Clockwork Orange 25th Anniversary Ibiza Weekend – Four Days of Madness
By Ibiza Unlocked’s Howard Boyle and Nick Clayton
Wow! We’re still buzzing. More than a week after Clockwork Orange’s four crazy, glorious and exhausting Ibiza days and nights, our dancing feet still bear the scars. The 25th anniversary weekend was magnificent. Run like Clockwork.
Of course, none of this happened by accident. For the last 12 months Clockwork founders Danny Gould and Andy Manston have plotted to create a string of parties which would surpass even last year’s unforgettable events. To do it, they ripped up rule book after rule book.
Who says you can’t do an all-dayer at Amnesia any more? Nobody can take the pace for fourteen hours, they say. The Clockwork tribe proved they could. And more. The result was the best party we’ve ever been to at Amnesia. After 21 years, that’s a bold statement.
Don’t forget, this was a weekender. Five venues. Four days and nights. That’s not the way Ibiza does things. Promoters put on weekly residencies where the audience changes, but the deejay line-ups basically stay the same. That was what Clockwork Orange did back in the day. Not now. Another rule bites the dust.
Plenty of promoters run boat parties, but, not quite in the way Clockwork puts decks on decks. The weekend kicked off on Thursday as the Orange tribe took to the seas. Through sunset three party-boats were pursued by a powerboat loaded with deejays like some latter-day pirate marauders. It was an oversubscribed riot. Next year Danny and Andy will probably need to get a couple of cruise ships to find room for everybody who wants tickets.
The boat parties were just the appetiser. First weekend really fired up on Friday with ‘Clockstock’ at Ibiza’s largest open-air venue, Benimussa Park, better known as ‘The Zoo’. What a start! Dancing with friends. Above us only sky.
It’s a venue that has even more history than Clockwork Orange. Since it was first built as a zoo back in 1975, it’s hosted some amazing shows featuring the likes of Grace Jones, Chaka Khan and, in recent years, the Zoo Project. When Space closed it was the place Carl Cox chose for his unforgettable after-party.
The sprawling site with three stages lends itself to a festival vibe. It was the perfect spot to start the weekend. The Clockwork Army could regroup. Many had spent most of the last 12 months plotting their return to Ibiza. You couldn’t go more than a few steps without being greeted joyfully by friends old and new.
We came across people who hadn’t seen each other since the 1990s. It didn’t matter. For a weekend time stood still. It was as if the millennium never happened. We raved like it was 1999, even the Clockworkers who were probably in nappies then.
Clockwork’s never had a problem attracting people who think they’re in their twenties. But, it’s now pulling in more and more people who really are in their twenties. It’s that sort of a party. Everybody, no matter what age, wants a bit of the infectious buzz which other events just don’t have. Nobody at Clockwork is too cool for school.
We happily bathed in that atmosphere, floating between the stages. With such a stellar line-up across The Newphoria, Seal pit and the main stage,including Brandon and Alex, Slipmatt, Jason Bye, Danny Gould & Andy Manston, Tom Grimes and more than a dozen other deejays, it’s hard to pick out musical highlights. Main stage Headliner Harry ‘Choo Choo’ Romero’s Latin-tinged set was one not to be missed. But, for us, what really raised the hair on the back of our necks were two other sojourns by legendary deejays on the main stage Allister Whitehead and Danny Rampling.
As the Zoo closed the crowds made their merry way down from the hills into San Antonio and the original home of Clockwork Orange, Es Paradis. It was a night when there could only be one star, Jeremy Healy. His sets were always a highlight and this two-hour 25th birthday celebration showed he’d lost none of his magic. And that was just the end of the first day.
Saturday left room to catch a few hours’ sleep. For some. Then it was time for the pinnacle of the 25th anniversary weekend. Amnesia from 4pm until well after dawn. After two days and three foot-sapping parties, would anybody turn up in the middle of Sunday afternoon?
But, this is Clockwork. The terrace was halfway to hectic by the time we arrived to catch Alfredo’s classic Balearic set. It was a chance to relive a moment in clubbing history. Amnesia was where it all began in 1987 when four lads, Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling, Nicky Holloway and Johnny Walker first saw Alfredo deejay. Inspired, they took dance music back to the UK. Acid house was born. In 2019 Alfredo didn’t let us down.
Much later in the evening, Oakenfold was also back at Amnesia, headlining the main room. Unselfishly, Clockwork’s Danny Gould had timetabled himself on the terrace opposite the mighty Oakey. But, if Danny had expected to be playing to a quiet and peaceful room, he’d have been disappointed. It was packed. And his choice of tunes was sublime. For us it was a real high point of the weekend, this and our good old friend Steve Lee’s set in the main room.
Ibiza Unlocked caught up with Danny back in England a couple of days later. He was still buzzing. ‘It was a real privilege to be able to play Amnesia,’ he said. (No Ibiza club pun intended!). A day later Danny soundtracked the sunset at Mambo in a joint 25th anniversary celebration. Both bar and party were born in 1994.
‘You know for a lot of the time at Amnesia I was just completely lost in the music,’ said Danny. ‘And it was all on just soft drinks.
That last point’s important. During Clockwork Orange’s first incarnation, Danny infamously overdid everything there was to overdo. With writers Esther Nicklin & Ally Robins he’s pieced together the gritty story of how he rose, crashed and burned, then rose again in his just-published book ‘Gould Blimey!’ It’s definitely worth a read.
He describes the psychosis, along with some wickedly funny stories, which, along with financial pressures, led to the demise of Clockwork around 2002. A decade later his business partner, Andy Manston started to suggest they have a reunion. Danny wasn’t keen until, having seen the response to some historic Es Paradis videos he’d put up on YouTube, he agreed to join a few fairly low-key 20th anniversary events.
One of those was a beach party organised at the last minute at Jason Bull’s Sands on Playa D’en Bossa. It’s become the stuff of legend. Those of us privileged to be there will never forget the atmosphere. It sowed the seeds of Clockwork Orange’s rebirth.
This year has already seen a massive all-day Clockstock party at Chelmsford Race Course in June as well as the Ibiza takeover. A party at London’s Printworks in September is already sold out. It’ll no doubt be the same story when tickets for a day and night party at Fabric on November 30 go on sale.
Clockstock 2020 is already pencilled in for June 20th. But, the big one, of course, is Ibiza 2020. Clear your calendar and book your flights from July 9 to 13. Danny promises there’ll be some very special news soon about how they’re going to take the Ibiza parties up another level. After the weekend we’ve just experienced that doesn’t seem possible.
But, somehow, the Clockwork Orange just keeps on rising. Long may it last.