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Ibiza Island People: Faruk Gandji (KU / Privilege)

KU and Privilege legend tells it like it used to be.

Last year, as part of our Dance Music History series, we looked at KU - the venue and contained VIP bar (Privé) from the 1970s and 1980s that developed into the clubbing behemoth we now know as Privilege - and so facinating was the story and history of it all that it seemed important to speak with one of the early members of the KU family, Faruk Gandji, to perhaps understand not only what the venue was like before the days of Tiesto, Supermartxe and the like, but also to understand what Ibiza was like in what many call its heyday.

Because let's face it, Ibiza has changed a huge amount over the years. It may be a classic cliché for those around in the early years to say "oh, it's not like it used to be", but the fact of the matter is that it isn't. More and more foreign promoters came over to the island and Ibiza developed into this clubbing mecca where people come to pay homage to the best DJs and artists the world has to offer. And so Faruk has embarked upon his mission to remind those of Ibiza's history, with plans for events this summer which hint at just that.

The KU Ibiza Best Years Facebook page, and KU itself, is a shining example of that vibe and spirit of Ibiza that we all hear about but have perhaps never experienced, and listening to what Faruk had to say, looking at the photographs that have been pulled together, and reading what people have had to say about them has made me wish I was around in those early years. I mean, when was the last time you went out for the night in Ibiza and saw a young bull tearing around the dancefloor whilst Grace Jones, Roman Polanski, Tarzan, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Ronnie Wood (to name but a few) partied nearby? Speaking for myself; that hasn't ever happened to me...

So, without further ado, I'll pass the baton on to Faruk. Ibiza Island People don't come any more inspiring than him.

Where are you from originally?

"I am a French citizen, born in Iran, raised in Switzerland, educated in England and living in Spain."

When did you first come to Ibiza?

"I first came to Ibiza in the summer of 1981 for a fortnight. I returned in 1982 for the summer season, which was the beginning of a life time love affair with the island."

What did you do in the first years you were in Ibiza?

"I started supervising the Amnesia, specializing in artistic direction and public relations, and then threw my first “Remember” party there in September 1982. I also opened the Bar Privé in KU, and at the same time I created and organized around 25 various parties and contests per season."

Main area of KU from Bar Privé as it was open air, and view of KU from the Dragon slide.

What do most people know you for in Ibiza?

"Most probably for my parties in the KU, especially the "Gorryland" series, and also for installing the first V.I.P. bar on the island, the Bar Privé in KU."

Cool, so tell us about Ku…

"As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words “, so the best illustration would be for you to see my Facebook page 'KU Ibiza Best Years' (facebook.com/kuibiza)."

Why do you think Ku was such a success story?

"KU was a success story because we proved that quantity and quality were indeed compatible plus we managed to mix the un-mixable. At a typical party that attracted 4,000 people, 500 were international celebrities with their entourage, and the remaining 3,500 were unique free spirits who set the whole island aglow. We offered a distinctive mix of music, the posters were works of art, the decorations were astonishing and the parties were constantly changing."

KU in 1986 view roughly from where the motorway is now, KU bar leading to the restaurant, KU in 1989 overlooking the pool and stage area, and looking the opposite way, the pyramid addition you can see today being built.

Privilege is somewhat of a different venue to when it was Ku, what inspired the change?

"I wouldn't say that the change was inspired. It happened gradually during the last few years of KU. The music went from Balearic Beat to House and then, commercial Techno as the promoters got their feet further in the door. The imported shows along with their music changed the whole scene."

Is there anything you would change if you could now? I in particular love the open-air architecture of its history...

"The open air architecture was truly amazing. Seeing the sun rise in the distance after a night of pure ecstasy was no less than soul cleansing. However, it is a bit too easy to say that opening the roofs again will bring back the KU experience. In the past, people were lured to Ibiza because the parties were unique to the island. People came for that energy. Today, the majority of tourists arriving on the island are attracted by the DJs, most of which can also be heard from Miami to Benidorm. To change Ibiza, one has to change what is being offered in the current party scene."

Faruk, the KU God - symbol of KU which is still in the club today, and the KU dragon slide.

Looking through the amazing photos from Ku on the Facebook page, its clear you would have so many stories to share. But if you could share just one, which would it be?

"There are hundreds of stories, all of them surreal and most of them rather private. However, I recall a particular incident that occurred during one of the San Fermin parties. Everyone was dressed in white with red scarfs and we had released a baby bull to run loose in the KU. The Bar Privé was packed, and I noticed Tirso “the myth” standing up on the edge of the terrace, dangerously close to falling as he looked down into the crowd below. When I went to see what he was doing, I heard him shout at the growing crowd of V.I.P's around him “look, they're teasing the bull!” Down on the dancefloor were a group of three excessively drunk guys who had the bull by its horns and they were indeed slapping and teasing it. Tirso became crazy with rage and screamed; “Those badly educated sons of bitches are teasing that baby bull!” Before anyone could react to send security, Tirso jumped from the Bar Privé down onto the dancefloor below. He landed on his feet right next to the bull, like superhero who had arrived out of nowhere to save the night. One by one, Tirso sent the three guys stumbling away and freed the bull. He then began to comfort and caress the baby bull who immediately calmed down and allowed him to lead it to safety. Once the shock wore off, Tirso's earnest reaction sent a vibe of respect, courage and compassion throughout the whole disco."

In the run-up to the 2012 season, some 34 years since the story of Ku began in Ibiza, what keeps you busy?

"My project to immortalize the KU in facebook has been much more time consuming than I had originally predicted. Recently, I've also been shifting my efforts towards two very exciting projects involving both the past and the future. Since this summer marks the 30th anniversary of my first "Remember" party, I am working on organizing its celebration. I also plan on introducing a new musical genre proper to the island."

Faruk with Miss KU 1983 from the USA, Ann Magaret - Miss Wet Tshirt Comp winner 1985, and a bull being teased in KU.

Tell us who your unsung hero of the island is?

"Undoubtedly the people who clean up the beaches and the rest of the island in the autumn. The massive tourism leaves this place in such a wreck that the men and women who actually clear the rubbish away and without remuneration are my Heroes by all means."

What is it you love about Ibiza?

"The quality of life. Ibiza is sunny 90% of the year, so even when it rains everyone is smiling. This climate offers organic fruits and vegetables year round, plus the possibility to spend more time outdoors than in. The majority of residents are relaxed, cool and respectful...except on the full moon, but that's another story. I'm tuned up with nature and enjoy breathtaking views where ever I go. It's paradise, yet still in Europe. I am so grateful to be living here."

And finally, is there anything else you'd like to add or say?

"Ibiza is a sacred island, please love and respect it!"Tirso in front of the KU sign - now helping promote KU's history, Faruk, Gorri and Brasilio, Faruk relaxing, some KU logos, and Yves Uro - Ku's poster designer.

You can read our 'Dance Music History' feature on Ku HERE.

See more about KU Ibiza Best Years HERE.

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