“It’s like Disneyland for electronic music”

That’s how DJ Andrea Oliva describes ANTS, the largest underground music event on Ibiza. Held every Saturday in Ushuaïa throughout the summer season, ANTS is equal parts huge outdoor party, leading electronic music showcase and eye-popping visual extravaganza.

Ushuaïa’s founder and artistic director, Yann Pissenem, calls ANTS “my baby”: he started it six years ago “to create a brand where the party does not depend on one big DJ to fill the venue. The idea was to create an umbrella brand as the main attraction, which would open the door for emerging, cool underground techno DJs. And also to create a movement and a community … and what is more underground than an ant?”

The giant ant went from idea to reality in three months. One of the main technical challenges was to create something that could be quickly assembled and, crucially, disassembled three hours after the show has finished: because Ushuaïa is also a hotel, and guests need to sleep.

The ant might look like something dreamt up by Mad Max, Tron, and Princess Leia after an all-night psychedelic cocktail session in the Star Wars cantina, but the inspiration actually came from wooden puzzles whose pieces slot together to create an animal. High Scream’s version is built from steel pieces with a painted wood covering, and to a massive scale: the ant stands at seven meters high, 13 meters wide, 10 meters long — and weighs two tonnes. The pieces were fabricated in Paris before being shipped to Ibiza ready for assembly.

The design of the main stage has evolved each season from giant LED screens pulsing with intricate light displays perfectly syncopated to the beat; to the addition of surreal colonies of ant-women clad in all-black and dancing in spectacularly lit cages; to housing the DJ in a giant electronic ant hill ablaze with animation and colour

All this has combined with a medley of lights, lasers and special effects, surreal acrobatic performances and themed décor that spreads across the whole outdoor space to create an immersive party experience unlike anything else on Ibiza.

When the party begins, the robot queen ant comes to life, animated by lights, lasers, effects and bespoke video walls behind her. (This is a clever illusion, the structure is too heavy to actually move and is securely anchored to the stage.) Squads of ant-women dancers appear, their PVC, metal and leather costumes hand-made in Madrid to a standard that would grace Hollywood.

High Scream created a giant, robotic, skeletal queen ant that towers above the DJ booth, its two front feet planted beyond the stage as if it were about to step forward into the crowd to join the dance.

“We always want to do something underground, but also fun and surprising,” says High Scream’s creator, Romain Pissenem.