NY Times’ article, “Trouble Stalking Night-Life Paradise” has certainly risen more than a few eyebrows concerning DJ residencies, Ibiza’s legacy, and the monumental shift in the dance music culture. We’ve followed big names like Pete Tong and Tiesto, who shockingly moved away from Ibiza to what more believe to be the new EDM capital of the world, Las Vegas. This, of course, raises the enigmatic question, why? What has caused these multi-million dollar superstars, who have resided in Ibiza nearly every year for the past decade, to leave such a familial setting and come to America? Pacha’s owner, Ricardo Urgell, has an idea.
This prestigious man, who has been running the club for years, found the costly price to attract big DJs, as well as accommodating their needs, to be getting out of hand, going as far as to claim the past few years as “abuse”. As a result, he fired longtime friend and music director, Danny Whittle, responsible for bringing nearly every big DJ to Ibiza, and refused to renew their contract for one of their most loyal artists, Erick Morillo.
This is without a doubt the start of a big change for the club, as well as the island. “The D.J.’s wanted more money to play less,” said Urgell’s brother Piti in an interview with the NY Times. However, the Times states that Pacha, Ibiza, with a capacity of about 3,000, grossed more than 30 million euros (about $40 million) last summer, compared to just 7 million euros in 1999. In twelve years of Whittle’s employment, alongside the booming EDM scene, revenue had jumped over $20 million euros with bigger acts bringing in three times as much revenue as it took to bring them in.
None of this seems to flatter the Urgell’s and they definitely don’t want any part of this celebrity scene anymore. NY Times stated, “The Urgell’s chafed at the growing power of celebrity D.J.’s and their handlers and said they longed to return to simpler times when the club wasn’t ruled by money.” They are striving the return to the nostalgic hay day of Ibiza, featuring their rock ‘n’ roll love fest “Flower Power” party as well as “Wisdom of the Glove”, a new show keen on featuring everything from indie artists to puppeteers. It’s quite a different approach, especially considering the enormous rise of dance music within the past two years and the unprecedented success it’s seeing worldwide.
So what is really attracting people away from Ibiza? The answer, as Whittle claims, “is Vegas”.
On the other side of the pond, DJ’s are in their own paradise. The luxurious clubs, glamorous pool parties, and enormous paychecks have brought in almost every DJ to form a residency. Take Tiesto, one of Ibiza’s longest residing DJ’s, who will be staying in Vegas all summer without making a single trip back to Pacha. I guess when you’re offered $250,000 per show, that decision isn’t too hard to make.
Deadmau5, another Vegas resident, is also receiving a mind-boggling two year, 20 million dollar contract in order to reside in the sin city. The seemingly never-ending supply of cash and opportunity is fueling this exodus of DJ’s, making Las Vegas an irresistible utopia.
A managing partner associated with the renowned Wynn Las Vegas, Sean Christie, states, “Our reinvigorated and ramped up DJ roster offers the broadest representation of electronic dance music in Las Vegas”, a key factor that entices staple names like Steve Angello, Porter Robinson, and 40 others to remain there. This approach has led the Wynn to become Vegas’s top club and, as partner Jesse Waits claims, “maintain our reputation as the mecca of dance music through these exclusive partnerships.”
Neil Moffitt, CEO of the Hakkasan, Las Vegas’s newest, most dazzling 5 level night club that will house the names above as well as Calvin Harris, Laidback Luke, and many more, explained in a interview with Vegasseven why these superstars chose his club: “Imagine if you’re the DJ: When the downstairs and upstairs are full and it’s got intensity, there’s nothing like it. It makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck,” Moffitt says. “It’s not like walking in a sea of heads; it’s like being in a stadium. When you see someone score a touchdown, he looks up at the coliseum like he’s a god. That’s the DJ’s mentality.”
Either way you look at it, this is a huge plus for Americans and will undoubtedly boost EDM’s popularity at a rapid pace. However, this is just the beginning and we can only imagine what’s next. Who knows, maybe this will ignite a dominating rule of dance music in America. Yet, it goes without question the gap left in Urgell’s Pacha is fueling the movement of nearly all DJ’s into Las Vegas, crafting it to become the next EDM capital of the world.
-Pete McGuire & Jimmy Dickson