It wouldn’t be summer in Ibiza without the annual BBC Radio 1 Weekend takeover. Now in it’s 24th year, the tradition sees music-lovers flock in from all corners of the globe for a celebration like no other. The commotion and excitement this special weekend drums up is unmistakable, you definitely know it’s coming in the days that run up to. Held at the height of the season, hosts Annie Mac and Danny Howard come along for the ride, broadcasting the event live worldwide. While Mambos and Ibiza Rocks kicked off their own party extravaganzas, we went to the home of the big room – Ushuaïa Ibiza – for the ANTS special.
With a megastar line-up featuring the likes of Pete Tong, Andrea Oliva, Solardo and Maya Jane Coles, we were in for a day-to-night treat. On Saturday 3rd August, we arrived joined by an army, the poolside stage venue at capacity as hundreds snaked outside waiting to filter in. As we made our way through the towering whitewashed walls into the slick colosseum-sized grounds, the first thing to hit us with the palpable energy. Every inch of the venue was flooded, from the balcony to the stairwells. While ANTS in itself is a vastly popular event on the isle, the fanfare Radio 1 brings along shoots everything to new heights and the crowd was buzzing. Making our way through the international congregation, revellers in the know were clad in the signature event uniform of all-black and outlandish.
Yet our eyes were firmly fixated on the elevated stage kitted out in a sprawling cut-out of a city skyline. The trailblazing Secondcity was up beating the sunshine with an epic throwdown of emblematic feel-good tracks that blended effortlessly with the hottest house anthems. His drop of his own chart-topper, ‘I Wanna Feel’, was one we were anticipating and when it hit, it shot the crowd into unified bedlam – smoke-cannons pelting high up into the sky at just the right moment. Setting a sexy, rocking tone, Mancunian duo Solardo brought a sizzling set chock-full of electronic bangers, pelting a shapeshifting, funky soundtrack that had hands throwing up in the air. As ever, Ushuaïa Ibiza’s no-expenses-spared production was putting in the overtime with pulsating light-shows that bathed the dancefloor as the day turned to night.
And, the vibes were not letting down as the fiesta got into full-swing. We made our way up to the balcony in time for ANTS resident and island-hero Andrea Oliva who clocked in a true taste of the underground. With many, several seasons under his belt, he took to the cheering crowd like a true master, hooking us all under his spellbinding grip. A sophisticated mix of moody, driving techno worked in tandem with glorious stuttering vocals that had us rocketing to the cosmos with its ethereal kick. With the stars now above us and dancers clad in dazzling, ornate costumes grooving through the smoky air, a seductive, mysterious vibe took over with Oliva’s two-stepping performance. We’re probably not alone in saying the Swiss tastemaker was one of the favourites of the night.
Undeniably however, long-time legend and dance music pioneer, Pete Tong was the ultimate showstopper. Standing tall and strong behind the decks, pure, unadulterated power came thundering from the speakers. Banger after insatiable banger, classic jumping house anthems took over clashing wonderfully with euphoria-inducing vocals. A DJ with an OBE, his set had every body losing it to his Balearic-inspired, high-energy set – the incredible pyrotechnics raising the heat . Shutting down a heroic performance, the thick crowd had remained glued till the end. An explosion of confetti and a burst of fire that lit up the entire grounds shut proceedings to ear-deafening cheer. And, as if nothing had happened, the stage turned pitch-black leaving revellers desperate for just one more song! With our bones totally rattled to the core, it’s fair to conclude the Radio 1 takeover of ANTS completely smashed it. 2020: we’re counting down the days already!