I’ve been going to Ibiza for a long time. Lived there too. My journey into dance music had little to do with New York or Chicago. Ibiza was my mecca, however.
I used to listen in awe to stories about Alfredo and Leo at Amnesia in the 80s. Roofless heaven-on-earth. I even got to catch the tail end of it. A total tourist, just a couple years too late to the party. An ugly, awkward bumpkin. Gawking at the beautiful ones. When I first started to work in Ibiza properly I was doing Space in the 90s. Now and then in the distance I’d see my heroes. Back then, and to this day, I always thought it was really disrespectful to barrel up to people and address them in a foreign language. My Spanish wasn’t good enough.
So I kept quiet and respectfully distant. Then one day that changed. There is (sorry, was) a little secret beach. On the way out to the lighthouse that spanned the north end of Talamanca at Punta de Fora. A tiny parcel of sand behind the concrete sea wall. I used to go there and swim out to a tiny bit of rock for exercise. Then one day a slightly familiar shaved head was there with the most beautiful dog. You all know how much I love dogs. A big happy husky. The man turned around and it was Alfredo.
Before I had time to be nervous I went up to him and greeted him really badly in awful Spanish and introduced myself. He was immediately gracious and spoke perfect English in return, although he was naturally a little cagey as I am quite large and noisy. I ran back home as fast as I could to tell the missus about my momentous morning.
Not long after that we met once again at Privilege. We were both residents. I was just a cocky kid and he was the pioneer who started it all. My hero, basically. Still is. I was always very respectful and tried to speak Spanish and he was always very kind and tolerated my nonsense most graciously.
Then when it came to working the afterhours at Space, and there were way too many DJs, I timidly put forward that I would gladly play back to back with Alfredo. Back then you have to understand that absolutely no one did that. We didn’t invent B2B by any means! But I always (and still do) thought it was better for the dance floor to have two DJs out of their comfort zone and working harder than usual.
It felt special for both the floor and the booth. I was amazed that he agreed. Gobsmacked. So thereafter upon several occasions I got to play side my side with my hero. Later more DJs asked to have the honour and I gladly agreed. Who wouldn’t want to share that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? a ‘gentleman’s excuse me’ became the dance card of the Space Terrace DJ booth.
In fact, after that, I played mano-a-mano with other DJs almost every chance I could. Made a career out of it. Decades have passed. Now not only did I have the honour of inviting him back to headline one of the greatest clubs in the world, as he should be…
I also got to work with my other Balearic hero Leo Mas. Someone who has fascinated me for a long time. Not only that, but they were playing back to back. It was a treat for me that is almost beyond my abilities to describe. Payback. Felt good. I just wanted you all to know that this is not just another bunch of words from me. This is me getting a chance to say to the world and the new generation; “these men started it all! listen to them.”
Alfredo means everything to me, not just as an originator or as someone I looked up to …but as a great example of grace. The sort of grace that handles their fame very well, that never sells out and is even-handed and charming with it all, where others are a stroppy mess.
Recently I learned Alfredo had a stroke. I got in touch and he was recovering well but like most of Ibiza – and too often, the founders of any culture – after more than a year without money he was in dire need of help.
In fact, you have a choice of tee shirts – our old sparring partners over at Boys Own have created one as well.
We need to nurture and hold dear our innovators. We owe them, BIG TIME. Time to give a little back. Gracias a todos! Sinceramente.