I stepped out of the door of the plane and walked straight into a heavy wall of heat, instantly the strong stinging scent of salt from the salt flats and the thick heavy aroma of pines hit my nostrils and my stomach was filled with butterflies. It instantly felt like home.
This was September in 1990 and my first visit to the Island which would take a very special place in mine and my families heart.
Myself and two very close friends were regulars at Charlie Chester’s night, Flying at the Soho Theatre Club behind the Astoria, and Phil Perry’s Full Circle Parties at The Greyhound in Colnbrook in Slough. We were avid readers and attenders of the Boys Own fanzine and parties and had heard all the tales of the clubbing paradise that was the white island so we booked up and made the pilgrimage.
To walk into Space for the first time and onto that Terrace to hear extremely loud music at 8am in the morning was a bit of epiphany to say the least. We couldn’t believe that the club was open air, and this loud! We had found a perfect playground; hot sun, beautiful sea, sand and locals that had a totally carefree and completely tolerant attitude. For me that was it, I had found nirvana.
We visited the huge cavernous Ku, danced on the terrace at Amnesia and went to the water party at Es Paradis, but I think the crowning glory was after the madness, watching the sun go down at Cafe Del Mar, sitting on the beach with a few hundred like minds, smoking a spliff and enjoying a chocolate milk and brandy, all set to the most amazing sunset soundtrack I had every heard. The strangest mix of genres, although completely different all seemed to meld perfectly together, and in the beach setting of the Cafe Del Mar. This was and still remains to be one of the most special and tranquil times in my life, and holds the most fantastic dear memories for me.
The two weeks came to and end but of course that was just the beginning. We returned every year for our two week fix, and I have done ever since. Each time when I returned to the UK my search to hear the music that was played at Cafe Del Mar and my interest in the DJ’s that played it was piqued. It took four years but finally in 1994 Cafe Del Mar brought out an album, which I bought immediately and it still remains as one of my most played to this day. It was mixed by none other than José Padilla, the very DJ I had heard playing this emotionally charged music in the first place.
It was then that I heard that a local DJ from home had secured a residency at the Café; Phil Mison, an Essex lad that drunk at our local The Bridge House in Upminster Bridge. Phil had a chance meeting with Jose and was invited to play.
Since those early days I have been captivated by this musical style, I will always have a huge love for House and Techno but the same can be said for this very distinct sound.
With Ibiza’s meteoric rise in popularity in the years that followed, and the growth of the super clubs the sunsets at Cafe Del Mar are much changed, the last time I visited (which was a good few years back) instead of a few hundred on the beach now there are thousands. With the pre-party bar Mambo next door this guarantees a heaving throng of sweaty revellers, not very tranquil at all! There are however other alternatives now to be enjoyed, Sunset Ashram and Cap Dés Falcó being two amazing spots to enjoy a less hectic Ibizencan sunset.
In 2010 I returned but this time with my family. We had a completely different holiday and a saw a totally different side to the island. Every visit previous to this had been pure madness. We rented a small house in Cala Vadella an idyllic bay on the West coast of the island, around twenty minutes drive from the airport. We hired a car and driving to our new holiday home for the first time ever I realised that the entire island is covered in pine trees. I hang my head in shame!
The Greeks called the island “Pitiüses” or Land Of The Pines, now I could see why. Some family friends of ours live on the island all summer long and gave us some tips of places to visit. We drove up to Satalia, the highest point on the island. From here you can really see the full extent of the thick pine forest;
Our friends have a boat and took us to Cala Conta, where the amazing Sunset Ashram can be found. To discover this side of the island after all these years only proved to ingrain the power of Balearic music and made the link to the island within me ever stronger.
Thankfully these days we have many bastions of the Balearic sound probably more now than ever before;
Mison himself releases under the moniker Cantoma and with Pete Herbert Reverso 68. In 2013 Phil launched Highwood Recordings, a new imprint for this unique sound.
Claremont 56 is a standout label too, run by Paul Murphy features some of the most forward thinking music around, including the excellent Originals series, of which Mr Mison mixed the 6th version:
And of course there is the quintessential Balearic label International Feel, conceived in 2008 on the Uruguayan coast, Mark Barrott the label boss now lives on the island, his recent release Sketches From An Island in my opinion is a near on perfect audio embodiment of the island:
Also flying the flag for all things Balearic is the truly excellent Test Pressing, which has a vast amount of information plus tons of music, a must for the intrigued:
And in 2014 a regular Balearic Sunday night affair at The Horse & Groom in Curtain Road, Shoreditch; Música Noche, already in its fourth incarnation with such eminent guests as Phil Mison himself, Nancy Noise, Daniele Baldelli and Ruf Dug holding court, the next party is a Carnival warm up scheduled for the 1st of August with none other than Tom Middleton playing upstairs;