'Everything we do is connected': 50 years of Pacha in the Ibiza club scene (2023)

TThe year was 2010, the last vestige of the days when, when the club's tempo dropped, thousands of hands in the air cut laser lights at the same time instead of holding little glow sticks to record it.

Sweden's domestic mafia, the superstar DJ trio of Steve Angello, Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso, took the world by storm with their euphoric Eurodance hits, and those who heard about their residency at Pacha, the superclub in Ibiza's Mediterranean Old Town, knew they were in the thick of it. the best party on the island.

But they were not prepared for what happened next. Pacha's twin cherry logos flashed red and suddenly none other than Kylie Minogue appeared on the platform in front of the crowd, performing an impromptu rendition of the songI can't get you out of my head, whose irresistible beats now come from Swedish House Mafia.

"It was an explosion. No one knew what was going to happen," says Francisco Ferrer, a local who started working for Pacha selling tickets in 1985 and later became a global brand ambassador. "You could feel the happiness of people in the living room. – It's a great memory. She designed the performance with Kylie, who enjoyed the club so much that she often went out incognito to dance with her friends in the crowd.

'Everything we do is connected': 50 years of Pacha in the Ibiza club scene (1)

Ferrer and I talk in the eerily empty Pacha while the technicians mess around in the DJ booth. In just a few hours, the doors will open to thousands of clubbers for the club's opening party, which will mark the unofficial start of the season. Opening weekend is always a great weekend here, but as it's Pacha's 50th anniversary, tonight will be extra special. The anniversary not only marks five decades of the oldest club on the island, but also of partying in Ibiza itself.

When Ferrer was born in 1964, just a few hundred meters from Pacha, Ibiza was a remote island unknown to many in the rest of Europe. But the seeds of its identity as a hedonistic, free and inclusive paradise had already begun to germinate. Word spread about the mythical white island of untamed natural beauty that had become Spain's unofficial refuge for General Franco's fascist government.

Ibiza soon attracted the first hippies and beatniks from the US who were fleeing conscription before the Vietnam War, and instead formed free love communes and organized raves in the center and north of the island. In the city of Eivissa, in front of Pacha marina, Calle de la Virgen was a sacred LGBTQ+ sanctuary.

A young entrepreneur named Ricardo Urgell, who had already founded the first Pacha nightclub in Sitges, Catalonia, visited Ibiza in the early 1970s and was determined to open the first official nightclub there. Ignoring financial advisors who complained that a handful of hippies was too small a group to worry about, Urgell turned an old whitewashed farmhouse into a party palace and in 1973 Pacha Ibiza was born.

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Flower Power, the club's first theme night, continues today with music from the 1960s and 70s. Dazzling with daisies and peace signs, the farmhouse once played the famous Imagine as the raised bed made its way through the crowd, in which several joints - John Lennon and Yoko Ono impersonators languished.

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At another Flower Power night, Ferrer recalls finding the real Mick Jagger in an empty room. Old Snake Hips was alone, swaying, in the middle of the dance floor, engrossed in the music. "Would you like to have a drink?" Ferrer asked hesitantly. "No," Jagger replied. “I'm here to listen to this music. I'm alone here; no one can bother me and I can dance and be myself.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Ibiza was an island of personality, and Pacha, as the boldest and flashiest club, was "the place to be and be seen". Every celebrity worth their salt has partied there. Grace Jones always cut forms, while many designers (Armani, Dolce and Gabbana, Jean Paul Gaultier) and their entourage filled the VIP booth with gold jewelry and proud smiles.

The concept of "superstar DJ" did not exist yet, so the audience and the club itself were a show. Palms. Firework chandeliers. Confetti explosions. Smoke cannon. Strobe lights. Fire eaters. And besides ravers, there were also go-go dancers: beautiful women and men who completed the auditory feast.

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"It was freedom," Ferrer recalled. “You meet a lot of people because maybe you're dancing and you meet people next to you and then you start talking to them, you know? There was no phone, no Instagram. it was natural. Now society functions very well".

By the late 1980s, house music was making its way from the turntables of Frankie Knuckles and Marshall Jefferson to warehouse raves in Chicago. These catchy 120bpm sounds soon descended on the shores of the White Isle, where the hedonism of Pach, Amnesia and Ku Club (the biggest club in the world, later renamed Privilege) peaked enough to kill four Brits. import elements. from the UK scene.

In 1987, Paul Oakenfold, Johnny Walker, Nicky Holloway and Danny Rampling were enthralled by Balearic rhythms, days that lasted and their first experiences of ecstasy. As soon as they returned to London, they started their own nightclubs, Spectrum, Shoom and The Trip, and what happened next wascommon use of British home history: illegal rave, ecstasy, smiley face, gossip hysteria and the 'second summer of love' in 1988.

The next chapter is considered by many Britons (but perhaps less so by Spaniards) to be Ibiza's 'golden age', despite the unhealthy package holidays for 18-30 year olds, the San Antonio turbochargers and the televised 'British behaviour' abroad. The Ibiza series revealed.

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'Everything we do is connected': 50 years of Pacha in the Ibiza club scene (4)

Nineties songs are timeless: Café Del Mar by Energy 52; Music sounds better with you from Stardust; 21:00 (until I arrive) by ATB; Children of Robert Miles; You Don't Know Me by Armand Van Helden, and; Needin' U by Pacha's resident DJ, David Morales. By then, the tremors of the 'Beef Boom' had reverberated around the world.

But Pacha reached its commercial peak in 2000. It was one of the first major clubs to sign David Guetta, who, despite now having 10 million albums sold, got his first sets from the money Ferrer and his team made from sales. branded jerseys that day. In the first year of the new millennium, Paul Oakenfold was the resident DJ, spinning huge stages until 9am. And the British invasion was boosted by Darren Emerson's underwater nights and sets by Paul Woolford and X Press 2 and Groove Armada.

For Simon Dunmore, founder and former CEO of Defected Records, the label that hosted the Pacha summer residency for eight years between 2005 and 2012, the 2000s were "the rise of superclubs".

"It was the early days of the Internet and its reputation grew at that time because people were much more connected," he says.

'Everything we do is connected': 50 years of Pacha in the Ibiza club scene (5)

Dunmore's most memorable Pacha moment was in 2001 when he ran away from Roger Sanchez Second chance,which reached number 1 on the UK Singles Chart. Dunmore describes a chilling moment in a club when Sanchez “slammed on the beginning of the chords and played them for a few minutes.

"When the record finally came out, the club exploded," he recalled. "The main presenter of Radio 1 was there and we finally hugged," he says, adding: "It's crazy, isn't it, how music brings people together?"

Over the next decade, once underground electronic music went mainstream, cementing Ibiza's reputation as a rite of passage for any dance music lover. But with the commercialization of dance, some aspects of the island have fallen victim to unbridled capitalism, notably the outrageous drink prices, explosive VIP culture and crowded dance floors.

Balancing Ibiza's outlaw heritage with modern glitz is a constant problem. Clearly, there are more private jets and yachts than there used to be, but Sanjay Nandi, CEO of the Pacha Group, believes the island still attracts people of all demographics. "It's not possible to completely fill superclubs with high-net-worth individuals," he says.

Last month, during the celebration of the 50th season opener, the Pacha team and the forerunners of those cheeky red cherries looked forward to many more decades of decline. Multi-platinum British DJ duo CamelPhat join the 2023 residency line-up with a colorful musical line-up that includes Bedouin desert sounds, Marco Carol techno and, of course, 60s beats and 70s Flower Power night.

But as Pacha diversifies, Jessica Capaz McCarthy, artistic director of the Pacha Group, maintains that the spirit of the club will remain the same. "I feel like when you go to a nightclub it's all about a sense of belonging, and everything we do is connection," she says. "It's what makes people feel like they've had the best night of their lives."

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