Each summer, Ibiza expert Johnny Lee surveys the White Isle, writing about its parties and key players. This season, he found himself on an unusual mission: reviewing Paris Hilton’s new residency at Amnesia. So, is this really the signal of the end times? Or are the angry hordes getting overheated? Let’s wade into the foam to find out.
Over the course of the last few weeks, Paris Hilton’s arrival in Ibiza has made thousands of religious dance freaks extremely nervous. Hotel heiress Hilton, currently in town to promote her new Foam & Diamonds residency at Amnesia, is, they say, about to hammer the final nail into dance music’s proverbial coffin. According to the current slack-jawed gospel, the burial will take place in late October, somewhere in Chicago, or maybe even Detroit.
The fact that Hilton’s arrival on the island was met with such disdain in certain quarters didn’t bother the 5,000-strong crowd, made up of mostly British, Spanish and Italian clubbers, who gathered at Amnesia on Wednesday July 31st to examine the crime scene for themselves.
Hilton appeared outside the venue at 3am, posing for a long burst of paparazzi photos in front of Amnesia’s boutique store, which was laden with handbags and perfume and other sacred items from the Paris range. After a number of serious pouts and a short interview with an Australian journalist who promptly fell to pieces in her wake, Hilton was quickly escorted inside to prepare for two-hour set in the main-room. (Yes, two hours.)
At 3:30am, Hilton appeared inside the DJ booth and began waving to the crowd. “Amnesia is my favourite party in the world,” she screamed down the mic. “The foam party! So let’s do this shit!”
Avicii and Nicky Romero’s “I Could Be The One” boomed over the system, followed later by Hardwell’s “Three Triangles”, as Hilton toyed with her synced Apple Mac and made occasional, token grabs for her white Sony headphones. Thousands of wide eyes gazed up at their pretty idol, in much the same way as the neon guys and gals at DC10 were keeping one eye focused on Hot Creations label boss Jamie Jones, who was unleashing a much deeper mantra across town at Paradise at exactly the same time.
“I can’t believe it’s really her,” an English girl grinned, awestruck by her first clubbing experience, as a barrage of ice cannons exploded overhead and a wave of seek-and-destroy lasers swept the venue. “It’s like seeing a god!”
These days, there are plenty of gods to choose from in Ibiza, but Paris Hilton remains one of the most controversial. She is loved and loathed in equal amounts; adored for being pretty and powerful, and hated because she is über-rich – richer than everyone – and can slide into just about any role that takes her fancy. Indeed, there’s no room for conscientious objection here in Ibiza when it comes to the subject of Paris Hilton’s fledgling DJ career. You have to take sides. She’s either “fun and lovely”, “a sad reflection on what the modern dance music scene has become” or, if you’re the type to leave comments on Amnesia’s Facebook page, “the end of Ibiza”.
In truth, the current status quo is a working compromise. Techno isn’t dead, and Paris Hilton isn’t the Antichrist. The main challenge for clubs in Ibiza this summer has been to strike a workable balance between commercial and underground sounds. The aim: to create a hedonistic playground fit for ravers of every persuasion – for the super rich, for the Russian oil merchants, for the American and Australian EDM kids, for the professional clubber, for the British reality-show-wannabes, and even for members of the Hollywood jet-set, and all without losing underground credibility or mainstream custom.
At the start of the season, for instance, Pacha realigned its weekly events roster to include three brand-new underground gigs hosted by Solomun, John Digweed and Guy Gerber, which would run alongside a stream of more mainstream nights hosted by David Guetta, Bob Sinclar and Dirty Dutch hero Chuckie. Over in Playa d’en Bossa, Ushuaïa employed Loco Dice and Luciano to drop a tougher sound, with Guetta and Avicii supplying the fanfare.
Amnesia, too, balance their weekly line-ups in much the same manner, with Sven Vath’s Cocoon party on Mondays, and Marco Carola’s Music-On party on Fridays designed especially for the international techno purist, with Cream on Thursdays intended to appeal to the thousands of British holidaymakers who visit Ibiza every summer and just want to dance.
Whether you’re running a nightclub, a theatre, or a movie house, this kind of diverse programming is extremely important, especially when you’re staging up to seven events every week in an area of the world that is currently locked down in a state of economic recession.
As such, the diversity continues on Wednesday nights, when Amnesia’s legendary Terrace Room plays host to La Troya. La Troya isn’t an exclusively gay party, but it is renowned for being wild and flamboyant and for evoking memories of what has come to be known as ‘The Classic Ibiza Vibe’. Every week, the La Troya promoters roll out a different party theme on the Terrace, while the Main Room is reserved for a foam party which is always one of the most commercial gigs in San Rafael, with or without Paris Hilton.
On Wednesday July 31st, for instance, while Hilton was debuting her Foam & Diamonds party in the Main Room, the La Troya theme on the neighbouring Terrace was ‘Escape From Alcatraz’. Particularly noticeable was the mock jail room that had been erected in the middle of the dancefloor, inside which transvestite performers, costumed as kinky prison wardens, were busy ‘processing’ disobedient clubbers with rubber truncheons, and all to a throbbing backdrop of tribal house.
It was a crazed scene, and while some of the girls and boys who had bought tickets to see Hilton in the Main Room may have found the erotic vista a little naughty, no doubt a few of the clubbing newbies roaming the venue would have got a kick out of the weirdness and decided, there and then, to make a subsequent appointment with the electronic music scene.
Of course, whether or not Paris Hilton’s controversial DJ stint in Ibiza will kick-start a thousand clubbing careers is definitely a subject for debate, but it’s certainly more feasible than her month-long, single room residency burying the entirety of the juggernaut-sized Ibiza dance scene in a star-shaped coffin.
In fact, it’s interesting to note that there are actually more credible underground house and techno nights being staged on the island this summer than ever before. Indeed, you can head out every night of the week here in Ibiza and not come across a single commercial beat, if that’s your inclination. Even Ibiza’s newest and most luxurious dance venue, Pacha’s Destino Resort located on the Cap Martinet hillside in Talamanca, is championing underground newcomers like Droog, Kim Ann Foxman and Climbers.
Thankfully, there’s something for everyone here in Ibiza. In fact, think of the White Isle as being a five-month-long dance music festival with multiple circus tents, some of which are giddier than others.
Next week, as if to hammer home the point, legendary Italian porn stars Rocco Siffredi and Nacho Vidal will host a ‘special’ dance music event at Privilege, the world’s biggest nightclub. You should expect Siffredi and Vidal’s show to be hard and fast and lashed with lube. It will be far ruder than Hilton’s shindig at Amnesia, or Jamie Jones’s Paradise gig at DC10, and it terms of overt eroticism it will make La Troya look like a school disco. Like most of the events on the island it will be unique. If you’re up for the romp, head along; if not, don’t worry. For now, at least, it’s just another option.