The heady Ibiza club that rivaled Studio 54

While foam parties, glow sticks, and celebrity DJ sets make it all too easy to dismiss the cultural validity of Ibizan nightlife, those partying on the island before it earned its reputation as Europe’s rowdy, raucous, and lawless party capital came to know a very different kind of celebration. Ibiza was once a place that offered unofficial asylum to queer and alternative Spaniards, providing a place of escape for liberals during Franco’s rule, hippies in the 70s, and clubbers in the 80s – a precious decade before the island’s commercial explosion.  

Today, one of the island’s most famous clubs is also the world’s largest, Privilege. While Privilege is a household name, the story of its predecessor, KU, remains elusive. In 1979, footballer Jose Antonio Santamaría and two fellow Basques, Jose Luis Anabitarte (aka Gorri) and Javier Iturrioz, came to Ibiza and purchased Club San Rafael. It was a space with a “rustic garden” and a swimming pool perched on a hill, overlooking Ibiza’s shoreline. They named it KU, after the Hawaiian god of prosperity. Together, with a team of creatives, they transformed the space into what would become one of the most influential and beloved clubs in the history of the island. KU reached a legendary status in Ibiza comparable to Studio 54 – a nightlife space which represented the heyday of hedonism in its era.

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