Review: A Balearic Beat Hotel 2021

 
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Music

We squeezed the last drops out of summer at this intimate Ibizan escape…

Just before the pandemic hit, Beat Hotel were about to embark on the second edition of their four-day musical escape in Morocco. The first solo venture outside of their long running stage at Glastonbury, the impact of lockdown stunted an opportunity to build on the success of the first year when the Moroccan government out-ruled large scale events across the country.

That was until the announcement of a new venture this summer. A Balearic Beat Hotel marked an escape to Ibiza for something a little more intimate.

 

Eager to squeeze the last drops out of what’s been a short but sweet summer, we hopped on a plane to see what the three-day event had in store. With a much more stripped back line up and approach to programming, the event provided a chance for Beat Hotel to reconnect like-minded people in an idyllic location at a time where we’ve never needed it more.

 
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In more than just name and location, the programme paid homage to the history and reputation of the White Isle, from the subjects explored in the talks to the venues, music policy and the artists involved.

Split between two beautiful spaces, just a short walk from one another, the days were filled with well-being sessions, DJ sets and panel discussions, all of which were streamed for those who couldn’t make the IRL events.

Cala Gracioneta, a restaurant surrounding a small idyllic beach, was where the morning sessions took place. On the Thursday Joe Goddard brought along his modular synths to provide the soundtrack for a series of meditation sessions, while Ibiza-based party and well-being brand Cosmic Pineapple took care of Friday’s activities which included a morning of yoga and sound healing on the sand. A perfect way to ease sore heads and prep punters for the day ahead.

 
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The other daytime events were hosted at one of the island’s most scenic institutions, Hostal La Torre, known for its beautiful sunsets, tightknit music programming and its eponymous Balearic compilation series helmed by DJs Pete Gooding and Mark Barrot.

Like Beat Hotel’s Moroccan excursion, panel discussions were built into the programme but were streamlined to just two focused talks involving DJs billed to play across the three days. On Thursday journalist and author Joe Muggs hosted his Ambient Salon, presenting “Where you’re from or where you’re at?”, a talk focused on identity and belonging.

 
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Over a near two-hour free-flowing conversation, Muggs spoke to panelists Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy, Zakia and Ruf Dug about their experiences of how space can connect with music. Topics meandered from Ruffy’s formative moments listening to the Dub version of ‘Ghostbusters’ on his family trips to Ibiza, to Zakia’s research into folk traditions and pagan spirituality and Colleen’s experiences of the way in which audiences in different locations react to and absorb sounds.

The following day at Speakers’ Corner, Lee Brackstone of White Rabbit Books hosted ‘Page Raves’, in partnership with our good selves, which looked at the role of literature in dance music culture and the history and impact of Ibiza on the musical landscape.

 
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On the panel Lee was joined by two writers who he’s worked with as a publisher: DJ and author of the seminal ‘Last Night A DJ Saved My Life,’ Bill Brewster, and Christian Len, the author of ‘Balearic’ which charts the cultural history of Ibiza.

Both explained the process of writing and producing their books, including the set backs and triumphs that went with examining and interviewing certain people involved in its history. Christian regaled tales of the island, like the story of Bes: a mythical deity and God of dancing from which Ibiza takes its name, and Bill traced his first memories of visiting the island thanks to Nancy Noise’s tip off, all of which can be listened to in full below.

 

 

In the evenings the food and music took centre stage. From Wednesday through to Friday, Barrafina took up residence in La Torre, welcoming diners against a breathtaking backdrop. As everyone tucked into delicious food and cocktails, DJs soundtracked day into night, pausing as sundown arrived to take part in La Torre’s daily ritual of getting everyone on their feet to clap the sunset.

 
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On the first night Mafalda, John Gomez and Ruf Dug were at the controls, followed by Zakia, Bill Brewster and Esa on the Thursday, while Jonny Nash, Ibiza mainstay DJ Pipi and Jamie Tiller were tasked with closing out proceedings on the final night. There was little dancing due to the restrictions still ongoing on the Island at the time but this wasn’t really the focus; rather it was about honouring the laidback sounds that have formed the backbone of La Torre since its inception.

 
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For the final feast we were back at Cala Gracioneta for a delicious send off. Haggerston’s Berber & Q were in the kitchen bringing a taste of the Middle East, while we packed on to tables with new friends we’d made over the last three days. To see us out in style, Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy teamed up with Ibiza veteran and Balearic pioneer Alfredo for a four-hour B2B which floated through jazz, boogie, lounge and, of course, a big dose of Balearic.

 
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Unlike bigger events this summer, A Balearic Beat Hotel offered something their counterparts couldn’t: the intimacy meant that you quickly came to know the friendly faces in attendance, making for interesting conversations and brand new friendships that would last long after leaving the island.

After getting to know the four walls of our homes all too well over the last year and a half, Beat Hotel gave us a space for connection and musical, cultural and nutritional stimulation – plus we got to see how many times we could squeeze the word Balearic into conversation. We could think of no better way to end summer…

Balearic, Balearic, Balearic.

Photo credit: Dan Medhurst.