Ibiza: the magical island of excess

My first guest writer here on JNL.com is the multi-talented renaissance man himself, lovingly known as Black Jesus. BJ was my host on a recent visit to Ibiza. I can honestly say that I’ve never witnessed a human being engage in such focused and efficient navigation of an island before. BJ has found a way to completely immerse himself into the culture and character of the island. Experiencing it alongside him was an experience to say the least. He was kind enough to personally compile a few insider island tips for curating the perfect week on the White Isle.  In my opinion , Black Jesus is the ultimate Ibiza reasource, and if you dont believe me, ask SOLOMUN. Enjoy!

 

The Mediterranean Sea plays host to one of the world’s most extreme little islands; Ibiza. Home to party lovers, hippies and scantily clad goddesses for decades. The short hour flight off the coast of mainline Spain might as well be some form of teleportation, because there’s no other way to explain the vast contrasts between your destination and origin. From the back packers and shoe string budget holiday makers holding down the fort in the western bay of San Antonio. To the mega yachts worthy of their own Discovery Channel show on the east and the beautiful sun kissed 20 bedroom villas that MTV Cribs wished they had access to in the north. Extreme and contrast are two words that often come to mind when thinking about Ibiza. On one hand Ibiza can be your respite, your healing place, where you can go on hikes with your shaman, indulge in weekly Ayahuasca sessions, start every day with a specialist yoga class and end your week with the drum circle sunset performance on Benirras beach. All of that is before we delve into the many high end spas and celebrity boot camp groups – “what party island?” you think while sipping on your green tea.


Hotel and Spa – Hacienda Na Xamena   www.hotelhacienda-ibiza.com/en/spa.html

On the other hand, and probably why you’re reading this article, Ibiza can keep you whisked up in a party daze… for days! Moving you from club to club. From 8000 capacity venues to intimate beach shacks, through villa parties and pop up raves in beautiful caves. It’s most probably one of the few places on Earth where you can spend more of your life in a party than not. With each venue boasting an incredible array of musical talent, great sound systems and a crowd of people that, just like you, share the motive of having the time of your life. Ibiza will test the real party animal in you, your cell phone battery probably won’t last through the first party, let’s see how your soul feels when you’re three days in and the only time you’ve been horizontal was while swimming naked at that private beach you just had to stop at between after parties!

I often dish out my schedule with a word of caution; Ibiza has more than you could possibly see and do in one short holiday week. Heck, you could stay a month and still struggle to feel like you conquered this little rock. My advice is to pace yourself, stay as long as you possibly can and take breaks. Your body has been shaped and moulded by the real world. Like a supple young piece of bamboo you’ve been gently pushed into getting really good at partying for two consecutive nights and then having a day with brain dead TV and food that arrived either by some young kid with a moped and red uniform or from a can in the back of your cupboard. Seriously, there’s a reason why they put Sunday after the onslaught of Friday and Saturday! They need your mind fresh for ‘the man’ and your Monday responsibilities. Bearing that in mind remember also that one ‘night’ on Ibiza can easily be equivalent to several ‘normal’ nights out on the rest of the globe. There’s a reason why some of us walk around with four batteries for our phones! Anyway on to my highlights, I’ll start with Monday, the highlight of the week for most!

Actually just before we start this, it’s worth noting that the weekends are generally the quietest part of the week. The DJs typically have their weekly residencies during the week to keep their weekends wide open to take bookings at the hundreds of festivals (read big pay day) and events that happen all over Europe on the weekends. Worth bearing in mind if you’re coming for the weekend. I’ll touch a little more on this further down. Also, a little disclaimer: my routine is biased by my taste in music, if you’re coming to Ibiza for Guetta, Avicii or Paris then the next few paragraphs won’t make any sense to you. My suggestion would be to bookmark this page and reference to back it in a few years time. You’ll see…

MONDAY

Realistically this is the pinnacle of the week for most. Circo Loco have firmly stamped their authority on the island as being the no nonsense music destination for the week. Held at DC10 every Monday their opening and closing parties provide the definitive bookends for the season. Two huge rooms and a garden with a stacked line up every week located literally at the foot of the island’s only airport. There’s something really enjoyable in joining the group cheer to celebrate the arrival of new party people as each plane flies over at incredibly low altitude on approach for landing. My tip get there in time to catch the last set in the garden (8pm) and enjoy some of the daylight fun, and more importantly, the additional dancing space created by there being a third room open. If you’re in the know you’ll find yourself in the back area rubbing shoulders with every DJ, promoter, model and fashion designer on the island.

Circo Loco at DC10

www.facebook.com/circolocoibiza

Papa Sven (Vath)’s legendary party Cocoon at Amnesia is celebrating it’s 16th year on the island. Many attribute the current sound of the island to Sven and Cocoon and it’s easy to see why, with no less than four of the island’s biggest parties hosted by DJs that cut their island teeth within the Cocoon brand. This year’s line ups are great and if going home at 4am after Circo Loco ends doesn’t feel right, Cocoon can merrily carry you through until 9am with some serious Techno and fill that gap until an after party really gets going.

TUESDAY

Historically Tuesday has been my rest day. With the early start for Circo Loco which is invariably followed by Cocoon and/or an after party it’s easy to find yourself at 4pm on Tuesday having spent almost all of the last 24 hours in a party of some description. British Legend Carl Cox throws down at Space but I’ve never really found it to be a fit for my vibe and I usually take this as the one night to actually sleep.

New to this year is the Diynamic label showcase at Beachouse. Demonstrating the capabilities of the wide range of talent on this hugely successful label between 5pm and midnight it’s a great place to dance with your toes in the sand and enjoy one of the great outdoor parties the island has to offer the food is also great too. Black Cod and Fungi pizza to die for!

Beachouse
www.facebook.com/OfficialBEACHOUSEIbiza

 

WEDNESDAY

So now that you’re rested from that Tuesday sabbatical, Wednesday is one of those days on the island where you wished you could be in two places at the same time. At Amnesia the German promotion company Hyte are throwing down huge line ups for their freshman year captained by either; island legend Loco Dice or Maceo Plex. With Sexy dancers, thumping sounds and music playing all night until the sunlight starts to come through the windows! On the other hand Jamie Jones’ hugely successful paradise party might have you back at DC10 for a second time. With Sexy dancers, thumping sounds and music playing all night until the sunlight starts to come through the windows! Wait didn’t I already say that!? Like I said, two places at the same time. I know I’ll try to do both as many weeks as possible it’s just a personal choice for which line up you prefer on any given Wednesday.

Hyte at Amnesia

www.facebook.com/HYTE

THURSDAY

For six Thursdays during the peak of the summer, Solomun introduces his new party concept Solomun + LIVE at Destino a twist on his hugely successful Solomun +1 party at Pacha (see below) where instead of seeing Solomun champion the night with another DJ he’ll be choosing his favourite live act to play with. Definitely worth visiting another of Ibiza’s beautiful outdoor settings. Note Solomun alternates Thursdays with Luciano so check the schedule first.

Solomun + LIVE at Destino

 

Like all outdoor venues, the law forces them to stop the noise at midnight, a far cry from the nonstop party vibe I boasted about above right? Well fear not, there’s usually an after party for a smaller selected crowd at Destino’s own basement nightclub Tox (look out for people handing out wristbands) or you can hop over to Space to check out Ritchie Hawtin’s Techno party, ENTER.

Ritchie and his team have done a great job at transforming the super club into a huge show piece for the ENTER brand and it’s Ethos. With black dots all over the wall of the terrace, black dot temporary tattoos on everyone and even a Japanese styled Sake bar serving up an interesting selection of Sake cocktails. Nearly every week has a solid selection of the world’s finest techno talent with an interesting series of back to back sessions starting from 10pm.

FRIDAY

Once a barren day for the island’s party scene. Marco Carola and the Music On team have managed to blend the bottle service model with no compromise music. You’ll probably only see the Amnesia terrace this busy for the club’s opening and closing events but somehow Marco seems to do it every week. A table is advised as it gets really packed on the dance floor. Personally I don’t like to get there until 5am when the first round of drunks are starting to fade out and leave, when the light of the sun almost rising starts to filter into the club through its semi-transparent sections and the real music/party heads are getting their ”second wind”. Pro tip, 5am until close (normally 9am, sometimes later) is where the fun is at.

SATURDAY

So as stated above, Saturday is usually the quietest day on the island. None of the big dogs are around but that doesn’t mean there isn’t fun to be found. Quite often there’s a Music On after party but even better still are the villa parties. Ibiza is blessed with a select few individuals that take partying so seriously that they’ve installed clubs into their homes and are kind enough to open them up on a semi regular basis for some of the best parties the island has to offer. Now, bear in mind that these events are at a private residence. There are no tickets for sale for entry, drinks are free and quite often the hosts are kind enough to even have chefs prepare food and juices to keep the party going and going and going. For that reason you’ll need to be invited, you’ll need to know someone that knows someone that can invite you. This is definitely not a guide to crashing villa parties, besides, who wants to be at a party where they aren’t welcome. It’s the intimacy of the crowd that creates the magic. If you really want to go, just ask around. Almost like the Playa (at Burning Man), what you seek is often right in front of you on Ibiza.

SUNDAY

So usually the day for your 9-5 world recovery session, Sunday is one of the personal highlights of my week. Starting off with a second visit to Beachouse for Guy Gerber’s massively successful Rumors party before a pit stop at the brand new club offering from the minds behind Cirque Du Soleil for Acid Pauli’s first island residency and then getting stuck in at the legendary 40 year old venue Pacha! If you’re reading this from New York or some other part of the world where they have a terrible club with the world’s worst crowd, with a pair of cherries hanging over the door called Pacha please leave your preconceived notions about this club right there. It’s sad that my musical tastes only bring me to this venue once a week because it is definitely one of my favourite venues in the world. Friendly staff, well thought out crowd management systems and did I say friendly staff? Add to that a beautiful crowd and a great sound system and you have the makings of a fun night. That fact that Solomun is absolutely crushing Sunday nights here is the cherry on top (pardon the pun). Don’t miss this night! The Solomun +1 team have reconfigured the club so that the DJ is right in the crowd, there’s not a song that goes by without someone from the dance floor reaching up to the DJ for a high five or a fist bump or to show some digital words of appreciation from a cell phone and it really creates a happy connected vibe between the DJs and the audience. Add to that the fact that the booth strategically makes the entire VIP section an extension of the booth and you have a DJ backing onto throngs of women in cocktail dresses dancing to the beat of Solomun’s drum, fun. This is usually (nearly always!) followed by an after party so make sure you leave enough juice in the tank to get you through seven hours of Pacha AND the after hours.

Acid Sundays at HEART Ibiza

www.facebook.com/pages/Acid-Sundays/1462955300671138

Also noteworthy; Luciano brings back his Vagabundos party after a couple of rocky years. For the first time ever Luciano hosts his night in the awesome, smile inducing terrace at Space. The team have done a great job to make the room really feel like you’re in a circus with performers wading through the crowds and dancing on the speaker stacks. One to keep an eye on for sure.

And now we’re back at Monday. Quite often the Solomun after party will continue way past when the doors for Circo Loco open (and new to this year is a day party with line ups straight from Berlin starting every Monday morning at 8am!) Are you starting to see how the incessant 4/4 beat of the island can take over your time here on Ibiza? ;)

So, not wanting to give a lopsided perspective of what to do on the island here are just a few of my personal pointers for things to do when you’re not on a dance floor somewhere.

FOOD:

Ever wanted to eat authentic tapas at 3am before going into the club? The nocturnal/party lifestyle of the island means that dinner reservations are very rarely made before 11pm and preferably a lot later than that. Ibiza isn’t really a bar hopping type place. No one wants a big chunk of down time between dinner and when the club starts to get going. So why not just push your dinner reservation to 1am,  2am… 3am? Here you can. My personal favourite is La Bodega in the old town. A great selection of Tapas and drinks and one of those places where you can just tell the waiter how hungry you are and allow him to choose the best options on the menu for you. (Pro tip: sit in Tommy’s section outside)

For meat lovers definitely check out La Balafia in the north. Their Aioli is insanely strong on the garlic, I love garlic and it’s a sure fire way to get yourself some extra space on the dance floor with that breath of yours.

Amazing, intimate, date night type vibe in a beautiful hidden Spanish Finca at the Italian Cicale. Strongly recommend.

For a beach day with incredible food an island staple is El Chiringuito in Es Cavallet amazing dishes and a place to see the who’s who on the island. A more low key option is The Fish Shack. An incredibly understated shack on the northern part of Talamanca that doesn’t have a menu and only takes cash. Super fresh fish and right on the water front. I love placing my order and taking a quick dip until my food arrives on the table. There’s also an area behind the restaurant where you can go cliff jumping from heights of almost 40 feet. Rumour has it that if you catch a fish in the bay in front of the shack they can either cook it for you, or you get your meal for free! Maybe I just made that up… or did I?

Juan Y Andrea is the hotspot for those that choose to hop over to Formenterra for the day. Think piercing aqua blue waters and beautiful white beaches. Place your reservations well in advance and the restaurant will send out a small tender to collect you from your yacht. You have one of those right? This place is the epitome of a boozy lunch. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to walk or should I say swim out of there in a straight line! Definitely worth a visit if you have the time or access to a yacht for the day.

Juan Y Andrea, Formentera

www.facebook.com/Juan.y.Andrea.Restaurante

And last but by no means least is a great little spot called the Canadian Café in Jesus. Simple honest food, with great prices and great coffee too. If you’re ever driving through the area it’s worth stopping just for their juices and tuna panini.

TRANSPORT:

I strongly recommend grabbing a car and having a designated driver as a means to get around the island, or better yet, just hire a driver. Don’t even consider a two wheel death trap on this island! While it is very easy to get around between the main clubs by taxi, you definitely don’t want to be in one of those situations where it’s taking you two hours to find the after party while the meter is running. This happens all the time. Or perhaps worse; being stuck at an after party where the only people that know the actual address are either sleeping or incoherent. In a world of GPS and Google translate, this still happens on this island – ALL THE TIME.

In summary, there are many many things to entertain you on Ibiza. I wrote about the nightlife, mainly because that’s part of the name of this blog! I didn’t mention the incredible radio selection to keep your feet tapping and head bopping while you drive around the picturesque scenery. Sonica and OpenLab are my favourites. I didn’t even touch on some of the healthier activities to get stuck into on the island and the choices are almost endless nor did I start to delve into the incredible beaches that if you look hard enough can still be deserted in the height of the season. There are lots of books and blogs about this subject. There’s horse riding, motor cross and cliff jumping to boot. And on and on…

Basically the question is what does your Ibiza look like? It’s here, it’s waiting for you!

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