After winging my way around the world for a year I landed back in England, caught up with a few nearest and dearest but before I had time to unpack I was back on a plane and heading to ‘The White Isle’ for a long weekend of clubbing. A completely last minute thing, a friend had won tickets to Radio One’s weekend in Ibiza and asked me to join her and I thought why the hell not.
I’ve been asked many times if Ibiza is a bit done, how does it compare to my authentic adventures around the world, has it had its day. Ibiza gets a lot of bad press, mainly because of the various gross TV programmes that have sprung out of boozy brits rolling around on the pavement in Ibiza’s West End. Believe it or not there’s far more to this beautiful Balearic island then buy one get one free cocktails down an isolated strip in San Antonio. You don’t have to shag your way through 30 people in a week, get your tits out in public or even do copious amounts of class A’s if you don’t want to. There’s so much to see and do here so your Ibiza experience can be whatever you want it to be.
I think there’ll always be a little place in my heart for this Spanish island. I first visited it aged 19 for a week of the club’s closing parties. I danced all night and for a lot of the days at Godskitchen at Amnesia, Manumission at Privildege, Judgement Sunday at Es Paradise and We Love Sundays at Space. Even back then (14 years ago!) people were saying Ibiza has had its day. Ayia Napa popped up as a potential Ibiza rival, I never went and in my humble opinion it could never compete. Do people even still go?
A few years later I found my way back there but to work this time. Fuck, it was tough! Ibiza really is home to life’s beautiful people and yes its outrageously expensive. I flyered for a bar just past the famous sunset strip, Coastline. They call this being a PR. Hilariously, I then went onto a PR degree and was shocked to discover it involved more than handing out leaflets. I only got paid if over 15 people handed in the little slips of paper I’d given them for a free cocktail. I never got paid at all and I walked for hours each day in the blazing heat trying to chat to fellow tourists and entice them in. I almost headed back home, although I’d have been gutted to leave my crack-den style bedsit above Whips near ‘The Egg’ (a famous Ibiza landmark). I landed myself a bar job (this was like gold-dust) in Bar M, the famous Manumission pre-bar. Disappointingly no one seems to even know what Manumission is these days but they should – it was a bloody revolution in its time. Mike & Clare the promoters often ended a night with a live sex show, there’d be trapeze artists and all kinds of craziness at Privildge, the biggest club in Europe. I worked a packed bar right next to some of the biggest DJs of our day, who came in to warm up the hoards of meticulously made-up clubbers.
After a few months I got burn out. I didn’t last the season and returned home in debt and weighing a fraction of what I should have done. I vowed I’d never go back. But I have countless times and discovered there’s so much more to Ibiza.
Part of this island’s charm is the various sides there are to it. Yes you can get pissed up in The West End and wing your way round the little clubs and bars in San An, even end up in Eden for a foam party! You can pay loads of money to go to the Super Clubs dotted around and see the absolute creme de la creme of DJs from around the world. Or you can hire a car, stay in a stunning villa in the hills and visit the tucked away coves with white sand and clear water, stopping at gorgeous little restaurants. You can get dressed up, head down to the Cafe Del Mar, Savannah, Cafe Mambo, clap the sun as it hits the sea at the most atmospheric sunset in the world before tucking into some great food, good cocktails and music. Hang out in Ibiza Town with the cool kids or why not spend your times in the hills at a yoga retreat or in the tranquil sands at Formentera.
I love Ibiza for its magical creative vibe, its hippy heritage, its artistic streak, its glorious bays, the beautiful people, its easy air of cool, its out there fashion, house music plays everywhere – from taxis to shops, often courtesy of Ibiza FM. The fact that you are very likely to bump into a celeb… okay that’s usually not a plus point!
If you’re planning to head out to Ibiza this year then I have a little tip for you… Ladies, you will be expected to wear either a bikini or a cutaway costume at all times (including at night), you may chuck on a kimono if you feel a little exposed. But you must wear chunky heeled sandals and a bumbag. Don’t even think about carrying a shoulder bag, you will stand out! Gents, you get off more lightly – just think pure 90s fashion. Dust off your slogan tee-shirts, grab your bumbag and make sure you wear white socks with your trainers. Get the uniform haircut, shaved sides with quiff on top and you’re ready.
Ibiza used to be a little more alternative and it was all about customising your clothes, now it’s about following the latest trend to the letter. But there’s something kind of fascinating about it and if I’d been there longer than four days, who knows I may have dared brave the bikini at night look (I’m lying)!