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Conversation with the people behind Octan Ibiza

Playa d'en Bossa's new club.

After announcing the venue's change of name and first details for its 2019 season at the start of this month, we caught up with the two heads behind Octan Ibiza to find out a little more.

Meeting Phil Mandelbaum, Octan's owner, and Ryan O'Gorman, the club's artistic manager at Beachouse one late afternoon, we got all the news behind Octan Ibiza's plans for this summer and beyond.

First things first, how did you come up with the club's name?

Phil Mandelbaum: We wanted a name that was short - five letters - a unique name not used by any other club yet also something you can pronounce well in all languages.

So we did something that might sound pretty silly at first and took all words on Scrabble on the internet that had five letters. We first removed all the words that didn't sound great to us in either English, Spanish, French or German. That was the first shortlist.

From that list, we then removed all names that were already used in any bar or nightclub. One of the remaining words was "octan."

Octan is actually a fever that returns every eight days. As eight is the number of infinity if you put it horizontally, octan is a fever that comes back all your life - it's the Saturday night fever!

Do you have any history with the venue or did you simply got wind that the venue was on the market and went and bought it?

PM: There's a story behind all of this. I've been coming to Ibiza since I was 10 years old. I had family living here, so I came here on holiday every year.

At the same time, I got sucked into the dance music scene from a young age and started DJing when I was a teenager. Then when I turned 18 I started to promote my first parties in Switzerland where I grew up. Also, I've watched the Ibiza closely for a long time and seen it changing slowly.

What I'm seeing is that now, with Ibiza turning a little more VIP, it does not seem as easy for the big clubs to fill their venues all the time. So I thought that getting involved with what was Sankeys is a really good opportunity.

It's well-located and has various decent-sized dance floors which sum up to a good total capacity. At the same time, the dance floors are not huge, so it's not rocket science to fill them.

With a size like that, we can stay away from mainstream musical programming and really present what we like. This is not necessarily strictly underground, but we certainly wanna take an artistic approach to things.

Ryan O'Gorman: It was a big decision for us to start afresh and turn the club into Octan Ibiza. Obviously, Sankeys is a really well-known brand and has its fans, but we felt it was necessary to have a clean slate so we could take things in the direction we want.

Right, so how did you end up working for Octan?

ROG: I was introduced to Phil last year and started working with him towards the end of last summer where I programmed Saturday nights in the club. During those few weeks, I realised that there was a big potential in that club.

It's a venue where, thanks to the multitude of different rooms, you can offer variety and present something really diverse, it allowed us to work with lots of different independent collectives which created a sense of community at the club, something I haven't felt in clubs since the days of Space.

Okay so you are opening on 7 July - can you explain a little why Octan opens that late this year?

PM: Well, we did not just take over the club but rather actually bought the building. That process simply took time. But buying the building is also a statement. We really want to build something here and we have come to stay.

For this year, people will not see a huge difference in the venue. In a first step, we are simply fixing a lot of things, making sure it all works properly, but there isn't enough time to do everything we want to do to the club. So in a way, for us, this is actually year zero, not year one.

ROG: This is a long term project so we are going to take our time rather than to rush things. We have got a clear quality-over-quantity approach. We want to do things right and be able to take our time.

This summer is not about opening the club seven nights a week. We would much rather open it only once or twice a week but make sure people leave the club with a smile at the end of the night.

Warriors will run until mid-August...or at least that's what's announced so far. Is this possibly running later if things go well or what's the plan?

PM: Warriors (whose line ups have just been released now) will indeed only run until mid-August, but the club will stay open after that.

Now here's some actual news: Warriors won't be alone on the Sundays. From the end of July onwards, Apollonia will have their first own residency Planet Claire here on the island.

They are launching their own party Planet Claire. While Warriors finishes mid-August, Planet Claire will run until the end of September.

ROG: Even if they have never held their own parties here, Apollonia have played here for years. They have an affinity with Ibiza, I think the island sees them as some of their own and shares the sentiment too.

Understood, the main night for Octan this year will be Sundays. But will you just be open on one night per week then or is there more to come?

PM: We have various things in the works still and there will also be some one-offs. So yes, we will be open on more nights, mainly at the weekend. We will let you know when it's good to go.

Sundays are definitely going to be our flagship nights and as Ryan said earlier, we would much rather have one great party a week this year than four mediocre ones.

Tell us a bit about Octan's longterm plans. Let's look ahead at 2020 and further. Is Octan still gonna look as rough as Sankeys used to with toilets full of tags and graffiti?

ROG: Oh absolutely. We don't want to turn into a posh club. At the same time, we see Octan as a constantly evolving piece of art. We started with a blank canvas and as we add more artists that will develop into a tapestry of street art and illustration throughout the club.

PM: This coming winter, with more time, we wanna properly refurbish some parts of the club. At the same time though we have plans to keep Octan open in winter for the locals too, so we will certainly be busy.

ROG: Winter I think is where we really will be able to start growing a community here. Sankeys was a very British club. That's nothing bad, but with Octan, we want to retain that crowd and add the locals too.

Let's quickly speak about pricing too. We all know Ibiza isn't a cheap spot, but at the same time, I feel a lot of people are realising we all need to be careful when it comes to ticket and drink prices. Tickets for Warriors cost €30 which I think is fair. What's your approach on prices generally, also for drinks?

PM: We really want to make a point and be reasonable when it comes to prices, for both tickets as well as drinks. We aim to be affordable - not cheap, but affordable.

For us, it's really important that the customer leaving the club does not feel ripped off. We want people to have a good time in Octan and if they feel ripped off, clubbers just don't leave happy.

We have an advantage compared to the big clubs. The big venues need to book the biggest names to fill their dance floors. Those big DJs have crazy fees nowadays, so up to a certain extent, I understand why they charge high prices.

In our case, we will be able to work with smaller fees for DJs and can thus also offer drinks at much fairer prices. Come see for yourself once we're open!

Octan Ibiza opens on Sunday 7 July with Warriors. See below for line-ups and tickets.

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