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Cocoon20 kicked off at Ushuaïa

...with a rave-like atmosphere.

Upon the announcement that Cocoon would be opening 2019's landmark campaign at Ushuaïa, there were a handful of outspoken voices. Haven't we learned by now to never doubt Cocoon's judgment? Would this be different to the dynamic typically seen at the promoter's parties? Yes.

The vast stage and grand scale, coupled with a gorgeous outdoor location made for an intriguing prospect. We recall the venue's opening from 2013, when Sven Väth last played here. Anything close to that would be a dream.

Then we have the timing. With the island still full of industry professionals and a demographic that leans towards more cultivated tastes, it made sense for a Cocoon concert to immediately follow IMS.

UK heritage act Underworld - also Cocoon's guests of honour back at its 10th anniversary - captured the imagination further.

Leaving any preconceptions at the door, by the time the day arrived, intrigue had clearly won everybody over. The mystical allure of Cocoon holds up still strong in 2019.

The Cocoon family

Looking around us, we found the average age of attendees was a little older than the crowd often found at Ushuaïa. Cocoon's longstanding association with the island has recruited many loyal acolytes down the decades.

Occasionally, flashes of white hair could be spotted in the crowd. For all the signs of a more mature dance floor, here was a buoyant fanbase. Everybody exhibited a desire to indulge in the celebrations, after three days of seriousness.

Keeping things shaped in an authentic Cocoon mould, family members Dana Ruh and André Galluzzi were charged with opening the day. Afterwards, fellow German Matthias Tanzmann made his Cocoon Ibiza debut, showing the party was still keen to try new ideas after 20 years.

Unsurprising, it was left to Cocoon lieutenant Ilario Alicante to switch the pace and usher everybody into party mode. All too often we have seen Alicante as the architect of such a segue, an adept ability he possesses as a true party-starter.

20 years of Sven Väth

Compared to the outlook seen the day before, the sun emerged in glorious fashion later in the evening. Right in time for Papa Sven. In fitting with the sunny conditions, our lead protagonist began on a tribal percussive trip.

Yet within a few tracks, Papa edged into a tougher direction. The techno that fans were braying for was building. You could tell from the entourage that had gathered on stage behind Sven, that Cocoon's 20th season has brought many old friends back together.

Lining up three big acid numbers in a row, Sven manoeuvred into a full-blown techno trajectory.

Behind Sven, reels of binary code lit up on the screen. We joked that deciphering them would reveal the location of the speculated after party. Then again, maybe it would? We would not put such a cryptic tease past Cocoon.

Used as the soundtrack behind one of Cocoon20's earlier promo videos, the familiar pads of Johannes Volk's Nevergreen provided another eruption in the middle of the floor. A row of CO2 canons streamed upwards sending the dance floor into spasm around the same time.

Rave icons

Signalling off - for the time being - Sven waved goodbye as the stage was reconfigured. The intermission left a brief pause for reflection. It was poetic that Underworld would be back in 2019. How many of those present at the 10th anniversary were in attendance again tonight?

Hearing stone cold Cocoon classic Dark and Long performed live was a goosebump moment to be remembered. Other big tunes would follow, with Border Country and Two Months Off being particular highlights.

A matrix of lasers twisted across Ushuaïa, with stray beams darting into the off-shore darkness. The atmosphere, production and music combined to create a very special vibe. You could almost be forgiven for mistaking you were at Worthy Farm, Glastonbury. The rave is alive.

Karl Hyde: “There's a very cool vibe in the club tonight. Do you wanna dance with me? I suspected as much.”

Inevitably, Underworld would choose to close on easily their most famous track. Although we all knew it was coming, it didn't take any of the shine off. The dance floor united in a wave of feel-good nostalgia. Born Slippy still bangs.

Dispersing into the night, the unchallenged consensus was that Cocoon has made an instant mark in this milestone year - and this was only the beginning.

The party makes an emotional homecoming to Amnesia this Monday 27 May with a daytime jaunt at Benimussa Park on Tuesday afternoon.

Further ahead still, we are also looking towards that second giant Cocoon20 date at Ushuaïa. The Ibiza debut of krautrock icons Kraftwerk is no small matter. Last night's scenes serve to feed the appetite further. Cocoon's crowd, as ever, thirsty for more - unquenched after 20 years.

Underworld Live proved the armchair critic minority wrong, but Kraftwerk could potentially raise the levels higher still. Want to experience the immersive 3D show? Those all-important tickets can be found below.

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