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Review: I Am Hardwell opening party at Ushuaïa, 2014

"Are you ready to party Ibiza?"

Strolling to the bus there was no denying my excitement for experiencing Ushuaïa for the first time. The reputation of clubbing here is different from anywhere else on the island- it's modern, bright and is known for its over the top day parties. Taking the bus from San Antonio- FYI the disco bus does not run at this time, you have to pop off in Ibiza town and change to the 14 - I noticed a festival glam type of crowd begin to hover around the stop. Glitter and flowers decorated girls' hair and the buzz coming from them was quite apparent: “We are about to see the number one DJ in the world in the number one party island in the world!!”

Walking into Ushuaïa all preconceived ideas I had about the place were immediately shattered. The outdoor venue is shaped as a suburban cul-de-sac, the hotel surrounds the main stage as a straight and narrow VIP section faces it. Ushuaïa should be classified as a festival in its own right: the main stage (resembling the Ultra music festival or Tomorrowland) is covered in LED screens and surrounded by lights giving it a production level I would definitely pay that equivalent to a weekend pass. The crowd here fit the EDM bill to a T: girls in high-waisted shorts sat on top of ‘bros' in neon tanks covered in the word ‘Ibiza' and of course the Ushuaïa hummingbird logo could be found on almost everyone. The hotel enclosing the crowd was like a ring of exclusivity around the crazy scene at the stage. Bamboo shoots walled off private yards, balconies ranging in height gave perfect views of the main stage and champagne bottles were everywhere.

As the sun began to set Hardwell took the stage creating a magnificent sight. The stage was lit up with fire and lights, which reflected perfectly across the still pools as beachy filled tracks like I Got You by Duke Dumont were remixed. Grabbing the mic he asked fans, “Are you ready to party?!?” while his bass filled remix of Coldplay's A Sky Full Of Stars played in the background getting the crowd hyped. EDM fans were hanging out for the number one bangers they know and love and Hardwell appeased them playing Found You featuring Matthew Koman and This Is What Feels Like (W&W Remix) by Armin Van Buuren which sent the crowd into the splash pool and singing along to every lyric. Exploring a bit, the new VIP section was definitely the most glamorous I've seen so far on the white isle - a two story structure that sits far behind the crowd, gives these exclusive VIPers only the best views of the main stage in addition to an immense amount of space to stretch their arms and dance.

In hopes of remaining the no.1 DJ in the world, Hardwell realises his set can't have stagnant moments. An unexpected twist was his remix of Ping Pong by Armin Van Buuren which included accelerating pops of a synthetic ping pong ball blended with softer vocals from Disclosure's mega hit Latch. Candy ravers went nuts during the build up, jumping around as Hardwell hopped on the DJ booth swaying both of his arms right along with the beat. The slowdown of the heavy percussive drops supplied a few sing along breaks for the sweaty crowd as he blended Alive by Krewella and his very own Dare You featuring Matthew Koma. Making my way near the front, I couldn't believe how energized the crowd was (seriously, I would need to do Insanity workout tapes for at least a month in attempts to keep up.) Lost in the music, no one (besides this all star journalist) seemed to notice Hardwell's casual stroll to the loo in between mixes. This moment sent my brain into a whirlwind of thought… I just assumed DJs wore diapers or maybe have a small pee pad under the decks similar to the one I used to help train my dog. I also began to wonder how they notify someone it's break time. Life alert button? Sign language? I feel a potential opinion piece in the works.

Half past ten (with a rested bladder), Hardwell continued to drop EDM bangers like Greyhound by Swedish House Mafia while laser beams filled the darkness. Ushuaïa at night is unbelievable, I couldn't find one bad view of the main stage and the crowd seemed to agree with me. Leaving my willpower was tested to the max, buzzing party goers shuffled right across the street for Carl Cox's Revolution opening party at Space, leaving my sad attempt of calling it an early night shot.

WORDS | Sara McNutt PHOTOGRAPHY | James Chapman

Hardwell listings - 2022


Hardwell | Rebels Never Die World Tour

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