Privilege Ibiza began in the 1970s as Club Rafael, a comparatively subdued bar with a community swimming pool in the unlikely location of San Rafael, a small community in the island’s interior about halfway between the celebrated party towns of Ibiza Town and San Antonio. In the 1980s, it transformed itself into Club Ku, and became one of Europe’s most popular discos, flying in musicians and dancers from Rio de Janeiro and hosting legendary hedonistic parties. Even the great Freddie Mercury of the group Queen performed here. It became the Privilege Nightclub by 1991, and eventually the largest nightclub in the world was created when a roof was put over it, signaling the end of the all-night outdoor partying that was beginning to irritate the local neighbors.
In 1996, Manumission arrived at the nightclub, and promoters created the modern age of mass club tourism. Manumission is a Greek term meaning the process of freeing from slavery, and the show was all about party goers being able to express themselves freely, which translated into a great deal of nudity, orgiastic dancing, and similar behaviors. The show was featured here until a dispute and allegations of drug use caused it to move to the nearby Amnesia Club. Currently, Manumission remains a popular show and music style that tours elsewhere in the world, but since 2009 it is no longer on Ibiza.
The Privilege Nightclub is a huge venue, with a capacity of 10,000 people. You enter by descending a massive staircase that ends in the center of a warehouse-sized dance floor. In the center is the disc jockey, on a bridge that is suspended over the swimming pool. During some parties, the dance floor is flooded, creating a monster-sized swimming pool. Above it all is a massive— big, huge, and massive being the operative words customarily used to describe the seven-story tall Privilege Ibiza—65-foot-wide geodesic dome that dominates the skyline for miles. This club is so big, there are maps posted to keep you oriented. Several clubs within a club are found in various places, including Coco Loco, popular with gay travelers, and the Music Box. There can be long lines to get in, so it’s best to plan ahead and buy tickets in advance sometime during your holidays. You can also purchase vacation packages from some operators in Europe, which include round-trip flights, accommodation in hotels or apartments, and a ticket for one of the parties. Sometimes, these packages will include tickets to other venues on the island, such as Eden in San Antonio and Space on Playa den Bossa.
The Privilege Nightclub resident disc jockey is Tiesto, born Tijs Michiel Verwest in the Netherlands. As the world’s top deejay and a legendary music entrepreneur, there is a wax sculpture of him in Madame Tussad’s in Amsterdam. He performed live at the opening ceremonies of the 2004 Olympics in Athens. It is only fitting that Privilege Ibiza, the world’s largest nightclub, is the host of the world’s biggest disc jockey. As with the other clubs on the island, Privilege Nightclub hosts lavish season opening and closing parties, for which party animals and dance enthusiasts fly in from around the world. It is an easy drive to get here, but the twisting road can be dangerous at night. It’s best to leave the vehicle behind and take the free bus that departs every 30 minutes from the Jet Apartments Complex on Playa den Bossa, Ibiza Town harbor, and San Antonio. The bus runs from midnight until 6 a.m. closing time.