Hard Times Opens

Posted on June 22, 2015

Few opening parties have such an air of expectation around them. Hard Times was one of the absolutely seminal brands of the 1990s, introducing the cream of US house music talent from across the Atlantic to Britain. Its parties in Leeds were the stuff of legend. And, beyond the north of England, its inspirational string of compilation CDs found a place on the shelves of many a discerning clubber. But, until now, Hard Times has never hit Ibiza. After Saturday night’s opening there can only be one question: Why did it take so long?

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We arrive at Privilege’s Vista Club just after 1am, early by Ibiza standards, and already the dancefloor is buzzing and busy. The crowd is really mixed, some young, some who look as if they might remember Hard Times from back in the day and a substantial scattering of painted party animals carrying on from the nearby Zoo Project. Unfortunately, by the time we get there, we’ve missed Mat Playford, the DJ with the strongest Leeds connection, but we’ll get more chances to see him through the summer. Now, Mark Fanciulli is laying down a tech-infused house beat. It sounds great, as does every set, at least in part thanks to the stunning Funktion One sound system which is more than capable of putting out rib-shaking bass lines without ever losing the clarity of the high and mid-range sounds.

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Mark’s set is also an opportunity to take in our surroundings in Privilege’s new intimate club within a club, The Vista. Actually, the concept of a relatively small self-contained party venue might be new, but the space it occupies is steeped in Ibiza dance music history. Back in the halcyon days of Manumission it was the setting for the spectacularly decadent Coco-Loco. And, nobody who experienced it will forget the sight from the glass pyramid of dawn breaking over Ibiza Town. Now, as the Vista Club, it still offers those breathtaking views and the sunrise still floods the room with light. It’s a unique setting not to be missed. Meanwhile tonight, NiCe7 have taken their place behind the ornate golden table, which houses the decks. The long-running DJ and production partnership between Italians Nicola Daniele and Cesare Marocco continues the underground vibe, leavening the mix with generous dollops of funk. It’s clear that Hard Times isn’t just playing safe with its line-ups. Given the brand’s pedigree it would be all too easy to wallow in simple old skool nostalgia. Instead, without ever losing the good-time party vibe, the DJs are definitely mixing it up.

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But now there’s a definite air of expectation in the club as one of the DJs first introduced to UK clubbers by Hard Times, Todd Terry, takes to the decks. He immediately makes his intentions clear as he blasts out “Can You Party”, a track that sounds every bit as powerful and fresh as it did when he created it at the end of the eighties. He’s now flanked by outrageously burlesque red-plumed dancers. And the party’s moved up more than a notch. Now we’re on a joyful high-energy journey as Todd demonstrates the way house music should really be played. The smiles on the crowd say it all and everybody seems to want a selfie with this legend. He obliges them all while his old friend Junior Sanchez takes over.

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We’re into yet another subtly different vibe, still drawing on more than two decades of house music history, but not ignoring new anthems such as Disclosure’s ‘Bang That’. Early on he drops ‘Time 2 Stop’ by S-Man Roger Sanchez, another US house giant introduced to UK clubbers by Hard Times and scheduled to make an appearance at the Vista Club on September 5. He’s just one of a great line-up across the summer, which includes further appearances by Todd Terry and Junior Sanchez along with Paul Woolford, DJ Sneak, Bontan, Felix Da Housecat, Claptone, Danny Krivit, Kevin Sanderson, Doorly and Ramon Tapia, before finishing up on September 12 with Derrick Carter, Hector Romero and Brett Johnson. Now we know where we want to spend our Saturday nights this season.

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