United Kingdom of

Ibiza Weekender


13th-15th October 2006

If someone said to you how do you fancy a weekend at Butlins in Bognor Regis in the middle of October you'd think they were mad wouldn't you?

If they went on to say that some of Ibiza's best resident DJ's from clubs and bars such as Bora-Bora, Space, Il Divino, Eden, Amnesia, Bar M will be there and a couple of big names as well, you might start to think twice mightn't you?

Well so did I and that's why I spent eight hours on a coach and train traveling to the south coast a few weeks ago for Butlins' first ever 'United Kingdom of Ibiza Weekender'.

The last time I went to Butlins was on a family holiday at the age of nine. Although the rest of my family loved it, it wasn't for me. I wasn't keen on the idea of being forced to join in with all sorts of activities I wouldn't normally be caught dead participating in; (admittedly the Resorts are not like that nowadays) but back then it was our yearly family outing, so I put on a smile and joined in, albeit with gritted teeth.

I last made this journey to Butlins Bognor Regis, thirty years ago, and I feared having a thoroughly miserable weekend and thought about how much I was going to dislike it all the way there...and you can work up a pretty good attitude towards something on an eight hour-long trip!

When I arrived I was greeted at the gate, by a rather burly security guard and directed round the corner to the Gold Conservatory, which was the official greeting point for those staying in self-catering apartments and it was at this point that my preconceptions about the experience I was about to have changed completely.

I'm ashamed to say I did not get the name of the lady doing the meeting and greeting and I wish I had because she could not have been more pleasant or helpful if she'd tried, and the same can be said of nearly all the Butlins staff I had dealings with.

Anyway, I was promptly sorted out with the keys to the apartment and a wristband and sent on my way, feeling much more positive.

First port of call was the Skyline Pavilion, which was a giant undercover area in the middle of the main public area where Will Grant, Studio-B and Mark Wilkinson kept the passing crowds entertained from 3pm to 9pm. I missed Mark Grant's set, but caught some of the others and very good they were too.

For the next couple of hours I flitted between the Centre Stage where the Eden/Garlands crew had set up home and the Reds bar where Bora Bora were doing their stuff. Alex Ellenger and Johnny Orange were doing the honours and dropping some great tunes, old and new.

Then at 11pm it was Jeremy Healy's turn to take to the decks in Reds.

Jeremy was drafted in at the last minute to replace Sonique, whose record company had insisted she go to Germany! Well that switch certainly worked out well for us because Jeremy Healy was just brilliant.

Older readers will remember Jeremy being half of chart duo Haysi Fantaysi back in the early 80's and it was shortly after this that he started DJing at The Circus, in London while at the same time establishing himself as a very successful producer of advertising jingles and cinema and TV commercials with clients including BA, Levis and Pepsi. Jeremy has also had a long-term association with the designer John Galliano and can usually be found at his shows.

However, it is the Fantazia series of compilation albums that have made Jeremy Healy most well known to the clubbing world and I suspect most of us have one or two of them in our collections.

This was the first time I'd seen Jeremy Healy live and was very much looking forward to it (once I'd heard he was going to be there) and I was not disappointed. He dropped one great tune after another and I don't think there was a single person in the room standing still while he was playing. With a great combination of old skool classics, unexpected cheese and this year's summer floor fillers, he did a blinding two-hour set that left me worn out! And the smile hardly left his face the whole time. What a pleasure to see someone enjoy their work so much!

The rest of Friday night was taken care of by the likes of DJ Gee, Rob Roar, Les Calvert and the guys from Base who kept things bouncing along nicely til the sun was almost up. All in all it was a great start to the weekend.

So, this brings us on to Saturday. Its October remember, so I was expecting overcast and miserable, instead we had a bright sunny day. Butlins itself is situated right on the south Coast shoreline. In fact the uber trendy Shoreline Hotel overlooks the English Channel which is no more than 50 feet away. So ok, it wasn't quite as warm as Ibiza but it did remind me of sitting outside the sunset bars chilling out and recovering from an all-night dancing music session the night before.

The night soon arrived and to be honest, there was another good line-up on offer.

In the afternoon Studio-B, DVJ Kriel, Alex P and others from Space were slightly wasted at that time of the day in the Sky Pavilion, but they were good nevertheless, and gave 100%. It's just a shame they were scheduled as early as most people where still in bed recovering from the heavy session the night before.

The main event of the night was Radio 1's Dave Pearce in the Centre Stage/Eden arena.

We're all familiar with Dave Pearce because of his Dance Anthems show on Radio 1 at 7pm on Sunday nights and it would be easy to think that is all there is to the man. He does a couple of hours on the radio and we all love it and look forward to the next week.

However, this would be ignoring the vast contribution, largely unsung it has to be said, that Dave has made to the dance music scene. He has always been passionate about dance music in all its forms and has been instrumental in bringing forward and breaking through many exciting new talents as well as introducing the British public to many genres, bands and artistes from the US long before anyone else had even heard of them.

So you know if Dave Pearce is on the bill you're gonna be in for a session of floor fillers and crowd pleasers and this was no exception. From the moment I walked into the room to the end of his set I never stood still and neither did anyone else in the room as far as I could see.

Apart from once when I decided to have a sit down for a minute on the edge of one of the dancers podiums that jutted out onto the dance floor; just for a few seconds to get my breath back and wipe some sweat off.

Within seconds a man in a florescent jacket holding a walkie talkie was telling me I couldn't sit there.

Now.. we've all been to clubs all over the world and seen how people love to stand, sit and dance on any available surface- this is my only real negative of the event, but I'm sure after cutting their teeth at this event this year, it will be something that Butlins and the event organizers will rectify at next years event.

Anyway, it wasn't long before I was bouncing about again like everyone else. That Dave Pearce sure knows how to work a crowd!

I feel I should say a word about the dancers and entertainers. Very often these people go fairly unnoticed and unrecognized, but the team that was put together for this weekend was exceptionally good. I wish I could tell you their names, but no matter how many times I asked I couldn't get to talk to them!

So, all in all, I have to say that the first United Kingdom of Ibiza Weekender was not as good as I had hoped it would be, mainly because it needed more people to appreciate the day times events - come on you lot get out of your beds! So credit due to Butlins for having a go at it. I'm sure that next year some of the problems I've highlighted will be ironed out. This event has a lot of potential, and for a first attempt Butlins did a great job. I've already heard on the grapevine that next year it will be bigger and better and, hopefully it will go on to take a regular place in the dance calendar.

Ian Russell

Site - http://www.unitedkingdomofibiza.co.uk