A Solomun the dj who keeps Ibiza dancing
Midsummer in Ibiza, ten minutes to midnight. At a long table in the dimly lit garden of Can Domingo, a restaurant in the southern hills, two dozen people picked over the remains of a generous dinner: ravioli, veal Milanese, and caponata. Gerd Janson, a forty-five-year-old German D.J. with courtly manners, asked me if I wanted a little more fish. He was dressed like one of the Royal Tenenbaums, in a neck scarf and a white camp-collar shirt tucked into chinos. I was full, but he insisted. “The fish is so delicious—and it’s a long night,” he reminded me.
At the center of the table was another D.J., Mladen Solomun—the reason for this long night and many others. Solomun is a forty-six-year-old German-Bosnian-Croat from Hamburg who looks like a Visigoth chief or a retired linebacker: six feet three and meaty, with a graying beard and long dark hair that he often wears pulled back. He is known to millions of ravers by only his last name and to a circle of intimates by only his first. At Can Domingo, he was Mladen, soft-spoken and attentive with the Chablis. After dinner, he would become Solomun, master key to the pleasure of thousands.
This summer, several people described Solomun to me as the “king of Ibiza.” He professes to hate this appellation, but it has some merit. Since 2013, except for the covid pause, he has played at Pacha, the island’s oldest night club, at least twenty Sundays a year. (The parties begin at midnight and run until dawn on Monday.) His residency, called Solomun+1, so dominates the scene that other clubs plan their schedules around it. Ibiza Spotlight, a night-life guide, recently the “center of the universe.”
At Can Domingo, Solomun turned to Janson, smiled, and said, in thickly accented English, “Hey, it’s nearly twelve—why aren’t you in Pacha?” Other clubs on the island hire several DJ’s for a single evening, and at larger venues DJ’s play simultaneously in different rooms. With more names on the bill, there is a better chance that clubbers will spot someone they like. Pacha has one main room, and Solomun prefers a simple formula. He believes that dancers yearn to be taken on a musical journey, and that the way to lead them is to create a long, involving set. When Solomun plays, he invites only one other d.j., his “+1”—tonight it would be Janson. The guest plays from midnight until 2:30 a.m., Solomun plays from 2:30 a.m. until 5 a.m., and then the pair performs together, or “back-to-back,” for the final two hours, finishing at 7 a.m.
Janson had been aware that midnight was approaching, but he wasn’t one to make a fuss. Indeed, he had been chatting pleasantly with Solomun about the insanity of their schedules. The next day, Janson would take three roundabout flights to get to Corsica, for a gig that evening. “I’m a working-class kid,” he said. “I have to work.”
At midnight, a Pacha employee drove Janson away in a van. The other diners were in no rush: Paul Bor, Solomun’s tour manager, who is almost always by his side; a famous German actor; a currency trader from London, who met Solomun on a health retreat; a Croat tech guy who lives in L.A. Typically, Solomun doesn’t arrive at Pacha until nearly 2 a.m. When the check arrived, Solomun paid, and everyone returned to their villas to shower and change before the night—or the morning—began in earnest.
n on the White Isle was one for the books.