Sven Vath’s Cocoon at Amnesia has been one of the biggest influences in my clubbing life. Or even my life – it has pervaded music through to lifestyle, culture and attitude.
I first went in 2004. Back then, to me, music was all about big names such as Paul Van Dyk and Eric Morillo. I had heard about Cocoon and quite fancied giving it a try – plus Laurent Garnier was playing who I was a massive fan of.
I’d followed Sven ever since roughly 1992/93/94 when there was a little techno feature on a John Peel show – though techno was not easy to get hold of as a child in a northern UK backwater and it was that night in 2004 where I first started to grasp the magic of Sven.
The crowd wowed me. Back then it was spot-a-Brit – the two of us stood out like a mile. All Spanish, Italians – a cosmopolitan crowd, a friendly yet somewhat avant-garde crowd – and dancers that fitted the bill. It was something very new to me.
It was also when I discovered minimal – Steve Bug was playing the terrace – I didn’t understand back then why this music with no drops, no sudden changes and no vocals was so captivating. Within 2 months I had ditched the big-room dance music and still haven’t stopped banging on about minimal to this day.
Over the coming years, Cocoon at Amnesia was my annual pilgrimage to another world – a club night like no other, a spectacle of glamour and excitement, with astonishingly brilliant music. I went almost every year, sometimes twice, and every time I was blown away. For several years in a row, this was the highlight of my year. Absolute brilliance.
For some reason I haven’t been in the last few years. Just the way that my near-annual Ibiza pilgrimages have worked out – last year I went to DC10 and there is no way I can handle DC10 followed by Cocoon at my age. It’s one or the other.
I have consistently felt that I am missing out – so this year my holiday was planned around it.
I awoke at 9am that morning, tired and hanging, just a few hours sleep following an excellent night at Guy Gerber’s Rumors at Destino. Beer was the solution. I was quite squiffy by midday. Oops. Sometimes the excitement gets to me and I struggle to behave – Monday was one of those days.
A long day of getting on it ensued and I was wondering how I was going to make it through the night.
We arrived not too long after midnight, straight through the door without being searched (seriously Amnesia, a little pat down to ensure I don’t have a gun would be appreciated – granted I probably don’t look the violent type in my green sequin shoes) and headed pretty much straight to the main dancefloor where Dana Ruh was doing an excellent job of warming up.
Quite dark and at times, dubby, this was quite the musical highlight for me. A well thought-out set, full of pre-techno tracks that teased and titillated the ears. I’ve been following her for a while, and it is good to see some fresh talent on Cocoon’s agency itself – once the go-to agency for exciting techno, now somewhat catching up, certainly compared to past achievements.
Sonja Moonear was another excellent booking – I love her hypnotic minimal sound and have seen her more than any other DJ this year. However, her being in the main techno-orientated room meant that I didn’t get the hypnotic grooves that I was hoping for. She played techno. And in a restrained manner, she smashed it.
Not long after Sven started in the terrace (3am) we squeezed our way through the crowd to see what he was up to, partly due to an increasingly annoying crowd – more on that later.
We hadn’t bothered to check out Guy Gerber as we saw him the previous evening at Destino – Sven is a hero to me but his sets have become less interesting in recent years. When we arrived, the music was quite quiet, and calm. We didn’t persevere for too long – Sonja was playing too good a set.
Annoyingly, Amnesia have cut off one side entrance between the two rooms which didn’t help the flow – the DJ booth in the terrace was now at the back of the terrace (as in the opposite side to the main entrance) which may be the reason why.
It was also getting rather hot in there – nothing unusual for Amnesia, it used to be far worse for the heat years ago, but you always had the ice cannons to cool you down.
I’m used to a bit of teasing and tormenting by Sven and Cocoon in general but it was around this time that I realised there was actually no ice cannons. Not once were they seen let alone used. Amnesia without ice cannons is like fabric without an amazing soundsystem.
In fact the decoration was minimal and things seemed to be missing. The Cocoon rings seemed an after-thought of decoration, the dancers were not quite as glamorous as usual – the whole theatre side of Cocoon seemed hugely missing. I know – its a club night and all you need is a light, great music, and a fabulously-tuned sound-system. But this is Cocoon and it has always been a piece of theatre.
Speaking of the sound-system, what has happened? It used to be on-point, never quite the standard of fabric but up there. This night it was slightly distorting the bass and felt like it was either not set up correctly for the night, or the system itself wasn’t being looked after. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard far,far worse sound systems but this is not what I expected from what used to be one of the best clubs in the world.
The crowd were a bit irritating too. Long gone has the mixed-European cosmopolitan make-up of Cocoon Ibiza, now replaced by a majority of Brits and Italians, some of my fellow Brits were rather boorish, and of course a selection of Italians refused to queue for the toilets. Stereotypes, for sure, but lived up to.
I caught one guy videoing up a girl’s skirt who thought himself hilarious. Seriously. Someone else was recording the night on a selfie stick. Seriously. And the amount of people stood there aloof recording on their mobile phones when Nina came on was utterly ridiculous. I started to lose heart in the night at that point.
Amnesia itself was looking tired, and stank of stale cigarettes. I know that I should accept that its a free for all in there but I’m used to smoke-free cleaner clubs – I’m not used to coming home absolutely stinking. It should also be noted that on two occasions people at the bar were complaining about only receiving change for a €20 when they had given €50 – a charge also posted on their Facebook reviews, which of late have been poor. We had nothing but excellent service when we went to the bar, pero es ayudar si tu hablar un pequena de Espanol. Just learn a few words!!
Sadly, it did seem as though Amnesia was desperately trying to squeeze any remaining money out of punters whilst it is still operational – that was the vibe I got. I have my questions as to how long it will still be operating for.
I gave up around 5am. I accepted defeat, partly in myself as it was a 5th drunken night in a row, and paranoia was starting to kick in. I needed to sit down, chill out and have a pee – none of them too easy in Amnesia. Fuck I am getting old.
My annoyances with Amnesia coupled with the disappointment at no ice cannons, oh yeah and some people in the crowd being annoying overshadowed what was a great night in terms of music.
Amnesia may be getting many things wrong, but Cocoon did everything right in terms of the line-up and the DJs were on point. My friend stayed until the end and said that Sven was excellent and played some great tracks towards the end.
I can only give it a 6.2 out of 10 overall but this really should not detract from Cocoon itself which continues its metamorphosis away from more tired sounds to the fresher underground house/techno of the likes of Dana Ruh/Sonja Moonear.
I have my doubts as to what the future holds for Amnesia and couldn’t give a toss about it. I’m definitely too old to be going to Amnesia.
But Sven’s Cocoon is going from strength to strength once more and remains an essential part of clubland.
And there are plenty of places in Ibiza with more soul – Underground, Destino, Pikes, Zoo Project, Tipic – maybe you could count DC10 and Sankeys too.
If you’ve never been to Amnesia then I’d still recommend going, it is an experience – but I’m done with it.