dc10 club closure: the end of the the line for the Ibiza underground?

August 25th, 2008 - 3:43 pm Posted in after hours ban, circo loco, DC10 | Comments (0)

dc10The Spanish authorities have ordered the closure of DC10, Ibiza’s most iconic underground club, for one year and imposed a e 300,000 fine on the club, on the back of a 57 day closure order spanning June to August.

DC10 is Ibiza’s Studio 54, its Paradise Garage. Every Monday beneath the searing blue Mediterranean sky a gaggle of outrageously dressed clubbers, babbling enthusiastically in a dozen languages, strut through the dusty car park and into Circoloco – Ibiza’s last truly eccentric party.

Ten years ago when Italian promoter Andrea Pellino and his business partner founded Circoloco at DC10 it seemed doomed to swift obscurity. The club lies a few hundred metres shy of the airport runway, between a marrow patch and a corral. It was dark and dirty inside. The outdoor terrace was open to the heavens.

The soundsystem was “terrible” according to resident DJ Tania Vulcano (who, in the first year, would go to work in the marina after playing her set, record bag slung over her shoulder.) Most of all, no one believed people would turn out to go clubbing on a Monday morning.

dc10The sceptics were wrong. Party people came in droves and DC10 became an adjective used to describe cutting edge music and fashion. The club is a little more refined these days (though they only upgraded the grubby toilets last year and air conditioning came as a welcome novelty this season) but its gritty, no-frills atmosphere remains a beloved part of its peculiar charm.

There is no fancy decor, no laser shows, no ice cannon, no heavy handed promotion, no podium dancers, no billboards, no extortionate drinks prices, no VIP area. Just four walls, a deafening sound system and music you won’t hear anywhere else.

The party is a Petri dish for underground electronic music culture. Instead of paying huge fees to big-name jocks Circoloco seeks out and cultivates young talent. It has boosted Tania Vulcano, Luciano, Loco Dice and Rhadoo to the DJ A-list and spread the fame of cult heroes like Dan Ghenacia, Guido Schneider, Jamie Jones and Davide Squillace.

Like the punters, the DJs come from all corners of the globe – Germany, Uruguay, Spain, Italy, France, Rumania, the UK and the US – a merry, polyglot muddle drawn together by a mutual passion for music.

On the dancefloor party kids sport satin shorts and boxing boots, tight waistcoats, brightly hued harem pants, bikinis, sunglasses the size of satellite dishes, tattoos that snake up spines or wrap around bronzed arms, studded lips, tongues, noses and nipples. DC10 is part catwalk, part Camden Market, part fetish, part fancy dress – and wholly reminiscent of the wildly colourful heyday of New York’s club scene. (Jade Jagger riding across the dancefloor, naked, on a white horse would hardly raise a murmur.)

dc10DC10 is pure escapism, a playground for grown-ups soundtracked by the hippest DJs on the planet. Yet the Spanish government seems intent on quashing this carnival. After a blinding opening party (the best in years, according to many regulars) and two more happy Mondays the Spanish government ruled (based on a three year-old drugs complaint made by the Guardia Civil) that DC10 would have to shut for the 57 “remaining” days of the 60 day closure ordered at the beginning of summer 2007 – even though the club was shut for 20 days last summer.

Government concern over illegal drugs is perfectly understandable, but this draconian move surprised even the most shock-proof island insiders. After all, DC10 has a strict security staff, often augmented by a team of Guardia Civil performing rigorous searches and the club installed CCTV cameras to better police the interior. Not to mention that drugs can be found in any club in Ibiza – or London, or anywhere – if you go looking hard enough.

In an interview, Circoloco promoter Andrea Pellino voiced his frustration: “I cooperated, I tried to do everything the government asked…. The situation is crazy. Circoloco started a movement in Ibiza. We brought the underground people together. I’ve put 100% of my heart into this club and I’m going to fight for it.” Pellino adds he won’t consider moving the iconic party elsewhere: “Circo Loco was born in DC10 and it’s not going to another club, never, ever. If DC10 is closed Circoloco is closed.”

Just as the club prepared to celebrate its reopening party the Diario de Ibiza published news that the club has been hit with a one year closure order and the maximum legal allowable fine because it is improperly licensed. Apparently, the club’s existing bar license only allows for 68 patrons on the premises.

Clearly, this is a ridiculous number, given the status of the club, but one can only speculate as to why one of Ibiza’s most popular discos doesn’t have a proper license. Would the owner have genuinely
been so reckless as to ignore the licensing laws for nearly a decade? Or is it the case that applications for a proper discotheque license have been refused or simply lost in a beauracratic wasteland?

dc10Speculation about the decision is the hottest topic of island and internet gossip, as can be seen from dozens of angry comments on internet forums. “This is another step towards turning Ibiza into the golf resort concept that the government favours,” is one. Another, “The government is always facing the negative side of the medal. It’s always about drugs… those clubs are a reason for people all over the world to come to the island.” An online petition protesting the ruling is rapidly gathering signatures www.ipetitions.com/petition/DC10

Noctambula, in Sa Penya in Ibiza Town, is the spiritual home of the island’s techno loving Italian massive (the DC10 DJs regularly drop by for a few drinks, or to spin some tunes before a night out) and the mood is decidedly downbeat. “A lot of people were waiting for DC10 to reopen,” remarks Steve, Noctambula’s resident cocktail wizard, who normally works the door at DC10 on a Monday.

Clive Henry, resident DJ for Circoloco is pessimistic. “I have loads of friends who cancelled their holidays [to Ibiza] because DC10 was shut. What happens now?”

That is the question on everyone’s lips, and for many the answer is nothing to celebrate. “DC10 is finished,” opines Guy Hornsby, a DJ/producer who’s been visiting DC10 religiously for the last six years. “Once they’ve shut it they’ll keep finding reasons to keep it shut. It’ll never get a license now.”

Only time will tell if Hornsby’s glum prediction is correct, but what is certain is Ibiza – and club land – stands to lose a cherished institution. Resident DJ Luciano is dismayed: “It’s like the f**king politicians are trying to break down one of the last bits of paradise on earth,” he says. Meanwhile, beneath the cobalt blue sky, at the end of a runway, DC10 lies silent, hovering between hope and history.

By Cila Warncke

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