KU - FROM SWIMMING POOL TO SUPER CLUB
Text: Cat Weisweiller
With a formidable design team in place including Faruk (master of ceremony and VIP Bar Privé), Brasilio (founder of La Troya), Tirso (decoration and lighting) and Gorri (general coordinator), KU grew seamlessly to accommodate its increasingly party-hungry crowd. The Olympic sized pool was trimmed down to make more dance space, a bridge was built across it and its depth reduced for safety. The music systems grew ever larger and bar areas were added accordingly. The hosts moved from having impromptu poolside gatherings at sundown to fully fledged disco nights pushing through till sunrise. It soon became known as the open air version of New York’s much revered “Studio 54”.
By the mid 80s, KU had become the most talked about nightspot on the island. Visiting celebs, movie stars, pop stars, designers, ibizencos, hippies, homosexuals and transvestites alike, all piled in to enjoy “surreal sessions of nocturnal euphoria”. Here, at last, was a place of belonging, acceptance, excess and sexual tolerance surpassing any other that had come before. Any last residue of Franco’s repressive regime was rendered well and truly obsolete within the parameters of this new found freedom of expression.
The list of A-list celebrities to cross KU’s threshold in its over 12 year history is predictably impressive. In 1987, Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé even staged their first public performance of the song ‘Barcelona’ there. With a sound system that could be heard the island over and lasers reportedly visible to the mainland, KU was often billed as the world’s most prestigious nightclub.
However, with this meteoric rise, came the inevitable fall: To comply with sound regulations, KU was forced to put a roof on its mass revelry in the early 90s. This was no mean feat considering the proportions to which it had grown. Their first roofing efforts collapsed in a storm. Ensuing funding issues, changes in clubbing trends and the tragic assassination of its co-owner, Santamaria, in 1993, gradually brought KU to a reluctant halt. In 1995, the club changed hands and was renamed: Privilege.
All was not lost though. KU’s spirit of unbridled revelry and sexual abandon lived on for many years through Manumission. The original Coco Loco bar remains where it was first lovingly created, as does much of the disco’s original structure. The entrance staircase, immense industrial fans and much of the garden area also linger as strong echoes of the KU days gone by. However, if a pilgrimage to Privilege seems a tad too adventurous, a visit to the Facebook page: “KU Ibiza Best Years”, may be an easier way to pay homage to one of the greatest milestones in Ibiza’s clubbing history. •