Last month Glitterbox kicked off their second season at Hï Ibiza, and they debuted with a new look and an eye-catching slogan to boot. "This Ain't No Disco" will be adorned on Glitterbox posters from Ibiza to London, but what does it mean? Well, as they're gearing up for a return to Ministry on 28th July, we called up Glitterbox and Defected boss, Simon Dunmore, to find out.
MoS: Hi Simon! Tell me a little about the history of Glitterbox, how did it start?
Simon Dunmore: We started in June 2014. We felt that there was a lack of flamboyance, extravagance and expression on Ibiza and we wanted to fill that gap.
I guess that would’ve been the peak time of EDM as well?
Yes, and techno was very popular and there were these two extremes of music being cater for and there was nothing that really sat comfortably in the middle. EDM was for the very young and techno is for the more – I’m not saying people that go to Glitterbox aren’t serious – but they’re not heads down, wearing an all-black uniform. When I first went to Ibiza in the late 80s and early 90s, clubs were full of very colourful characters, people that really amplified the experience because of their exuberance and their passion. We felt that was missing.
Glitterbox has become incredibly popular in a reasonably short period of time, to what do you attribute the success of the brand?
The people that come to the parties, I believe they walk away having had a great night. They hear records they remember, records that are important to them. And they tell their friends. Literally, that is the one thing about social media, if someone has a great time, normally they’ll post about it and that actually has probably been our biggest asset. We haven’t had to bang the drum really hard about how great our party is. People have done the talking for us.
When deciding on the music policy of Glitterbox, what were you looking for in the artists that you asked to become residents?
We were looking for people that were aware of the time of night that they’re playing, the environment in which they’re playing, aware of the mood of the audience, know when to take them on a journey when to drop a big record that’s going to create euphoria on the dancefloor. Normally that comes with experience. DJs that have paid their dues and are renowned for their prowess. People who understand the original old skool art of DJing. It’s not about hitting people over the head for sixty minutes, it’s about picking the right record at the right moment.
Who were the original team of residents?
Dimitri from Paris, Joey Negro, John Morales, Basement Jaxx, Horse Meat Disco, Todd Terry. These people have produced records, played records, probably all of them for at least 20 years. I think that gives them that knowledge and that connection with the audience. Another important thing - we utilise the same dancers for our London and Ibiza shows. The dancers are really important. The connection between the DJs and the dancers is really important. It’s like having your own group of friends to play to. Visually it’s really exciting and it’s just infectious, people feed off of that in the club. They feed off the great music, they feed off the extraordinary characters having the time of their lives on stage. That absolutely affects the audience in a big way.
Using the same dancers in the way that you have – having them on the posters, on the flyers, at the events – it’s a really unique aspect of Glitterbox, I can’t think of anyone else who has done that.
People seem to forget – clearly DJs are important, clearly, the music is important, but what is equally as important are the people in the club. The club is only as good as the people on the dancefloor. You can have a great a club, you can have a great DJ, but if the audience doesn’t know why they’re there or what the DJ is playing, then it unravels very quickly.
Who are some of the exciting up and coming DJs / producers in the Glitterbox family?
The lineups are quite diverse. There’s a group of kids in Ibiza who play for us, Melon Bomb. We have Honey Dijon, Purple Disco Machine, Crazy P, Dr Packer, Jellybean Benitez, DJ Spen & Karizma, Hi-Fi Sean. We try to keep the lineups eclectic and varied, but obviously, the overall musical policy is carefully curated.
How do you go about finding new talent?
I’ve been clubbing for the best part of 35, 40 years. I get out and about, I still have my ear to the ground. I look at what’s happening on the internet, I read my magazines and then I go and see the DJs to make up my mind for myself. We have a team of people here, people like Luke Solomon, who brings in Honey Dijon and Derrick Carter. We’re like a gang, we see each other on a regular basis, we hang out. A lot of DJs turn up at a venue, play, and then leave. It can be quite a lonely experience. Because we play together and we’ve known each other for many years, that gives us the feeling that we’re going to have a great time and that, again, is transmitted to the audience.
The new artwork is very striking with the ‘This Ain’t No Disco’ motto, where did the inspiration come from? What does ‘this ain’t no disco’ mean in this context?
At the moment there are more and more disco nights being promoted. A lot of DJs that have no association with disco whatsoever, seem to be doing ‘a special disco set’. You see it everywhere. You know, disco enjoys periods of popularity and then sometimes it just dies. Sometimes people get bored of it and they move on really quickly. We’re inspired by disco, it was a great era of clubbing, but disco evolved. It evolved into the garage scene, into the house scene. We just want to say we’re not just about disco, we’re way, way more than that.
Glitterbox has become one of the standout nights in Ibiza, in the beginning, was it difficult to bring this sound back to the island?
Not really, initially it was a night that was born when we opened our doors for the first time. As you know, people in Ibiza like to go to the hot party, where the big DJs are etc. Because we were a branded party, we weren’t the hot party. The DJs we chose weren’t necessarily hot at that moment in time. Initially, it was a struggle to get punters to understand what we were offering. But we consistently played really great music and we consistently had really great people attending. Everyone who went walked away saying they had a great time and the word of mouth effect was really strong. Every year the party has grown organically.
It was a fairly rapid ascent as well.
Yes, and sometimes the star that shines the brightest doesn’t shine for as long. We wanted to make the point that if we grew organically and there were real foundations, real substance to what we did, then it would become special to people. We never did any dates outside of Ibiza for the first two years, because we wanted it to be a party that was special, that you had to make an effort to come to. It was something people looked forward to, sometimes for many months. That anticipation just meant that they were hell-bent on having a great time when they walked in the door. It was a unique experience. With tech house, with EDM, you can get that experience most weekends, in most towns, at most festivals. For a period of time, you could not have this experience unless you were at Glitterbox.
The brand has seen the change from Space to Hi, how do the two clubs differ? Has this affected the party in any way?
A lot of people were very emotionally attached to Space. Space was an amazing club and it was very important to people. I think Hï were very conscious of that. Hï is not Space. It’s in the same building, structurally it’s very similar, but the experience is very different. They didn’t want to be ‘the club formally known as Space’ and I think they’ve achieved that. It has its own personality. People don’t go in there and think ‘oh they’ve changed this, or that’s moved. They go in and they think ‘fuck, this is an amazing club’.
It’s a big feat to have achieved.
100% I think it would’ve been a mistake to try and keep the legacy going. It would’ve been a millstone around their necks. I think it was very clever to say ‘this is Hï, and this is what we represent’.
Defected In Croatia has proved very popular, do you have any plans to explore a stand-alone Glitterbox festival?
We do Glitterbox parties at Defected Croatia. The association between Defected and Glitterbox is real. A lot of people attend both events, a lot of DJs play both events. That, to me, is how dance music should be. I don’t believe in offering one DJ playing one sound throughout a night. It was never like that back in the day. People would pick the best records from any genre and find a way to play them together. I think Glitterbox and Defected achieve that. Defected has a little bit more emphasis on more contemporary music and Glitterbox is inspired by music from back in the day, but if a record fits then it absolutely gets played.
Simon will play alongside Jellybean Benitez, Mousse T. Dr Packer and Ralphi Rosario on 28th July, tickets & more info here.