This is Space Ibiza: 25 Years of Perfection
First opened in 1989, the iconic Space Ibiza celebrates 25 years of existence this summer (hence this documentary), and it’s no exaggeration to say that Space has changed the concept of clubbing as we know it. Sundays, for example, helped give rise to the birth of the 24-hour party, while the club has also acted as a springboard for the careers of Carl Cox, Steve Lawler, Sasha and literally hundreds of others. Yet while it’s now very much a state-of-the-art, 6,000 capacity super-club, back in ‘89 it started out with far more humble intentions.
The brainchild of local music lover, businessman and sometime politician Pepe Roselló (a shrewd operator who speaks no less than six languages), Space was originally a conference hall and occasional discotheque, while its opening policy — decreed under Spanish licensing laws — meant that it must be closed for at least two hours a day.
Taking full advantage of laws that worked well in their favour, the savvy promoters chose to operate the club from 8am-6am and voila, Space’s influence soon spanned the globe, with visitors from as far afield as Japan and Australia making annual pilgrimages to Ibiza’s shores in search of this almost mystical club.
That said, the club’s success was no instant thing. Initially conceived as a 300-person capacity club, back in its early days Space actually struggled to attract the punters, with Roselló laughing as he speaks of nights with barely 50 people inside.
But as the island’s tourism increased due to the proliferation of cheap flights, so too did the numbers down at the picturesque Playa d’en Bossa nightspot, and slowly but surely the club was converted to meet demand.
“Space is so special because of the people. All we do is host the party, but they’re the ones who make it what it is.”
A quarter of a century on from their opening season, and it’s telling that Space is still as influential as it’s ever been, with DJ Mag readers voting it their No.1 club in this year’s Top 100 Clubs poll. And in an industry where evolution is key, that’s no mean feat.
But if ever there was a time to reminisce about times gone by, then a 25th birthday is surely it. Roselló’s favourite moment at Space, for instance, revolves around the time Erick Morillo played Frank Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York’ in the wake of 9/11 (“simply magical, and it really demonstrated the power of music”), while he also pays homage to long-term resident Carl Cox’s birthday sessions and the many Opening and Closing parties he’s been involved with. Manager Juan Arenas, meanwhile, fills us in on his early Space experiences, where, as a wide-eyed teenager from neighbouring Mallorca, he was utterly transfixed by what played out in front of his eyes.
It’s similarly hard to dwell on 25 years of Space without mentioning 1999, the year We Love… was born. As you might have noted by now, We Love… is Space’s flagship night and by some distance its most influential party.
It’s also no real coincidence that We Love… first came to prominence in 1999 — a year island veterans and clubbing aficionados still talk of as the best-ever season on the White Isle. While many still pine for the days when the club was still open-air (when aeroplanes would roar overhead, breaking the sound of the music as they touched down in Ibiza’s nearby airport), the club has been savvy enough to move with the times; always looking forward rather than backwards.
Anyway, when I woke up last Sunday and looked outside, it was raining and I was naturally disappointed, figuring the clubbers wouldn’t want to dance outside. But then at five minutes to 4pm, the sun came out and the clouds went away, which is one of those happy coincidences that only seem to happen on an island like Ibiza. It was like the gods were shining down on the party, like it was meant to be. At the Opening, I love just walking around with a beer in my hand and surveying how the people react to everything that’s going on in each room, which in the end, is what makes my job so worthwhile.”So what makes Space so special? Is it the music? The setting? The DJs? As it transpires, Darren, Pepe and Juan are all unanimous in their decision here — but it’s Pepe who pipes up first. “That’s easy,” he tells us. “Space is so special because of the people. All we do is host the party, but they’re the ones who make it what it is.” He’s not wrong, and after 25 years at the helm, he’s obviously pretty well qualified to talk about the subject. Thanks for the memories, Space. Here’s to another 25 years of music, hedonism, people and all round good times at the world’s greatest club.