This week’s #TBT Series installment takes us back 27 years to the heydays of Ibiza partying, and to one of the most revered clubbing destinations in the world: Amnesia Ibiza.
The 5,000 plus capacity venue opened in 1976 and is one of only two major clubs on the island located close to the village of San Rafael, half-way between Ibiza Town and San Antonio. While the infamous open-air terrace is now closed, sunrise still peeks in through clear windows to welcome some of the most memorable sunrise sets on the island today.
By the end of the 80s, Amnesia had undergone massive changes after over a decade of operation. Dance music was playing through the speakers and major clubs on the island had introduced the concept of open-air dance floors. Balearic house was gaining major traction thanks to legendary acts like DJ Alfredo Fiorito (also known simply as DJ Alfredo) and DJ Huggy MacPherson, who both held major residencies at the San Rafael nightclub . Their sound took a while to catch on with Ibiza crowd at first, but later became focal points of the club’s expansion thanks to a blend of rock, pop, soul, hip-hop and proto-house that had never been played on the island before.
While in 2016 we are seeing island government pass laws forcing clubs to stop music at 6:30am, in the late 80s Amnesia opened at 3am and went through to midday or later. British house music DJ Danny Rampling famously recalled, “Amnesia was a complete revelation. Alfredo, as a DJ, blended texture and music in a way I would compare to a Miro painting. For me, he was the Larry Levan of Europe. Interestingly, Alfredo was connected to an American who was part of the Paradise Garage group, who used to supply him records. Dancing in the open air, surrounded by an incredible mix of sexy people was mind-blowing.”
Paul Oakenfold was another famous name hooked on the Ibiza club during that time, recalling how its sound stood out in contrast to London and the rest of mainland Europe, “In England at that time, clubs only played one type of music, and London was full of attitude. But at Amnesia you had 7,000 people dancing to Cyndi Lauper. Total freedom.”
Amnesia was the destination clubbers would choose when other venues shut down, driving inland for a taste of music and experience unlike any other that existed at the time. In those years, the club was surrounded by massive white washed walls with a large mirrored pyramid in the middle of the dance floor; the bars were around the sides as was plenty of cushioned seating for party goers to chill out on. As you can imagine, this was before bottle service was truly a thing.
The open-aspect layout of the venue meant that up to 7,000 revelers flowed in to enjoy an eclectic selection of music under the Mediterranean air and stars, all the while being engulfed by exotic plants and like-minded ravers from all over the world. There were no laws, with people dressing up, drinking and rampant drug usage – anything was allowed; it was clubbing freedom at its best.
Amnesia’s nights ultimately took a pivotal role in the future of British clubbing of the late 80s and early 90s. Oakenfold, Rampling and fellow London DJs and club promoters Nicky Holloway and Johnny Walker would visit during summer and return back to England influenced by the sounds and atmosphere of their Ibicencan experiences. Oakenfold launched invite-only “Ibiza-inspired” nights that began at 2am following his hip-hop sets at a a club in Streatham. The success was so big that each member of this crew all moved onto to establishing their own successful clubs and nights: Oakenfold started Spectrum, Rampling started Shoom and Holloway started the Trip. The sheer popularity and boom of their ventures went on to shape an entire series of raves and parties all over England and beyond – while it would be unfair to say that those wouldn’t have happened without Amnesia, it would also be unjust to not credit the locale that provided that initial artistic spark and inspiration.
Currently the club holds some of the most notable residencies on the island, including Cocoon by Sven Väth on Monday nights, Together on Tuesdays, Hyte on Wednesdays, British-run Cream on Thursday nights, Marco Carola’s Music On every Friday and Matinée on Saturdays. This major powerhouse of worlwide clubbing has changed a lot since the late 80s and early 90s – years that saw Amnesia truly impact a generation with its lawless parties. Although the club has expanded and adapted to today’s ever-changing global electronic music scene, it has remained as relevant and influential as it was back when DJ Alfredo was its only resident.
Below is a series of videos from Amnesia’s Closing Party on October 3rd of 1989. Needless to say, Alfredo Fiorito was behind the decks, with Adamski playing live on the piano and Boy George also present in the building that night.
Other articles in 6AM’s #TBT Series: