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A Weekend In Ibiza: Masquerade Motel with Alesso and Benny Benassi

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What’s all the hype about? What’s the scene really like? What does one do in an average Ibizan day? Stuff your backpack with a week’s worth of clothes — including at least one “dress to impress” outfit — and hop on a budget airline. Don’t buy travel insurance and say no to extra baggage. Just get there. Be ready to fist pump till your arm falls off. You are going to Ibiza!


The rhythm of summer pulses from one island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. It blows up with international club tourists that dance all night and hang on the beaches all day. This island brings the SoundCloud-inclined rising stars of tomorrow and the old school big names alike. More top 100 clubs reside on this 220 square mile island than in the entire United States.

Of course I’m talking about the one, the only, Eivissa, or as you may know it, Ibiza (though it’s often pronounced with a lisp as in “Ibitha”). This season the halfway point between Barcelona and Algeria has been home to David Guetta’s prudish but legendary F*** Me, I’m Famous party, Eric Morillo’s Subliminal, the Come Together party at Space, Judgement Sundays at Eden, and Amnesia’s famous Cream. Our personal favorite, however, has to be Swedish House Mafia’s reigning event at Pacha, Masquerade Motel.

In this short Ibizan tale — typical of many — I’ll bring you through a 16 hour day in the world capital of dance music. From the morning trip to the fruit market, to the afternoon beach party, into the unforgettable main event of the evening — the Masquerade Motel, get ready to take a ride as you get a small taste of what this little island has to offer.

First educate yourself on The Masquerade Motel Experience…


Landing in Ibiza from Copenhagen, we stripped our winter jackets and our northern European attitudes and slipped into something a bit more comfortable: the standard Ibizan uniform of flip flops, board shorts, and tank tops.  It was time to check in. We certainly left the world behind.

The weather forecast called for 26-28° (that’s Celsius) all week, with not a cloud in sight. It never gets colder than a perfect 19° (a cool 67 Fahrenheit) in the evenings. If you’re not Celsius savvy, it means it’s going to be warm all the time. In Ibiza, humidity is only a reminder that you’re in the Mediterranean summer.

The warm ocean water serves as a salty basin to cure your weary body from repeated nights of watching the sun rise after hours of the pulsating music. Trips to the beach are well deserved, and stretching out, taking a swim, and hardcore relaxing are all part of the Ibiza lifestyle.

One of the most overlooked aspects in Ibizan life is the abundance of great food in the restaurants and markets that abound where ever you go in Old Town. You cannot leave without eating Paella, a typical Spanish dish of rice and fish. You might even have a little fun with the prawns that are often served with their heads still on.

IBIZAN TIP: The fruit market in Old Town Ibiza has an awesome deli. It’s right by the entrance to the castle. Get a sandwich with fresh olives from the red-haired woman.

 

Take a look around the castle. It’s always good to learn a bit about of where you are staying before making your way to the parties. The old city walls have been occupied since 654 BC.

Once our bags were stocked up with fresh fruit to last us the day, we hopped a bus to Playa d’en Bossa. It’s a touristy location with a high concentration of clubs, the perfect place to spend the afternoon. A strip of beach runs around the cove with bars and restaurants running parallel to the water right on the sand. This is where we stumbled upon Bora-Bora.

Bora-Bora is a free and open club on the beach that welcomes day time partiers, half partiers from the night before, or those just half starting up their days with a cold drink and a fat bassline.

Don’t let the steep prices of the beach chairs in front of the club scare you as there’s a large section of free beach just over to the right. The music is just as loud and the crowd is half as posh, but as you might expect that amounts to twice as much fun.

When the sun is low enough, it’s time to bring the pre-party back to the apartment. Every store on the strip sells alcohol and most have packaged deals. Our favorite was a handle of vodka, cups, and four Red Bulls for €18. This was not a bad deal after arriving from Sweden where the cheapest Vodka sells for about  €28, of coursed priced in SEK, and only government regulated stores sell alcohol above 3.5%.

IBIZAN TIP: Use Airbnb.com to book a great place for you and your friends in Ibiza. We found huge apartments with several beds. Get enough people and it’s cheaper per person than staying in a hotel.

Tomorrow we will enjoy our big hangover with a side of paella for dinner at Mama Pomelo in Old Town. Tonight, I will take a couple quick “jamon y queso” empanadas and head upstairs to the beach front apartment for nine of us.

IBIZAN TIP: Go directly across the street from Bora-Bora. Internet service in Ibiza is bad but at “Vinos Y Tapas” you can get away with sitting down and bumming WiFi without ordering. The internet password is “borabora2011″ or “VinosyTapas2011″ — but don’t tell anyone we told you.

IBIZAN TIP: IBIZAN TIP: After 2:30, Pacha opens up the inside balcony. If you can make your way to the top of the stair case by then, you’ll have a great view of the DJ and lighting booth.

While everybody showered and gets ready for the night, we used the speakers supplied in our room to set the vibe. Ibiza Sonica, the island’s radio station, plays music that is perfect to get you ready for your big night out.

Tonight is the main event: Swedish House Mafia’s Masquerade Motel with ‘special guests’ at Pacha. Unfortunately, at the last minute, SHM canceled their appearance, and rumors that were floating around the island all day were confirmed to be true at the door.

Fortunately, the ‘special guests’ were not disappointing. Mondays at Pacha are the biggest nights on the Island and we were privileged (no pun intended) to catch Alesso and Benny Benassi in place of SHM — not exactly a hardship.

We arrived, shuffled through the tightly packed crowd, and got to the front of the DJ booth. Across the haze-filled dance floor discs hung from the ceiling with projections from SHM’s videos being shown. Clocks morphed into eye balls, and keys hung randomly between the numerous disco balls and lighting apparatuses.


Alesso was just about to take to the decks when I wriggled my way to the back of the DJ booth. The only people in the booth were a man in a suit handing out shots, Benny Benassi, a couple close friends of Alesso, and me, the resident Dancing Astronaut.

As we’ve come to expect from Alesso’s sets, many of the highlights were tracks he himself has crafted. The Swedish blood runs strong with this one, and the influence he draws from his mentors (Sebastian Ingrosso, Axwell, and Steve Angello) is easy to recognize in his productions.

Alesso grouped his set into sections of about 30-45 minutes. Each section brought the audience up and then down. The darker deeper sections was filled with tracks like Nari & Milani’s “Kendo,” and then into vocals with melodic tracks like Avicii’s “Fade Into Darkness.”

A set wouldn’t have been complete without Alesso’s collaborative work with Ingrosso, “Calling,” which he dropped early on in his two hour set.


Tommy Trash made his cameo in Alesso’s set with, “The End,” and Third Party’s Remix of, “I Believe In” went over huge. One of the most notable tracks was Third Party’s “Duel.”
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And of course a Swedish set wouldn’t be complete without that Swedish sound as heard in his remix of, Good Love.

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But the crowd favorite for his set, was Calvin Harris’, Feel So Close.

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During Alesso’s set, Benassi stood back stage eyeing the youngster like his sensei. He hung back modestly. Just before he was ready to show Pacha how sensei waxes on, the backstage filler vanished. Mixing into Alesso’s set, Benassi hit the crowd with a bang.

Let me tell you something about a bang. A bang at a festival might sound like one thing at 12 midnight, but a bang in Ibiza is something quite different.

At 4am when the headliner stands before you, all the momentum of the day culminates. When this bang hit, the confetti came streaming down, fireworks shot off, and the ground wobbled with the dubby base of Benassi’s unreleased hit, “Limit To Your Love.”

Dubstep at Pacha. On a Masquerade Motel Monday. Yes, it actually happened.

From the vocal intro, to the drop, this tune stuck with us and then he walloped us with the next one: R3hab’s “The Bottle Song.” Listen to both below.

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Around 5am, the suited man offered up shots of bottled alcohol for everybody on stage. It would be a shame to turn down a gulp of mysterious dark liquid with Benassi and Alesso. So naturally, I partook.


Deeper into the night, the masquerade clocks hanging from the ceiling seemed to warp time. Soon it was 6:30 am and the black sky was turning into turquoise. By 8:00, we were back from the club, and by 9:30 the tinnitus and the lapping of the waves at the beach had taken over everything you could hear.

IBIZAN TIP: Bring a blindfold with you. It is inevitable you will be sleeping while the sun is out, and it can always be used for… other activities too. *wink*

Even with the magic of the evening, it was disappointing not to see Swedish House Mafia at their own party, but it was the best night we had in Ibiza hands down. Alesso and Benassi carried the weight well and put on a great show. The lighting inside was unmatched, and the sound was impeccable. From high hats to bass, every sound was crystal. The pair showed mastery over the CDJs, and gave the crowd a treat they would long remember. Dancing Astronaut is looking forward to what Swedish House Mafia will have in store for next year. First Dark Forest, then Masquerade Motel. What’s next?

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