I first went to Ibiza in 1992. I was 14 and it changed me forever. So what’s all the fuss about this tiny little Island in the Med? Well let me tell you ……
I was already a teen with a love for fashion, an eye for difference, and ears for dance music, and this trip in 1992 was the start of a lifelong love affair with the White Isle.
We stayed at the now infamous Jet apartments on Playa D’En Bossa and I remember the smell of the sea and fried squid the feeling of the white washed beach with sand so hot it burnt my toes. This famous beach was much quieter then than it is now, and for our holiday my younger brother and I ran free, in and out of that shimmering sea and our hotel pool, grabbing a Fanta and a bag of Spanish Lays crisps when we were hungry.
Then as the sun went down some magical happened. The night was flooded with the beautiful sound of electronic beats, melodic and chilled symphonies as the sun set against the most beautiful rocky landscape. It felt like we were waking up the islands afternoon seista and as a call to get ready for the night ahead.
Then the beats got louder. The heavy housey bass drifted across our apartments from Space (now Hi Ibiza) like the pied piper of fun. I remember going for dinner and drinks in Ibiza Town with my family. The ancient cobbled streets of Dalt Vila were glittering with sequins and fairy lights. The clubbers, heading towards Pacha (the oldest club on the island) were the most glamerous creatures I had even seen. Drag Queens with the biggest hair, longest eyelashes, highest heels and sparkliest jewels tottered along laughing, singing, and dancing down the street. I want to be part of this my teenage brain said to myself.
And I wasn’t the only one. It seems Ibiza has always been magical. People have to be drawn to this place since ancient times. From the Phoenicians, the Romans, and the Moors, right the way through to contemporary counter cultures and creatives of the 19th and 20th centuries. Ibiza, with its breath taking beauty, natural rocky landscape, white washed sandy coves and sparkling pink salt flats, has provided a perfect stop in the Mediaterrain between Europe and the East. This continued into the mid-20th century on the famous hippy trail from Goa, where many settled to create an alternative natural lifestyle of mindfulness and fun. This laid back alternative way of living, with freedom and creativity and acceptance, still runs through the Islands veins today.
So what’s with the music? Ibiza is the capital of the dance music world but why? A combination of the artistic milieu of Avant guard artists, musicians, thinkers and exciles of the 20th century, and the 60’s hippy legacy of outside parties, drums, dancing and trance, combined with hullanciangenics, inspirational landscapes, and stunning sunsets was the perfect back drop to develop an already emerging dance music scene across Europe and North America in the 80s.
The 70’s had already seen the first clubs Pacha and Ku (now Privilege) set up in old Fincas (Spanish country houses) and their surrounding outside spaces, and had shortly turned in to the most glamerous places to be seen at in the Mediterranian. Hosting parties and celebs from across the globe.
Then in 1987 a group of British DJ’s travelled to the Island to celebrate a birthday. Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling and Johnny Walker and Nicky Holloway were convinced by another DJ friend working on the Island to go the legendary Amnesia. They were blown away by a combination of ecstasy euphoria and the outside ambience of this iconic night club. Like my night in in Ibiza town, they were mesmerised by hypnotic dance tracks and beautiful creatures on the dance floor. They took the whole experience back to the UK and the Baleric inspired acid house was born in what cultural historians now refer to as the second summer of love.
So this explosion of electronic music and hedonism would change the dance music scene worldwide for ever. And it had by the time of my first visit in 1992. Fast forward to the early 90s and the British Rave Culture that had developed out of Acid House s was in full swing, and for me stories of secret parties somewhere off the M25 were whispered on the wind frequently. As legendary DJ Carl Cox famously said ‘The Rave scene was all about not being inside clubs’ (* Helen Donlon, Shadows Across the Moon) Alcohol had been replaced by energy drinks and ecstasy, and the backdrop of warehouses, factories, and beautiful English countryside set an atmospheric party palace for the outside revellers. Ibiza, alongside the UK was producing some of the most sounds, DJs and producers.
Today the super clubs rein, with superstar DJs from across the globe flying in for the season. Some say some of the magic has gone as commercial and mainstream has caught on to this special place.
I don’t think it has. Yes it’s busier, more expensive and a huge spectacle at the height of summer. But you don’t have to go far to find old fincas, nature reserve, Spanish markets and untouched natural beauty.
So it often surprises me, and pisses me off, when people express a view of Ibiza as trashy, tacky and and full of trouble. And it’s clear a lot of these people has never been. The media have painted a picture of alcohol and drug fuelled teens partying, shagging, and fighting their way around the island. Well to some extent that’s true. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a party capital, it is. Decadence, indulgence, and pleasure come hand in hand – particular once the sun goes down. But so what? So what if party people want to let their hair down and be free. Ibiza has always had a history of artistic creativity, bohemian acceptance and the Avant Guard sticking two fingers up to the establishment. The British media have a massive issue with anyone who doesn’t conform, likes having fun, and challenges the status quo. All of that and more is Ibiza.
For me it’s home. A place where everyone can be who they like, no judgement, no expectations, you can just be you. Ibiza calls to me every spring like she’s waking up. The almond blossoms beginning to open up, and warm breezes and melodic beats fill my ears waking me up for the summer. It marks the part of the year when I feel most alive.
So do go explore and fall in love with this special place. I’ll be writing more about my Iberian adventures this summer, with fashion, parties, food and top places to visit.
Big love Jules x