Launching daytime party club Bora Bora in 'an old run down empty beach bar’ in Ibiza in 1996, Gee is famed for routinely playing 12 hour sets each day throughout the summer season, gradually transforming it into one of the wildest- and best- party spots of the whole Ibiza scene.
Squeezed out by the island’s often internecine clubland politics in 2006, he quit and set off on a global DJing tour that last year saw him reinventing Bora Bora as a premium destination on Brazil’s luxury costal clubbing area of Santa Catarina. Chatting to Skrufff this week about Bora Bora’s successful progression he’s clearly happy in his new home, though sensitive about the reasons he ended up leaving Ibiza for good (he was last there in 2007 for a visit).
“I felt when I left that the unique sprit and general feeling of the island that was so strong was evaporating very fast, I believed that once that was destroyed it would never come back or be the same,” he sighs.
“The island had become a parody of itself, packed with real-life Kevin and Perry’s running around desperate to be a DJ and play one record to nobody just to say they were an ‘Ibiza DJ’. (Ibiza documentary film Kevin & Perry Go Large: http://bit.ly/w0GG4r )
“Some people that I mistook as friends, that I had given a start and many opportunities to, started to show their jealousy and their true pathetic egos to be DJs at any cost,” he sighs.
“But it was good to know as actually it was a plus in the end, like getting rid of the dead wood. If I had taken those people and their problems with me things would not be good as they are now.”
That things are good, is clear given that as well as running his Brazilian beach club he’s also shortly setting up a Bora Bora in Tunisia, hosting an open air venue in the Mediterranean city of Souses from June 16. Though sensitive, he’s also philosophical, and upbeat about his new life and direction since leaving Ibiza six years earlier.
“Many people told me not to go at the time but I know I made the best decision, I didn’t want all those fantastic years of memories to be tainted with any bad ones,” he says,
“I feel I stayed there a year too long anyway, but I was always the last one to leave a party,” he laughs.
Bora Bora needed to progress and it was not going to if we stayed there any longer. I had done all that I could do on the island. Including being resident Dj in all the man venues”
He’s also firmly committed to Brazil and the nightlife community he’s found more than welcoming.
“Of course with any business there is an inherent rivalry and competition to survive and make more money, and that’s true all over the world. That’s why the monetary system is such a bad and outdated one,” he says, “But the differences between here in Brazil and Ibiza are many.
I know that the other club owners here are not so stupid and understand that Disneyland with only Mickey Mouse is not a good enough attraction.”
Instead, he says, clubs including Warung club, D-edge and Sky beach all routinely swap DJs and help each other out, to the extent of cross promoting parties in each others’ venues.
“To give you an example we had Nick Warren play as our guest DJ on New Year’s Eve,” he recounts.
“We booked him through a friend of an agent and so didn’t realize that he was also booked to play in Warung club as their headliner only three days later. We had posters, billboards etc printed before we found out about the Warung club date. Their contract was in fact made before ours and so could have meant that we had to cancel the date, loosing a lot of money and not having a guest for the big day and night of the year.
But Rassi and Conti at Warung club were fantastic in their response. They understood the mistake and what the consequences would be for us and said that we are friends and that it was OK. That would not have happened in Ibiza! And that’s the big difference I’m sad to say.”
The only place I see a real rivalry, is between the commercial clubs and the good concept and underground ones, because those clubs and their followers know that the commercial venues have nothing to offer for the progression of the scene and are actually killing it, as we have seen everywhere else.”
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): It’s the 2nd year since you officially opened the new home of Bora Bora in Santa Caterina Brazil: How much has this year gone to plan?
Gee Moore (Bora Bora): “As you can imagine, an immense amount of hard word and dedication has gone into getting the new home of Bora Bora up and running. Now after the end of our 2nd year we can really get some perspective on how things are. We are very happy to see such great improvements and progression, which have surpassed our expectations.
Last year was really all about getting people to know we are here. We were quick to see where any problem areas where and make corrections and changes as fast as possible. The venue is so unique and beautiful that the word soon spread through the close season and the scene was set up perfectly for our 2nd year.
What was most impressive was to see so many people returning many times, this was a great indication that we were doing things right and that people liked the experience. Actually daytime clubbing here in Brazil is a relatively new concept but they are catching on fast. There are some other great beach clubs here as well so we are very happy about also. We had some fantastic guest DJs, including Nick Warren, Layo & Bushwacka, Ricky Ryan, Christian Smith, Ernesto Ferreyra as well as some great Brazilian artists such as Anderson Noise, Fabricio Pechanha, Emmy, Aninha etc ..
Skrufff: How much is the concept the same as in Ibiza (ie daytime beachside clubbing for free)
Gee Moore (Bora Bora): “The main difference is, of course, the fact that the people are not contained inside a relatively small distance on an island, even though in this area alone we have something like 26 major club venues, some of them holding up to 13,000 people. They are open all year round and very popular. There are some weeks in what’s known as the summer season (new year and Carnaval), where the people are in full on party mode, so we are mainly open at the weekends for parties and the week days for lounging around the pool and beach.
Most of the day-clubs here are free entry, or like us they adopt a system called “consume” This is where you pay a small fee to get in but are given vouchers in return for that same amount to spend on drinks and food in the venue. Once the customer has spent the value of the vouchers they continue to buy drinks and food as normal. It’s a good deal for the customer as the guest DJs and venue running costs are not cheap, even here in Brazil.”
Skrufff: Bora Bora in Ibiza started very low key in 'an old run down empty beach bar': how much does the new Brazilian club share a similar low key, underground ethos?
Gee Moore (Bora Bora): “I conceived Bora Bora as a music concept rather than a regular club set-up that just brings in DJs and promoted events. Being the owner of the concept as well as the DJ playing sets of 12 hours a day for 4 months each year in those first years has meant that I have been able to develop and keep the music style and its progression under control. Over the years I’ve heard people talking about, and asking for “that Bora Bora sound”. So as far as the concept, the vibe and sound are concerned it’s of course the same. That’s the whole point of Bora Bora. Basically Bora Bora is me and I am Bora Bora, Music, heart and soul.”
The guest DJs that I choose add another dimension, and are chosen to be in keeping with my music structure. The venue and its construction itself is a massive progression. I have made notes of all the things that I considered needed improving and changing over the years and now I’ve had the chance to make them right.
The first thing was to position the DJ stand so that everyone facing the DJ and the DJ had a good view of the sea. I mean that’s the whole point surely, we were very restricted in Ibiza as we never had a music licence and so I as a DJ was forced to be tucked away in a corner and the people were always facing those ugly apartments, I was the only one with the good view and that always bugged me.
The DJ stand itself is also a massive improvement. It’s large and fully equipped including Traktor sound card so there’s no need for DJ’s to start messing around pulling cables in and out of the mixer. The stand also has a private DJ lounge off to one side. We have an infinity pool mostly at a depth of 30 cm, perfect for dancing in.
The whole construction and furniture are made of wood. The decking is great for dancing on; it has a good spring to it. The wooden structure vibrates a nice warm sound and the furniture is strong enough to dance on, of course. There’s a lounge area full of Jacuzzis and a very large restaurant. Three large toilet areas, the women's have a lounge area with mirrors and sofa.”
Skrufff: How conscious are you of being an outsider 'gringo?'
Gee Moore (Bora Bora): “I am conscious of it only when asked about it, after all it’s not the first time I have lived in a country outside of the UK. I like to think that the world is one, we are only separated by nationalities, invisible boarders and crazy traditions that are all man made in the first place, so what’s to be concerned about? I have a lot of friends here that I made in a short space of time. They are all very cool and I have learnt a lot from them all.
They like English speaking people here for some reason and always try to speak it however little they know. In Brazil there’s the largest population of Asians outside of China, and in this particular area most of the people are 1, 2, or 3 generations away from Italian and German decedents. The woman that helped me with my papers here told me that in this area 300 or so people from the UK move here each year and with this being the number one destination for Argentinean holiday makers it has pretty much a cosmopolitan feel to the place anyway.”
Skrufff: How good is your Portuguese?
Gee Moore (Bora Bora): “I do speak the language now but I still understand even more than I speak. I have for the last year tended to become a bit of a recluse as I love the nature here as well as making music in my studio most of the time. So I’m now making an effort to get out a bit more. I also started to surf now and so that helps to meet more people to converse with.”
Skrufff: Why did you pick Brazil as opposed to somewhere closer to home? (eg Croatia? Italy? Or mainland Spain?)
Gee Moore (Bora Bora): “I had considered places like Italy and Croatia at first, but maybe I felt at that time that Bora Bora and I needed a real change. I don’t think anywhere else around Europe would have been enough for me at that time. I was fortunate enough to have a Bora Bora world tour set up that continued for a couple of years. It allowed me to spend some months in places I thought could possibly be right for Bora Bora. I also stayed longer in places where I got to do other things that were on my wish list, such as exploring and even acting, which I was fortunate enough to get a taste for in Hollywood. I spent almost a year in the USA altogether.
Once I arrived in Brazil, there was never any doubt it would be here. I remember being on the beach in front of Warung club, within half an hour, four different people from four different directions came up to me and asked me what I was doing there. ‘Was I going to make Bora Bora there?’ etc. That kind of sealed the deal in that one afternoon. I’m happy that Brazil was the last place on the list of realistic locations for Bora Bora that I had visited because I had a lot of adventures in other parts of the world getting there, I saw and I learnt a lot.”
Skrufff: When was the last time you visited Ibiza? What do you make of the island today?
Gee Moore (Bora Bora): “The last time was in 2007, I did not want to go back at that time as it was too soon after leaving but I had a new girlfriend and other friends that I’d made here in Brazil that wanted to go as they had not been before. So I rented a house for us all to stay in and spent my time throughout the summer at my friends’ recording studios making music and hanging out with people I knew at each other’s homes. I didn’t go to many venues except to Underground, KM5 to see some people I knew and to see my girlfriend briefly a couple of times, as she was a dancer in most of the clubs as well as a Manumission girl. I was in great company with my friends so it was good, they got it out of their system and I made some good music.
I’ve not been back since so I don’t know what the island and the clubs like Ushuaia are like. There are some old friends that I have not seen for some years on the island so maybe I’ll pop over sometime . . ..”
Skrufff: Anything else to add?
Gee Moore (Bora Bora): "Yes I have some very big Bora Bora news. - We have a Bora Bora tour going on here in Brazil and are starting to put some dates together around Europe. The Bora music label is ready to start releasing loads of new tracks as well as putting together a couple of compilations to add to our long list in the series.
We have a Bora Bora radio show team including Dave Gallier, Alan Prosser (SLR), Dan Ferritto (SLR) and myself making shows for Manchester Global (MGR) and Pulse. But the main news would be that we are about to open a new Bora Bora venue in the Mediterranean City of Souses, Tunisia on the 16 June 2012. Yep time to dip our clubbing toes in the Med again...It’s a big venue in a great location. Our partners there understand perfectly what Bora Bora is about and we have a great wish list of DJ’s to fill the summer weekends with".
Jonty Skrufff: http://listn.to/JontySkrufff