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Review: An ENTER. Marathon, 30th August

Soldiering through together from 8pm to 8am... I can't think of a better way to spend 12 hours.

My Enter. marathon began in a small, sweaty room . . . and ended in a very large, sweaty room.

Our night started early, the Spotlight clubbing team all heading to Ibiza Global Radio for the one-hour ENTER. radio show, recorded between 8 and 9pm. Entertainment for this kick-start to the evening was provided by Barem, who would later play the Terraza for ENTER. proper. The room was like a sauna and we all stood around a little awkwardly at first, watching sweat beads form on each other's foreheads or quietly stashing free magazines in our bags. But once the beats got rolling and Richie Hawtin set the sake and hierbas flowing everybody loosened up and had a solid pre-rave rave. By the time Barem finished up on the Josh Wink classic, Don't Laugh (which popped up again later in his set on the Terazza), it felt like a mini houseparty, with people crowded around the decks, perched on couches, taking snaps of each other and knocking over their drinks (it was nearly empty, I swear). It was a great little start to a night that was about to get a whole lot bigger…

Only novices and heroin addicts party on an empty stomach, so after the radio show we stopped to ram some Playa D'en Bossa pizza down our gullets before heading to ENTER. pre-party number two with Nina Kraviz taking over Space's El Salon. We arrived at 11 and Kraviz was already gunning for it; I had a growing feeling this night was only going to escalate. In classic Kraviz fashion, just when things were at their most alienating acidy tech she'd drop the funkiest beat that you just had to groove to, and nothing could feel more human. A highlight was Kraviz's own tune, Ghetto Kraviz, which she snuck in just before some momentarily baffling h20 droplets started falling from the sky; three months in Ibiza and I'd forgotten what rain felt like.

Deep, deep things were going on in the Terraza, led by the eccentric high school music teacher (or so we like to imagine him) Roman Flugel. The room was busy, but doors to Discoteca were about to open, and revelers would soon pour in to check out the man behind the inescapable black spot (which, incidentally, signals one's impending doom in pirate folklore – I wonder if Richie already knew that). Tellingly, the huge discoteca was already packed by 12.30; Hawtin was doing his thing and it was great, but in all honesty being there amongst the strobes so early kind of freaked me out. I retired once more to the Terazza.

By the time I got back to Roman Flugel, he had all but cleared the dance floor. A combination of Hawtin cranking up and opening the main room, and Roman's eccentric and probably quite inaccessible style had reduced the Terazza dance floor to an awkward smattering. It was a shame, because I thought it was an excellent and innovative set that deserved a bigger audience. I stuck it out, as did some other discerning clubbers and slowly but surely Flugel won the floor back. His clunking, determined basslines and weird sci-fi warbles got steadily more upbeat, peaking at the Redshape tune Throw In Dirt, where even the smallest of vocals samples had a huge impact after almost an hour and a half of purely instrumental tracks. Barem was back to follow this, with an infinitely more conservative but nonetheless enjoyable tech house set, which I left around the halfway point, finally succumbing to the pull of Hawtin in the mainroom (spotted Stacey Pullen and Solomun on their way there as well!).

Although still hammering it when I arrived, Hawtin used the final hour of his set to pair things back and gradually knock the BPM down in order to create a smooth transition for the act to follow. Soon enough 4am rolled around, heralding the event that I'd been quietly having kittens in anticipation for all night. After no less than a decade separation from the club, Sven Vath was returning to Space. I don't want to be melodramatic or anything, but it felt like the return of the king.

He was brilliant – weaving together a seamless collection of techno ‘best of,' smoothly transitioning between relentlessly driving, to deep, epic and atmospheric, to inescapably funky hi hat sessions. Like a human lasso, once Vath got swinging there was no escape from the dance floor, some highlights including Lee Curtis' kinky little number I Can Make Your Body Twitch and the manic offering from Matador - Kingswing. The energy in the room was electric, with loads of ‘crowd bonding' moments like an impromptu sit down around the 5:30 mark – the complete antithesis of the cheesy kind of sit downs that start with certain DJs (you know who you are) bellowing into the microphone, “Alright we're gonna try something different here….”

As the morning drew on Vath moved away from the head-exploding drops to something lighter and more progressive, for example Sol, by Uner, and from there things cooled down even further, as we delved into the weird and wonderful world of ‘7am Sven' with tracks like Benoit and Sergio's Let Me Count The Ways. Then, ever so subtly, without anyone quite noticing he was doing it until the chorus, Vath snuck in Whitney Houston's I Wanna Dance With Somebody. We all clapped, we all danced, and the brighter the house lights got the louder we all sang. And just when we were all thinking how could you possibly follow that, surely this is the end, that oh-so-familiar Stardust riff rang out – Music Sounds Better With You. And this time, literally everyone sang. Hawtin was hugging Väth, Väth was hugging Hawtin, I was hugging the nearest human . . . There simply aren't enough superlatives in the world to capture last night; it was one of the special ones.

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