The two best sets I’ve ever heard in Ibiza were Laurent Garnier on the Space terrace in the early 2000s, and Ricardo Villalobos at Cocoon on June 20th, 2005. Ricardo’s was the one that changed everything for me.
Back then I had only visited Cocoon at Amnesia a few times since I’d started going to to Ibiza in 1998. Around the Millennium, it was predominantly a heavy techno night: BPMs in the main room would rarely go under 135 or so with Sven Väth and Richie Hawtin, who was a regular with his decks and FX experience (which was amazing!) The terrace, from my recollection, was never that busy. The minimal sound had been experimented with in clubs like DC10 the summer before, but to be honest, hadn’t really gone down very well.
All of my friends, and most of the DC10 crowd, would head to Manumission on Monday nights, once DC10 had finished. The music in the back room was cool, in 2003 and 2004 especially. But in 2005, Manumission and Privilege had a falling out in the early part of the season, so Manumission didn’t open its doors until mid-season. Because Manumission was closed the Monday after Sónar (when all the industry types go to Ibiza directly from Barcelona), everybody went to Cocoon.
This is when the Amnesia Terrace had a different layout. The DJ booth was to the right hand side of the Terrace, near the steps to the VIP, and there were telephone booths and camel props in there (and a big tree!) In my opinion, it made for a much more intimate room – and DJs seemed to get a bit weirder there in those days, which I loved.
The best way for me to describe Ricardo’s set is that I was on the dancefloor surrounded by a lot of people I knew, and some of my best friends. I was dancing next to Damian Lazarus, and another friend of ours, Ed Cartwright: both, I can safely say, extremely hard to please, as I am. The night went on – the sun had come up – and I remember that no-one had said a word to each other for hours. I stopped and tapped Damian on the shoulder – and as I tell you this story, it gives me goosebumps – I said to Damian, ‘What the hell is going on? What is this? It’s ridiculous!’ Ed and Damian both turned to me and said, ‘Yeah, it’s unbelievable’. Everybody was mesmerised in a way I’d never seen before… sometimes there would be five minutes of a breakdown with crazy jazz pianos: it sounds weird, but it worked, trust me. It was the first time I’d ever heard Mathew Jonson ‘Decompression’. I think he played it twice – I probably would have too – it turned out to be the beginning of a period in house and techno that Mathew Jonson dominated with the pure class of his productions, and ended up with him being my inspiration as a modern-day house and techno producer.
Ricardo played for god knows how many hours, as the closing time in those days was much more unpredictable. Up until that point I hadn’t really explored buying old house and techno music. I did what every kid I knew did:
I went to Phonica or Black Market Records every week and spent what money I had on records from the wall, or if I was lucky, under the counter. That all changed that night, because I knew that the music Ricardo was playing was not new. He twisted house and techno in the way that I have never seen before – and still haven’t seen to this day.
The next thing I did was go on Juno Records and look through everything they had in their back catalogue in two or three genres. I selected around five hundreds records out of the tens of thousands of clips that I listened to, and I slowly saved up to buy them – and that became my sound.