You left your heart in San Francisco?
Well, I left my wallet in Ibiza.
But I get ahead of myself. Let’s start again:
Ibiza. When in Spain, this is pronounced “Ee-beetha”. In local Catalan it is spelled “Eivissa”. Most foreigners rhyme it with “pizza”. Regardless: world-over this is pretty much synonymous with clubs, the electronic music scene, and warm island party paradise.
It is all that and more.
When discussing my taste in music with actual musicians, I’m not sure I have a leg to stand on with Electronica. I think there is a lot of dismay and bitterness at how popular Elecronic Dance Music is, especially because these guys aren’t actually performingmusic. When it comes down to it, it’s just a bunch of guys playing pre-recorded music to a crowd of gyrating loonies.
Doesn’t matter; for me it gets at some part of my primitive brain and just makes me feel good . Also, the art of the thing for an electronica DJ is not the same as a musician skilled at playing and instrument (though there is a lot of skill and expertise needed to run a gig properly), it is that they are curators. The best DJ’s in my experience collect amazing tunes, arrange and blend them uniquely, and surprise their audience with their curated and set of music that they mix in real time, simultaneously driving and responding to the audience.
So for years I’ve been thinking of coming to the penultimate EDM scene: Ibiza. Back in May I had this all booked, and then I broke my foot. So now that I’m healed, this is a do-over of sorts.
First off, the island is everything you could want in a tropical paradise. Palm trees. Warmth, sun, sand and sea. A casual and laid-back atmosphere. A great town for just walking around.
It’s got a very active downtown, lots of shops and even a lovely little park at the center:
Moving on from the city, you’ve got a lovely coast line.
And even some unexpected things. I didn’t take the time to explore these, sadly.
While I walked around, the comparisons to Playa Del Carmen were inevitable. It’s a Spanish beach town, after all, with a very lively party scene. More: there is a huge disparity between those who have money and those who don’t. The very rich have amazing places. The very poor live in squalor. Ibiza seems to be much further developed than PDC though, which makes sense since this place has been a famous party place for many years. I imagine Ibiza is what Playa might become in a decade or so if development continues.
So, one of the most unexpected things for me, was the old town. Also called “Dalt Vila”, and the center of which is ” Catedral de la Verge de les Neus”, or “Cathedral of our Lady of the Snows” (snow? Ibiza? Seems highly unlikely.).
Anyway, the old town is a huge fort type affair that looks over the rest of the island and protects the place with cannons pointing at the sea.
But enough about the town. Most people come here for the clubs. Here’s where things get expensive. The first night I was here, David Guetta was headlining one of the main clubs (Pacha). This was a little disappointing as I’d seen billboards for Paul Van Dyke. But still, the kids these days seem to be all about Mr. Guetta, so while in Ibiza I figure it was mandatory I check it out.
Tickets: advertised at 90 euros. Holy merde: no.
However, turns out you can get discount tickets from a number of places. You find signs like this outside some of the major outlets:
So, along with a Canadian and a Brazilian that I met at the hostel, we shopped around for tickets. Seems that every little clothes shop along the main streets has some sort of tickets connection. However, Guetta turned out to be more popular than I thought: three shops were sold out, and the second only had two left. Eventually we all got tickets for about 20% off. Which if you do the calculation turns out to be “Still way too much”. Regardless: gotta do it once, right?
At this point, I should re-assert what I learned about how the Spaniards conduct a night out. You start with dinner around nine, followed by drinks from ten until midnight. Between midnight and one o’clock you may go to your destination early, or you continue to have drinks and chat. Some people don’t actually roll out until three.
The way this went down for us: we bought cheap libations from the market by the hostel, sat out in the warm air chatting about our various travels, then were pulled across the street to a rooftop where a guy from LA had a view of the harbor where we continued our drinking, mingling, and chatting with others from the hostel. At around one, we hopped in cabs to go to the show.
The club itself is unlike anything outside of Vegas, and even those clubs are not the size of some of these monstrosities. Pacha turns out to be not as large as something like Amnesia, which I would eventually attend as well. Sadly my phone just doesn’t do well at night, so I have no pictures to provide.
The show itself? Completely not worth the price of admission. The club was packed to the gills, sweaty and a maze of rooms. Drinks there are around 20 euros each (thus all the Spaniards drinking beforehand I guess).
The highlight of the show for me was when I discovered my wallet was missing.
Yep. Wallet = gone. Sadly I thought I’d learned a bit from my last brush with having no access to finances. This time, I was out BOTH credit cards. Also, my drivers license, an Oyster card, about 15 British pounds, and some other odds and ends I kept in my wallet.
The following day I searched my backpacks thoroughly, hoping I had actually just misplaced it. When I came to grips with the fact I had been a victim of a pickpocket in a crowded club, I got to experience the joys of reporting a crime in a Spanish Police Office, purchasing a local sim for my phone so I could make all the necessary calls to cancel cards and dispute claims, as well as learn how to get cash when you don’t have a credit card any more.
The cliff notes advice to future travelers:
- Split up your credit cards. Keep one off your person at all times.
- Keep a stash of emergency money in your packpack somewhere
- If the worst happens, Visa has an “emergency cash advance” program where you can pick up money from any Western Union branch (luckily very numerous around the world).
So: more lessons learned. After the day of scrambling and misery, the next few days were lovely in Ibiza.
So now I’ve had my Debit Card skimmed in Mexico, and my wallet stolen in Ibiza. We’ll count the crime rate for both these places as pretty much on par then. The beaches at Playa Del Carmen are unrivaled compared to Ibiza. The club scene in Ibiza is pretty much the standard by which all others are judged. So the deciding vote for which place is better?
Well, which place can you get tacos and guacamole any time of the day?
So there you have it. PDC wins after fair and balanced research. Still: Ibiza is lovely. Come visit, but keep your cards and cash on lockdown.