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So here we are; it’s all over. Space said its final goodbyes at midday on Monday 2 October – a mammoth 20 hours after its momentous closing fiesta burst into life; 27 years since it first opened its doors, and the world’s eyes, hearts and minds in the process. Doing a sweep on social media in the aftermath of the event, we were bombarded by sentimental musings, memories from the night and tributes to the last tune (all deserved), but as the great American poet, Ralph Waldo Emmerson professed, “Life is a journey, not a destination,” and if we can put X Factor’s bastardisation of the phrase aside for a second, we’ll find solace in that great thinker’s statement. Because ultimately, it’s not about where you get to, it’s about the encompassing white knuckle ride that carries you there, and over the course of 27 years, we’ve all been taken sideways; seized by a collection of clubbing moments that will never be forgotten, the sum of which equal more than just one party, albeit a phenomenal one. At least we can take comfort in knowing the legend begins here.
And so the beginning of the end started at 4 PM on Sunday afternoon, by when the queue to get inside was already snaking out the car park. Rampant ravers swarmed, the tip tapping of their dancing shoes matching the beats already coming from inside. The line-up was over 100 DJs strong – testament to the club’s dedication to diversity over the years – and each was keen to show gratitude to some of the tunes that had ricocheted off Space’s walls in the past – tracks like Âme’s ‘Rej’ and Energy 52’s ‘Café del Mar’ inevitably got more than one airing throughout the course of the night. Flying high / feeling sick thanks to the inescapable collective excitement, on arrival we weaved through the packed Flight Area and headed straight for the Premier Étage where the sun was beginning to set for the last time on a Space party. The horizon burned vivid orange, DJ Oliver threw on Oxia’s ‘Domino’, and we found ourselves immersed in the first sit down of the night as it dropped – things were looking promising.
Back in the Flight Area, festival spirit was rife as Darius Syrossian wove together an impressive ode to his time at the club with tunes like KiNK’s ‘Existence’ and the impossibly emotive ‘Momento’ by the Mambo Brothers – there must have been a backstage sweepstake on who could crack the impassioned crowd first. Holding it together – just – thousands of people stomped down any hint of sadness, instead smiling with glee at the palpable taste of being on this psychedelic trip together. After, we meandered through the melée to the Sunset Terrace for our first session in arguably the most buzzing room of the entire night, where Space legends Alex P and Brandon Block were detonating old school bombs at a furious rate – as sure a sign as ever that the Space vibes of yesteryear were alive and well. Over on the Terraza, David Morales was reducing everyone to a nostalgic mess with Layo & Bushwacka’s ‘Love Story’ – this became a common theme.
It was over to an angelically-adorned Carl Cox to take the midnight slot on the Flight Area, a duty he handled with characteristic Coxy aplomb. Friends and strangers united on the dance floor in awe, bound by a determination to honour the DJ who surely now owns the title of the most-loved man in music. Out came the big boys – ‘Music Sounds Better’ by Stardust, a dedication to the legendary Frankie Knuckles with ‘Your Love’, and the proclamation that “Ibiza will never be the same and you know it”, a statement that laid heavy on everyone’s hearts. But there’s no time to dwell when you’re having so much fun and crucially, when the words to John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ are being beamed on stage. A mass singalong ensued, as did the realisation that incredibly, no one actually knows the words to this song. Was it a cheese-fest? Absolutely. Did we revel in it? You betcha. It was a moment that primed us perfectly for what came next – a gospel choir whose tenor-laced tones sent shivers down our spines and some people searching for the exit – philistines, one presumes. We took our cue to leave from the lone specimen wearing a pig mask, dancing among a sea of crushed cups – was this a hybrid of unspeakable beauty entwining its limbs before us? It was hard to tell, but the fact we were questioning ourselves meant it was probably time to move on.
The next few hours were spent bumbling from room to room in a haze of happiness, though we eventually took up residency with most of our friends in the diminutive bosom of El Salón, the corner of Space that lures you in with the promise of a warm, slightly sweaty embrace. Ibiza Sonica DJ, Igor Marijuan, was constructing the kind of set that even among so many legends, left you spellbound. He singlehandedly conjured enough good vibes to leave everyone feeling giddy; putting himself well in contention for perhaps controversially, the best set of the night. The joy overflowed, the bubbles came out, high fives were shared with strangers, and declarations of love came thick and sickeningly fast (if I haven’t told you yet, I love you) – of all Space’s rooms, El Salón surely wins the title of most loved-up of them all. We popped out for the occasional breather to see Maceo Plex and then Solomun on the Terraza, who in spite of their stature, didn’t have the magnetism to keep us away for long – we soon went running back to El Salón, muttering confused apologies for having ever left in the first place.
In fact, it was only all-round nice guy and bona fide Space legend, Paul Reynolds, who stood a hope of stealing away our affections, but that of course, he did. We were drawn to the Sunset Terrace by a force stronger than we could understand, just in time to catch the tail end of his now famous eight-hour set. As is customary, he was pushing all our buttons with a blend of funky, pop, disco goodness, so we shimmied away the morning hours to the feel-good sounds of John Paul Young’s ‘Love Is In The Air’, Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Everywhere’ and Lionel Richie’s ‘All Night Long’, while all around us everyone mouthed, “IT’S JUST SO GOOD”. The Reynolds magic had struck again. Had it not been for the rather momentous occasion of Coxy’s last ever set happening next door, we’d have stayed till the very end, but history was calling and thankfully, we’d already received enough dance floor memories to last a lifetime. A heartfelt thanks to everyone involved, including the bleary-eyed Liverpudlian boy who clumsily launched me into the air when I asked where he was from.
As expected, the Discoteca was overflowing with adoring fans keen to soak up the final seconds of an iconic institution and the excellent people who had made it all possible. Pepe Roselló stood alongside Coxy and Nic Fanciulli in the booth, looking out at the sea of admirers below him, visibly moved. As Space fans were waved enthusiastically from the back of the room, he thanked everyone for their support, declaring the memories made at the club would live inside its walls forever. Applause roared through the crowd and cheers of “Pepe, Pepe, Pepe” reverberated around the room, before Coxy brought it all to a melancholy close with Angie Stone’s ‘Wish I Didn’t Miss You’ – the last track ever to be played at Space. We were all united, then – in sadness that it was all over; in gratitude that we’d been a part of it; in thanks for a club that can never be replaced. We reluctantly made our way out past a man who’d taken off his belt and tied himself to a table in protest (nice one!), and a bouncer giving us a thumbs up. “I’d say see you next year…” he said, a wistful smile on his face as the meaning of his words hung in the air. He shrugged his shoulders, “…maybe in the next life.” Here’s hoping.
WORDS | Abby Lowe