Club Chinois

Ibiza stalwart Danny Whittle talks first year behind Club Chinois success [Exclusive Interview]

Ibiza stalwart Danny Whittle brandishes over two decades of experience working within the island’s nightlife scene, having been Pacha’s Brand & Program Director for 13 years before moving to IBZ Entertainment Group. As one of the most influential names on the clubbing front, his attention has recently turned to a new venture on the White Isle, taking on a new role with Island Hospitality, a company that has just invested in the debut season of Club Chinois, a new nightclub for music connoisseurs to enjoy in Ibiza.

 

Housed in the Ibiza Gran Hotel, Club Chinois has made a huge impact on the island within just its first season of operation, as Danny Whittle has been sure to entice global music talent through its doors. Formerly Heart Ibiza, this innovative nightlife hotspot has brought immersive, world-class events to a more intimate space that can host over 1000 partygoers a night. Within its first year, it has hosted illustrious residencies for the likes of Ida Engberg, THEMBA, Luciano, Satori and Pablo Fierro and as some of those drew to a close for the season, we sat down with Danny to find out what makes Club Chinois so special. 

 

Thank you for inviting us to Club Chinois! Why did you want us to come and experience the atmosphere of this nightclub?

I think people need to see it to understand why we’re doing what we are doing and I want people to see why I decided to come and work here. This is the only club in Ibiza that caters for a smaller audience of 1500 people; it’s a much more intimate-style venue. There is a lot less pressure on the venue to achieve huge numbers, and you can work with much cooler, upcoming DJs, musicians and so on because you don’t need the four or five thousand people that some of the other super clubs do. I ran Pacha for 14 years and in trying to get five thousand people there every night, you tend to have to book artists with that in mind. You have to bring in talent that you think can bring four or five thousand people and that might not be the talent you particularly want to work with, but you need to do that to fill the nightclub.

Whereas here, there’s a lot more freedom for me as a programmer, and as a brand director to work with people that I know can bring two thousand people and form a big queue outside. But it’s fresh talent, and maybe more left-field than people might think, which I like. Also with the technology we’ve put into the club including the sound system and decoration, it just feels like an amazing space. It’s important that we bring people here to see that and talk about it; seeing is believing!

 

With there being lots of competition across the island, what would you say makes this place stand out above the others? 

I think it’s the size. If you want to go to Pacha, Hi Ibiza and Amnesia, you need four or five thousand people to generate an atmosphere. Here, we need as little as a thousand, which means that we can be more creative and experimental. We can do live things here that would never work in larger venues, so we can even be more of a jazz and soul club if we wanted and they wouldn’t dare to do things like that.

 

Club Chinois

Image credit: Press / provided by Jukebox PR

 

Having been involved with all of these big clubs, did you get to a certain point where you wanted a club experience to be completely different?

When I finished working with the big clubs after 14 years, I’d had enough of that pressure of doing stuff that I didn’t particularly want to do, but I had to do it to achieve the results that I needed. It became very formulaic, in the way it was like, book this guy, this guy, and this guy. We were spending a lot of money to book them, but it was okay as you’d make a load of money in return. But the reason I took this job is that I don’t need to do that and now I can book people I really want to work with and know that we can still achieve the goals that we set out. I can still fill this nightclub by booking the people that I believe people want to see and they may not necessarily be your A-list stars that normally get a gig in the big clubs.

Don’t get me wrong, we have got some superstars playing here and they are starting to feel the same as me; Luciano feels like me now. He wants to play in front of one thousand five hundred people as he likes to have that very intimate crowd that is absolutely coming for his music. People aren’t coming here for the brand, but for Luciano, not necessarily Club Chinois because the brand isn’t that well known right now. What I’m planning to programme for next year is going to be sure to bring people in every night for the content and the brand is just going to embrace that. People are going to walk out of here with the impression that the club is cool, after a nice night, listening to the music they want, in an intimate environment, and that excites me.

 

You mentioned booking artists that wouldn’t have a chance to play in other places in Ibiza. How important is it for you to discover new talent and give them that push forward they need to succeed at Club Chinois?

I think it’s super important. I don’t mean that they wouldn’t get a gig in Ibiza, they would, but maybe wouldn’t get that residency in a big club. We can give people their own night here. Luciano could be in any club on the island, but he chooses to be here because he doesn’t want to be part of the “supermarket rush”. He wants to be in a venue that’s big enough to be full of his people, not somewhere that’s half his people and half the brand. I think it’s important for us that we can put new talent on here early in the night, or late in the night, where we still know that we’ll be at full capacity and the club’s still going to feel electric. People are going to find new talent because we will be introducing them. Whereas if you do that in some of the bigger venues, the club would be half-empty until the superstar comes on. In essence, we can maintain the numbers very easily, which makes it easier for us to introduce new talent.

 

Image credit: Press / provided by Jukebox PR

 

2022 has been an interesting year for events. What do you think next year holds in terms of the events and nightclubs in Ibiza?

Ibiza has this amazing power to continue functioning; it’s super resilient. Even during the times of the big banking crisis in 2007-2008, everybody thought Ibiza would go down – but It didn’t. This year, we were coming off the back of COVID and we had no more restrictions and again, the people came back and it’s been a record year. People are talking of the “cost of living crisis”, but most people are already saving for their summer next year, so I see Ibiza probably being similar to this year. I don’t think we’ll see a similar boom to what happened post-COVID and if it’s the same as this year, we’re going to have a great year because this year broke all the records. It will be a big year for sure.

 

And from a music perspective, how do you see dance music changing within the next year or so?

Music is always changing. What was commercial two years ago is not commercial anymore. And what was underground two years ago is now commercial. So it’s constantly changing. There’s an amazing young DJ now called TSHA who played the Dalt Vila this year during IMS and she’s got this bass-driven, garage and house sound and was the star of the show. So you can see that there are some up-and-coming superstars, even people like Franky Wah who is selling out his shows worldwide. With these kids coming through, I think we are on a very healthy and creative path for sure.

 

Image Credit: Image Credit: Club Chinois / Provided by Jukebox PR

24-year-old dance music fan and podcaster!

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