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Review: Elrow + Kehakuma opening party, 2015

Bombastic themed parties and no-frills tech house raving under one roof.

Elrow Ibiza is growing up. When the already hugely popular Spanish party first came to the white isle in 2012, the entire night felt like a manic whirlwind of confetti and inflateables, kept in the air by an endless loop of springy tech house. Now in its second year at Space and fourth on Ibiza, Elrow pulls the headline DJs and the diversity of sounds that come with them, decks the cavernous Space discoteca halls in its topical theme of choice, has an even greater supply of colourful characters to stalk through the dance floor and, of course, still delights in dumping a blanket of inflateable nonsense on our heads in the wee hours of the morning.

We began our night in Kehakuma on the terrace next door, the long-running Space techno night which, though overshadowed aesthetically by the bombastic Elrow next door, continues to hold its own musically, providing a more subtle, heads down dancing option for those who like a no frills stomp session. Close-knit trio Santé, Sidney Charles and Darius Syrossian was hammering it out in a terrace awash with deep red. The back VIP area had been sectioned off with a red cloth, which added a nice intimacy to the dance floor, but applying the same covering to the stone wall behind the DJ booth was a mistake - it's the most beautiful feature of the room! The boys were in fine form, their style a little lighter than the dark and aggressive ambience the Kehakuma decor suggested, but still with plenty of punch aided by a responsive crowd.

We caught the tail end of Patrick Topping next door, a surprising booking for Elrow I thought, that didn't quite work with the energy in the room this time. Ida Engberg soon took over with much better flow, opening with deep groover Avantgardistisch by Marlose, the wailing vocals adding a touch of mystery to the scene as Engberg gently swayed within the candle-filled, tapestry draped shrine that was the DJ booth that night.

The theme for the opening was Nepal - yet another topical choice from Elrow (last year's closing was an undersea adventure which protested the proposed Balearic oil rigs) which also featured a charity collection to aid reparations after the disastrous earthquake earlier this year. Tibetan prayer flags covered the walls and ceiling whilst lost backpackers, Everest climbers, laden sherpas, tibetan monks, hindu dancers and giant yaks prowled the dance floor below - the climbers in particularly impressive character play, valiantly shivering and huddling in wooly jumpers despite the decidedly tropical Space temperatures. Confetti was squirting ad hoc, and a rogue bouncy ball broke forth from its ranks on the balcony, only to meet an untimely and explosive death upon some razor sharp fake nails clawing up from the crowd. Peering through the confetti-laced hysteria I could see the enshrined Ida Engberg looking contrastingly slick and dropping Drumcode clankers like Sam Paganini's Rave.

Los Suruba followed, again with deep and dark music plus an added element of epic grandeur to push the night forward, keeping it mysterious with Guy Gerber's remix of Art Department - Catch You By Surprise. It was a really enjoyable set but I can't help feeling that the moodiness of all acts that night wasn't the perfect fit for the frivolous atmosphere which characterises Elrow. The bookings this summer are quality, as was the music that night, but they don't reflect a clear musical direction. The team must make sure they book DJs that help define the party's sound for the season - even suit the DJ to the weekly theme - and this kind of detailed musical curation could make Elrow Ibiza not only look, but sound unique.

WORDS | Jordan Smith PHOTOGRAPHY | James Chapman

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