The world is going to hell. Each and every day that passes sees us sink us further into a societal abyss. Things get bleaker, darker, and further away from the already faint hope that they'll ever get better. There is war, there is famine, there is a palpable sense of things having reached a breaking point. Weeks and months pass with no sign of respite.
By and large we're stressed, anxious, depressed. Clouds loom on the horizon—thick, gunmetal grey clouds, the kind of clouds that feel unbearably close, as if they're descending directly upon you with the express intent of devouring you whole—and the sun's nothing but a distant memory.
In a world like this, things go by the wayside. In this world, pleasure has become something unexpected. The pleasureable has become alien, unknown, frightening almost. To feel pleasure in this day and age is, in some sense, to abandon reality and abandoning reality tends to make one feel delusional. Or guilty. Or both.
Where, then, do you go when you want to experience pleasure without the post-act ennui? Where do you want to be when the earth finally cracks in two and we're all sucked into the hellscape that lies beneath? I'll tell you. I'll tell you where you want to find yourself when the sky blackens forevermore and you feel the chill of death on the nape of your neck: Pikes Hotel.
Nestled a few miles away from the fishbowls and flip-flops of San Antonio—a place which, like Great Yarmouth or Blackpool, when enjoyed on its own terms is incredibly fun—and up a dusty dirt-track is one of of Europe's most absurdly decadent, hedonistic spaces.
Pikes—now officially known as the Ibiza Rocks House after the promoters pulled off an incredible restoration on the property in 2011, completely returning it to its former glory—has a long and storied history. While it might not have had quite the impact on club culture at large that Amnesia or Ku have, the story of Ibiza as a destination for those looking to vacation from life itself wouldn't be complete without a chapter or two on the 15th century finca that a former yachtsman, model, actor, and gigolo converted into a resort synonymous with languid days and wild nights that live long in the memory.
Tony Pike—for the hotel is named after its founder—has lived the kind of life that you couldn't make up if you tried. His story takes in the Merchant Navy and the Australian army, love affairs on life-rafts and bobsleigh accidents, six wives and three and a half thousand lovers. He is, in many ways, the last of his kind—the raffish, roguish, eccentric Brit who conquered worlds and created his own legacy. Pikes Hotel is Pike's life's work.
Pike purchased what was then known as Can Pep Toniet for a figure that works out as roughly £32,000, which given that business is booming 36 years later was an absolute bargain. Notorious for the lengthy parties thrown by megastars like Freddie Mercury—who spent a birthday there, throwing a party so outlandishly lavish that the firework display was visible from Mallorca, about 100km away—and for the endless other celebrities who have bunked up in its absurdly luxurious suites. The hotel has a global reputation for being a place where you can have the time of your life, in private. What happens by the pool in Pikes stays by the pool in Pikes. For the most part anyway.
But Pikes isn't important because the "Club Tropicana" video was shot there and famous people probably did utterly unspeakable things in the hotel's grottos and backrooms. It's an important space owing to what Pikes represents. Opening on the 4th of July, 1980, the very same day as the Cafe Del Mar coincidentally, it offers a kind of Ibizan idyll, a beatific Balearicness that's the very best of what this series of mystic and mythical islands have to offer. From the pink and green tennis court to the tanned terracotta of the roof terraces, the place positively drips with a sense of the ever-so-slightly otherworldly—time at Pikes doesn't work the way it does in the rest of the world.
That literal timelessness isn't just confined to the never-ending afternoons spent sipping rather-strong strawberry daiquiris on a sunlounger, watching your worries dissipate into the depths of your increasingly deep tan. As perfect as those days are, it is at night when Pikes comes to life.
Now, as most of us know, it's under the cloak of darkness that we feel most comfortable in exhibiting our less reserved selves. This very much seems to be the case at the island's most notoriously naughty resort. With its nooks and crannies and parties that can last longer than some London nightclubs, the place is the perfect location for all manner of nightlife experiences. This summer just gone has seen acts as diverse as Carl Craig, Leo Mas, Ruf Dug, Artwork and more take control of the tiny back room which houses a pair of decks and less than a hundred or so sweaty souls. It is an intimate, glamorously grotty space, imbued with a close encounters of the very adult kind, and if there's one selector who's come to truly make it their own, it's everyone's favourite sleazy rider himself, DJ Harvey.
Harvey told me that a few decades ago he decided to eschew Ibiza because he didn't think the "soccer hooligans and Eurotrash," as he put it, were "worthy of [his] presence." Well, the bearded-guru of club culture eventually relented, and last year took up a summer residency at Tony Pike's hotel. Mercury Rising—named in honour of the hotel's most beloved former regular—has become a Monday night institution on the island, a small party that feels like an actual party, as opposed to paying the best part of fifty quid to pay the best part of twenty quid for a bottle of water in a club that could comfortably accommodate the entire population of your standard provincial market town. It is a modern incarnation of the freewheeling days of yore, back when Balearic was a feeling rather than a category on Beatport.
"During my little stay here in the last few months," Harvey told me, "I've played nosebleed techno at HYTE, I've played sunset music at Hostel La Torre, I'm doing deep v-neck t-shirt music with Tale of Us at Space and here at Pikes, I've been playing adult dance music."
Anyone who's ever seen Cambridge's favorite son take control of the decks for an entire night knows what a wild ride the Black Cock man takes you on. For his last Pikes set of the summer—a ten and a half hour session that rumbled long into Tuesday morning—Harvey's interpretation of adult dance music took in everything from sun-bleached Belgian new beat to rarer-than-hen's-teeth disco edits, thumping proto-house to a few fan favorites.
Ever a vision of Americanophile cool, Harvey, clad in a vest and a pair of prescription aviators which came across as more 70s porn-chic than Napoleon Dynamite, commandeered the room with absolute aplomb, able to look each and every one of the audience in the eye. Having spoken with him a few times, I know that Harv still finds DJing an exceptionally stressful, anxiety-inducing experience, but being the old pro he is, he doesn't let that show. With a grin plastered on his face and a tambourine in hand, he looked, and sounded, every inch the godlike figure he's become.
It seemed that over the course of the night, everyone who stumbled through to Harvey's pokey back room had some connection to him. DJs waited patiently by the booth for a quick hello; old blokes who were there in the Moist days traded stories when they went outside for a fag; the younger devotees clung together in nervous packs trying to ascertain the possibility of getting a selfie. One punter even took it upon himself to proffer Harvey a bottle of poppers, which he politely declined of course. And, in a scene of such incongruousness that it nearly beggars belief, stepping into the still-sweltering night for a quick beer revealed the eternally baffling sight of Gerd Janson stood next to Calum Best. And if that doesn't scream "incredible party" then, frankly I'm not sure what would.
The afternoon after the morning before and things are still going strong: there are cocktails and chainsmoking, and the sight of Tony Pike himself, ambling through the kingdom of his own creation.
At one point, having decided to have a little downtime in the sun. Harvey himself emerges from the dark of his room, whips his trousers off, and executes a perfect dive into the azure blue of the pool. A few seconds later, he pops back up, running his hands through his hair. "That was nice, wasn't it," he says. Yes, it was.