No trip to Ibiza would be complete without a visit to Amnesia. As has become ritual, Cocoon Closing is the opening night of our final trip of 2017. It is crazy to think that Cocoon started-out in Ibiza in 1999, with their first full season following a year later in 2000 and they’ve been ever-present since. Choosing to go head-to-head against Manumission on Mondays was a gutsy move – one which many expected to fail. But over the past 18 summers Sven Väth and his right-hand man Johannes Goller have built the party series into a juggernaut. The party was spawned from the label of the same name, and an artist management company and even, for a brief-time, a club would follow later. But, for many of us, Cocoon is far more than that. It embodies the spirit of Ibiza at a time when it looks most in danger of being lost to clutches of commercialization and pop-culture. It’s a lifestyle. And Sven is the creative director who oversees all.
Few could have predicted all those years ago, that 18-years on Cocoon would be the party still standing, while Manumission would be resigned to folklore. The fact that this is the case is no stroke of luck. But a considered creative process which has managed to stay true to its roots whilst simultaneously evolving year-on-year. And it hasn’t been without obstacles. When the superstars that Cocoon had nurtured – Hawtin, Luciano, Carola, Loco Dice – all fled the nest circa 2012-13 (some on better terms than others!), there was a sense that the balance of power had shifted. Although, in reality, it merely spread the spoils more thinly. Cocoon emerged the other side of quite-r few seasons. While other challengers fell by the wayside.
You get the sense they feel a lot more comfortable nowadays, without the added pressure of being thee party. With the attention of the Instagram generation directed elsewhere, you can pretty much guarantee that Cocoon will draw some of the best crowds in Ibiza week-in, week-out.
We get in soon after 2am. Annoyingly, we’ve just missed Koze. Not to worry though, as Henrik Schwarz is treating the masses to one of his robust live sets. We find a decent spot, left-centre of the terrace next to the photoshop. Plenty of space to dance, yet busy enough to feel in the thick-of-it without being drowned. Production is using sparingly, but effectively. Fluorescent O’s hang from the ceiling. They twist in the afterdraught of a CO2 ignition, spiralling like hypnotic mobiles. Every so often a stray-light catches them, and they glisten bathed in purple filter. Below them the Cocoon podium dancers – some of the island’s best – frolic on the platform. Feet-away teeming clubbers raise their arms to the drop.
A particular high-point is ‘Not Also You’ – Schwarz’s mammoth track on Running Back, and a track which has been a Cocoon-favourite all season. We hop next door to the club room where Ilario Alicante is holding court. As we walk-in the first track we clock is Solomun’s 2017 rework of ‘Age of Love’ and it pushes us into full-blown party mode. Ilario has been entrusted with no fewer than 7 dates at Cocoon this summer. It’s deserved reward for one of their most consistent performers. Ilart has been excellent the past three-four times we’ve seen him. He belts out Dubfire & Miss Kittin’s ‘Ride’, though we’re too wrapped-up to note exactly which version.
Adam Beyer is next on. It’s the hardest – and best – we’ve seen the Drumcode boss play all year! Keith Carnel’s foreboding Afterlife track ‘Cloudy Monday’ and Maceo Plex’s return to his Maetrik moniker on Clash Lion are 2 tracks which capture the mood! Though we could easily see-out our night here, it just wouldn’t be Cocoon without ending on the Papa! So we head back to the terrace for one final stomp.
Sven is playing warm and melodic. It doesn’t have the gusto of next door, but the energy-levels are matched. He ends on a guilty-pleasure – Madonna’s ‘Isla Bonita’ resulting in absolute scenes! There are few DJs who can get away with such a curveball. But Sven Väth is most definitely one of them. It’s a fitting tribute to another successful season on their – our – adopted island.
Some 10 hours later after a well-needed nap, some food and plenty of fluid to replenish our lost electrolytes, we’re good to go again. We find ourselves in a taxi winging our way towards Sant Josep for the official afterparty. Our sense of bearing has been disorientated. We’re near the airport… or at least, we think we are. Pulling-up outside the venue, and there’s a handful of people milling around. Far removed from the fever of the approach to Amnesia. It feels too discreet for an afterparty to be happening here. But then again, those are the best kind!
“Wristbands? Or guestlist?” Ahh. In all the excitement we’d overlooked this scenario. It’s been a while since we had to blag ourselves into a party. We’re a lil’ rusty and not sure we’ve still got the composure. Now is not the time to stutter. Fortunately the girls running the guest list are super-friendly and breaking down the barrier doesn’t prove nearly as difficult as we’d first imagined. We chat about the party the night before and it isn’t long before we’re waved inside. Phew! A wasted journey would’ve been far from ideal – and the ultimate buzzkill!
Creeping into KM5 – usually a place to visit for dinner – is like finding the hidden door to Narnia. A carnival of delights awaits! The sight of the throbbing courtyard alone is enough to get our dopamine tingling. It’s just after 4pm and Sven has already been playing for a few hours. It’s on the housier side of things, some more downtempo offerings and lots of 12-minute odysseys.
The crowd is-far-and-away the best blend of people we’ve ever seen on the island: Brits, Spaniards, Italians, Germans of course, dikes, Trans people, fag-hags, midgets, eccentrics, wide-boys, hippies, industry peeps, musos, supermodels, holiday-makers and islanders, veterans and fresh-faced owl-eyed newcomers. Truly eclectic. It’s enough to restore our faith that the true spirit of Ibiza lives on!
As darkness falls the pace switches and Sven heads into deeper territory. There are several eyes-closed moments. Just a handful of tracks we pick-out include Talaboman’s ‘Loser’s Hymn’, Paul Nazca’s ‘Memory’ and maybe 1-or-2 cuts from H.O.S.H.’s recent album. As the crowd swells outside, Beyer and Ida Engberg jump-on inside for a bit of husband & wife B2B action. We criss-cross between floors, but ultimately we’re committed to witnessing the spell that Papa weaves.
Our final track is David August’s appropriately-titled ‘Epikur’ – a firm Sven favourite. It’s the perfect end to a perfect party.
We must cherish Sven for all he has given and all he continues to give. Truly a once-in-a-lifetime DJ.
Dragging ourselves away as the party continues shows an incredible amount of willpower. Luckily we don’t have too long to wait until our next Cocoon fix: Papa Sven & Co. return to London on 11th November as one of the first series of events at the newly re-opened Studio 338 terrace. It might not be Ibiza. But it is most definitely the next best thing.
No longer the flavour of the month – and all the better for it. Cocoon is the gift that keeps on giving.