Pacha (Ibiza)



When the mice are away, the cats will play.

Ibiza in April isn’t as desolate as, say, Miami in July, or Montreal in January. The White Isle’s off-season isn’t cursed by extreme weather, just the vacation schedules of the thousands upon thousands of Europeans who flood its tiny airport each summer. So the months between October and April in Ibiza belong to its 100,000 locals.

The 20- x 40-mile island’s crown jewel is Pacha, which at 40 years old is also its eldest nightclub. During the winter months only the front lounge of the sprawling space is open, which is an experience all by itself. The club, which opened in 1976, is now a franchise, with 25 individual Pachas currently operating in locations as far flung as Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, and Budapest, Hungary.

Don’t ask why, but our Stalkers somehow found themselves lolling through the Spanish sand in early April, on the eve of Pacha’s grand opening for the 2006 season. They reported back on what Ibiza looks like when nobody’s watching.

Stalker #1
I could spend all day – and all my euros – in the Barcelona airport. It’s like the best mall you’ve ever seen in America, all glass walls and perfect little shops and Europe’s dainty version of fast food. But it’s a goddamned miracle that we made to Ibiza with all our bags: Delta staff acted like we were the first people to ever book a Barcelona-to-Ibiza connection.

In 2006, maybe we were. Our plane was full not of pill-popping clubbers amping up for a week-long bender, but hippie seniors returning home from weekend visits to mainland Spain. Don’t be fooled, the Ibizan locals are not statuesque bathing suit models: They’re more like your grandparents.

We hit Pacha on Friday night, not expecting much. I mean, the streets were pretty much empty; the hotels were quiet; and we couldn’t imagine what local would lumber out of his cozy house to go to a club, just a day away from becoming a noisy public nuisance.

The legendary main room of the club was closed, but the front lounge, used for hip-hop and other non-house formats during the season, was open. It’s a great space, split in half by a walkway. On the right is a sunken dancefloor, surrounded by pillow-topped stadium seating and a bar area. To the left is an open dance area that’s not a dancefloor, per se, but a fun spot to bust a voyeuristic move: cushioned benches and seating alcoves line the perimeter.

When we showed up around one a.m., the place was pretty dead. A DJ was dropping electro and the club’s hot-girls-for-hire were pretty much the only ones dancing. Someone told us to be patient and wait until three-ish before giving up, and lo and behold, when the club struck 3:30, the clubbers starting coming out of the woodwork.

Stalker #2
I knew it was April, and that I should be content with hanging out in the front lounge of Pacha. But knowing that the grand room was just behind those double doors was too much temptation. So I sweet-talked a plain-clothes security guard and got myself a little tour of the full club.

If you’re a club vet, you can tell if a room is magic, even if the white lights are on and there are ladders and paint cans everywhere. And Pacha definitely is. The lights are ancient Clay Pakys; the speakers have obviously been refitted countless times. The glass roof is covered by stretchy white fabric that’s obviously been there more than a year or two. The whole place looks old. But when you look around, you can tell: Loaded with a few thousand punters, this room goes off.

Much like the front lounge, Pacha is one big room: A diminutive dancefloor surrounded on all sides by multi-level table seating. It has a very theater-in-the-round type feel. I heard that they get 10,000 euros for the tables closest to the floor, and they’re packed to capacity every night of the season. What a racket.

Stalker #3
I think I saw the hottest girl on earth at Pacha. Seriously. She was one of the club’s dancers, I guess, spending time on the dancefloor instead of a go-go box, probably because this party was not a main room affair. She had on a white corset, a short black skirt and spike heels. Couldn’t dance for sh*t, but that was so not the point.
It was pretty late when the party got going, and the crowd that turned up was bizarre but cool. It was like scarily gorgeous young people and crusty old people…and I mean old. Model-quality fashionistas were getting down next to Spanish grandmas in tapered white pants and Birkenstocks, and the staff was equally gracious to both. Where else in the world is that accepted? The combo happens in Vegas, but because of undesirable tourists, not obviously adored locals. It was definitely an entirely unique clubbing experience.

I got hit on in five different languages – seriously – and with one group of guys from Madrid my name simply became “New York” (where they figured out that I’m from). I stumbled back to my hotel with only my fellow Stalkers, though. When we started to drift off at around 6:30 a.m., you could still hear cars and people milling around the streets. This place is going to be bananas in June. 

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Copyright 2006 Club Systems International Magazine
Copyright 2006 TESTA Communications