Ibiza 2021. A Pivotal Year For The Clubbing Industry.
While Ibiza continues to be one of the worst affected areas of the Balearic Autonomy for Covid19 infection rates, the first big club to take evasive action against another Covid19 affected clubbing season is rumoured to be Pacha. Word on the ground is that the indoor Club, which underwent extensive refurbishment this winter to increase capacity, will remain closed, transferring its indoor parties to its trendy open air venue at Destino as their other venue, Pacha Hotel, has been sold to the Ruben Brothers.
We will be writing more about what promises to be a select season ahead in the upcoming weeks, but in my opinion, those who want to get to Ibiza this summer will and could witness a more boutique and intimate experience, as the island works hard to adapt to the evolving environment of the pandemic which is sure to become politically charged as we approach Easter, a religious holiday when the Spanish like to Fiesta.
It will come as no surprise to hear that the indoor super clubs of Ibiza, will find it nigh a mission impossible, to open safely this summer to large crowds and the decision by Pacha, if effected, will have a knock on effect, as clubs react to what others are doing. To date, there has been no official statement issued by Pacha, but news is already reaching the blog that a number of local businesses on the island, especially those relying on the mass tourist market and servicing clients from the UK and Ireland, are reporting less bookings than last year.
Many British holidaymakers were burnt in Ibiza last season, losing their deposits in a storm of fake news that assured us clubbing Ibiza was open for business, when in fact it was never going to happen and they knew it. Those who questioned this false narrative were labelled as economic terrorists and renegades, but sadly clients who lost their deposits to this campaign will think twice before risking their hard earned deposits in Ibiza again. Those operating on the Black Market will find it extremely tough to survive this season.
In fact the local Government, under the permit of a state of alarm has tightened its control and tracking measures, especially in the private rental villa market, which saw a number of trendy villas come up for sale recently, as police can now legally enter tourist villas without a warrant. The days of operating under the radar in Ibiza are numbered as the island drafted in extra armed police last season, with a number of high profile drug cartels with links to the island being exposed, not to mention the installation of 5G technology under military protection,
If clubs are not looking into Social VR, then they should be doing so.
With regard to other clubs, word around the campfires is that Amnesia may also move its indoor events to its al fresco venue, Cova Santa, and the same goes for Hi, which has the option of moving its events to Ushuaia Beach Hotel, Hard Rock and a number of its select Adult Only hotels around the island. The rooftop bar of The Ushuaia Tower is one of my favourite locations, with amazing panoramic views over the beach of Playa d’en Bossa with Formentera in the distance, to the west, the airport, jets landing and taking off into the sunset over the salt plains of Salinas. World Heritage site Dalt Villa is lit up to the south and the buzz of the strip overlooking Hi and Ushuaia to the east.
If there is to be a clubbing season in Ibiza this summer, my guess is that it could work if restricted to hotels and open air venues where clients can be easily controlled with access reserved for residents only. Most of the clubs are on holding contracts with DJ’s deferred from 2019,made in good faith before the pandemic hit, so a medium will have to be found for them to play, as its imperative for the industry that Ibiza showcases its DJ talent, as the world looks to the small island for direction and inspiration. In my opinion Hi and Ushuaia offer the best prospect of a music season happening on the island this summer.
Currently Hi, via Yann Pisenemens The Night League, is well invested in the exciting medium of Social VR, which may allow certain clubs to offer a virtual experience to its clients from the safety of their hotel balconies or homes. The Pissenem Brothers have already signed up David Guetta, Carl Cox, Black Coffee and Armin Van Burren into their groundbreaking Prism project which could get a trial out on the island this summer and we hope to have more on this story soon. Romain Pissenem and his High Scream company have already dazzled crowds around the world as artistic producers for David Guetta’s United At Home fundraising series which wowed audiences in New York, Miami, Paris and Dubai. If clubs are not looking into Social VR right now, then they should be doing so. I would expect the French Brothers at Ushuaia to conjure up something special for Ibiza this summer judging by the artistic flair on display during the United At Home productions with David Guetta who is resident at Hi and Ushuaia this summer where hopefully he will have time to explore more his Jack Back direction.
My personal view is that by September, with covid cases under control, we may have some resemblance of a clubbing season
There are also rumours circulating that some clubs could open within health guidelines to private parties, TV shows and groups, if they can think outside the box and utilise digital rooms and interactive experiences. Ibiza is a magical island fabled for its digital magicians and they could pull a bunny from a hat to keep brand Ibiza in the headlines. My personal view is that by September, with covid cases under control, we may have some resemblance of a clubbing season that could be extended into November. The Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has already alluded to this plan and if his Catalan compatriot, Salvador Illa, can preform well in the Catalan Presidency on Sunday, then the elements would be aligned to open for business and use the three months from September to November to trial out logistics and health protocols for Ibiza 2022 which many locals view a realistic timeframe to re-open again.
But this would all be dependent on Ibiza Covid 19 numbers coming down. A lot of mistakes were made last summer and hopefully much has been learned from them. The island can simply not afford to lose another season, many are hanging on by their fingertips as we speak. Fear of another lockdown affected summer has instilled a more responsible attitude towards health measures and this seems to be working as covid figures are on a downward curve. However, the biggest challenge to the season ahead is capacity at the island’s sole hospital Can Misses, where ICU beds are in short supply due to the small size of its resident population.
The health system is currently battered and bruised it can not cope with extra capacity due to tourist accidents which seasonally clog up the A&E wards. Well organised resident groups like PROU will ensure that the island reduces its tourist footfall this summer, to allow Can Misses some breathing space to recover from the Covid 19 pandemic and take care of its local population first. But it also understands that the island’s economy is at stake if it cannot open this summer, so it’s a fine balancing act that will be approached slowly and logically in a certain Catalan style.The Balearic Government in Palma has stated that if ICU capacity is strained, it will introduce stricter lockdown measures to curb transmission. So in reality, if the island wants to open this summer, it needs to reduce Covid 19 Hospital admissions and have a vaccination strategy in place which health officials say will start next month.
While the island is doing sterling work in reducing its figures, in my opinion.vaccinations are not going to be the silver bullet that beats Covid19, as their dodgy record to date surrounding availability, delivery and effectiveness against a mutating virus, does not inspire confidence While I was prepared to take the Pfzier vaccine at first, I would be hesitant now in view of the error strewn data and analysis from the process to date. There remains a vocal and underground anti mask sentiment in Ibiza, especially up North in the municipality of Sant Joan, and convincing those people to take a Bill Gates vaccine would be an amazing feat of subversion.
Chaos finds a natural home in Spain, they like to firefight problems and it’s a real take it day by day process, so in light of nobody knowing exactly what’s going to happen next week, let alone next month, my advice is not to part with your hard earned cash on holiday deposits, as those offering refunds may not be in a position to repay them if they go under and many are in danger of sinking if this season fails to fire. Local Tourist chiefs are predicting 30-50% of the visitor footfall they received in 2019 and they dont expect the clubs to open like they did in 2019. In fact a number have campaigned to keep them closed until everything is back to normal but if Salvador Illa can win in Catalonia today, he will push a pro business and economy driven agenda, allowing certain tourists to arrive, especially in September when traditionally, a more mature and responsible client visits the island. Under the Schengen agreement, Madrid has the power to veto local Balearic Government restrictions of movement.
It’s important that those of us who want to get to Ibiza this summer are permitted to do so. As part of the Ibiza collective, we all have friends and workers who we know are finding it hard to survive on a tough island. It’s those people that need our support and I expect a flotilla, if not an armada, of visitors from the UK and Ireland. But for this to happen the island needs to come up with packages that attract small groups who want to be responsible and respectful of local culture and laws. It’s the exact type of tourist Pedro Sanchez wants to see visit Spain and Covid19 has offered him an ideal opportunity to reset to one that reflects “a more sustainable tourism sector that is rooted in the environment that respects the diversity, ecology and identity of each place and delivered by digitalisation”
So I feel small and beautiful will be in vogue once again, which will please the Ibicencos and anti mass tourist and environmental groups. The island has become so wealthy in recent years that it doesn’t need the super clubs any more. In my opinion smaller, more intimate venues with crowds of 300 or less can be achieved in the third quarter of the season,
The clear message the island wants to get out is that its open for business this summer, people may have to adapt but in doing so, things could work out in a good way It’s not going to be easy, but nothing worthwhile is and now more than ever, the island needs those who connect with her to make the pilgrimage and support the industry there, especially the expats who mainly rely on the clubbing industry to support their families. This is one season I feel, where you will want to say that you were there.
There is always hope and green shoots are emerging as countries announce safe tourist corridors with each other and as I indicated earlier, those who want to get to Ibiza this summer will. It will take a little more effort, patience, cop on and respect than before, but the important thing is that the many friends of Ibiza get there to ensure the music and dreams don’t die. .
We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams; —
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
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