Ibiza has been well documented. It’s been the number one destination for clubbers, partygoers and serious music lovers for decades. It’s easy to overlook the history and culture soaked into the fabric of the island’s buildings and beaches.
As close as 40 or so years ago, Ibiza was a true escapist paradise. Wild, natural unspoilt and full of special magic. Before the 70s, hippies settled on the island that had already enjoyed decades of writers, painters, bohemians and other artists working and enjoying life on Eivissa. Hollywood stars came to escape and search for privacy, including Errol Flynn and Laurence Olivier. One may wonder how this Mediterranean island eventually became such an important music Mecca?
Rewind back to the hedonistic 60s. The ‘flower power’ revolution and ‘Summer of Love’ saw travelling hippies descend on the Balearic island as well as a plethora of rock stars. Attracted by the friendly, open-minded, easy, laid-back vibe, unspoilt beauty and the sun which shines for 60% of the year, the island became the place for those ‘in the know’. Some claim the island lies in the middle of an energised ‘ley line’, but that’s a different story.
Enter the 70s. The tourist boom began with cheaper travel and newly built accommodation. To meet the new money being spent, discos made their appearance. These define the history of recent times. Pacha quickly became the mecca of Ibiza nightlife when it opened in 1973. The end of the 70s brought Wham! to shoot ‘Club Tropicana’ (the cover of which, I designed). This ushered in a new generation of young British holiday makers. To cater for all types of European taste, the soundtrack was wide and eclectic. The Balearic musical spirit was born. This wasn’t missed a years later by visiting UK Djs Danny Rampling, Paul Oakenfold, Johnny Walker and Nicky Holloway who promptly took the attitude back to London. The early 90s saw this osmosis all come together. As European holiday makers came en masse, large clubs such as Amnesia and Ku Club easily filled to cater for this massive tourist industry. The word and reputation of these ‘super clubs’ quickly spread attracting the fashionable, rich and famous to experience the magic of Ibiza’s amazing nightlife.
Changes loom, however, that could see the face of tourism change forever. Increasing prices and government regulations mounting will all lead to shifts in the dynamic of the island. It’s no secret that true party clubbers are now venturing to such alternative destinations as Malta and Croatia. The legendary but now closed forever super club Space most definitely represented the old days of freewheeling’ clubbing. The open roof, jets flying over to a screaming dancefloor, in parallel to a relaxed yet hedonistic vibe are scribed into history. As we said goodbye to such a symbolic venue, what will the future hold? The new regime will be a higher priced, VIP affair. But then doesn’t this reflect the new Ibiza? Time will tell. Where does it go from here?
The wild spirit of Ibiza ever continues. The parties may be smaller than the superclub, but they are every bit as hedonistic as the spirit of the ‘wild days’.
Ibiza is a safe and accepting place. Anyone, no matter their age can come and enjoy. Party people – young and old arrive in droves over the summer and are swept up in the party culture. The beaches are plentiful and cater for all. Some are quiet, some a constant daytime party soundtracking the day, even nudists have their open places. Of course, the beaches wouldn’t be an experience without the beach restaurant.
Today, the big word on the island is ‘Eco,’ with environmental concerns shaping and pathing the way into the future. On an island of such excess, everyone from club owners to hoteliers, shopkeepers, DJs and villa owners are looking at ways of adjusting their offering to allow for a more sustainable future. There is almost a state of urgency about it all, with innovative answers being sought to protect Mother Nature, the most important lady of the White Isle. We have already witnessed a push for greener public transport, improvements on waste management, especially one-time-use plastics and an all important battle against oil explorations continues as ever.
With Ibiza’s usual tourist spots bursting at the seams, businesses have looked to set up off the beaten track, and so began the rise of Agrotourism. If we travelled back a decade, you would be pushed to find an agroturismos; an Italian word that refers to a working farm that rents out some of its rooms. Today, Ibiza has become world renowned for its huge influx of rustic yet luxurious traditional accommodation, where guests can stay in field and woodland settings and feast upon local produce, safe in the knowledge their green credentials are sustained.
It is often the case that off the beaten track means remote, however with Ibiza being such a small island at 20km by 50km, the path less trodden is only ever a hop, skip and perhaps a taxi ride away from the infamous clubs, restaurants and beaches. The ultimate pull is that visitors to the new rustic establishments get the perfect blend of nature, peace, hedonism and wild antics that are synonymous with Ibiza.
Ibiza is now a year round destination, with the tourist season expanding to welcome visitors much earlier in the year and holding on to them way past the time the sun sets on the average holiday season. It’s predicted by business owners that March and October will become the new must-visit dates, with tourists lured over by reduced prices, less crowding and yet a perfect average forecast of 24-27C.
Ibiza is ever-evolving and continues to prove a heavy weight in attracting the crowds year upon year. So too are the crowds themselves. However, what hasn’t changed is Ibiza’s most famous concoction of magnetic traits that promise her visitors hypnotic sunsets, beach scenes, crystal clear waters, and of course, endless parties.