West End legends aren’t made overnight but after 30 years on San Antonio’s most famous street there’s nobody better than Sr Peter Hankinson to give us a unique insight into it’s history. He arrived on the island in 1971 in an old minibus and quickly carved out a niche as one of the faces of the west end. Over the years he has worked at or ran Hanoi, Capones, Nito’s, Extasis, Es Paradis, Star Club, Trops, Tropicana’s, Sgt Peppers and Krystal’s to name but a few.
Peter: Having read many people’s informed opinions of the West End in San Antonio, as an original founder member I would like to take the opportunity to speak a little of its history. I opened my first bar in the West End in 1971 and continued working at various establishments off and on until 2005 so I have a unique perspective of this area of business.
In the early 70’s San Antonio was the centre of all tourism in Ibiza and was made up of various nationalities, ages and people of all backgrounds who had discovered the laid back charm of the island and came from all over the island to enjoy its unique atmosphere.
In 1973 a group of 12 businesses decided to form a society to benefit the area. One of the reasons for this was that beach party sellers would bother and harass the clients at the bars and restaurants. At a meeting it was agreed to call the area the West End, after the West End in London due to its image (although some wanted to call it the East End!).
The businesses, among others, were Celler el Refugio (now Temptation) – regarded by many as the best restaurant on the island), Nitos (now VK Club), Chac Mool (now 80s/90s/00s), The Music Bar (now Joe Spoon’s), Kings Bar (now Stereo), Babalu, Hanoi Bar (now The Huddle), La Reja (now Kilties) and Cortijo Tristan (now Revolutions) among others, all of which have now changed their names and in some cases their usage. Each business had an illuminated sign and the society employed its own PRs to push the area and for a few weeks in the summer even ran its own beach parties, unlike today the bars generally worked together.
The atmosphere in the newly named West End was very cosmopolitan and most of the youngsters were Scandinavian, German, Dutch and British with a smattering of genuine A-list stars such as the Gibb brothers, Robert Plant and Lulu, wandering around amongst them. Most bars were busy, the average taking in my small Hanoi bar was about 30,000 pesetas (about 5000 euros in today’s money) on a good night. The main difference between then and now was the mentality of the clients with hard drugs (such as amphetamines and cocaine) being almost non-existent. The policing of the area was by the national police who came over from other areas of Spain for a couple of months, they were high profile but had a good attitude and were respected by the public and bar owners. If you called them, they came.
Due to the success of the area all the different shops and houses in the area gradually became bars so the West End expanded outwards even though when I built the original Capone’s in 1974 it was regarded as being ‘too far out’, how things change!
During the 70s and 80s the West End continued to do good business but the clientele gradually changed from an international crowd to a mainly British market with tour operators becoming very popular and bar crawls gaining so much importance that having the best bar didn’t really matter but having a good relationship with the tour operators was imperative. As the West End grew it started to gain notoriety in the British press towards the end of the 80s when societies problems were reflected on the streets although this image wasn’t representative of the place that I knew. The 90s saw a massive rise in the drug culture and with it the atmosphere began to change in ‘Europe’s premier youth resort’.
Times change and the West End of today is a completely different place and it is facing big challenges over the next few years against increasing competition on the island but my memories are mostly fond as I loved my time there and still love San Antonio. I wish everyone all the best for the future as this area has been good to me and continues to be very important to our town.
13 thoughts on “West End: The Beginning – Guest Blog by Peter Hankinson”
Don’t think 30000 pst works out at €5000…… More like €150-200
Back in 1971 it was when a beer would cost you a few pesetas 😆
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Great read. I have posted a couple of links and copies of your articles on Ibizaspotlight forum topics as they are relevant to a couple of posts, hope you are ok with this? Also encouraged those that like them to follow your blog.
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Thanks Dirk, appreciated.
Hola Peter. Loved reading your blog and the history of how the West Ends story began ! Fascinating and how things change so fast !! I loved working out there in the 90’s and have great memories of many a daytime ES P party. Working alongside you made repping so enjoyable! Thank you for keepin the Ibiza San An Flame a burnin. I will be over soon to say Hola. Am back ! And Shaggy. The Maninssanan living the dream. Top Work !
Thanks Tina, look forward to catching up 🙂
I love a bit of nostalgia and that really has wet my lips to want to get over for a visit, might have to get Lazzer on a boys trip. Brilliant blog as usual.
Loved reading the accuracy of this article. I wanted to post regarding the West End but was unsure if my recollection was accurate. Had forgotten about Nito’s and there was also Extasis which was around the Pisces Park. Ku was the only proper nightclub that I was aware of. Capones was always the trendy place to be along with The Chicago where Mickey and George played great music mixtapes in the packed little bar. Remember being taken by car to The Heartbreak Hotel out in the wilds somewhere and Robert Plant (the owner) was there. Someone recently told me that this was now Annabelle’s near to the Barcelo Pueblo hotel, not sure if that’s correct. I too remember that in the late 70s early 80s the West End was much more cosmopolitan however there was a sad spate in the 80s of (Scandinavian) tourists falling/jumping from balconies then too – perhaps it happens every season! There was the odd drug seller or two back then but no ‘ looky lookies’ forcing their sunglasses on you. Reps hosted party games during the pub crawls. Though I have never been on an 18-30s package! you could hear the hilarity as you passed. If you were lucky you would get handed free entry passes to the discos and flyers for the bars ….we knew we were getting ‘past it’ when we stopped getting fliers and walked by the fountains with babes in arms. It ‘felt’ like’ the PRs were quite discerning back then but probably only an egotistic illusion! Was still happy in the late 80s to walk through the West End in the evening with children in pushchairs and even pop into a bar or two on the outskirts. In the 90s I conceded that I needed to move my family of youngsters ’round the bay’ to stay (away from the West End) where they could ride bulls and the likes winning mum and dad bottles and bottles of ‘champagne’ which we could happily take home, spread throughout our suitcases (little or no weight restrictions in those days if I remember correctly). The 90s was when I felt the West End went a little bit downhill, losing the cosmopolitan feel and possibly its reputation of being home to ‘the beautiful people’. In saying that I got used to it and in the ‘noughties’ had some fantastic holidays with my younger friends which involved partying non-stop at some of the West End bars and managed to sidestep and in general overlook the piles of vomit and drunks rolling around the streets. More recently and nearing my 60s I have mainly avoided the West End at night for the last few years . Oh if only I could find a practical solution, or even a suggestion to get it back to it’s former glory! It is a complex situation and sadly I feel partly due to the current British culture. So I think it’s bye bye West End at least until my sons stop frequenting it. I am told that it’s still a fun party atmosphere ‘just like Magaluf’ (eeeek heaven forbid!) but that PRs and ‘looky lookies’ are very off-putting with their harassment and that all manner of drugs are easily available on request in the bars and the VIP type establishments Hopefully by the time I reach my seventies it will have been cleaned up and I can frequent the West End once more as a glamorous granny !
After all Cafe Mambo celebrate their oldest customer’s annual visit and if 60 is the new 40……… or…. is the West End really ‘just for the young folks’?
Fantastic post Izzi, we share much of the same memories! I only venture down the West End early and late in the season nowadays but it played a very important part in my Ibiza upbringing. Thanks for taking the time to share your memories x
Noticed from the above linked article on Ibiza Spotlight Forums that you mentioned some A-list stars in Ibiza at that time…
Here is a picture from Joe Spoons in the early 70’s of my Granda (bent over), Lulu (sitting at table with white top and long necklace) and father to the Bee Gees (on the right) as well as a few others…
Loved your guest blog Peter 😊
I was in San An from ’75 to ’82. The group photo above rings bells for me. Early to mid-80s I’m guessing. I see Caz and Reg (RIP) and Ricky (RIP) from the OK Corral (I worked for Reg in 76, when he ran Neptune yacht services), Irish Mick , Oney (RIP, I worked for him at the Roundhouse one year, Don’t think I’ve worked for a Scotsman since, might be a coincidence) and others. Odd not seeing Bish and Poppy (they ran the Hanoi for a season or two, late 70s), maybe they’d gone by then? I used to hang with Poppy’s brother Martin (who later worked at Spoon’s for multiple seasons). For 3 or 4 years Bish, Reg and I would throw a party mid-August as our birthdays coincided.
How many times did I hear “Hey Jude” as Nitos turned up the lights at 5am?
In ’79 and early ’80 I worked on the construction of Pike’s Place. No one worked for Tony for very long….
I was in San Antonio in 1981/82/83/84. My first holiday abroad as a 18 year old in 1981.
I absolutely love the place and 40 odd years later, planning to go back in 2023.
I remember going around the west end at around 11pm on my first night and thinking this place is dead ! Fast forward to 1am and OMG ! People everywhere ! Music pumping out that infamous Balearic beat. Everyone enjoying themselves dancing and drinking. A lot of Scandinavians, Germans but not a lot of British.
Nitro’s, Chac Mool , IT, Plumbers Bar, then across the way was Es Paradis and Star bar.
Ibiza, especially San Antonio will always hold a special place in my heart. I made friends there for life from all over Europe. Forever in my Heart ❤️
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