The Strange Case of Es Paradis

Clockwork Orange at Es Paradis – 20 July 2018

Clockwork Orange back taking over San Antonio’s Es Paradis Nightclub for 1 night has stirred something special in many people.

Full to the rafters with a good crowd listening to great music reminded us of days gone by when Ibiza was a whole different animal. It reminded us of long queues, of Danny Gould holding court with his goatee beard and cheeky grin and that Essex twang rising above all the other voices, everyone trying to get his attention for a freebie on the door (the term ‘guest list’ wasn’t around then).

But most of all it reminded us that Es Paradis is probably the most beautiful club in the world. Yes you read that right.

The 2018 Clockwork Orange experience has brought back all those memories of the amazing Es Paradis nights of Black & White, DJ Sammy, Clockwork Orange, UFO, Twice as Nice and the world famous ‘Fiesta del Agua’ water party.

The pyramid shaped club that dominates central San Antonio has been quiet of late, mainly down to mis-management. The years haven’t been kind to Es Paradis, other clubs have come into the marketplace and revolutionised the way we have fun. The pioneers have redesigned Ibiza, some people will say for the better and some may disagree but Ibiza is a constantly evolving destination where to succeed you have to stay ahead of the game.

Es Paradis was in a prime position to capitalise but they decided to take a different route. Who really knows why? Why would you purposely set out to upset as many people as possible. Some good people have tried and all have failed to reignite the flame. Speak to previous staff members and they will tell you the same story: You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped.

But San Antonio needs this club right now. The town is under pressure to compete with other resorts and destinations with a coalition council that doesn’t know what it wants. The new closing time law brought in this summer that sees the majority of bars close at 3am also means that you will never have a better opportunity to capitalise on the 3am-6am slot which is traditionally the clubbing hours on the White Isle.

Eden Nightclub’s current success directly across the road from Es Paradis has shown that there is light at the of the tunnel in making San Antonio credible in the clubbing world and that if you work hard with the right attitude then you will get your just desserts in a very tough market with plenty of competition. San Antonio needs to offer quality nights so clubbers don’t have to leave the resort and also to attract a new demographic to the town.

What Clockwork Orange has done is remind us of how Es Paradis used to be and how it should be again in the future and as a town we shouldn’t settle for anything less.

San Antonio deserves to have 2 major clubs and if the current owners of Es Paradis aren’t interested then they owe it to the town to pass the baton on to one of the many dynamic entrepreneurs who would love to be at the helm of one of the most beautiful clubs in the world…and again you did read that right. Viva San Antonio.

Ibiza: The Luxury Myth

We were sold a lie. We were told that if we built a luxury resort then we would get better people but the luxury myth and the privatisation of clubs, beaches and VIP areas aimed at wannabe millionaires has already taken its toll.

The island and its conscience is already paying an unaffordable social toll through a housing crisis for residents and seasonal workers and a dramatic cultural toll with the loss of local identity and the progressive destruction of the island’s nature. Now we need to add the side effects of selling your soul to the ‘luxury’ tourism sector.

Alarm bells have been sounded by Ibiza’s hoteliers, announcing that the room sales for July and August are ‘slower than normal’, that overnight stays have fallen again in May and June and that the main cause is the image that Ibiza projects to the world together with the competition from other emerging Mediterranean destinations. For example the local press recently published a story that for the price of a week’s holiday in Ibiza you can enjoy a whole month in Lanzarote.

Ibiza Hotels Association vice-president Juanjo Planells said that in 2018 “we will see decreases in all the statistics” and that “clients stay less and less time in Ibiza”. Even the president of the Ibiza Nightlife Association, José Corraliza, acknowledged that “there is business concern for this seasons projections” and that “the decline curve has already begun”.

Spare your tears for now as the hotels will likely be ‘saved’ once again by drastically reducing their rates in order to fill the empty rooms but the downward trend is a reality and we will have to start thinking about a strategy to reverse it.

For decades Ibiza has coexisted with the burden of an image revolving around drugs and parties without control, our two great workhorses. Administrations have spent years investing in campaigns to change the world’s perception of Ibiza away from this perpetual orgy, to try and retain European family tourism that has traditionally put bread on the table. Their stays are counted by weeks not days.

The companies that promote luxury sold it to us as the remedy that would revolutionise the tourist industry and conquer a new image for Ibiza as well as filling our pockets but this premise has proved to be essentially false. In recent years inequalities have increased, beaches and landscapes have been prostituted and the benefits have been shared among only a privileged few who have become rich beyond their wildest dreams while others struggle to find a reasonably priced roof to put over their heads.

While we have been convincing ourselves that top end luxury is the only way forward the hippy, carefree, tolerant and strong character of Ibiza has been blurred on an island where people of all conditions, social class and nationality were previously welcomed with open arms, something we have almost lost.

With the perspective of time, we now know that the island of luxury and that of the perpetual drug fuelled party are the same dog just with a more golden and tacky collar. Identical debauchery but now led by people with more disposable cash paying triple for exactly the same product as before although now it’s packaged and presented with a falsely glamorous papier-mâché décor.

The problem is not a mere question of price but the massive imbalance between quality and price plus the projected image of the island when that imbalance is so brazen. The UK travel press has picked up on it: ‘5 star Dubai is £2000 cheaper than 5 star Ibiza’ scream the headlines. But also consider the quality behind the headline and what to expect for your money in those destinations.

Ibiza has some great entrepreneurs and professionals who run establishments with enough quality to serve as an alibi for their high prices however there are many others who could be described as charlatans at best and scammers at worst offering inferior products only faintly disguised. These days almost everything in Ibiza is sold as ‘luxury’ even when the majority of the product on offer is medium or low.

While the tourists of the world continue filling Ibiza’s villas, apartments and suites and paying for cheap rooms as if they were staying at the Waldorf Astoria we will be saved but at the same time it’s a dangerous strategy similar to planting landmines for future generations. How will Ibiza attract upper-middle class families once the demand for the this quasi-luxury product diminishes? Will there still be some authentic Ibiza fragment left to offer? Will it be credible?

Some might argue that the market regulates itself and that prices will adjust themselves accordingly but the millstone of exorbitant prices will not be taken away for years to come. It’s a cycle that needs to reach its natural conclusion.

For now the challenge is how we can diversify the Ibiza product and how can we transform it’s image to anticipate and hopefully avoid the crisis that looms like a dark cloud in the sky. If you ask the Ibiza hoteliers right now they may suggest that the bubble hasn’t burst but has already begun to deflate.

Adapted from article in Diario de Ibiza

New San Antonio Noise Laws Starting to Hurt Local Business

On an island not used to rational thinking it takes a certain kind of ‘skill’ to come up with a law that not only dumbfounds but also achieves the exact opposite of what it set out to do.

When San Antonio’s left wing coalition council first proposed earlier closing times for bars in the ‘West End’ it cited noise issues as the main reason. After much debate and lobbying they decided to enforce a 3am closing curfew on only a small area meaning that some bars close at 3am while others bars only metres away can stay open until 5am.

The 3am closing means that the party has to stop just as it’s getting going and as numerous videos on social media clearly show it also means that thousands of young holidaymakers are being ushered into the street at the same time increasing the noise levels substantially. The partygoers then find the new bars or go to the beach or carry on back at their hotels.

Contrary to many residents’ opinion the majority of these young holidaymakers aren’t drunken hooligans on a nightly rampage but normal people trying to enjoy the famous Ibiza ambience and wanting to have a little fun with money in their pockets.

San Antonio’s West End, world famous for its nightlife now has stricter opening hours than in the UK and the new laws have increased the potential for noise rather than decreased it. I’m voting this as the most ridiculous law ever (and that’s saying something).

Meanwhile over in San Antonio Bay the local authorities are busy installing sound limiters in all music venues. The limits they are enforcing are proving unworkable for some bars such as the family friendly ‘Old Tavern’ famous for its live entertainment and karaoke. It has had a sound limiter fitted with an inside limit of 74 decibels before 11pm and 64db after. To put this into perspective an average dishwasher makes 75db of sound.

The strict policy is starting to affect local livelihoods and some bars will inevitably close, staff will become unemployed and suppliers will lose contracts. One local bar owner is even suffering from serious health issues due to the prejudicial new laws. The list goes on but the main people affected are the tourists who will be sat in lifeless bars and wish they had gone somewhere else…..and they eventually might.

The new noise laws are an example of residents taking back control of ‘their’ town but without tourists there won’t be any residents and the new noise laws are simply unworkable to many. It appears that Ibiza has forgotten how it got into it’s popular position in the first place: offering good old fashioned fun in a laid back manner for 4 months of the year and then living in tranquility for 8 months, compromise is a dirty word these days.

From Ibiza to Russia..with Love

It doesn’t happen very often, in fact you’ve got nearly as much chance of seeing Halley’s Comet as seeing England win the World Cup so when my team qualified for the semi final and a ticket became available it was too good an opportunity to turn down especially as I’ve always wanted to visit Moscow, even if it was only for 36 hours.

It was a long journey from Ibiza to Moscow via Palma eventually gaining entry into the Russian Federation by staring down the attractive yet stern faced immigration officer whilst also realising that Russians aren’t familiar with the word ‘queue’.  With very few signs in English you immediately get the feeling that you’re in a foreign land. In this globalised age where English is the universal language it was quite refreshing that Russia still retains that edge of an other-worldly, unique destination especially as the friendly taxi drivers don’t speak much or any English making basic communication a real challenge.

After overcoming the language barrier with plenty of handshaking and backslapping the city was opening up before me and first impressions were that it’s big, very big with the Moskva river running through the heart of it. It’s clear that the communist dream is over as you pass McDonald’s and cosmopolitan western boutiques on many street corners. People are dressed smartly and you sense fashion and appearance plays an important part of everyday life in Moscow.

A little sightseeing is good for the soul and you can’t go to Moscow without a visit to Red Square and the surrounding area, which is a must-see.  St Basil’s Cathedral a jaw dropping, colourful contrast to the Kremlin which is directly opposite, the epitome of the old grey soviet republic. It also has to be said that Russians like a statue, they are in all prominent places and usually big phallic tributes to times gone by.

As it was semi final day there were plenty of football fans from both sides milling around Red Square. Both sets of fans were in fine voice and the atmosphere was buzzing with zero aggression. Now it was match time but we mistakenly took a taxi instead of the metro so after a stressful 90 minute drive through rush hour we managed to get to the ground only 20 mins before kick off.  Security was tight but efficient and the Luzhniki Stadium is a magnificent coliseum with great views from all seats, a fitting venue for a semi final and final of the World Cup.

After the national anthems the game settled down with England taking an early lead with a direct free kick from Kieran Trippier. I was directly behind him at the opposite end and it was a goal from the second it left his foot. England pressed for a 2nd and looked good for a while but the Croatian pair of Rakitic & Modric gradually started to boss the game. The equaliser came midway through the 2nd half and startled England who went into defence mode relying on the old trick of lumping the ball up to the big man (I’d mistakenly thought we had moved on).  Croatia looked the most likely to score which is exactly what they did deep into extra time after the English momentarily went to sleep. There was to be no glorious come back this time.

Sport can be a cruel game but as we filed out of the stadium most England fans were pragmatic in defeat. We were beaten by a slightly better team on the night and couldn’t quite step up to the level required. The minuscule margins at the top of sport had conspired against us but our young Lions had given it a good go and can go home with their heads held high (after the pointless 3rd and 4th place play off in St Petersburg on Saturday).

It was time to lick our wounds and drown our sorrows in the local bars, once again meeting only jovial people every step of the way. Not one hint of danger after the UK press had over hyped potential problems for traveling England fans. The fact that lots of the messages I’d received from friends had asked me to ‘stay safe’ said all you needed to know about the well sold lie about this celebration of football yet at no time did you feel threatened. People were overwhelmingly friendly and Russians seem to have a special welcoming glint in their eye.  We mulled over the result and sank a few beers until the sky became bright but seeing as it gets light at 3am in Moscow it wasn’t the latest of nights.

On the journey back to Ibiza I was able to put things into perspective. The result didn’t go England’s way but it’s no disgrace to lose especially when youth has been blooded and experience has been gained. We lasted longer than Germany, Brazil, Argentina & Spain and the young Lions had over achieved in many ways but still a feeling lingered that England will never get an ‘easier’ route into a World Cup Final.  As one of the finalists will find out on Sunday, there can only be one winner but the real star of the tournament has been Russia and specifically Moscow. What a city! Big, busy, vibrant, cosmopolitan and most of all friendly (and did I mention the beautiful women).

As those who live in Ibiza know all too well you should never believe what you read in the papers and this was clearly the case for Russia 2018, a celebration of sport in a country proud of its heritage and looking forward to its future with confidence. And by the way, next time it’s definitely coming home…