The easyJet plane streaks low over Playa d’en Bossa in Ibiza. Its lavish beachside nightclubs are tantalisingly close: Bosch-like figures lit up in purple and white writhe beneath us. For prudes, moralists and the sleep-deprived, it’s a nightmarish vision – Europe’s sybarites diving into the inferno, plane after plane.
But for how much longer? Ibiza, a clubbing mecca for decades, should have been ideally placed to capitalise on the global explosion prompted by the US embrace of EDM (electronic dance music). It should be the gravitational point for the culture, especially considering, as one hippy tells me with sombre awe: “It’s the third most magnetic place in the world.” And yet last year’s Ibiza season saw the island fumble the ball, programming too many trendy underground house and techno events that spread talent too thinly. Middle-league DJs attempted lavish events, like Guy Gerber’s Wisdom of the Glove, a night featuring shadow puppetry and a £150,000 metal glove hovering above the dancefloor; he’s now downgraded from superclub Pacha to a beachside bar for his new party Rumors.
Meanwhile, EDM festivals such as Electric Daisy Carnival in Milton Keynes are providing big-budget mainstream dance for a fraction of the price of an Ibiza trip, and the festivals that fringe the Croatian coast such as Hideout and Dimensions, cater to the underground with similarly good value and a Mediterranean setting just as gorgeous as Ibiza’s. Las Vegas is booking dance acts with gusto and hoovering up the VIP market, while squabbling between the underground and the mainstream has broken out (most vividly with underground DJ-producer Seth Troxler calling DJ Steve Aoki an “overpaid, untalented, cake-throwing, performing monkey”). Ibiza’s DJs and nightclub owners are now scrambling to safeguard the island’s future.