Carl Cox is a dance music titan. For the best part of 40 years, he has been one of the most recognisable figures in house and techno, as famous for his toothy grin and boundless energy as his blistering sets. He's popular the world over, but nowhere more so than Ibiza, where he’s held a record-breaking residency every summer for the past 15 years. That all came to an end in September 2016, when Space, the club that was home to Cox's Music Is Revolution party, shut for good. The closure marked the end of an era for Cox, but also for Ibiza, which lost one of its best-loved venues at a time when flashy VIP culture looms ever larger over the scene.
This film follows Cox across the 2016 season in Ibiza, from the Music Is Revolution opening in June through to the closing in September. It offers a behind-the-scenes perspective on a momentous slice of clubbing history, as well as an honest and insightful window into Cox's life inside, and away from, the DJ booth. This is the story of a clubbing icon coming to terms with the next phase of his career, and of a clubbing island facing up to an uncertain future.
The film opens with Cox setting the scene for the final night of his Ibiza residency over slow motion shots of Space and a motorbike ride through the French countryside. From there we travel to Space's world-famous Discoteca for soundcheck, while various voices from across dance music wax lyrical about the club, Ibiza and Cox's extraordinary magnetism as a performer. More euphoric shots of Space play underneath. Then the pace slows suddenly: we're relaxing at Cox's villa, before driving back to Space for the opening party. Pepe Rosello, the club's 80-year-old owner and a central figure in the story, is introduced shortly after with shots of him dancing and clutching a glass of champagne.
Through Rosello we learn briefly about the history of Ibiza, told over shots of hippies in drum circles on the beach. Moments later we're back in 2016, at International Music Conference in Ibiza, where Rosello and Cox are giving a talk about Space's final year. We learn that the powerful Matutes family, who own neighbouring hotel-cum-club Ushuaia, will take over Space, potentially turning it into another VIP-led venue where ostentation trumps music. "I think Ibiza is losing something," laments Rosello.
The film then swaps Ibiza for Carshalton, the suburb of London Cox grew up in. We dive into his past, starting with his childhood through to his early successes as a touring DJ. Along the way, we meet his sister, Pamela, and bump into a few old friends from the area. The chronology continues from there: there's original footage of Cox rocking it at a rave in the '90s, while he opens up about the various sacrifices he's made over the years in pursuit of his craft. One of his former girlfriends, Maxine, makes a brief cameo in Brighton.
The film ends in Ibiza, at the closing party of Music Is Revolution. Every year, for the closing, Cox makes the trip from Brighton to Ibiza by motorbike, accompanied by a group of friends. We travel with him, learning about his love of motorsports and his plans to develop his involvement further once his DJ career starts winding down. Then, suddenly, we're back at Space for the closing party. Cox bids an emotional goodbye to the crowd, leaving who else but Rosello to have the final word. He muses philosophically while shots of an empty dance floor see us out.
Carl Cox: Space is the Place, airs 00:05am on 1st December.