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Sun, sand and superclubs: What it's like to go to Ibiza for the first time

Updated on 19 July 2019

Radio 1 in Ibiza returns to Ibiza's Café Mambo on Friday 2 August, with a line-up boasting your favourite DJs and presenters (Annie Mac, Danny Howard and Monki) as well as some of the world's biggest dance acts (David Guetta, CamelPhat and more). Tune in from 8pm to catch all the action.

Meanwhile, 1Xtra hosts its own showcase on Saturday 3 August, bringing the best in hip-hop, grime, dancehall and RnB to The White Isle. Acts include Alicai Harley, Donae'O and JAY1.

One thing Ibiza veterans never forget is their first trip. So we asked some of Radio 1 and 1Xtra's radio family to tell us about their first Ibiza memories, as well as advice for any first-timers flying over in 2019. Don't forget the sun cream, guys!

Danny Howard

My first time in Ibiza…

It was ten years ago in 2008, actually. I saw Carl Cox, Roger Sanchez, Deadmau5, Claude VonStroke, Green Velvet and Sasha. We went to see Tiësto at Privilege [the "world's biggest club"]. My main aim was to visit every superclub on the island - a different one every night - and we managed it!

I couldn’t really afford to go so I decided to sell my car to cover the costs. At the time it was a good idea, but then I had to go back to travelling on the bus. But it was definitely a worthy investment. It was this first Ibiza trip that really made me want to become a DJ. When I landed back home in England, I was like, "Right, need to get some decks".

My advice for first-timers...

If you’re going to Ibiza, don’t expect to sleep too much. Oh and don’t forget to take SPF 50 sun cream.

After my first Ibiza trip, I was like, "Right, need to get some decks"

My most surreal Ibiza experience was...

About three years ago, Hardwell was doing the Essential Mix and one of the speakers blew. He refused to continue his performance unless we fixed the speaker. The club was at capacity and it was live on the radio, we couldn’t just stop the music. I thought he was actually bluffing, but lo and behold, 10 minutes later and he walks off. There was still half hour to go. Luckily I had my USB on me, so I stepped in and, by default, did my first-ever Essential Mix in front of 10,000 people and live on Radio 1.

Then there was last year, when my luggage was lost and I had to borrow my mate’s clothes and recycle the only clothes I had. You can actually get away with it in Ibiza, as you don’t have to wear that much.

Pool party or the club?

Pool parties are bigger than ever this year, the beach clubs are really popular too. I prefer to DJ into the early hours of the morning, though - with the sun rising, instead of the sun setting. So, for me, it’s all about the club.

Mollie King

My first time in Ibiza…

I had actually planned for a relaxing holiday and I didn’t realise that we had booked one of the biggest party hotels, so it was a bit of a surprise when I got out there and there were pool parties literally every day. I hadn’t really packed anything for that kind of vibe so I was like, "Oh god". But it was still great. People just wanted to let their hair down, and everyone was in a good mood because the weather was gorgeous.

My advice for first-timers...

Allow time to see different parts of the island because there really are such different vibes. The Ibiza old town is relaxed and romantic. There’s also Formentera, an island with gorgeous sand - it feels like you're in the Caribbean.

I got stranded in Ibiza with Frankie Bridge

My most surreal Ibiza experience was...

One time I was out there with Frankie Bridge [former bandmate in The Saturdays] and we went to San Antonio, the part that’s full-on, hardcore clubbing. We thought we’d dip our toes in and see what it’s like. Well, we got there and couldn't get a cab home. So we were stranded for hours. Eventually, we heard English accents and ended up hitching a ride back. Normally when you’re abroad you don’t want to hear other British voices, but we heard these Brits and we were like, "Thank god!"

DJ Target

My first time in Ibiza…

It was actually the year that Michael Jackson died (in 2009). My friends and I were ready to go out and heard the news. We just sat at this table, shocked and speechless for about half an hour. We eventually made it out and all the clubs were playing MJ tracks - each DJ was paying tribute during their set. When I think about my first time in Ibiza, I always think of Michael Jackson. The following year, I returned with Roll Deep and performed there for the first time. It was felt like a very different experience, but I loved being able to go back and get on the decks.

My advice for first-timers...

Things aren’t as close together as on other islands. You either need a rental car or be prepared for some taxi rides. I’d definitely recommend planning in advance: gather as much information on who you want to see and where they are playing. It’s hard to pop from club to club, so you definitely need light itineraries rather than turning up and winging it.

We were raving with Ashley Young and Phil from Location, Location, Location

My most surreal Ibiza experience was...

Playing Ushuaia [Ibiza superclub] for Radio 1 in 2016 was a great experience, but there have also been moments of seeing people you’re not expecting to. Last year, we were raving with Ashley Young and some other footballers. There was also a time we saw Phil Spencer from Location, Location, Location.

Pool party or the club?

I like both - for different reasons. With pool parties, you’re outdoors and can enjoy the weather. It’s a slightly different vibe and kind of music that gets played. Clubs are a bit more full-on.

Monki

My first time in Ibiza…

Was actually as a DJ, which was quite a strange introduction. It was only a few years later that I was able to go back clubbing. It was a completely different experience. I remember it being 7am and I was sat on a rock watching the sun come up and everyone was jumping into the sea, I turned to my friend and said, "I think I’m having an Ibiza moment."

My advice for first-timers...

Make sure you go with a good crew, that’s the most important thing. Also maybe bring some hand sanitiser.

Somebody will end up in the pool fully clothed

My most surreal Ibiza experience was...

The first time I played Ibiza for Radio 1, I remember sitting in a cafe in the middle of island and seeing a big poster with my name on it. That was definitely surreal. Also the time I was walking along a beach and randomly bumped into Pete Tong. I didn’t know him very well at the time but I was like, "Alright mate!"

Pool party or the club?

I do enjoy a pool party, but I’d choose clubs any day.

Sian Anderson

My first time in Ibiza…

It was as a punter in 2012. I had really high expectations after seeing Ibiza on the TV, but also slightly worried because of some of the stories you hear. But it was great, almost like a London rave but with sunshine. I remember thinking that I couldn't wait to return to play as a DJ. I’m actually going back in a couple of weeks with my son, because there’s some great resorts on the island too.

My advice for first-timers...

Treat it like a normal holiday: take sun cream and be ready to have all the fun.

When I came back, I was like, “Do I like house music now?”

My most surreal Ibiza experience was..

The time I was that person in a club at stupid o’clock in the morning, cutting shapes to house music. I was like, "I don’t even know what house music is. I don’t listen to house music at home. I don’t even know where I’m getting these moves from, but here I am having a whale of a time." When I came back, I was like, "Do I like house music now?" But Ibiza’s not just about house, there are hip-hop clubs and loads of different venues that facilitate whatever type of music you’re into.

Pool party or the club?

My favourite Ibiza setting is actually when you’re on the beach and you can hear the music from the bars and the clubs, but you’re paddling in the water and having your own little rave.

MistaJam

My first time in Ibiza…

It was as a performer in 2006. I had grown up hearing stories about the legend of Ibiza and as soon as I landed, I knew I was going to be back. That year I was playing a night that was predominantly hip-hop and R&B on an island that was - at that point - mostly known for house music. Since then, we’ve seen multi-genre DJs really take off in Ibiza. Hip-hop, R&B and reggae have long had a presence on the island but, over the past few years, more and more rock bands have been performing too. It’s all about going to the place to find it, it’s not an island for people who like just one kind of music. It’s an island with a little bit of something for everyone.

My advice for first-timers...

Make sure you spend a few days exploring. Definitely go to the north of the island where it’s a lot quieter and calmer. There's beautiful scenery, it’s not just about partying at the clubs and bars.

If you’re awake at 4am in Ibiza, there will be a lot of strange experiences

My most surreal Ibiza experience was...

If you’re awake at 4am in Ibiza, there will be a lot of strange experiences. It’s a place where - however many times you’ve been - you really feel it as soon as you land.

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