Now while I’m well aware of the sort of tired and oft-repeated views on the White Island, nestled in the Balearics, and how it’s ‘over’ (every year since about 1996) or it’s gone cheesy (probably earlier than that) or that it’s now a hangout for the rich and famous (you can blame Jade fucking Jagger for that) it’s still one of the most incredible, cosmopolitan, unique, beautiful, rich, welcoming and varied places you can ever go on this earth.
Of course, there’s still morons that believe that Ibiza Uncovered, despite being on almost a decade ago, is how things are. There’s still pissed up Brits, but there are pissed up Brits in Outer Mongolia. Hardly world news. And yes, it’s ‘over’, killed by (depending on who you listen to) the first influx of e’ed-up tourists in the late 80s (mid 40s Brit or occasional local), the superclubs (mid 90s), minimal techno (2005) or clubbers in general (the police, over the last two summers). But then if that’s what you want to believe, then so be it. Leave the place, muttering under your breath, and don’t come back.
The truth is, it’s still just as good as it was, it’s usually the people that go that don’t change, and they want the same experience they had their first year (the drugs aren’t working anymore, are they?) and when they don’t get it, they get the hump, and they head home. Well, the beauty of the place, as I’ve discovered in the last 9 years (and yes, I’m no doubt going to be accused of being a total newbie by some of the island furniture out there, or friends that have been heading out since the early 90s) is that the attraction of the place is its enduring ability to change, subtly adjusting to the people, the music, the fashions, that hit every year in May, and depart every year in October. But you see, there’s another side to the island, and that’s the winter, when it returns to the tranquil, serene paradise that it was long before Grace Jones first got her rocks off in Amnesia in the mid 80s, or Wham hit Pikes in their pilot outfits and a mini-moke.
For those that stagger out for 7 days every summer, holed up in a San An or Playa D’en Bossa bolthole with no air-con, stumbling from one sangria and line to nightclub and bar, you could argue they’re missing the point. But that’s then making yourselves as bad as the snobs that complain that pop music is ruining the Indie scene, when its very cash is paying for their label to stay afloat. The die-hard clubbers and 18-30ers are part of the equation, and while they are (in contradiction to a hundred lazy articles in the Uk press every year) only part of the total (the most popular location for Brits, for instance is, as it has been for long before Ku and Amnesia opened, St Eularia, from the days of the package tours in the 60s) they’re just as relevant as anyone.
But if anything good will come of those visits, it’s the decision to get outside the twinned habitations of San Antonio and Ibiza Town. While San An is slowly transforming itself from the flea-ridden hole it was a decade ago, and Ibiza Town is much more than simply a repository for Pacha, it’s outside the towns that the island comes alive. Whether it’s the beauty of Sa Caleta, the windswept character of Portinax, St Gertrudis’ wonderful square and cafes, Cala Jondal’s shingle and the wonderful Blue Marlin, or Cala D’Hort’s sunset views, and a million other places, tucked away from the bustling bars and throng of turistas, it’s the sheer character of the island, and the inclusivity of its inhabitants, that makes you realise that the Ibecincos are part of the enigma that makes the Island harder and harder to leave every year.
As an Englishman, and even more so, a Londoner, I should despise such quiet, such easy pace of live, even in the summer season, but the truth is, it’s the only place I feel at home apart from this wonderful capital. Even from trying to put it into words, there’s something indefinable, something that makes me simply smile from the moment I get off the plane, to the moment I depart, when a drooping frown comes across my mouth, and I struggle to force myself back onto the plane home. Don’t get me wrong, the clubs are simply incredible. The music, the atmosphere, the attitude to hedonism (and the admirable tolerance of the locals and police alike, despite how much clubbers like to complain the island is being squeezed dry) is unsurpassed in my experience, and while the music has changed (and with it my taste) and the list of places I’ll go now diminished, standing in the middle of the dancefloor when its crowd rises as one on the terrace Circo Loco at DC10 or the main room of Cocoon at Amnesia still sends tingles down my spine, it’s what brought me to the island in the first place, back in 2000.
But year after year, the more I return, and the more I know about the place, learnt of locals, off lucky lucky friends I have living out there as home (the envy is just surpassed by being kept in touch with what happens in the never-dull daily mix of politics, music, gossip and sunshine), the more the place grows and the more I wish, in my daydreams, that I could up sticks and simply live there in a perpetual state of paradise.
Sitting watching the rain today, it only makes the idea more appealing. Bloody credit crunch, if I’d just sol my flat last year……