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10 ways Ibiza will change in 2020

The White Isle enters a new decade

  • Johnny Lee
  • 14 October 2019

2019 hasn’t turned out to be the nightmare season the naysayers predicted. There were winners and losers, of course, but broadly speaking Ibiza's summer party scene finds itself in a healthy position as we near the turn of the decade. Now, with future social, cultural and musical trends very much in mind, it's time to prophesise what comes next.

The Rise of Reggaeton

Latin flavours are really breaking through on Ibiza's biggest dancefloors. This summer, reggaeton heavyweight J Balvin has been smashing it at Pacha, Brutal at Privilege has been jam-packed, and Ushuaïa have had plenty of success with their new club culture super brand, MUCHO. Why is the genre working so well? Originating in the Caribbean, reggaeton fusion sounds are a perfect fit for the prevailing psychological state Ibiza's summertime climate invokes. But most importantly, perhaps, urban Latin parties come with a promise to deliver a flood of new custom from outside the traditional electronic music spectrum, which makes them an attractive proposition for club owners looking to avoid cannibalising their pre-existing house and techno events. Moving forward, expect the island's big players to rollout multiple Latin parties in order to tap into this new wellspring of custom without upsetting the current status quo at their venues.

Ticketless Bundles

There's an underlying trend developing in Ibiza driven by clubbers not wanting to pay large entry fees on the door. Another underlying trend we've seen gain traction this summer is the sale of prepaid drinks bundles, with island heavyweights like , Amnesia and Ibiza Rocks all extending this option on their websites. Next summer, don’t be surprised to see certain clubs replacing the old entry fee model with a big-value tariff-style bundle model based around premium drinks. For instance, instead of buying a standard ticket, an outlay of €70 might guarantee you €70's worth of drinks at the bar, plus free entry to the venue. The next most expensive bundle might include additional balcony access. Why will it work? It's a psychological thing - a bit like being tempted by the 'free delivery' tag when you're shopping online, even though you know carriage is built into the overall cost of your purchase.

A new generation of UK rap talents secure debut bookings

Stormzy's epic #MERKY Festival has been pivotal in raising UK rap music’s profile in Ibiza. The event is now on the verge of outgrowing Ibiza Rocks Hotel, not to mention the town of San Antonio. It seems unlikely we'll see #MERKY back at Ibiza Rocks next summer and it will be intriguing to see if any of the island's more spacious venues will look to champion the event. As for Ibiza Rocks, grime music has become such an important part of their story in recent years that we can't see them turning their back on the sound. Instead, expect San Antonio's principal daytime venue to shine a spotlight on up-and-coming rap talent from across the UK.

Early Announcements and the Death of the Tour Operator

The days when the island's biggest promoters woke up from hibernation in early March are over. From now on, expect to see party and artist confirmation announced as early as January, as Ibiza's top venues look to take their product to market earlier than ever before. Back in the day, the percentage of club tickets being sold to UK audiences by the big tour operators was huge. Now, with the demise of Thomas Cook, the entire sector is virtually done. Today, holidaying ravers prefer to buy their club tickets online. And for the most part they’re buying those tickets well in advance of their arrival on the White Isle. Consequently, Ibiza's premiere clubs are working to lock down their line-ups earlier than ever before. A fact that will become entirely evident in January when the island's most established venues begin advertising their wares five months prior to kick off.

Return of the Underground

The tech-house explosion of 2018, driven primarily by CamelPhat, Solardo and Fisher, is inducting a new generation into sounds outside of the mainstream. Reminiscent of the deep house boom of 2012, the buzz on the dancefloor is tangible and wholly driven by young entry-level ravers. Accordingly, after a couple of really tricky years for the underground, tech promoters will be able to rest a little easier next summer as the mass of tech-house fanatics forged on the Bodyworks dancefloor develop their tastes to the point where partying at stripped-back rave dens like DC10 and Ibiza Underground becomes obligatory.

Read this next: Magnum opus: Why Four Tet's Amnesia debut signals a new dawn for Ibiza

Eco Strategies Abound

Like most emergent industries, the electronic dance music scene is forever seeking new and beautiful settings in which to set up shop. In recent years, however, the ecological impact of this expansion into new territories has become a big theme for discussion, chiefly because we tend to create a lot of plastic waste when we land in paradise. Mercifully, a handful of Ibiza's leading venues are now launching conscious eco initiatives designed to reduce their consumption of single use plastics. Leading the charge is Pacha, planning to be plastic free by the year 2023. Elsewhere, Pikes has fitted bespoke water filtration systems in their hotel reception areas, which enable their guests to stay hydrated for free using glass bottles rather than plastic - a move that has reduced waste significantly. Next summer, expect the rest of the island's big hitters to initiate similar eco strategies to help reduce plastic pollution in the Mediterranean.

Read this next: Sustainable sesh: How clubs and festivals are boosting the green agenda

Banishing the VIP Stigma

10 years ago the great VIP debate was the biggest row in town. According to purist ravers, VIPs were musically and spiritually illiterate and their money would surely ruin the rave scene in the end. And while the issue remains a point of contention, the reality is that upgrade culture has become an integrated part of today's Balearic clubland experience. The recent democratisation of the old VIP model, principally at Ibiza Rocks Hotel, Amnesia and O Beach, has gone a long way to deodorising the stigma. Indeed, upgrading has been made more affordable. Yet the old terminology remains. The solution? Surely it's time for the island's best venues to find a better word, phrase or tagline to frame the nature of their elevated products. Not only does the term VIP conjure up greedy images of bloated millionaires latching onto a vogue scene that they'll never understand, it's also a misrepresentation of the truth. After all, these days most of the folk raving upstairs on the Amnesia balcony or lounging poolside at Ibiza Rocks have upgraded to mark some special occasion, like a birthday or a hen weekend, when it's more fun to have your friends and family in close proximity. In 2020, expect Ibiza to start recasting the image of its upgrade products in the hope of finally shaking off the unwanted connotations associated with the outdated term.

Watch this next: Everyone's a VIP: The birth of acid house with Danny Rampling

The Past Means Nothing Now

Dance music's next generation are too young to appreciate the complex history of Ibiza's nightclubbing scene. Most are unaware that Pacha first opened its hallowed doors in 1973. And they're innocent of the fact that both Privilege and Amnesia were once open-air dancehalls. Moreover, many of the island newbies we partied with at Hï this summer had never even heard of Space, let alone partied there. Evidently, what matters most to Generation Z is what's going on tonight, not what happened at Space or Amnesia or Pacha 30 years ago. And rightly so. After all, today's ravers are busy creating heydays of their own. Philosophically speaking, they're living in Eckhart Tolle's 'Now' and the charm of the past just doesn’t matter to them in the same way that it matters to those who lived through it. So what if the majority of Ibiza's discothèques used to be open air? Who cares if Hï stands on the same footprint as Space? And so what if Ibiza Rocks Hotel used to stage live guitar gigs in San Antonio before it became the home of the pool party? You can still find a few good ol' boys reminiscing over the magic of the Sunset Terrace. But for the most part the historical umbilical cord has been cut. Generation Z now stand where Generation X once stood - up front and centre, facing the fattest speaker stacks in the house - and they don’t care when the foundations beneath their feet were laid. Irrespective of the past, it's becoming increasingly evident that Ibiza's top dance venues are now hustling for custom on a level playing field.

Increased Professionalism

20 years ago, Ibiza's world famous club scene was largely piloted by crews of wild-eyed dancefloor refugees from the mid '90s, most of whom were still buzzing. Back then, the scene was still a fledgling industry and few had the experience or the skill set to drive the scene forward on a global scale. And then, in 2011, everything changed. Much has been written about Ushuaïa's deep pockets, but their ability to operate like a top tier promotions team was always their real trump card. To compete, the rest of the clubs on the island would have to evolve. Some did. Some didn't. And the latter are now desperately trying to catch up. But catching up won’t be easy, because the island's big power players are now staffed by superstar professionals who reply to emails and even dare to have team meetings. And it's this heightened awareness whirring away behind the scenes that is starting to become evident on Ibiza's best dancefloors, not only in terms of artistic vision, but also when it comes to customer care. Ultimately, there's no longer any room for amateurs in this business. We've seen a gigantic raising of the stakes on the island in recent seasons and in the years to come those venues who refuse to engage the scene in a professional manner seem destined to be blown out of the water.

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The foundations of a new phase are laid

But more so than anything else, the year 2020 will bring forth a new phase of energy. A sort of rebirth. Anticipate the social and cultural trends that defined the last decade to begin receding as the next cycle of change begins to take shape. It'll be a time for Ibiza's best DJs, clubs and promoters to maintain, to take stock and finally to breathe. Everyone will welcome the relief. After all, there's been so much change on the island annually over the last five or six years that, to paraphrase numerous promoters, every little decision ends up feeling like a risk. For this reason, don’t expect a slew of new parties to arise next summer. Instead, we foresee a solidification of everything that worked in 2019, as the market stabilises and the island's top venues and promoters finally feel bold enough to stick rather than to twist.

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