Archive for the ‘Ibiza Scenes’ Category

Passages: From a sunny place, to a cloudy future

October 6, 2008

[Day’s end: the Mediterranean, at Ses Salines beach]

Last in an occasional series about Ibiza and the surrounding region.

Sparky and I moved to Spain four months ago to fulfill a long-held dream: spending a season away from San Francisco’s famously cool summers. We chose Ibiza.

It has been a bittersweet time, ending today, when I start my return trip home to San Francisco. Sparky and I made new friends on this remote Mediterranean island, enjoyed spectacular beaches, and led a sometimes crazy nightlife.

But reality, and this blog, were as close as my laptop and iPhone. All summer, I read thousands of your comments, keeping everyone current on all things Gannett — and illustrating the digital revolution reshaping big media. Ten years ago, technologies like Web access would have been scarce on Ibiza — if available at all. Now, by simply tapping on my smartphone’s screen, I can publish news in real time to a global audience of thousands, whether I’m at a Wi-Fi cafe — or sunning on the beach.

Leaving Ibiza, I’m now heading into a cloudy future, at a time of great economic uncertainty. I will be officially unemployed in less than two weeks, when I get my final USA Today severance check. I’m 51. And I don’t know what I’m doing next.

Packed, and ready for a return trip home

October 6, 2008

Part of an occasional series about Ibiza.

Just before meeting our landlord to exchange keys and the security deposit, Sandra took this photo in our condo. We took those boxes to the post office, sending them ahead to San Francisco.

Ibiza Journal: Goodbye to the island’s party scene

October 4, 2008

[Feel it yet? Matinee attendees; the party closes tonight]

Part of an occasional weekend series about Ibiza.

It’s Saturday, about 10:37 p.m. — early here on the Mediterranean island of Ibiza, famous for its celebrity-flecked nightlife. Although it’s now October, well past the summer season, the streets outside the Croissant-Show cafe where I’m sitting are full of people, strolling beneath hand-painted pennants hung above the narrow streets. There is a live arts event unfolding in the small plaza before me. I am reminded of the warm evenings Sparky and I spent earlier this summer.

Tonight is the closing party for Matinee, one of the island’s biggest, best-attended weekly dance events. Held at the giant nightclub Space in the Playa d’en Bossa area, Matinee is one of three such closing parties this week — the summer’s last drug-induced gasp before Kate Moss (left) and the rest of the yachting crowd shifts to winter hideaways.

Calling them parties and nightclubs is not entirely accurate. They are very large, professionally produced events staged in mammoth entertainment complexes — the musical equivalent of an adult amusement park. They often carry racy themes, like the F*** Me I’m Famous event produced by a Parisian couple.

Matinee’s Space venue, for example, covers several hundred thousand square feet on two levels. There are two or three dance floors, with the biggest accommodating thousands of dancers. Scantily-clad dancers shimmy on small stages. A gift shop hawks T-shirts. And there’s a requisite chill space for party-goers on too much E and K.

The pricey parties are big lures for young people from Britain, Germany and other EU nations who spend week-long vacations here. But they’ve also saddled Ibiza with a reputation for excess when, summer after summer, young visitors die in drug-related accidents. A 25-year-old Scottish man was the ninth holidaymaker to die this season when he was found in his hotel room late last month.

An evening at Matinee tonight would not be cheap. Tickets are around $75 U.S., unless you get a really good deal. And drinks start at $12 for a small carbonated water. Those lofty prices didn’t go over so well this year, when global economic problems cast a long shadow: The Paris Hilton waiting game ended this summer with fortunes pinned on a late-season cruise ship carrying 2,000 gay men.

Fortunately, my friend Sandra and I were with her friend Marco, an Italian who makes a living here hanging event posters, when we attended one of the other big closing parties this week: La Troya.

Marco is club-connected, so we were swept in Wednesday night by the Armani model-looking security guards, and didn’t pay a dime for our drinks. It was fun. But I’m 51, and I’m fairly certainly I was one of the oldest people there. Still, I may go to Matinee tonight: This summer has been a time to revisit my crazier youth.

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In Mykonos, a chapel at the harbor

September 21, 2008

Part of an occasional series about Ibiza and the surrounding region.

This small, Greek Orthodox chapel in Mykonos is probably one of the most-photographed in Greece, given its prominent location in the harbor, a popular destination for tourists. The chapel is meticulously maintained in the national colors that dominant the island.

Ibiza Journal: A gay cruise ship sails, just in time

September 7, 2008

[Ses Salines, before tonight’s arrival of the ship Constellation]

Part of an occasional series about Ibiza.

August, traditionally the busiest month, didn’t bring the hoped-for financial jolt to this Mediterranean island’s tourism-focused economy. Young British visitors stayed away in droves, we’ve been told, because of the weak pound Sterling vs. the euro. That especially hurt Sant Antoni — home to the legendary Cafe del Mar, where visitors watch amazing sunsets.

But the slowdown also spilled over to Ibiza Town, center of the nightclub scene that ordinarily draws rich and not-so-rich visitors from across Europe and beyond. We’re still waiting for the arrival of celebutante Paris Hilton (left).

Now, the closest thing to 11th-hour financial relief is the cruise ship Constellation, which arrived about an hour ago. It’s carrying up to 2,000 gay men — mostly Americans — sailing to Barcelona from London over the past week in an event organized by gay travel company Atlantis. The ship anchors here nearly 24 hours.

For Ibiza, the Constellation means lucrative docking income from cruise line Celebrity. And, as our friend Paulo said, these men will spend big, patronizing clubs, cafes, shops — and the beaches full of gym-fit sun worshipers (left). Sure enough, today at 7 p.m., Ibiza Time, waiters at Ses Salines beach’s Chiringay rushed across the restaurant’s terrace, pointing to the huge boat as it glided into view on the horizon. “Barco, barco,” they said.

Ibiza isn’t exclusively gay, of course. But gay men and lesbians have helped make the island a must-visit global playground over the past 30 years. And now, with the economy on the ropes, gay tourism has become even more important.

[Constellation: carrying up to 2,000 gay Americans]

A little travelin‘ music
Tourists watch the sun set while listening to trippy music at Cafe del Mar — like this track, from SuperTrance Vol. 2:

[Constellation file photo]

Ibiza dancers, promoting crucial parties

September 6, 2008

Part of an occasional weekend series about Ibiza.

Dancers who perform at Matinee Group‘s Querelle-themed party tonight at nightclub Space visited Ses Salines beach this afternoon, handing out discount admission bracelets. Space and other megaclubs like Pacha are a major cog in Ibiza’s flagging economy this summer.

[Photo: larger-size version available on my Flickr page.]

The sun is setting on our Ibiza holiday

August 16, 2008

[Terrace view: Looking southwest, toward Figueretas]

Part of an occasional series about Ibiza and the surrounding region.

Returning from Barcelona, we suddenly began feeling the approach of summer’s end here on the Spanish island of Ibiza: The days are getting shorter, some nights a bit cooler. It’s hard to believe, but Sparky returns to San Francisco in just two weeks. I’m staying through the end of September, yet even that seems just around the corner.

A city known for Gaudi has even more to offer

August 9, 2008

Part of an occasional series about Ibiza and the surrounding region.

Antonin Gaudi is the most famous architect in Barcelona’s Modernist movement; buildings like his Casa Batlló apartments draw tourists from around the world. But there are plenty of other wonderful examples of architecture in the city. We saw these two buildings during a walk yesterday afternoon along Passeig de Gracia.

Stained-glass bay windows like these are quite common.

Worth visiting
Barcelona is a magnificent city for tourists who like to walk. It’s spic-and-span clean. The sidewalks are broad, and well-furnished with benches. There are cafes everywhere. And yesterday, with the weather a bit cooler than usual, it felt almost like fall.

In Barcelona, a sugar lover’s delight

August 6, 2008

Part of an occasional series about Ibiza and the surrounding region.

Visiting Barcelona, Sparky and I ate lunch today at Mauri, a pastisserie off the main shopping boulevard, Passeig de Gracia. Frosted in brilliant colors, these cakes caught my attention as we were leaving.

Ibiza Journal: Waiting for Paris Hilton

August 3, 2008

[Flower Power: The scene last month at pricey nightclub Pacha]

Part of an occasional weekend series about Ibiza.

No surprise here: Sparky and I didn’t make it to Matinee last night, the big weekly dance/Ecstasy chowdown held at megaclub Space. We would have spent about $140 for tickets, and lord knows how much more for drinks. When American friends and I attended rival club Pacha‘s Flower Power party last month, three drinks — a sparkling water, a beer, and a vodka and Red Bull — cost a jaw-dropping $54. And we’d just gotten started. (My friends graciously paid the bill.)
Those sky-high prices illustrate the stakes in the tourism-based economy here on the Spanish island of Ibiza, one of Europe’s most popular Mediterranean getaways. Yet, they also explain why some workers dependent on tourism, like our new friend Sandra, complain that business hasn’t been as good this summer. That’s a worrisome sentiment this weekend, the start of the most lucrative part of the summer. Other people told me the same thing: With consumers growing more cautious, $12 bottles of water are moving slow. 
Some of the same forces pressuring Gannett are being felt thousands of miles away from McLean, Va., on Ibiza: A slowdown in the global economy; the real estate market’s mortgage-related implosion; tumbling stock prices, and ebbing consumer confidence. Sandra, 40, a server at the high-profile Croissant-Show cafe, says celebutante Paris Hilton (left) was here last summer and in 2006 — but hasn’t been seen this summer, a sign Ibiza may have lost some of its luster.

Europeans still vacation in droves during August — patronizing hotels, restaurants, beaches, and big nightclubs like Space and Pacha that partly serve as the island’s pricey financial anchors. We just returned from Es Cavallet beach, where services aren’t cheap, either: Two lounge chairs and an umbrella cost $25 for the day. (We bring our own gear.) That might explain why the beach wasn’t shoulder-to-shoulder crowded, as we found it a year ago.

While that’s not bad for Sparky and yours truly — August can be absurdly overcrowded — it’s bad news for the Sandras of Ibiza, trying to eke out a year’s income in just three months. As it unfolds, we’ll see what this make-or-break month brings.

A video of the Matinee opening party (above) at Space this summer.

[Images: Flower Power, Pacha; video, Matinee Group]