The wild story of the world’s biggest nightclub begins in 1978, when former Real Sociedad footballer José Antonio Santamaría Mikel Vaqueriza buys a venue in San Rafael, Ibiza, with its quaint alfresco garden and restaurant complex designed to host community events. He promptly renames the venue KU after the nightclub he owns in San Sebastian on the Spanish mainland, before remodelling the venue to suit a more glamorous audience.
Various themed gardens are created around the gigantic swimming pool – Bar Privé, the Coco Loco, the La Vaca Room and the Dragon Bar – giving the venue an open air, festival-style feel. With each passing year, the vibe at KU becomes increasingly hedonistic, largely thanks to Brasilio de Oliviera’s vibrant carnival-esque party concepts, which attract movie directors, fashion designers and pop stars, who all mingle on the dancefloor. Think people like Roman Polanski, David Bowie, Valentino Garavani, Joan Collins, Grace Jones and Jean-Paul Gaultier.
During the decade that follows, KU becomes one of the most important dance music destinations in the world. The burgeoning sound of synth pop amalgamates with Balearic, while live performances from apex entertainers like James Brown and Grace Jones, and period-defining new wave groups such as Talk Talk and Spandau Ballet, become the norm. Freddie Mercury even films the video for his hit single ‘Barcelona’ in the main hanger. The sonic diversity is further amplified by the Chicago house, Detroit techno and UK rave explosions of the latter half of the decade.