R U VIP? – Guest Blog by Ray Davison

 Ray Davison* works in the Ibiza VIP industry and comes into contact with the high rollers and hangers-on every day so is perfectly placed to give his views on a culture that doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. 

Ray: I wasn’t here in the last century. A time of draft dodgers, dirt roads and donkeys. No Wi-fi, no greed, no rush. I’m sure it was a simple life back then with shared experiences. A common bond and folks helping each other to get by without looking for 10% commission or a finders fee.
I settled Ibiza in 2012 , the year Ushuaia opened it’s doors. If Shaggy’s sliding scale of workers is to be used as the new benchmark for island hierarchy, then I’ve one foot in the Wannabe camp and one foot in the grave. The VIP experience is a big part of my Ibiza journey and I’ve never known Ibiza BR (Before the Rope).

What is it about three letters that send so many people who remember those halcyon days, the Hippies, Dinosaurs and Veterans into such an incandescent rage? A length of velvet rope strung between two chrome poles that has brought a perceived division to Ibiza, which is exactly what it’s supposed to do. All that is wrong with Ibiza summed up in three letters with many wishing that V.I.P would R.I.P.

During my time here I’ve heard people blame the VIP culture on certain clubs and promoters but it’s unfair to single out any one person or organisation. They’re simply using a marketing vehicle to promote their establishment above the competition and now it’s been copied by others seeking to re-capture the lost trade. There has always been a grading culture and it’s exactly the same as the grey suited men who ran a hotel chain in America in the 1950’s. Seeking to promote their brand above the competitors they awarded their hotels stars. This was soon copied by the competition and it is now a worldwide scheme of defining hotel quality.

Ibiza is an island which offers something for everyone. Families, youngsters,yoga retreats, wellness centres, green juice bars. Every day I experience the natural beauty of this island and the best daily show on earth. The Ibiza sunset. This is the true Ibiza, the real Ibiza. Peel back the wafer thing veneer of VIP and the real Ibiza still there. It always will be.

The trouble is, in my opinion, Ibiza VIP has become so diluted with pretenders, journeymen and impostors, that the essence of why it was created in the first place has been lost. All style but no substance.

Almost every business has invested in a piece of rope and two chrome poles to chase that last euro before the season ends, reinforcing the general malaise creeping into society of keeping the ‘haves and have-nots’ apart. Something that we all tried to escape from when we chose to live in Ibiza in the first place. An island of freedom and sharing. An island free of class structure where rock stars and pop idols would happily rub shoulders with the likes of you and I.

Superstar DJ’s and the VIP circus that surrounds them bring employment to thousands of people on the island every year. You may detest their music, you may loathe the very mention of the term VIP, but I wager almost everyone will have a VIP Euro, either directly or indirectly, in their pockets by the time the season ends. 

So who or what is a VIP? We talk of VIP but in my opinion, it’s become a self-perpetuating myth. It doesn’t really exist. Merely a simple marketing tool to promote one business or one person over another. Nothing more, nothing less.

It’s important to remember that the only thing separating us from them is a piece of cheap, tacky, imitation, velvet rope strung between two poles. An illusion. A vast magic trick played on us all by those in the background that pull all the strings.

To quote a line from the cult film ‘The Usual Suspects’: The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.

And like that, poof, (blows across the palm of his hand). He was gone.

* Ray Davison is a pseudonym 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.