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Review: Space 25th Anniversary, 13th July

Feliz cumpleaños Space Ibiza! You pulled it out of the bag in the end.

My back was aching, my voice was hoarse, something sticky on the floor had leaked its way into my socks through a crack in the soles of my shoes but there I was on the side of the Sunset Terrace at 4:30am, arms akimbo, flailing about and screeching along to Love is in the Air – a Paul Reynolds special, reserved only for moments of great joy or great need. Just then it was both.

Rewind eight and a half hours and I was arriving at Space, dry feet, larynx intact, as fresh as peak season in Ibiza would allow and ready to rave outdoors, just as Ibiza always intended. I had arrived in time for the tail end of Layo & Bushwacka, who was dishing out grooving but heavy tech house from the clam shell shaped stage (the height of fashion in stage construction these days) which overlooked Space car park or Flight Area, we should say. Having the camo-netting cloaked Flight Area open in the middle of summer was a buzz to begin with – normally this festival-like outdoor arena is reserved for the opening and closing parties only - but you only turn twenty-five once and I guess Space owner Pepe Rosello decided to bring out the special deco box for this birthday BBQ.

Headliner Annie Mac announced her arrival with some funky Michael Jackson vocal waves and a stomping remix of Whitney Houston I Wanna Dance With Somebody. Annie was in fine form last night, giving us plenty to both dance and sing along to with a remix of London Grammar Help Me Lose My Mind and the monster bass line of Hope I'm Wrong, Jonas Rathsman. Silver streamers burst forth over the crowd for the particularly heavy drops, only to be quickly scooped up and ‘upcycled' as discotastic rave headbands for the fashion savvy. Annie pulled out two big tunes of the year to close with Gerd Still Believe followed by Ten Walls Walking with Elephants.

As night fell, Javi Bora appeared behind the decks, his arrival announcing the start of a lovely birthday surprise for Space's guests – a Flamenco dance troupe! Whilst Javi spun a tech-beat in the background, six dancers in fiery Flamenco attire took to the stage and tapped, twisted and twirled their way through twenty minutes of cohesive choreography. Professional dancers are something I've always wanted to see more of on Ibicenco stages and it added a lovely Spanish touch to the festival atmosphere. A sense of occasion was beginning to creep up on me.

Next to the stage was Erick Morillo, who instantly positioned himself as a bastion of the house classics by opening with the vocal sample which has reached biblical status in our culture, “In the beginning, there was Jack”. Morillo was animated from the start, and when he raised his hands as Chuck Roberts decreed, “Let there be House!” you knew he meant it. Forgive me clubbing purists but I chose this moment to pop out of Space to catch the end of a wee football final, as I knew I could catch Morillo later in the Terraza…

One sterling goal and half a German sausage later I was back to catch the end of Carl Craig closing the Flight Area. By this time Space's interior was already teeming with people, sucking a good chunk of the Flight Area crowd a bit too prematurely, as the nicest moment was still to come. Carl Craig was coming to the end of a housey stint, featuring classics like Inner City Good Life, and on his way to heavier, progressive territory. At the end of his set, club owner Pepe Rosello came to the stage to lead a happy birthday sing-a-long for the venue which has shaped his own life, and the culture of the island it belongs to. There were stilt walkers, sparklers, confetti and Flower-Power style classics like John Lennon's Imagine - one of three final tunes selected by Pepe himself. Full of warm fuzzies and birthday buzz, I joined the tidal wave surging into the halls of Space to continue the night in dark rooms with flashing lights.

The first hour inside Space was a little overwhelming – across the five DJ booths now open, artists were on an incredibly quick rotation to the point that if you took too long ordering your drink, or stopped to help anonymous-bathroom-girl-number-one fix her dress zipper, you might just miss something big. The quick sets must have been a weird one for most of the DJs, but tonight was about celebrating Space, not the individual, and in the end it meant almost everyone was recklessly packing in their big tunes to great effect. I decided to ping-pong-ball it and go everywhere.

Agoria in the Discoteca was going hard, whilst Nick Curly in the Terraza was in a steady tech-house groove. El Salon was an absolute riot with Marco Loco – a quick stop for a drink and boogie here then back to the Discoteca where Nina Kraviz was in the midst of dark techno, mouthing the hypnotic vocals of her own track Desire as the beat dropped out, blue light washed over the booth and for a minute we all stared at her in a complete daze…. sorry just me? Maintaining the ricocheting raving technique I had adopted for the night, I left Nina in her techno trance and bounced off to Tensnake in the Terraza. Good lord it was busy. I squeezed my way in to catch some of Tensnake's warm, rounded tones manifesting in organ funk and modern house but although the music was class, I needed more elbow room so dashed off to do another hyperactive lap of the premises. Calm down everyone, I'm told he played Coma Cat.

Back in the Discoteca the energy was sky-rocketing. Late announcement 2ManyDJs were giving the crowd a sound shellacking with an eclectic set which drew from the best and brashest of electric music old and new. Highlights include an awesome instrumental remix of Disclosure's White Noise which replaced the main theme synth with a citar (trippy) and the steady plug of Green Velvet's Lazer Beams (peow peow peow). Things got pretty acidy for a little while, and at one point I was interrupted mid-conversation (the cheek of it!) by the savage bass of LCD Soundsystem's You Wanted (Soulwax remix), which hit the chest hard and stopped me in my small talk tracks. Their set reminded me of what I love about Space Discoteca – you might hear almost anything in this room, especially on a Sunday.

Next I caught the end of Skream's back-to-back set with Route 94, arriving in time to hear Route 94's one-for-the-ladies hit My Love. Soon it was time for a second dose of Erick Morillo, who relaxed into safe tech house territory, peppered with classics like Jaydee's Plastic Dreams and Loleatta's Love Sensation. Morillo had a great bond going with his crowd, but the call of Paul Reynolds closing the Sunset Terrace was too strong to ignore – and that just about brings us up to date. Reynolds has been playing all over the island this summer, but he'll always sit best at Space to me. Following on from Love Is In The Air (and the aforementioned flailing) came The Ones' Absolutely Flawless – and the funky classics kept coming well into the morning, with the Sunset Terrace crowd large and lively until close.

Space and all its fans should be chuffed about yesterday, but somebody has to mention the elephant in the room… where was Carl Cox?? Despite his conspicuous absence, the celebrations were a great success, with the Discoteca and Terraza showcasing all that rocks about the modern Space, and the roofless stages on the fringes: El Salon, Sunset Terrace and Premiere Etage, reminding us of the frivolous atmosphere that made Space, and its historic open-air, marathon after hours sessions so well loved. Feliz cumpleaños Space Ibiza!

WORDS | Jordan Smith PHOTOGRAPHY | James Chapman

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