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At Home in Ibiza


It was seventy-two hours of madness that I would recommend to anyone who likes to dance and who has just a hint of loco in them.  My stay in Ibiza for the closing parties of the summer was well worth the trek from New York. 

“You are English?” everyone kept asking.  The rest of the world recognized the language, but not the accent. 

“No, we’re from New York,” my girlfriends and partners in crime, Liz and Jen, and I would reply.  The Europeans looked at us with stunned wide smiles and exclaimed at our effort to go half way around the world for such a short amount of time.  Oh yes, the party goddesses had arrived. 

It didn’t really matter what country you called home.  The crowd at Pacha was a milieu of ethnicities with a common goal: party to the max.  Liz and Jen had a sorority sister from their college days on the island, Kristy, who was working as a bartender.  We were meeting her at Pacha, where she had added us to the house guest list for the evening.  Marcello, the large Spaniard with the list, greeted us at the door and escorted us inside to find their friend.  Kristy’s ‘club family’ proceeded to douse our throats with shots of sambuca and vodka Redbull drinks.  Clad in a barely there jumpsuit, this pint-sized former sorority girl turned bad girl had apparently developed a Spanish accent in her three months on Ibiza, reminding me of Madonna’s fake British one.  Kristy said “you know” at the end of every sentence and although somewhat irritating at first, I found myself so fascinated with her transformation that “you know” stuck with me for the rest of the trip.  My sentences began to end with “you know” – “We should rent mopeds so that we can see the whole island…you know.”

Pacha was the largest tastefully done nightclub I had ever set foot in.  It allows a visitor room to move and explore with its various levels and bars, my favorite addition was the rooftop access where the crowd could take a breath of cool air and look up at the stars.  My friends and I used the area for deep thoughts moments when our feet began to pain us.  We couldn’t stay away from the main dance floor for too long, though, because Ministry of Sound was rocking out.  One word – amazing – and the feeling of total body entrancement had nothing to do with the alcohol.  I felt as if I was floating, my arms were light as feathers, and the multi-layered beat ran through my insides and had me contorting my body, as if it was working on auto-pilot and I was some sort of robot-dancing machine.  Above were swirling laser shows and neon patterns moving in time with the music on draping, white canopies.  Every now and then I would snap out of my haze and look around the room.  It was refreshing to see that no one was standing still, except for those who were downing drinks at the bar.  Where were the posers?  The people of Ibiza were beautiful and dressed stylishly yet they felt no need to stand and be “scene”…you know.   
 
Sitting felt great.  It was seven in the morning when we placed our exhausted selves gently into a taxi.  “Hotel Club La Noria, por favor.”  I doubted if the flat pillows in our triple-single bedroom would hinder sleep.  It dawned on me that numerous people warned me about how dangerous the island was and how aggressive the men were.  Sex-seeking, gyrating men in the US invaded my physical space more!  The male club-goers of Ibiza were respectful and fun.
 
The maid opened the door for the third time that day.  Management should really tell them not to make up rooms until after 2pm on this island.  Sprawled out in bed, but eyes open, we must have looked alive enough to her that she thought she could waltz right in.  She laughed at us (pointing her finger) and exclaimed, “Aye ya yaye” at the petite room, which was littered with clothes, toiletries and various bottles of alcohol and mixers.  I heard house music and for a moment I thought my ears would be permanently ringing with “umche umche umche,” but then I realized that our balcony door was open and the sound was coming from the pool cabana below.  Jen told the maid in English, with a Spanish accent, to change our towels and then she could go.  The maid’s little boy, tagging along with mom for the day, popped his head and wide eyes into our room.  Jen told him in English, with a Spanish accent, not to take drugs because it makes you crazy.  I don’t think he understood, but I’m pretty sure he thought that she was loco herself, hair standing on end and club makeup under her eyes, smelling of booze. 

On our way to the beach we saw men in Speedos engaged in a volleyball match.  Took a picture.  Playa d’en Bossa had fine gray sands that sift between your toes and are gentle on your feet.  Occupied, but not crowded, we found lounge chairs readily available (good thing because we forgot to pack beach towels).  Cloudless skies, flat crystal-blue waters and topless ladies for miles around.  One by one we removed our bikini tops, and giggled like fifth graders in sex-ed. class, breasts virgin to the sun.  In relaxation mode, the only conversation we had in the next four hours was with Lucky.  Lucky, an Irish lad, was a promoter for Privelege, and had sold us our tickets (25 Euro) for the closing party the day before.  Covers for the clubs were much pricier at the door (65 Euro for Privelege).  You could buy tickets by the port with little advance planning.  Lucky had now seen our boobies.  Plopped down at the end of my lounge chair, he didn’t seem pressed to leave for work.    

On the six-hour flight to Madrid, where we would transfer after a horrendous layover (the price we pay for cheap tickets) to Ibiza, I sat next to a well-dressed man from Valencia who was an Ibiza-frequenter. His best hint was Bora Bora.  People crawled into this beachside venue before returning home to get decked for the evening.  Dancing divas of both sexes in bathing suits and flip-flops got freaky with happy-hour (5pm-12am) cocktails from the large tiki-looking bar and the once again, fabulous music.  Dirty from salt, sand and sweat, the crowd grooved with wide smiles.  Sporadically, planes flew low overhead and we all took a moment to cheer and wave in welcome to our friends who would be joining us for the next closing party in a couple of hours.  A shower and a nap were on the agenda.   

Some Spanish guy talked to Jen and we walked into the VIP section of Pacha and were handed Dom Perignon.  My feet had been stepped on five times earlier, so I was grateful for a bit of VIP, Dom and room to dance.  The women looked like Donatella Versaces on crack – beautifully decorated, but minds floating in another world.  I saw one lady in the bathroom whose eyes rolled back in her head as she wobbled against the wall in five-inch heels.  I was expecting drool any moment.  Very disturbing.  The men in VIP ranged from characters decked in Dolce & Gabbana suits to full-leather getups to jeans and cute Euro-brand T-shirts.  I felt at home in my little black number. 

The hired performers were extraordinary dancers, their perfect figures exhibited in original get-ups.  My favorite was “ Mullet Mohawk Man” who, sporting the unisex hairstyle of choice on the island, did this fantastic breakdance-rave movement.  Adjacent to Mullet Mohawk Man was a stage, lit-up for dancers such as ourselves.  The three of us spent about an hour on it, feeling special to be raised above the masses below.  Tonight’s closing party DJ’s were Deep Dish, Danny Teneglia, and Pete Tong, the latter of which played what will evermore be my Ibiza anthem – “Addicted to Drums”.  Another favorite was the remix of Coldplay’s “Clocks” that I would later search for in the island’s record stores that only sold electronic music.    

Our nightly escapades in conjunction with jetlag took a toll on our bodies the third day.  We decided to wind our way through the crooked streets of Ibiza Town to do some light shopping in the colorful market places.  About an hour into it, our feet pleaded with us to sit at an outdoor cafe and have un Cervesa (a beer).  I took a picture of a crazy old man on his balcony across the street and he proceeded to throw down a love letter and paper with candy inside of it to me.  The waiter said that he never left his apartment, but back in his youth when the island was still a Hippie commune, he was one of the most popular party-throwers.  My love letter was a bunch of scribbles that looked like my imitation of my mother’s cursive before I could write.  Our friendly banter with the old crazy guy attracted the attention of three beautiful Italian men strolling by, who were selling their jewelry on the island for the summer.  I took the opportunity to ask about the island.
“How many people live here year round?”
“There are about 100,000 year round, but so many more come to live here during the summer months…like us.  The summer is from the first of May until the closing parties at the end of September, but the best time to come is in July, before it gets over-crowded in August,” responded Luca, the hot Italian to my left. 
“Are the other Balearic Islands like this?” I inquired, referring to the nightlife.
“Not as fun.  They are better for quieter vacations with family.”  I commented on the positive energy that I felt on the island and radiating from the people. 
“Have you seen people wearing amulets around their necks?” Luca asked, pointing to his own. 
“No, but I haven’t really looked.”
“Well, it is because the red soil that is on Ibiza is supposed to have a magical quality.  No animal or insect that is harmful to humans lives on or in the island’s soil,” Luca informed us with the wide eyes of a storyteller.  Maybe that explains the human-friendly energy my girls and I were feeling.  Apparently, Nostradamus, the 15th century French astrologer and physician predicts, “Ibiza will be Earth’s final refuge” when nuclear disaster wipes out most life on Earth.  What a place to take cover! 

Six cervesas later, the sun was melting when they offered to cook dinner for us at their apartment.

One Italian was cooking, one was entertaining Liz and I with stories and “growling” sounds (don’t ask), and one was giving Jen a tour of his room.  The view was a hill of Spanish apartment buildings and houses in varying shades of white, cream and yellow, shabbily chic with paint peeling and laundry pensile outside.  In the distance was D’Alt Vila, it means ‘High Town’, with a Cathedral and giant clock that dominates Ibiza Town’s skyline.  One of the many historical sights on the 45km long island that we neglected to visit due to a full schedule of partying and relaxing.   

We woke up from our hour nap, groggy and drunk, each secretly wanting to forget about Privelege and curl back into bed.  The music snapped us out of it.  A little umche, umche, umche and our excitement for the final night in Ibiza whipped out a second wind in us all.  Privelege had the capacity to entertain 10,000 people.  It was enormous.  For the most part we stayed on the main floor, amidst circular raised platforms where the dancers performed in outrageous costumes.  The DJ’s “booth” lifted above a swimming pool with a backdrop of a three-story screen that added to the sensory experience.  There was a spacious stage in front for acrobats, mimes and fire-eaters.  What I found myself staring at the most was this huge metal robot with unicorn wings breathing out smoke and riding a motorcycle in place, far up on the left wall.  At 4:30 in the morning and a couple of 14 Euro water bottles later, we called it an early night in order to check out of our hotel and make our 6:30am flight.

Next time I will schedule a few extra days for a yoga retreat at the tamer end of the island to recover from my seventy-two hours of welcome insanity.  Ibiza is a place that embraces all kinds and all ages of people, keeping them harmonious, young and playful in its arms.        

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