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Review: Clockwork Orange 20th Ibiza Anniversary at Es Paradis, 25th July

It even smelt like the 90s...

At first glance it seemed like business as usual at Es Paradis, but as I descended the entrance staircase onto ground level I began to notice that neither the music nor the clientele were quite regular for Ibiza in 2014…

…which was pretty much the point. Last night was a unique party for the club, as it hosted the twentieth anniversary of Clockwork Orange in Ibiza, a party which ruled the island in its day, reigning between 1994 and 1999. Stories of the wild times (why does that sound like something my mother would say?) had by Clockwork Orange residents, punters and creator Danny Gould abound, but for many in the club that night, it might have been ten years since they'd been to a party like this. A few youngsters had stumbled in off the San An street but for the most part, the grown-ups had come out to play. Well, I guess it's just like riding a bike, because these antique gurners were here to show us newbies how it's done.

When I arrived Alex P and Brandon Block were on the decks, two DJs who were instrumental in shaping the sound and atmosphere of Ibiza in the initial stages of the ‘British Invasion' in the 90s – and of course frequent players at Clockwork Orange. Instantly charismatic, the pair was bounding about in the booth making all manner of expressions and movements, clearly on an unshakeable mission to have a bloody good time and take everyone with them. The circular raised platform in front of the booth was the epicentre of the party and stayed that way until close, for here were the most dedicated and enthusiastic of party-goers. Surrounding this raised area were the slightly less manic but no less amiable participants, spread across the Es Paradis ground level which is split into various circular courtyards by the club's iconic Grecian pillars.

Musically, they were cherry-picking from the best house classics of their day, with piano bangers like Alison Limerick's Where Love Lies, African vibes in Mory Kante's Yeke Yeke (Afro Acid mix) and raucous sing-alongs for Livin' Joy's Don't Stop Movin' as one of their final tracks. The average BPM of dance music has been slowing for years, and the contrast was marked when thrown into this 90s musical bubble. It was fast all night, and that really helped the atmosphere; I think a lot of party-goers in Ibiza would find they have more energy and stamina than they realise if the pace of the music encouraged them on.

After many a warm handshake, Judge Jules took over at 2:30 and pushed even faster, adding lashings of trance to the house sessions with tracks like Mauro Picotto's Lizard (Claxixx mix). He'd always take it back somewhere housey in the end though, keeping the club on the hop with hits like George Morel Let's Groove – a track that has lasted the ages and still crops up tech house sets every summer. Not only did it sound like the 90s last night, it even smelt like the 90s, with the typical Ibiza ice cannons shunned in favour of a smoke machine which let out great white clouds of primary school disco (or so it seemed to me) every fifteen minutes. The crowd was in the best of moods, with smiles erupting as each classic from Judge Jules brought back fond memories of rowdier days. “I love that man,” one particularly enthusiastic attendee was telling everyone and no one in particular, “I love him!”

Continuing the roll call of 90s heroes, Seb Fontaine and Tall Paul were next up to the booth, initially heading in a darker, glowstick rave direction. Many styles were dipped into that night, and as their set progressed they indulged in some high profile mash-ups, including Faithless Insomnia, Daft Punk Harder Better Faster Stronger, New Order Blue Monday and other unlikely, but effective, pairings. One person stuck in my mind above all the rest during their set – a true 90s raver in dress and dance moves, he was necessarily front and centre all night, excitedly throwing shapes in double time, his face occasionally exploding into wide-eyed and open mouthed euphoria (the 90s version of our contemporary bass face) at the first chimes of each new tune to tick off his OMG-I-will-die-if-they-play-this wish list. There he was, a bastion of the times when enthusiasm was still cool. The rest of my generation lackadaisically step-touching at a snail's pace and indulging in the odd ironic hand clap over at Generic Tech-House Night Number 441 could learn a thing or two from this guy.

Clockwork Orange's Ibiza reprisal was much more than an anniversary in name only, it was the real deal. A reunion of all the old faces, celebrated with as much authenticity and as little pretension as possible. As we drove away from San Antonio on the motorway, I looked back to see a steady cloud of steam rising from Es Paradis's uppermost pyramid, a vaporous and ghostly suggestion of the jovial mania within.

WORDS | Jordan Smith PHOTOGRAPHY | James Chapman

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