Words: Nick Clayton
Playing with nostalgia can be a dangerous game. We all have memories of summers when the sun always shone, the music was better and hangovers disappeared over breakfast. A mediocre attempt to revisit those perfect times could tarnish the original memories forever. They may never be the same again. So it was with some trepidation we originally heard of plans for a Clockwork Orange reboot to celebrate its 20th anniversary on the island. We remember for half of the 1990s its star burned brightly as it became the San An roadblock party, filling Es Paradis every week. That’s not to mention the even more riotous after-parties at Space. Then at the end of the century, for multiple reasons, Clockwork burned out. Many of its regular DJs gradually all but disappeared from the Ibiza firmament. The party remained only as a fabulous memory for a generation of island clubbers. As soon as we heard about its Ibiza revival – if only for a night at Es Paradis and a Sunday evening on Bossa beach at Sands – we knew we had to go. We couldn’t risk missing out on what could be one of the parties of the summer. But, would anybody else turn up? If they did, would they all be granddads with glowsticks? Would Clockwork Orange turn out to be a lemon?
Our worries vanished the instant we arrived at Es Paradis. It was 1am, early by Ibiza standards. The dancefloor was already crowded after sets from Clara da Costa and Clockwork’s own Andy Manston. Es Paradis’ single room design meant the party had to start at 10pm to fit in the night’s abundance of DJ talent. Now, Alex P and Brandon Block were behind the decks. Well, more accurately, Alex was behind the decks. Blocko was leaping about exuberantly giving shout-outs in memory of Frankie Knuckles, waving his arms in the air and then jumping up to share the podium with a go-go dancer. The boy may have grown older, but he certainly hasn’t grown up. Thank God.
The music was track after track of old skool, most familiar, a few almost forgotten, but all as fresh as the day they were laid down. Everywhere there were smiles, in the DJ booth and on the dancefloor. In the crowd there were parents who’d ditched the children and flown in specially to relive their original Clockwork memories. Boy, were they up for a party. They were joined by kids who were barely out of nappies when Clockwork last hit the island. It was a night when age didn’t matter. Everybody just wanted a good time. And they got it. In spades.
Tune after tune brought a sea of hands reaching for the lasers as they bounced off the mirror balls, Greek columns and grape vines of Es Paradis, which still resembles the vision of a disco from a 1970s Joan Collins movie. We love it. Beautiful acrobats periodically twisted and turned above. But it really was all about the music. A clearly exhilarated Judge Jules brought it more up to date, but it was old skool that brought the house down. There were multiple highs, but if there was one moment, which summed up the night it was during Tall Paul and Seb Fontaine’s set when they dropped Underworld’s Born Slippy. You could bottle the raw emotion, which roared from the dancefloor. And it never seemed to get emptier. At 5am the dancefloor was still rammed for Jeremy Healey.
If everybody could have decamped to Space for an after-party I’m sure they would have done. Sadly, those days are gone, a victim of Ibiza’s changing laws. But on Sunday 27 July there’s something even better. Clockwork Orange will do it all over again at Sands on Bossa from 3pm to midnight. We can’t wait.