung by jellyfish!

Looking back on your 20-year history with Ibiza, do you have a standout memory?
I always found a lot of inspiration at the after parties, particularly the legendary Cocoon ones! You know, you’d be at a beautiful villa in the daytime, and the DJs weren’t on display like they were during the previous night. They were more free to use the natural environment as a catalyst for expressing themselves musically. Back then, those DJs were really experimenting and pushing boundaries and it’s some of the best music I ever heard. I haven’t gone to anything close to that for a good five to six years.

What’s your quintessential Ibiza track?
It’s a really beautiful Balearic song called Generations of Love. Boy George sang it with the band Jesus Loves You. I love the whole Balearic vibe of the island.

How do you feel when you’re packing to leave?
It sucks! I’m a good packer though. Before I go out, I pack everything so I can just turn up at the hotel and leave after a night out. I know what I’m getting myself into these days!