Balearic beat is often referred to as a genre of music. When really it’s a feeling.
Example; U2’s – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, is not Balearic Beat. But would easily sit in a Balearic Beat DJ set.
It’s all about the vibe, the music selection…
One thing is for sure though its origins, 3 things; DJ Alfredo, the club Amnesia and the Mediterranean island of Ibiza (one of the Balearic Islands, Spain). Balearic music is a fusion of genres such as Brazilian funk, German new wave, Italian pop, house, funk, jazz, Latin and reggae, new and old! Creating a certain ‘feeling’ or vibe. DJ Alfredo became known for this (at the time) innovative approach to DJ’ing, and quickly started attracting crowds from all over the world.
Where it began…
Since the 1950’s Ibiza, has always been a popular destination from rich aristocrats to poor artists. Later tourists, musicians, hedonists – basically anyone looking for a more ‘off the grid’ lifestyle, was attracted to Ibiza. This in-turn created a very cosmopolitan mixture, all seeking a bit of escapism. During the 1980s, the islands became a hub for a new generation of creatives – DJs – started to explore new sounds and experimenting with different genres, beats and alternative sounds and samples.
Specifically a young Argentinian who escaping Argentina dictatorship settled in Ibiza, his name Alfredo Fiorito, or DJ Alfredo – with such a cosmopolitan crowd, DJ Alfredo would play music from all genres just to keep everyone happy! He could blend together many different styles like percussion with electronic, jazz with Latin with pop creating a very unique ambience that was both danceable and atmospheric. His epic, long sets at the Amnesia club (were he started playing in 1984, and which have since become legendary) would often start with relaxed tempos, use of ambient natural sounds, eventually building to more up-tempo records – all brilliantly mixed together to create a very special vibe, this ‘vibe’ became known as the ‘Balearic sound’. The music was also heavily influenced by the island’s culture and history, with samples of traditional Spanish music often being incorporated into his mixes. It quickly became popular with the locals, visitors, clubbers and party-goers alike who were looking for something different from mainstream dance music. And so the Balearic Beat was born, soon it was being played at bars, cafés, lounges and clubs across Ibiza. Fast forward to the 2020s Balearic music is not just an international musical style but a fashion, an artform, and a state of mind.
In the late 80’s early 90’s this style of playing music was popularized in the UK by DJs such as Paul Oakenfold and Johnny Walker, and US DJs like Louie Vega and Danny Krivit, who would test out this new playing style in their clubs.
One of the most famous Balearic Beat tracks is “Pacific State” by 808 State, which was released in 1989. The track features a mix of electronic sounds, sampled vocals, and a slow, atmospheric beat. It was a huge hit in Europe and helped to cement the Balearic Beat sound.
It’s a Feeling
Both niche and as wide as you like by its nature, Balearic Beat is an eclectic collection of music & style that emerged from the Balearic Islands in the late 1980s, first by DJ Alfredo. Characterized by its mix of genres, slow & fast tempos, and use of ambient sounds. Popularized by a group of open-minded DJs who were looking for something different from the mainstream dance music of the time. The sound quickly became popular world wide. Today, the Balearic sound continues to influence contemporary music and remains popular with dance music lovers looking for something beyond pop & EDM.