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The rich history of the music capital of the world

Ibiza has been the party capital of the world for decades and the most sought-after destination for party enthusiasts to indulge in hedonism on the island.

The distinctive Balearic Beat has evolved along with high-profile clubs gaining significant popularity to become the most iconic venues across the globe. The island has long been synonymous with vibrant nightlife, exotic beaches and electrifying music, which has cemented Ibiza’s place as the mecca for clubbing and the go-to destination for party seekers around the world. It has not only become the biggest pull for clubbers but also the pinnacle of DJs’ careers where a coveted residency in Ibiza is highly sought after.

Ibiza has always been the haven for dance music, and the small Balearic Island has become the centre of the world for EDM music. The identity of Ibiza that is globally recognised today began to be carved in the 1970s, which saw the explosion of tourism. This was mainly due to the doors swinging open for iconic clubs Amnesia, Pacha and Ku Club. Here the world of disco was born and visitors have exponentially grown to a point where it’s estimated over 5 million music enthusiasts from around the world have descended onto the island every year.

Upon reflection on the hazy accounts and legendary folk laws of the island, all of their history always seems to circle straight back to Pikes, the hotel which was the firm favourite of celebs and influences. Tony Pikes’ hotel was forever immortalised in 1983 after being the place where Wham!’s Club Tropicana music video was filmed. Ever since that fateful day, Pikes became the hedonistic hideaway for seasoned regulars such as Kylie Minogue, Boy George, and Naomi Campbell, another regular visitor was Queen's frontman Freddie Mercury, whose 41st birthday is etched in Ibiza mythology and was the party to end all parties. The story circling is that dwarves were walking around with trays of cocaine, and 350 bottles of champagne were dished out... But like the entirety of the 80s in Ibiza, the details are incredibly fuzzy.

Once the 80s commenced, rave music was like wildfire on the island and acid house exploded on the island. The distinctive sound was nurtured and developed by the father of the Balearic Beat, Alfredo Fiorito, better known on the island as DJ Alfredo, whose residency at superclub Amnesia in 1983 would begin to introduce the world to the future sound of the island, just nobody knew it yet. After spinning house, pop and disco tracks which weren’t well received, the pioneering work DJ Alfredo did has so much cultural significance for birthing the signature sound on the island.

Another prolific bearer of the Baleric flame was Trevor Fung - whose residency at Amnesia would see him bring his blend of danceable indie music, rare groove, and early House music to inspire the masses. It was from here on that the Balearic Beat was born. An amalgamation of House, Electronica, and Post-Disco to give a softer style to house music took control in Ibiza.

Once the Summer of Love hit in 1987 (quite possibly the event that can be pinpointed as the catalyst of Ibiza's mainstream growth) it completely transformed how the world would view Ibiza and the output of international clubs. Once legendary British DJs Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling, Johnny Walker and Nicky Holloway stepped foot on the island, it would entirely transform the outlook on the tracks spun in clubs. The DJs became infected by the hedonism of Ibiza and the tunes on display completely inspired the aspiring DJs to take the sound back home to Britain to start the biggest youth culture explosion in Britain.

That was, of course, the Acid House movement, which was fuelled by beautiful music and amplified through ecstasy. This made the beat hit harder and the white boy danced. The revolution rapidly spread across clubs across the UK, where Graeme Park at the Garage Club in Nottingham and Mike Pickering at the Hacienda controlled the scene and etched both clubs to legendary status.

Back on the White Island, it was at this point that infamous Ibiza clubs started to gain a reputation as the party haven. Amnesia continued to dominate and became one of the most influential clubs on the island, and was the place to be for the new wave of music. This consistently attracted massive numbers of music revellers all eager to experience the all-nighter antics, which the club was famed for. Alongside their open-roofed dancefloor that would light up with the sunrise creating unforgettable Ibiza moments from dawn to dusk.

Pacha’s iconic and distinctive cherry symbols are still to this day a beacon for the most sought-after destination. It was the first club to open and would later become one of the most prestigious clubs for partygoers. This was the hub for free spirits and hedonists and was the trailblazer for the way the clubs across the island would operate.

Ku Club - which is now more widely known as Privilege - earned the reputation initially as Europe's premier polysexual but predominately gay nightspot and was compared to an open-air version of the famous Studio 54 in New York. Their incredible open-air parties allowed guests to dine out, swim in a pool and dance the night away to live performances by Duran Duran, James Brown and Spandau Ballet. Or in short - everything you could ever want from a club without ever having to leave. It was the open-air clubs which enticed audiences the most to revel under the starlights and witness the early sunrise as the party carried on well into the early hours.

However, the flame of this golden age was quickly extinguished once new noise regulations were implemented, forcing dancefloors to be covered, and marking the end of some open-air parties in the 90s. This wasn’t the only change happening to completely alter the landscape of clubbing. 24-hour parties were also abruptly stopped to restrict the noise, which saw clubs having to shut for two hours a day putting endless parties a thing of the past.

Whilst clubs adapted to the new rules, a relatively new club at the time, Space, excelled with the regulations. They utilised the two-hour closure of venues around them to ensure they remained open to continue the 24-hour party on the Balearic Island. This ingenious savvy business move soared in popularity as they enticed the hardcore ravers and would cement their position as a legendary EDM temple. Their trademark was the roaring sound of planes flying over clubbers' heads and breaking through the booming dance music. It was the place of brilliantly mixed electronic tunes, where legendary DJ Carl Cox and his three-deck wizardry can be held responsible for this. He later solidified himself as one of the most popular disk jockeys on the island throughout his illustrious 15-year residency at Space.

The party momentum didn’t end with the introduction of the new laws, as the 90s was the pinnacle of hedonism and the meteoric rise of electronic dance music which dominated the White Island and the clubs. Pacha affirmed their significance after expanding their capacity to 3000 to make them a superclub. Whilst Pete Tong began to DJ for the BBC from Ibiza which created electricity around the extravagance of the island, with a buzz circulating in the UK as the Balearic Beat was now made accessible to those off the island. Tong is one of the most influential and recognizable figures in dance music history due to his lengthy tenure as a host on BBC Radio 1.

Come the turn of the century, where daytime parties are born, and the beach club scene is now open for business. Enter the celebrity DJ and the emergence of the VIP in the electronic scene. New clubs were beginning to rival already well-established ones with the change in consumer tastes. Ushuaïa Ibiza is now the most desired venue, which has been recognised as the best open-air club in the world. The first entirely open-air venue, Ushuaïa Ibiza changed the clubbing landscape on the island. With a focus on daytime parties starting in the afternoon, their beach parties are something out of music lovers' dreams all whilst drawing some of the most well-renowned DJs to ensure they keep their crown as a dance music utopia.

Ibiza Rocks are home to the most extravagant pool parties, which have had to adapt to sudden licensing change from hosting live music, which saw the likes of Kasabain, Kaiser Chiefs and The Prodigy grace their stage. Now welcoming some major headlining artists, they’re still the champion of the pool party and have completely transformed the way to indulge in the music. Owned by entrepreneur Andy McKay, who additionally owns Pikes Hotel has injected it with a breath of fresh air to restore the greatness the hotel once had. We did say the history kept coming back to Pikes! The spirit of Ibiza oozes from the venue, which continues to put on intimate parties which resonate with the carefree mantra of Ibiza in the 80s.

The history of Ibiza's music is a testament to the island's cultural significance and its ability to adapt and excel in new sounds and beats which swept and infected tourists. The nightlife shaped some of the most influential cultural movements across the world.