HarderFaster hits Ibiza: interview with Kirk Field of Radical Escapes
Reported by HarderFaster
Submitted 05-03-08 21:01
Wouldn’t you like to be able to look out the window and see this breathtaking view? Well thanks to Radical Escapes, Heat Ibiza and HarderFaster, this July you can. We’ve teamed up with the good folk at Radical Escapes and Heat to bring you the best Ibizan holiday package yet. Put together by Radical Escapes’ Kirk Field, it promises to be the holiday of a lifetime. Kirk has been working in clubland for longer than some of you have been on this planet and as a veteran of the rave scene, he certainly has some stories to tell. We had a chat with him to find out more about his adventures as Mixmag’s raving reporter, the establishment of Radical Escapes — his pioneering clubbing travel company — and of course, his plans for HarderFaster Ibiza.
View from HarderFaster Sunset Studios
You started out as a car parking steward at the Sunrise rave in the second summer of love in ’89, and now nearly 20 years later you’re the one directing proceedings and making sure large groups of clubbers get to the right events.
I’ve never planned anything or cherished the concept of following a career, mainly because I’ve never really known what I wanted to do. But I’ve always known what I didn’t want to do, and as long as you keep avoiding what you don’t want to do, you’ll eventually wind up doing something you do quite like doing… that’s my approach anyway!
Did you always plan to work in adventure travel or was it something you fell into over the years?
Radical Escapes came about when I grew bored promoting parties in clubs and took on the challenge of throwing a party on an overnight ferry to Hamburg! No travel company was interested, they thought I was insane. So I started a company myself and here I am nearly a decade on, still a thorn in the side of the travel industry!
You were Mixmag’s ‘raving reporter’ from 89–94, covering the dance scene’s beginnings and subsequent explosion across Europe then the rest of the world. How did you get into music journalism? Were you a serious writer or more of a gonzo journalist a la Hunter S. Thomson?
Again, I never harboured desires or aspirations to become a journalist; it was borne more from a sense of injustice. I was witnessing the best parties anywhere on the planet, watching black and white people dance together and girls not being treated like cattle. I saw a generation of city kids turn their back on West End clubs in favour of dancing in the countryside, beneath the stars and all night long. And then on Monday morning, in the tabloids, I’d read about these hellish acid house parties where children as young as 13 were getting hooked on life-destroying drugs. It was untruthful and needed to be combated. So I wrote a feature on why raves were so popular and sent it to Mixmag. They loved it and I became their raving reporter.
What was the biggest story you covered in that time? And the freakiest?
Because I used to hang out with them, I got to do the first interviews with The Orb, The Shamen & KLF. I also got to see the rave thing spread international; sending the first dance floor dispatches from Paris, Croatia, Moscow… and a little island just off Spain called Ibiza!
Some of the most bizarre tales include being in an underground nuclear tunnel beneath Zagreb when there was a Serbian air raid and all the power was cut. Being followed by the KGB in Moscow was also memorable. It was pretty tense — a few weeks before the attempted coup in 1991 and I was covering a huge party at the old Olympic stadium, on my visa it said ‘JOURNALIST’, so I was befriended and trailed everywhere by a rotund foreign language student called Ivan, who we got drunk and made him confess to being a part time KGB officer.
Staying on a New Age hippy commune in 1990 on Formentera was very rewarding, unlike chasing Diego Marradona around Ibiza in ’97 after he said I could be the first British journo to interview him since the infamous ‘hand of God’ goal in 1986. I waited up for two nights in a café in Ibiza, only for him not to show. On the third night I had to sleep… and that was the night he finally showed up. Typical!
Being present during the birth and eruption of dance music around the planet must have been extremely exciting. With it now part of mainstream culture, do you ever look back and think how things might have been done differently?
The mainstream always first resists, then absorbs and takes the edge away from any force for change. It did it with punk rock and it did it with rave. It was inevitable that it became about the DJs (which it never was in the beginning — you never knew who was playing and frankly didn’t care) and that brought agents, management and all the other money people who make it into a sometimes saccharine, unsoulful business, which has got more than its fair share of assholes.
With the introduction of the smoking ban and tight security measures around the country, there’s been a growing trend recently for dance parties to go back to the fields and warehouses. Do you see this as a good or bad thing?
We danced in the fields mainly because the clubs used to close no later than 3am – which is still the case in the provinces. But it goes much. much deeper than that. We’ve danced in the fields for thousands of years, it’s part of our heritage and our DNA will always call us back. On a health and safety level it’s concerning though – I remember one girl nearly being hit by a falling concrete breezeblock in a warehouse on NYE on ’89 and thinking it wasn’t ideal partying in places that weren’t prepared properly. So to answer your question, it’s not good or bad; it’s inevitable-whilst-being-a-little-concerning!
Cream at Amnesia, Ibiza
Radical Escapes is the only independent travel company actually run by a clubber. Why do you think this is? Do you reckon it was a matter of being in the right place at the right time or are too many corporate travel companies just incapable of thinking outside of their usual tours and itineraries?
Within a year of me launching (Nov ’99), all the major tour operators launched ‘club brands’ but of course they failed abysmally because clubbers aren’t stupid. Some of them may look a bit daft, but they can smell when they’re being patronised and are inherently mistrustful of large companies.
What we do is try to give them a holiday which I’d like to go on myself; so no reps cabaret, wet t shirt competitions, welcome meetings at 9am and badly-dressed reps hassling you to go on their sodding excursions. We also try to give as many DJs as possible the chance to play in Ibiza. It shouldn’t be out of bounds and who knows, may inspire them to continue making music and being creative; we believe in that old punk rock, acid house ethic o participation.
You’ve worked with some of the top names in dance music and organised trips with a number of promoters known to HF readers, including Fevah, Frantic, HeatUK and now HarderFaster itself. What’s been your most radical escape yet?
It’s a toss up between taking 400 people to Amsterdam for a weekend of stay-awake clubbing without a hotel and putting a party on in a force 9 storm in the middle of the North Sea.
Since we last spoke you’ve upped roots and moved down to one of the most picturesque parts of the UK — Devon. This must be taking ‘radical escapes’ to a new extreme! How has the move changed your lifestyle and is it difficult doing business when you’re so far way from London and major airports?
After twenty-five years living in the fast lane I felt with two small boys it was time to pull into the leafy lay by! I go to London for meetings every few weeks, and my work hasn’t changed one little bit largely because of the internet. As for flights, I use Exeter and don’t miss Gatwick or Stansted one little bit. I had to wryly smile though, on the traffic light yesterday I saw a day-glo poster advertising Adam F at some breaks event; so you can run, but you can’t hide!
The Cubicle Bros aka Kirk Field and Damian Gelle play Manumission, Ibiza
Damian Gelle would have to be one of the biggest party animals on the planet. How the hell do you keep up with him?! And how on earth do you manage to co-ordinate things with him during Ibizan Heat, let alone manage another few hundred clubbers who are often experiencing Ibiza for the first time? You must have some great stories from life on the road…. while I realise it’s a rule that what goes on tour stays on tour, can you not give us a couple of tales from edge… please!
There’s no keeping up with a tornado. There is no co-ordination from the Welcome meeting onwards! We work it all out in great detail prior to the event, and he passes over his passport, power of attorney and his organ donor card to me for safe keeping. Damo’s work is all but done by the time everyone hits Ibiza, he’s instrumental in bringing partners in and setting it up.
In Ibiza we have a working relationship which is based on Damian ‘consumer testing’ the product and me receiving abusive texts telling me to ‘f**k work and get your ass down to Bora Bora now…’. But seriously, we do work well together; I’m the Ernie Wise to his Eric Morecambe I suppose.
As for some ‘tales from the edge’; all I’ll say is that the six years together have thrown up a crazy cast of characters which include Viagra salesmen from Valencia, Viking helmets on the beach, lithe male dancers in denim shorts in Rotterdam (one of Damian’s particular favourites), topiary lessons with Blue Rose dancers in the Zoo… and waiting for hours on end in the corridor, outside Fritz’s office at Space for a bloody meeting!
A highlight was our triumphant gig as The Cubicle Bros in the toilets at Manumission last year, we had them dancing on the sinks, it was fantastic. BBC Radio Five live heard about it and we did an interview about the importance of toilets in club culture. Hilarious.
The first Heat Ibiza was in 2003 and was actually my first trip to the White Isle. From memory the highlights were taking over Space — where the Heat DJs blew the roof of the place — the trip to Formentera and a wicked villa party that got closed down by the Spanish police just as it was really warming up. Will the itinerary for HarderFaster Ibiza this year be similar to previous years? Or will we have to wait until your annual scouting trip in May before all is revealed?
We’ll know more in May, but can reveal we’ve bagged the zoo for a private day-night party on Monday 25th June. There’ll be at least two music areas, one of them exclusively hard dance. We’ve also reserved boats and are talking to a large venue in Playa den Bossa about hosting a post-beach party. These parties will be free to anyone with a wristband. We’re also programming some DJs at the Cream opening (Paul Van Dyk and Eddie Halliwell) and at Judgement Sunday… and have agreed with one hotel that we can have the whole unit for a hard dance crew so we can throw some hard dance pool parties in the afternoons.
Foam party at Kanya, Ibiza
2008 is the first year that HarderFaster joins the fun and frolics. Why do you think HarderFasterers reading this should go and put down their £125 deposit now?
Because Ibizan Heat is the only time all summer they will be able to hear hard dance all week long. Hard dance pool parties, boat parties and hotels full of like-minded people… and also because each holiday comes with a no mud guarantee!
You’re also involved in Snowbombing, the annual mash up on the slopes that takes place in Mayrhofen, Austria, from March 31 – April 6. How are preparations going for this year’s trip?
Looking bigger than ever this year. In addition to 75 DJs (including Plump DJs & James Zabiela), we’re throwing a Hacienda party with Graham Park and Peter Hook and on the live side, we’ve booked Madness and Pigeon Detectives. Madness will be playing in a forest clearing and live bands will be playing on a mountain stage. We’ve also secured an underground car park which will stay open until 8am. Check out www.snowbombing.com for more info.
Kirk in Austria
I was working next to a member of Maths Class yesterday when he found out his band had won the unsigned bands competition and he was absolutely ecstatic! Snowbombing has always been about cutting edge music as much as established names that sell tickets hasn’t it? Do you see the line-ups in Ibiza being very different, or given rise of Indie bands in Ibiza in the last couple of years, would you ever run a similar competition there?
We’re already doing it! We’ve started working with Ibiza Rocks and I’m taking a band called The Exits to play at the Ibiza Rocks Hotel.They’ll be joined by DJs from indie clubs around Portsmouth. If there’s any other bands or indie clubs out there who can bring a following, please get in touch and we’ll try to hook you up with a gig in Ibiza. After the sex and drugs… comes rock’n’roll!
If you could organise a trip anywhere in the world right now and there were no budgetary constraints, where would you go? What promoters and DJs would you take on the ride to make sure it was the most fun yet?
It’s got to be a weekend in Space. Busting free from the planet for 24 hours of weightless clubbing. Deep Dish would play the countdown, before handing over to Cally & Juice for take-off, Brian Eno would do the serene orbit, with Miguel Migs playing some smooth grooves in the zero gravity love-in room, ending with Paul Van Dyk playing re-entry!
One of the unique things about Ibizan Heat is the way you keep each club crew together in the same hotel. Why do you do this and how is it going to work for HarderFaster Ibiza?
This is very important in creating and maintaining a group experience. Having filled the Ibizan Heat Hotel we can now offer different groups various accommodation to suit their crowds: some will have pool parties, some are near to Kanya, and one is the ideal sunset chill out pad, overlooking Cafe Del Mar and the most famous sunset in the world!
These are the Harderfaster Sunset Studios and are being reserved for HarderFaster guests. They’re priced £349 based on three people sharing a self catering studio with a sea view.
Finally, what else have you got lined up?
I’m involved in a very historical one-off party later this summer, which I’ll let HarderFaster know about as soon as I can. It would be a fitting way to mark my time in dance music and club culture and will ‘complete the circle’, so to speak. We’re also looking into running trips to European hard dance events and I may get round to starting on that book I’ve been threatening to write! For updates check www.radicalescapes.com, or email me at email@example.com
STOP PRESS: During Ibizan Heat, HarderFaster will be co-hosting Room 2 at Euphoria on Tuesday 24th July with Dave Pearce, Anne Savage and guests.
Photos courtesy of Franziska the Chica and Radical Escapes. Not to be reproduced without permission.
Friday 20th June
The HarderFaster Studios [map]
3 people sharing a s/c studio £349 / 2 people sharing a s/c studio £399.
Reserve your place now for one of the highlights of HF’s busy 2008 calendar for just £99. Just call Nick at Vacation Club, our host on the Island and remember to quote HarderFaster to get the special rate. Lines are open 9:30 – 5:30 Monday to Friday on 020 8780 5551.
Kick starting on Friday 20th June you can now join the HarderFaster crew and friends for 7 or 10 days of madness on the fabled White Isle!
With a great location exclusive to HarderFaster, some special surprises in store and a proper HF knees up can you afford not to go?
Stop press: During Ibizan Heat, HarderFaster will be co-hosting Room 2 at Euphoria on Tues 24th with Dave Pearce, Anne Savage and guests.
The wristband and Itaca card
As part of your Ibiza package you’ll get yourself a wristband which will entitle you to plenty of free parties.
Please note that the wristbands will not be available to anyone who books outside of the Ibiza tour this year.
The inclusive parties are:
A daily Kanya party 1300 – 2000
Fri 20th June - Kayna Beach
Sat 21st June – Fiesta Del Agua at Es Paradis
Mon 23rd June – Ibizan Day Party at abandoned zoo ( inc complimentary return coach) plus afterparty.
Wed 25th June - Fiesta Del Agua at Es Paradis
You’ll also gain access to the Itaca Ibizan Heat Card which entitles you to savings of up to 40% when buying a round of drinks!
HarderFaster are also organising some very special parties exclusive to HF Ibiza guests and DJs! Watch out for more details.
Plus you’ll have access to discounted tickets to a range of other parties which include:
We Love Sundays at Space
Judgement Sunday at Eden
The Ibizan Heat Boat party
Tranz Ibiza at Eden
Armada at Amnesia
Cream Opening Party at Amnesia
Wonderland (Pete Tong & Groove Armada) @ Eden
Manumission at Amnesia
Trance. Euro Trance. Hard Trance. Tech Trance. House. Deep House. Funky House. Prog House. Tribal House. US House. Acid House. Soulful House. Tech House. Soul.
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The views and opinions expressed in this review are strictly those of the author only for which HarderFaster will not be held responsible or liable.