Off the East Coast of Spain, sitting pretty in the sparkling blue Mediterranean sea, lies a place of majestic beauty. An island small in size, but with a personality and energy as large as the sun. An island which keeps you coming back for more, and gives you so much back in return. An island which has well and truly stolen my heart. Ibiza.
There’s just something so damn special about it. It’s something that I’m struggling to put into words. Until you visit, and explore everything the white isle has to offer, it’s difficult to fully appreciate its magnificence.
My first knowledge of the Balearic beauty came back in 1995, when my older brother booked the typical lads holiday to San Antonio. Staying at the Hotel Tropical, he and his friends bounded into their package holiday with the enthusiasm of a kitten trying cat nip for the first time. He and his mates even ended up in the 18-30’s brochure for the next few years. Payment for their ‘modelling’ was a dirty full english at one of the greasy spoons dotted around the West End and all the drinks they required!
He came back home exhausted, yet excited. He’d discovered a wonderland. Listening intently as a wide eyed, pubescent 15 year old schoolgirl, he told me all about it. There were tales of the theatrics and sheer awe of his first Manumission experience. He told me all about being rudely awoken by frying pans banging on his hotel room door, the club reps using a unique way to gather the troops ready to set sail on a booze cruise. And of course, his delight at the sunsets viewed from the then newly opened Cafe Mambo and neighbouring viewing spot Cafe Del Mar. He’d well and truly become spellbound by the place.
When I called him to chat about this piece, he even added with a sigh ‘and it was SO much cheaper back then!’ That in itself is evident from looking at the ‘prices from £145’ boast on this very page of the 18-30’s brochure in which he featured….there he is, casually reclining on the beach. Pre beer belly and kids. You might just recognise the chap in the bigger picture. Why yes, that IS Jeremy Edwards, of ex Hollyoaks and ex of Rachel Stevens off of S Club fame.
Armed with borrowed mixtapes featuring the likes of Allistair Whitehead, Jeremy Healy, Boy George, Jon Pleased Wimmin, Alex P and Brandon Block to name just a few, I’d sit in my bedroom and daydream about when I’d be old enough to go too. It was the era of Renaissance, Fantazia and Clockwork Orange.
Fast forward to 1997 and the first episode of Ibiza Uncovered, and the word was officially out. It was around this time that the young Brits abroad phenomena in Ibiza really came into it’s own. Ibiza was top of the list of the must go places, along with the likes of Ayia Napa, Magaluf, Zante and Faliraki. The islands so called super clubs became a must do attraction for the British tourists. They’d flock there in their thousands, disciples of the church of house music, hedonism and intrigue. They included the likes of Pacha (the islands first big club, which opened back in 1973), Space, Amnesia, Es Paradis, Eden and the largest one of all, the then home of Manumission, Privilege (formerly Ku).
10 years after my brother first visited, I finally got to experience Ibiza for the first time. My Uni flatmate Tim and I booked our holiday using trusty old Teletext, staying all inclusive for a week at the now defunct Hotel Nautilus in an Antonio Bay for the princely sum of £336.
My favourite memory of that week is using almost every penny we had to get a bus to Ibiza Town, then hopping in a taxi to the beautiful Pacha to see Todd Terry. We’d even had a pre-disco nap before going out, as we couldn’t believe the club didn’t even open it’s doors until midnight. We were like a less spotty, slightly more grown up version of Kevin and Perry, popping our Pacha cherries. We danced on the podiums, waited all night for Todd to drop ‘Something Going On’, and had the time of our lives. It was daylight by the time we stumbled out, having shimmied the night away. The all inclusive booze we had titanically sunk at the hotel before we went out was long gone. We were sober as judges. The only thing we were high on was life, and sheer excitement.
The rest of our limited party budget went on a night out within the ramparts of Dalt Vila in Ibiza Town, where we stumbled across a tiny gay club, and spent the evening dancing with drag queens. Oh – and we had a few Strawberry Mojitos watching the sunsets at Mambo. Ahhh, that first Ibiza sunset. Nothing quite like it. Simply breathtaking.
The end of the week came, and I boarded the plane, with a CD of Ministry’s Funky House Sessions procured from the airport, plus priceless memories, a cracking tan, and a knowing feeling that I’d be seeing Ibiza again very soon. There was SO much left to explore, yet I was hooked. The bug had bitten. This was just the start of my love affair with the white isle.
Now, in my late thirties, I’ve returned to Ibiza every year, and fall a little bit more in love with it each time. With age comes wisdom, and a true appreciation for the islands stunning natural beauty.I even get to work out there every year, co-hosting the DJ Awards. (Yes, I totally appreciate how lucky I am!) It isn’t just about partying and sunbathing anymore. It’s about hiring a car and exploring, going on long walks, checking out as many beautiful beaches as possible, trying the delicious Ibicencan cuisine, getting to know the islanders, discovering new places on each visit and just appreciating the magic of Ibiza.
Some of these enchanting places feature in my holiday diary, compiled and written during and following a trip out there in May. It’s incoming very shortly, so keep your eyes peeled if you’re an Ibiza fanatic, or a potential convert to all the wondrous White Island has to offer….