"It's very busy tonight, very busy," the cab driver commented as we drove from the Ibiza airport across the island to San Antonio.
"Carl Cox, you know him?"
"Do I know him?" I internally scoffed.
"He's playing tonight. There – at Privilege," he said, pointing to a large building a mile removed from the highway.
Its massive dome was my first impression of the evening as the taxi driver chattered on about how tonight was only one of two nights that the big man was coming back home to the island that helped make his career.
Last year, Carl Cox ended his 15-year residency at Ibiza's beloved Space nightclub. As longtime owner Pepe Rosello decided to hang his hat on a remarkable 30-year career, there were feelings that the island and its beloved landmarks were changing. Despite the rebranding, the renovations, and new ownership, perhaps the greatest change to the island was the loss of the weekly appearance of the King of Ibiza himself – Carl Cox.
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"I’m still at a loss for words at how great this felt."
But now, for one of two nights of the 2017 season, Carl Cox was playing for people who traveled near and far to see him perform in Ibiza once more. As the Guinness World Records holder for "World's Largest Club," Carl Cox was able to pack out the 10,000 capacity Privilege, a feat that few DJs could duplicate.
Walking in, Privilege in sheer size is the perfect place for a proper massive. But unlike the arena sports complexes that dominate American EDM performances. Privilege has the air and ambiance of a true nightclub with labyrinthine walk walks that lead from one room to another, making the club an experience to explore for newly acquainted fans. From the Terrance, to the main room, to the Garden, there's plenty of areas to enjoy casual conversations taking place in a mix of British accents, Spanish, and German. Natural trees populate the clubs patios amidst the bodies of club goers, making the building stand out from the typical brick and mortar nightclubs that populate much of the rest of the world.
Here, the feeling is different. The history of club music manifests itself in such a way that America's dominate EDM industry cannot possibly compete with on a cultural level. Call them professionals, if you will, but here you will not find the irritating tutus and light shows that have become the caricature of American dance music. Instead, you have seasoned veterans that understand the importance of a strong two-step, honing in on the subtle changes in BPM as opposed to following along to a drug-induced synth-line.
By the time Carl Cox took over the decks from Italian don Joseph Capriati at 3:30 am, the crowd was more than lubricated for the choice beats of one of the world's most respected DJs. A sea of bodies moved in tandem with Cox's tracks, as the main room celebrated the past, present, and future of Ibiza. Here, Carl Cox steered away from some of his more poppy favorites, for a heavy dose of acid and banging techno that filled returning Ibiza fans with a feeling of nostalgia, while the spirit of years past was glimpsed by first-time attendees.
As the sun was rising at 7 am that morning, Cox dropped the final track of the evening, leaving a sense of longing for what many fans felt was a premature ending. Carl Cox was just enough of a tease during his 3+ hour set to ensure another packed Privilege evening for his final Ibiza performance this summer on Tuesday, July 18th.