My phone lit up. It was my pal Jamie, who worked at Warner Music promotions. “Eddy”, he said, sounding quite excited, “I want to take you to Ibiza for one night, we’re going to Manumission!” It turned out Goldie Lookin Chain had been booked to play the Music Box (one of two ‘back rooms’ at Manumission). Jamie wanted to say thank you for all the support I’d given GLC. “I’m booking us each a room at Pikes, it’s a great little boutique hotel where they shot ‘Club Tropicana’ for Wham!”
I recalled, alongside the whiteness and the tightness of all the Speedos in that video, a charming hacienda style villa that served as location for one of the 1980s most sunkissed and mullet-tastic video moments, and accepted Jamie’s kind invitation.
Most of all though, I wanted to go to Manumission. I’d read about it, seen pictures, heard the stories of DJs being paid in drugs or girls, passing out mid set and having the likes of Jon Carter superglue dildos to their foreheads. This was a place of true legend, and I wanted to see it with my own eyes. Hopefully without feeling the taught, dry pull of rapidly drying adhesive on my own forehead.
At that time Manumission was located at Privilege, “the biggest club in the world”. More like an airport terminal in size, this enormous hanger easily played host to 10,000 people, but it was only Manumission who could regularly fill it.
When we arrived, I thought I’d walked through a time portal to the last days of the Roman Empire, to one of Caligula’s notorious parties. Beautiful, lithe dancers, male and female, with elaborate and freakish animal costumes, were peppered through the wide-eyed crowd. Gymnasts and acrobats arced gracefully, way above our heads, suspended from the rafters. They sliced through the air, above the outstretched arms of thousands upon thousands of Brits, Italians, French, Americans, Canadians, all agog at this astonishing spectacle. This was, without a doubt, the eighth wonder of the modern world.
The DJ booth in the main room was circular and suspended, as if by magic, above a swimming pool. It had a whiff of the Bond villain about it. The booth looked out onto a multi-level area, cleverly zoned so that, when it was busy, it put you in eye contact with around 8000 people in front of you. There were two ‘back rooms’, each the size of a normal nightclub, one or two thousand capacity each. The Coco Loco was a more intimate party room, decorated more like a bonkers bar, and the Music Box, as its name suggests, was an oblong gig space, which acted as a sort of thoroughfare between the Coco Loco and the main room.
This was where they had started booking the odd band to do a PA or even a live performance. The lovely Mike McKay and Claire Davies, the famous faces of Manumission, took care of the main room and the awesome spectacle. Mike’s little brother, Andy McKay, was in charge of this back room, and was adopting a much more progressive music policy, much like I’d been doing at Remix Night for years.
GLC, en mass, did their hilarious set to the delight of most Brits and the bewilderment of most others, then Ivan Smaaghe from Black Strobe took to the decks, obligatory cigarette between his lips, eyes black as a panda’s, looking like a heroin addict but with that innate sense of garlic coolness. He played for what seemed like an age, and the crowd just politely jiggled and bobbled about, none of us knowing what on earth the tunes were.
I moaned about it being “too cool”. Nobody had their hands in the air, people were just jostling around the floor, happy, but not euphoric. I audibly remarked that if I was up there, playing tunes that people know, that the crowd would be reacting very differently, and what a shame it was that the atmosphere in the room was so calm and reserved. It felt like a tinderbox, waiting for a spark. Ivan, for all his undeniably sexy, tres-cool Frenchness, was not igniting the room in the same way as the resident was smashing the main room with Jacques Lu Conte’s mix of The Killers’ ‘Mr Brightside’.
At around 5.50am, the crowd in the Music Box started to thin out. I thought this was odd, as this is prime time on Ibiza, people tend to arrive at 3 or 4am. The reason for the crowds decimation became apparent in the main room. It was time for the six o’clock performance of the twice nightly routine, where every dancer, gymnast and acrobat sashayed into a well choreographed spectacle of truly biblical proportions.
Mike and Claire put their hearts and souls into that night, they poured so much love and money into it, in the same spirit as The Secret Garden Party. Clearly they could have made much more money, by toning down the theatrics and having fewer people retained, but it was the theatre and the sheer numbers of beautiful people on, around and above the stage that made the experience so vivid.
When I got back to London, I raved about the experience on the Xfm show, and within days somebody I know forwarded me an interview that Andy McKay had given an Ibizan magazine or radio station. The interviewer was prying as to whom they were booking for the next season, was it Fatboy Slim? Andy said he’d “be more interested in getting Eddy Temple-Morris from Xfm, because that would send a signal that the island was changing and opening up to a whole new crowd”.
I sent the interview to my agent and within hours I’d been booked to play the closing party for that season, the very next week. My love affair with the island of Ibiza was just beginning.
Next time: Fear and loathing on the White Isle, the start of Ibiza Rocks and end of Manumission at Privilege – the story continues…