The Ushuaïa Tower is Ibiza’s newest club. We joined Defected by the pool to check it out
Words: Duncan Dick
Photos: Marc de Groot
Next door to Ushuaïa ‘proper’, Ushuaïa Tower is essentially the central courtyard of yet another gleaming white hotel. Smaller, more manageable and without the seven circles of VIP of its big brother, much of it is taken up by a pool, and the far end (behind the stage) looks out over Playa d’En Bossa beach. Like Ushuaïa, the gardens are sculpted and the whole place accessorised with glossy, Lovecraftian statuary and sculpture; red anthropomorphised cats hold the ashtrays, eerie bare trees lurk in the corners, and gargantuan, Little Shop Of Horrors-style vegetation creeps up the side of the Tower. Phalanxes of beautiful models in red and white Ushuaïa swimsuits stroll around looking as leggy and graceful as flamingos, or stretch out on pads by the pool, seemingly as unapproachable (and decorative) as the Buddhas that guard the perfectly manicured lawns outside. Throughout the day, acrobats and performance artists appear at random in corners of the venue, spinning on ropes and trapezes. This being Ibiza 2013, there is of course a VIP element to all this – above the poolside bar is a kind of viewing platform/display case (while there are roped-off seating areas there’s also a Jacuzzi with glass walls facing onto the courtyard – the very definition of a place to ‘see and be seen’). Thankfully the VIP stuff isn’t intrusive – down in the courtyard you can go wherever you like without invading someone’s roped off champagne sofa. And if VIP money means that most of the parties are free entry for everyone else, as Defected’s DFTD party is today, so much the better.
Most people are drawn to the main dancefloor at the far end – pool on one side, DJ booth above and to the left and sandy beach and blue sea ahead. The problem, of course, with a brand new, shiny venue, especially in the open air, is that it can come across as a little soulless. Fortunately, that’s where Defected comes in. Monday’s flagship DFTD parties at the Tower are home to the long-established house label, and they’re a perfect fit – and not only because their vocal house vibes are ideal for an al fresco arena. If Ushuaïa Tower is just beginning, this year is part of the rebirth of the label. After a few years of association with acts like Bob Sinclar and the more commercial end of the house scene, the label is back on top with a string of more underground hits to match a new image and approach. “We were probably signing records with an eye on them being commercial,” admits Simon Dunmore. “The whole EDM thing got everyone mixed up – we got sucked into that a wee bit. We weren’t where we wanted to be. But the underground quickly redefined itself.” The label went back to its roots to kick-start things with the Kenny Larkin mix of Inner City’s ‘Future’, then followed up with a string of releases that were not only more underground than they had been for years but also extremely successful, including Flashmob’s ‘Need In Me’ and Solomun’s mix of Noir & Haze’s ‘Around’ a move that has culminated with Loco Dice being lined up to mix their forthcoming ‘In The House’ compilation. “We had a real purple patch,” says Simon. “The fact that people found it acceptable again to put vocals and soul into their records meant we kind of met in the middle.”
Like many long running Ibiza promotions, Defected found itself having to look for a new home after the seismic changes at Pacha this season. “Looking back, we’d done eight years at Pacha and it’s easy to get comfortable – moving on allowed us to reinvent ourselves with a new generation,” says Simon. As well as Monday’s parties at Ushuaïa, they have a regular slot booked at the Island’s other new venue, Bomba (when it finally opens); in the meantime a raucous, word-of-mouth free party in the back room of San An’s Savannah and a forthcoming double-header at Sankeys are keeping them ticking over.
And that new generation, an enthusiastic crowd with the kind of wildly differing dress code that you find at daytime events on Ibiza – from girls in mini dresses and heels to guys in baggy vests and shorts – is embracing the Ushuaïa Tower party. The day begins with Sam Divine loosening the crowd up before New Orleans’ Yoruba warrior Osunlade unleashes a pitch-perfect summer set that takes in Crystal Waters, Lana Del Rey and of course his trademark ‘Envision’. KiNK keeps the vibe going before Noir, the Danish DJ/producer who perhaps personifies the new Defected sound steps up as the sun sets. Perhaps counterintuitively for an outdoor pool party, it’s at dusk that the place really comes alive, the acrobats replaced by a stunning light show that echoes off the side of the buildings, somehow making this corner of the broad Playa d’En Bossa beach more intimate and more focused than at any time during the day. “There’s a new Ibiza happening,” concludes Simon Dunmore. “It used to be about the four or five superclubs; now there are a lot more options.”
Add Ushuaïa Tower to your Ibiza hitlist.