Ibiza VIP: The Rise of the Velvet Rope


VIP culture isn’t a recent invention although the terminology might be. Since the year dot there has always been a way for people to flaunt their supposed superiority, be it on planes or in hotels. Those who took 1st class flights (or Concorde) to 5 star hotels back in the 70s and 80s were called what? Not VIP for sure. That accolade was only reserved for politicians or genuine A-listers who had to be especially looked after.

Nowadays to be a so called ‘VIP’ you just need to pay an extra tenner to sit at the front of the plane and board first or pay an extra hundred for a ticket that allows you to stand on the other side of the rope and have the dubious honour of paying more for your drinks.

Most big Ibiza clubs have always had a roped off area, a place for the owners to invite guests back for drinks and extra entertainment, it wasn’t ruled by money just by who you knew and whether you were invited. The velvet rope usually meant ‘invited guests only’ rather than ‘how much cash you got?’

The rise of the VIP culture as we now know it in Ibiza is relatively recent. Only 10 years ago most clubs offered a VIP experience but why would you want to go to a club and sip champagne on the terrace overlooking the dance floor watching everybody having a good time? You didn’t, you wanted to be in the middle of the action, dancing and drinking and enjoying it to the max not sitting on an uncomfortable chair in a removed part of the club. So the VIP area was full of an older crowd who wanted the experience but also the space to watch on and enjoy. The beauty of Ibiza was seeing the sexagenarians dancing in the VIP – Ibiza, a truly ageless place.

But now VIP isn’t VIP anymore because it’s mainstream and mainstream isn’t elite. When there’s more people in the VIP than in the public area; Then its not VIP by definition but irony isn’t something we are good at in Ibiza. Now there are also several forms – VIP, VVIP, Prive etc all driven by ‘how much do you want to spend?’ rather than ‘who you are’ because that’s what this is all about – money – let’s not complicate matters here in this blog.

Like most things this money driven concept will eventually eat itself but in the meantime most bars and clubs give you the option of 1. where you can stand/sit 2. what you can drink 3. how much is your minimum spend. The result is an environment of society’s cross sections – ‘normal’ people on the dance floor, ‘well off’ people on the terrace, ‘rich’ people above and ‘obscenely rich’ where the ‘normal people’ can’t see/bother them. Obviously all groups are interspersed with the usual dealers, blaggers and chancers that only Ibiza can offer.


We live in a social media obsessed society where for ‘normal punters’ everything is based on the next great profile pic and they are prepared to pay a premium for that. The 3 small letters justify the expense and that new Facebook pic of themselves standing in a pool or on a club terrace holding a large bottle of champagne or Grey Goose is worth every single penny because when they look back at it on a cold January day, they can smile and recount the story of the day that they were a genuine VIP in Ibiza. Good on them but let’s not confuse VIP with VIP. Wait a minute, now I’m getting confused.

Author: Martin Makepeace

Englishman living and working in Ibiza since 1991. Entrepreneur with a passion for villas, boats, sunsets and San Antonio. Read my blogs, listen to my podcasts and catch me on Radio One Mallorca every Tuesday morning.

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