When Nicky Holloway, Danny Rampling and Paul Oakenfold went on holiday to Ibiza together in the summer of 1987 they made a discovery that would change the face of clubbing for the next twelve years. A combination of cosmopolitan nightclubs, Balearic beats and a new happy pill totally transformed Holloway’s perception of how clubbing should be, stimulating a desire within him to change the face of British clubbing. The rest, as they say, is history.
Tell us what happened in the summer of 87.
I’d been going to Ibiza since the mid-eighties but it wasn’t until ’87 that things dropped into place. Before that I just used to go around the West End, chatting girls up and having a few beers at naff English bars. We’d all have a great time though and have a laugh. Then one night I went out and met a friend of mine who was working out there. He said to me that everyone out there was doing this new thing called ‘Ecstasy’. I’d never heard of it before and never even done drugs in my life so it was a bit like "Oi, easy tiger, not me". But after a while though I thought I’d give it a go. I did one then went off to Amnesia on an ‘E’ for the first time ever. Anyone who has ever taken one will know you remember your first night vividly. It really is a life changing moment. That led to ten years of throwing them down my neck regularly.
The combination of the drugs, the club and the general feeling of being away with your mates must have been incredible.
Yeah, of course. Amnesia is incredible. It was the first time I had ever been in an open-air club in my life. Alfredo was DJing and he was playing records that we knew about but just wouldn’t have thought to play at the time. There was a mixture of early Chicago house and what can only be described as pop music, to be honest. It was dance mixes of pop records. When all these factors came together it suddenly felt we were no longer in a club full of ‘Johnny foreigners’, it was more a case of being in a club full of ‘Johnny foreigners’ but it didn’t matter, we loved it. Beforehand we would have stayed away because there wasn’t enough English people in there; all of a sudden we loved it because there were no English people there. The feeling that night is just totally un-describable.
Alfredo is known as one of the original Balearic DJs, but what exactly is ‘Balearic beats’?
Well it is not really a category of music in that Balearic music is all styles brought together. So in a way it is contradictory to say that a style of music is Balearic because it is all style. It was never a set thing. It just meant that you could open up a little bit and play things alongside house music that you wouldn’t normally. Hip hop would sit alongside disco and house. You can’t do it anymore, the whole thing has gone full circle, the crowd tells you what is to be played now.
So when you came home after the ’87 trip how did your approach to clubbing change?
Well Paul Oakenfold started up ‘Spectrum’, I started up ‘The Trip’ and Danny Rampling started up ‘Shoom’. As soon as we came back we threw little parties for our friends and the Ibiza crowd for when they came home. It started off monthly, and then went weekly and just got bigger and bigger. By the start of the summer of ’88 it was huge. Acid house, as it was called then, exploded. Then things just went absolutely mental. From that point on everything became a bit of a blur to me; the years all melted into each other.
In ’88 everybody was talking about Ibiza, some were lucky enough to get there that summer, but in ’89 everybody seemed to be heading out there. Did that make the place a more exciting place to be?
Not at all, there was a bit of a backlash that year because there were so many Brits. It did look like it was going to die after that summer. In ’87 there were hardly any English people there and in ’89 it was full of English people. We always do that don’t we, ruin something that is special. The thing is though, Ibiza will always be there long after the British clubbers and promoters are gone.
There always seems to be someone who says that Ibiza is never as good as it used to be. As someone that was there at the beginning, what is you view of the Island today?
The funny thing is people have been saying it is not as good as it was since we first came back in ’87. The simple fact is that if you are nineteen years old and you are on holiday in Ibiza with a load of friends then there simply isn’t anywhere better to go. If you are in your thirties like me and you have been going for seventeen years then it is not going to be as good as it was. It really hurts me to see the likes of Burger King and KFC all over San Antonio, and seeing so many British clubs out there to a certain extent. Why don’t they stay at home and concentrate on filling the UK clubs in the summertime? The only problem for the kids is the expense. If you go out there to go clubbing you are going to spend a grand a week, it is as simple as that. This is why clubland suffers in the summer, the kids are saving to go to Ibiza. They beg, steal and borrow their money so that they can go out to Ibiza and give they UK clubs a miss.
Has clubland gone Ibiza crazy?
All you hear now throughout the summer is "Ibiza, Ibiza, Ibiza, Ibiza" and it really gets on my tits. Don’t get me wrong I love the place, but when you listen to some people in the media going on about it, you’d think that there was nothing else in life but bleedin’ Ibiza.
Do you still feel precious about the place?
I did a but I have given up feeling like that. I’ve been through my resent bit to be honest. I had been out there running bars and clubs long before the current lot, they have only been out there for the last three or four years. I had been doing it for years before them but it wasn’t working. I paved the way for a lot of people to go in there and make a lot of money. I made the mistakes that they learnt from. It wasn’t that I missed the boat, I just got there before the boat arrived, then left thinking the thing would never come. I was the first English person to do any deals with Pacha, I had the Milk Bar out there in ’92 but it was nothing like it is now. The amount of people that go out there is incredible.
What was the biggest loss you made out there?
I did a big party with 808 State, Sasha, Oakenfold and N-Joi back in ’93 and ended up loosing about forty to fifty grand on it.
Have you ever got yourself into any scrapes out there?
I’ve been nicked out there. It was before the EEC thing came in and I was driving around out there in my BMW. Nw I know all the drug dealers out there and all the bad boys and some copper saw me talking to these people all the time. Seeing that I lived in a big villa and had a BMW he assumed that I was ‘Mr Trafficker’. They looked into my bank details and saw that I had a big transaction for thousands going through my account. It must have looked like I was Bertie Smalls, you know. So I got nicked and pulled in for trafficking, they were gonna do me. Fortunately I had someone from The Sun in the car with me at the time. They got the people from Pacha to verify what I was up to and the police let me go.
Now that you abstain from drugs and booze, how are you going to spend your time out there this year?
I’m going to be seeing my Spanish friends out there and seeing more of the beaches this year. I’m not going to be the sad git propping up the end of the bar at Space anymore.
Nicky Holloway’s Top 5 Balearic Classics
M1 - 'Feel The Drums'
It was just a groove that really reminds me of the summer of ’93
Kenny Jammin Jason - 'Can U Dance'
It was an early house track that always reminds me of the early years.
Cyndy Lauper - 'True Colours'
I’d hear this in the bars at the afternoon. It is a really personal track that reminds me of special moments out there.
Art Of Noise - 'Moments In Love'
A superb chill out record.
Banderas - 'This Is Your Life'
A great Balearic track that was being played in the clubs for a while.