Nathan Seal came to the island as a club promotor but saw a gap in the market for a bar that reached out to San Antonio’s summer migrant population. His Viva Bar is a daily sanctuary and party HQ for hundreds of workers and his Viva Voyages are infamous summer ice breakers. Here, exclusively for my blog, he writes about the challenges of staying ahead in an already saturated market.
Nathan: Ibiza: the white isle, the Mecca for clubbers. Famous for its beautiful beaches, VIP areas full of the rich and famous, world class nightclubs (and day clubs for that matter) and unparalleled hedonistic reputation. But in amongst all this is nestled the holiday resort of San Antonio, and right at its heart is the area known as the West End. What part does it have to play in the new glitzy and modern Ibiza of the 21st Century?Its easy to criticise, and my word do people not hesitant to do that, but the West End offers what no other resort in Ibiza does, or even can. You can have your Playa d’en Bossa with its beach bars and drinking bars, but they don’t have a street entirely dedicated to offering up what amounts to FREE nightclubs. Every bar has a DJ, every bar has music to dance to. Some are bigger than others, but the jist is the same, come in, have fun, leave your worries and your pretentions at the door. The West End at its best is plain, simple FUN.
So why does the West End get such a bad reputation? I believe its more out of habit than anything, its easy to knock what you don’t know or what you once had a bad experience from but what is not really indicative of the actual day to day state of affairs. I’ve been an integral part of the West End for 11 years now and currently own (or part own) 3 bars here so I feel I have a good idea of what is going on and the image that is shoved down people’s throats is not that of reality. Yes we have problems, but where are there not? Which Utopian society do these people who criticise us hail from I’d like to know?
That said, a few analogies spring to mind. From the inside looking out I feel like a father would about their sickly, but favourite, child. I so desperately want it to get better, to get back to the good old days when business was booming and customers were not so hard to come by. We are constantly fighting amongst ourselves to do whatever we can to attract a lesser number of customers into an ever-increasing number of bars.
From the outside looking in, I feel people react to the West End like that crazy ex girlfriend that you broke up with, but can’t remember why; but that doesn’t matter because you just know you won’t go back there anymore… But maybe she’s changed, and I mean really changed, but you will never know as you only know you don’t want to try again
There has been investment in a number of bars, not least of all my own, and the strip does look better and the bars are better equipped than ever. Some even have VIP areas (but more for Hens and their bridesmaids than Henriettas and the social elite). But for all the good will that the bars have, and for all the good promotion that they do for their town, our town, it feels like we are hitting our heads against a brick wall when it comes to the simplest of things when dealing with the town hall and our laughably nonexistent policing.
Many of the bar owners baulk at the thought of further improving their establishments when faced with the fact that they are being hamstrung by the very government we are paying (and voting) to govern us. There seems to be total bewilderment amongst your average non West End working resident, or tourist, as to why there are quite so many Looky Looky’s, prostitutes, pick pockets, dealers and illegal un-contracted ticket sellers and PR’s. Why do WE allow this to go on? Why aren’t WE doing something about it. But this is what a police service is for, is it not? I have personally called them on a number of occasions to report one thing or another and they have come and dealt with it precisely 0% of the time. If the police have no interest in doing their jobs, then its no surprise that this month a number of the bars have gotten together to pay, on top of their already high taxes, for a private security firm to patrol the streets.
Is this the answer? No, I don’t think so. Just about every negative that you can think of could be taken care of with more policing or indeed ANY policing! The only time we saw them last year was to enforce the pointless new 5am (from 6am) opening hours as a way to further tax local businesses in the form of fines.
If we had a streets that were clean of all the unsavoury elements then we could get back to attracting the better clientele, get back to providing the best possible service but until that happens we will always struggle to shake of the negative image that has been forced upon us and therefore will always struggle to attract new customers to the resort at all. Lets push to get the basic’s right, starting with policing, and then we can make the West End a destination that we can all be proud of.
One thought on “West End: The Bar Owners View – Guest Blog by Nathan Viva”
A good explanation….thank you for that. I went to the west end in the 80’s, 90’s and some of the 2000’s but saw it getting more and more unruly. Where as before it was a mix of ages, style of bars and, yes, natonalities, I saw it become a barrio of young brits on the piss taking things way too far. Plus being accosted by drug dealers, PRs, lucky lucky men…I spent more time making sure my money was safe, and avoiding the half naked idots. We still go, as there are some good tapas places, but skirt around the edges.
BTW….in the 80’s it used to be critised by the Brit press, so it has always had to battle….the difference is that now, sadly, the image is true. It needs more of a mix…and yes, control. It needs cleaning up and making safe.