A lot has been said about the future of Ibiza. And I have something to say on pretty much every subject in the word from the Common Agricultural Policy to nail varnish colours. So, of course I have plenty to say about Ibiza.
I have been going since 1998. Back then I paid £60 to go to Manumission, easily the most disappointing night bar the night we got cajoled into some west end shite via a boat trip with loads of lads from Mansfield. At least at Manumission I got to see a dwarf suck himself off. Or pretend to. Back then, every street corner had reps, all reps were outwardly selling drugs. The island was filled with guys looking to get their end away – easily 5 guys to every girl.
Pacha and El Divino had lots of celebrities going. There was very much this glamour thing going on in certain clubs and at certain nights. We even wore trousers to some nights – smart trousers! Drink prices were extortionate. Cafe Del Mar ruled the sunset strip. Everyone had a laser pen. Space opened at 7am on a Sunday and was off the hook. House music was predominant, though trance could be heard at certain nights – especially Cream’s Saturday night, which we sadly/wisely missed in favour of going to Space the next morning.
There were many deaths every year on the road between Amnesia and Privilege. Drugs were widespread, though we were slightly oblivious to those on them. It was a very crazy, hedonistic island. You didn’t have to be beautiful, but it helped. Boat parties were chavvy, beach parties unheard of (or at least to us). I have no idea whether there were mass afterparties like they have now.
You probably don’t need me to tell you about Ibiza’s problems this last year or two. Police closing down beach parties and occasional boat parties. Police raids on the major clubs. The local council forcing Amnesia to close when it should. Space closing down. The Ushaiaisation of the island. Bora Bora and Ibiza Rocks having issues late on in the season (though Bora Bora is utterly dreadful).
That said, the island has drastically improved in many ways since I first started going.
Infrastructure-wise there have been vast improvements such as the motorway which helps to keep clubbers off the main road at dawn, along with significant improvements to the airport, beautification of certain areas like the walkway around the sunset strip in San Antonio. The whole island feels cleaner and more organised – though it would greatly help if tourists stopped dropping their litter and especially cigarette butts – the beaches can look awful sometimes.
There seems to be a much-improved culinary scene. Granted when I was 18 I ate at those god-awful San Antonio promenade places but I knew no better. There really does seem to be quite an abundance of truly excellent places to eat.
There isn’t quite the same reckless hedonism that there once was…you may be surprised to hear that if you have only recently started going. Things have been tidied up in terms of drug dealing not been so blatant – you may argue that is a bad thing but I’m sure the local residents are quite happy. Don’t get me wrong, Ibiza is still very much a party island but just somewhat more controlled – though this does mean a slightly lower chance of seeing those utterly random fucked-up sights that amuse no end.
Musically it has become more underground, somewhat, though one would argue that the whole dance music scene itself has. House music was everywhere back in 1998, particularly the big tunes – no matter what night I went to, Stardust was played a couple of times. Nowadays there are techno nights, fist-pumping tech-house in abundance, EDM, house, trance, funky house, minimal, hell even rock music – Ibiza has a much broader musical spectrum nowadays.
Women no longer avoid the island – I suspect the whole Ibiza Uncovered sex and vomit thing was rather off-putting to the fairer sex, but nowadays a holiday in Ibiza seems to appeal to women just as much as men.
Clubs seem more diverse – it used to all be about the super clubs but now there are medium-large clubs such as Underground and Sankeys, and smaller bars/clubs each with their own little parties. There is not quite the same need to prostitute oneself to the whims of the disco mafia. Not only that, the crowds are more diverse – it did seem to be the Brits, Germans, Italians, etc all had their own scenes back in the late 90’s – now everyone intermingles. Bar the Spanish that just go to shit nights because they have no music taste. JOKE! Don’t bar me from the island. At least not before Brexit.
Ibiza has however declined in some areas, particularly in terms of the ‘super clubs’. There is no real awe about the big clubs any more (bar the closing of Space) – most have become more tired, even Amnesia this year seems to have lost its way somewhat – no ice cannons on the night I was there for example.
Ibiza is also now more of a follower with regards to the music scene. It could be argued that DC10 was one of the major minimal techno incubators circa 2004/05 but now Circo Loco is just same-old plodding tech-house destination for average Joe and has lost its musicality. Ibiza is playing the best of many house/techno-orientated scenes but it isn’t a leader – it is a follower.
It is also pretty annoying that freedom to party whenever one wants has been curbed, but equally it has to be remembered that local residents want to get to work without fucked people stumbling all over the roads.
The greatest upset is the continuing clampdown on parties that are free or cheap – the beach parties or after-parties. Not everyone wants to go to a super club every single night.
Overall Ibiza has changed a lot since I started going. And mostly for the better. But what does the future hold?
The residents do seem to be showing an increased impatience with the behaviour of the minority. It also seems that Ibiza is trying to market itself (successfully so far) to an older and more monied crowd…though maybe the influx of a more mature non-clubbing crowd has as much to do with security concerns on other beach holiday destinations.
The major problem in my opinion is Ushuaia. The irony of it having originally being a beach bar hosting after-parties and off-the-hook underground daytime shenanigans, and then the closing of other similar beach bars close by to the new swanky-wanky Ushuaia by the police, doesn’t go amiss.
It may just be a conspiracy theory that Ushuaia and its famous co-owner, Abel Matutes – one of the most powerful people in Ibiza, if not Spain, have influenced the police to close down rival parties, but given previous shehanigans across the island involving various aspects of the alleged disco mafia, one would not be overly surprised.
I always said I would not go to Ushuaia as I did not agree with what it stood for and I stand by that.
But maybe they won’t fuck up Space. I’m sure it will have an EDM night or two, but maybe they will actually try to keep the musical ethos. Perhaps. Kind of.
People will keep going to Ibiza. It has this magical hold. The clubbers will keep going as long as there are nightclubs, music drugs, booze and attractive people.
It has and will foresake more of the underground community – those in search of underground music over a love of partying. Those more daring increasingly venture further afield for festivals, whether that be BPM in Mexico, Movement in Detroit or Sunwaves in Romania – to pick just three.
The island will remain a great place to party and a great place to go on holiday. And I will be back.