The original home of clubbing pre-parties, booze-fuelled weekenders and cheap watering holes, San Antonio becomes a party playground by night and the streets are teeming with scantily clad girls, rowdy groups of blokes and over-eager promoters all with one thing on their mind… party time!
The West End
In the notorious West End you’ll find the kinds of places that Ibiza may have (rightly so in this case) earned a slightly seedy reputation for. Bright flashing lights after dark, luring patrons in with promises of free shots, two-for-one drinks and thumping music: good for a laugh, and definitely worth wandering through so you can make your own judgment (after all, this is Ibiza and to each his own) but the West End is not really my cup of tea to tell you the truth.
I prefer to stick to the Sunset Strip because, despite the name, there’s still plenty going on once the sun’s gone down. Café Mambo (C/Vara de Rey, 38; +34 971 346 638; www.cafemamboibiza.com) boasts the best pre-parties in the world, as special guest DJs (and quite often the headliners) from Pacha play for a few hours before hitting the club - and you get to see them for free (though the drinks prices make up for it!).
Further down the strip, you’ll find more pre-parties at Savannah (C/ Balanzat; +34 971 348 031; www.savannahibiza.com) but if you prefer to just chill out with a few cocktails, Kama Sushi (C/ Balanzat; +34 687 280 376; www.sugarseaibiza.com) make the very best lychee and raspberry martinis in town, and Mint Lounge’s (C/Balanzat; +34 971 595 903; www.mintloungeibiza.com) Mandarin Caipiroska is to die for. A bar hop along this strip is definitely in order.
Boho cool away from the crowds
For those looking to escape the crowds - if you can brave your way through the tourist traps of San Antonio Bay - there’s an oasis of boho cool waiting at Kumhara’s (C/Lugo, 2, Cala de Bou; +34 971 805 740; www.kumharas.org), where after the sunset, chillout DJs and local acts like Nightmares on Wax are jamming until midnight, while you can laze around on couches under the stars, smoke shisha pipes and soak up the ambience with other like-minded folk.
Lastly, but most definitely not least is the live music scene in San An. A recent development over the last five years thanks to the introduction of the now hugely successful Ibiza Rocks franchise, indie kids, rock chicks and band boys are now discovering there’s more to this part of the island than just a bass line. Wednesday nights you’ll find some of the world’s most famous bands hitting the stage at Ibiza Rocks Hotel - Club Paraiso (Calle Estrella, 13) and you can also catch rock DJs in the Ibiza Rocks Bar and Diner (Avda Dr Flemings, 6; +34 971 573 979; www.ibizarocks.com/events/), plus the hotel bars throughout the week.
The big clubs
Then, there are the big guns. Major clubs Eden (C/Salvador Espiriu; +34 971 340 212; www.edenibiza.com) and Es Paradis (C/Salvador Espiriu, 2; +34 971 346 600; www.esparadis.com) are huge, monolithic white structures just opposite the main beach area of S’Arenal, and it’s here you’ll find clubbers flocking to see legendary Pete Tong on a Friday, worship at the altar of house music heaven, Hed Kandi on a Saturday plus a slew of other parties every night of the week.
With its gold domed roof and huge, white façade, it’s hard to tell what’s beyond the closed doors of San Antonio’s premier club Eden. However the scores of people queued up along the narrow sidewalk, the velvet rope and the dancers parading and posturing at the entrance are a pretty good giveaway that it’s a clubber’s delight inside – a huge, pumping dance floor with a mezzanine level and two back rooms to escape to when it all gets a bit too much.
Home to a slew of predominantly British parties, most notably BBC Radio One DJ Pete Tong’s Friday night Wonderland extravaganza and Judge Jules’ Judgement Sundays, so it’s no surprise Eden is generally packed full of younger clubbers and the San Antonio set – lager lads and scantily clad girls. The new VIP area is a welcome respite from the dance floor action for the slightly older crowd who come to appreciate the music; it's raised a level and behind the DJ booth for the ultimate view. The remainder of 2011’s clubbing calendar is yet to be confirmed, so watch this space for news as it comes to hand. My favourite night in 2010 was Reclaim the Dancefloor, an alternative selection of DJs hand-picked by the folk from Ibiza Rocks – let’s hope it returns!
Entry to Eden ranges from 20 to 60 euros.
From the outside, Es Paradis looks in need of repair to be perfectly honest. The all-white exterior is a little bit grubby, the area around it unkempt and even the entry a little low key. Behind those doors however lies what I think is one of the most beautiful clubs in the world – even if it is a little dated nowadays, it’s still striking and with potential for a comeback on the horizon. Dramatic white Grecian-style columns form a huge circular dance floor, where the DJ is suspended in a booth above the crowd. Quirky little back rooms, staircases and VIP booths are everywhere you look and, according to legend, the owner of the club personally repaints the walls back to their original pristine condition at the beginning of every season… it shows!
In 2010 Es Paradis was given a much-needed new lease on life thanks to funky house heavyweights Hed Kandi making the move to the club and adding a dash of glitz and glam where it belongs on Saturday nights. Fridays have always traditionally been home to Es Paradis’ famous Water Party where, yes, you guessed it, part of the club completely fills up with water and becomes more like a swimming pool. BYO goggles! Other parties for 2011 have yet to be confirmed, though the official Ibiza Rocks After Party is subject to change nights from Tuesday to Wednesday – I’ll let you know as soon as I do!
Entry to Es Paradis ranges from 10 to 50 euros.
More nightlife on the island
For more information on nightlife in Ibiza, read my Ibiza nightlife page.