Mykonos in the Greek Cyclades is another clubbing hotspot I have a special connection with from times past. Seeing as I was passing through the Athens area in the third week of September to see old friends, it seemed rude not to get a boat out to the islands for some beach time and check out the lie of the land with Mykonos this year.
My love of Mykonos began when I saw Louie Vega, one half of Masters at Work, play at Paradise Beach back in 1999. It was one of my earliest formative clubbing memories and four years before I’d even been to Ibiza. It was a proper beach party as clubbers danced on the sand through sunrise to an awesome set by one of house music’s great selectors. Special times. When I returned in 2003, however, the vibe had changed. A purpose built club had been built within the complex – by the beach but not on the beach – and the music had gone down the commercial route. My attention subsequently turned elsewhere for a good night out on the island, namely to Cavo Paradiso. I had a particularly cracking night there in 2011 when I saw Ricardo Villalobos and Raresh play back2back and its stunning location on the headland to the east of Paradise Beach marked it out as one of the world’s great clubs.
Fast forward to 2018 and it was apparent Cavo now had challengers to its crown as the place to go. This year Mykonos has been booming – as I scrolled through my Instagram feed over the summer it was impossible not to miss all the house/techno DJs posting about their gigs on the island. This summer, for example, saw Tale of Us hold down a residency at Alemagou Beach Bar and Guy Gerber play parties at new club Void in Mykonos town.
In addition, Skorpios have been putting on strong line-ups over the summer through Kaz James and Jean Claude Ades’ Sunday night residency and also Thursday’s ‘Deep Playa’ bringing brands such as Audiofly’s Flying Circus to the island. I was pleased that my visit to the island coincided with Audiofly’s closing party, not least because Cavo was not open on the days I was around – it was getting late in the season and only had two dates to go, down to just Saturday openings.
Skorpios is a short walk down the coast west from Paradise Beach, extending over a rocky outcrop at the far end of Paraga beach on the headland. The venture was established by Thomas Heyne and Mario Hertel, the two Germans who had put the aforementioned Paradise Club on the map in the 90s. Its website sets out the lofty vision statement that Skorpios was born ‘as a modern reimagining of ancient social rites and island ritual’, and that ‘seeing a clear shift from thumping beats to balance-restoring cultural gatherings, they launched Scorpios in 2015 as a contemporary interpretation of the ancient Greek agora, a gathering place meant to galvanize the artistic, spiritual, and social life of the community. Embracing the tradition of island moon ritual, Scorpios brings the mystical charge of nighttime into the day, always building on the five pillars of food, healing, design, art, and music’. Interpret that as you will but clearly Skorpios has been conceived to offer something very different to what Paradise has become.
As well as providing a credible underground music offering, Skorpios also very much markets itself at the health and well-being end of the market. The website has a whole section devoted to cultivating ‘inner gardens’ by exploring ‘mind-body wisdom, creative expression, and positive transformation through a program of workshops, talks and movement and meditation classes’. It is great to see a diverse range of activity such as this being offered. This is perhaps reflective of how with the rise in popularity of activities such as mindfulness and yoga, increasing numbers of people want more from a holiday now than a drinking/partying release. I certainly approved of Skorpios’ ethos here even if it was just my music passion that would be getting nourished this time around.
Tonight’s party was due to run from sunset through until 1am. On the decks on my arrival an hour after sunset was LUM, Argentinian native Sebastian Gandine who now resides in Tulum. LUM served up an exquisite warm-up set of deep, rhythmic house beats in keeping with the Thursday night vibe at Skorpios across the season. This has seen the promoters of ‘Deep Playa’ set out to evoke the spirit of the legendary Burning Man festival that takes place every year at the end of August in the Black Rock Desert, a festival that seems to have spawned its very own mini-genre within house music. As testament to Deep Playa’s musical policy in bringing these sounds to Mykonos, the last month had seen both Luca Bacchetti and Blondish play at the venue.
Listening to LUM’s set reminded me somewhat of Guy Gerber’s Ibiza RUMORS parties, like a kind of hybrid between when it was at Beachouse and now at Destino. Maybe it was the smart decor, or the deep rhythms being played at that time of day just after sundown. Or it could have been the expensive drinks prices! LUM’s set built nicely throughout, a particular highlight being him dropping Jobe’s ‘Rafari’ towards the end, a tune that enticed a few more people on to the dancefloor in advance of Audiofly starting at 10pm.
Audiofly, aka Anthony Middleton and Luca Saporito, have been busy of late with the relaunch of Flying Circus’ sister label Supernature, starting with a bang through quality EP releases from Brian Cid and Fluida. And Luca had only recently returned from Burning Man. As they stepped up to the decks the night still felt pretty quiet numbers wise with an end of season feel to proceedings. The venue was quite big and spread out and the crowd comprised a disparate mix. There were the stragglers left over from the day, those who had come to dine out for the evening, others who had come predominantly because it was the place to be seen, and then there were the people like me who were there for the music and to get involved.
Whilst there was never a critical mass of people on the dancefloor, it didn’t stop Anthony and Luca delivering a killer set with the music being on point from start to finish. They were clearly enjoying themselves as they stared out to the Mediterranean from atop the cliff as the full moon beamed out in front, illuminating the ocean below.
I barely recognised any of the tracks with the exception of Khen’s ‘Authentica’ and Marcus Worgull’s ‘Listen To Charanjit’ on Innervisions. But the absence of obvious tuneage paved the way for some choice underground selections that were deep, melodically interesting and danceable. I enjoyed the music immensely with this ranging from the prevailing tribally house rhythms through to bigger melodic tracks backed by deep pulsating basslines.
As the night ended I left with the appetite to check out more of Audiofly’s material. I am particularly gutted now that I won’t be going to their event at this year’s ADE which is being co-promoted with Hernan Cattaneo’s Sudbeat and Nick Warren’s The Soundgarden. Here’s a cool interview those involved gave to Progressive Astronaut about the event on 18 October: http://progressiveastronaut.com/hernancattaneo-nickwarren-audiofly-ade2018/
Skorpios had been a cool place to hang out and Mykonos has certainly come on in recent years in terms of the choice on offer. I will be watching with interest to see how the island’s club scene develops in the future. Skorpios resident Kaz James was recently quoted in About Time as saying: ‘it’s on the end of everyone’s tongue at the moment – and it’s going to eventually be very influential as a creative community and a musical destination’. I believe it will continue to grow although I don’t ever see it being in Ibiza’s league, some key reasons being the island’s infrastructure and accessibility in terms of flights. But it can be seen as a credible Mediterranean alternative and one who’s artistic influence is growing.
All that was now left was for me to take a 5 and a half hour boat back to Piraeus, Athens’ main port. Some might see such a journey time as a bad thing – but not me! I loved every minute of it, listening to tunes for almost the entire duration, pondering life whilst staring out at the ocean from the top deck. The highlight was the sunset captured above just before entering Piraeus. I’m sure I will be back to this part of the world again soon!
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