As thousands of people, young and old, descend on Pacha every Tuesday night, they do so with a warm smile on their faces as they pay tribute to the very essence of Flower Power, a movement created by the Hippies in the 1960’s. Love, Peace and Freedom, was the Hippy mantra fueled by social and political upheaval in Europe and America during the Vietnam War. Iconic images from the Washington Monument and San Francisco Summer of Love rallies in 1967, were flashed across worldwide Television screens, influencing a new generation of youth who began to question conservative society and experiment with alternative lifestyles. Ibiza resident Jane Fields was a bright, well educated student, whose career in politics had been carefully mapped out by her wealthy American family. She vividly remembers those halcyon days “I ran away to the Summer Of Love with the cream of the Worlds youth; where nobody had any plans except for the present”. She was typical of the hundreds of thousands that joined her calling for peace, gender equality and free love. “When we buried the Hippy in October 1967, an emblematic protest against the rotten borough of American politics, the Flower Power generation that I was part of left America in search of beauty. We followed the Hippy Trail to Tangier, Nepal and Goa, with Ibiza at the crossroads of that pilgrimage”.
When Jane and many of her fellow spiritual travelers arrived in Ibiza in 1969, the island was suspended in time. “It was like the seventeenth century. It was a magical, sweet island with delicious yogurts and where the Ibicencos welcomed us with warm hospitality”. I am chatting with Jane in the beautiful courtyard of Nagai Restaurant on the Sant Joan road, part owned by Melchior Arnold, a first generation child of the Ibiza Hippy movement. He was raised on the island and can fluently speak Evisennic,a medieval Catalan dialect with Arabic and Italian influence that is Ibiza’s first language. We are debating if the Hippy movement in Ibiza still exists and if so, where can a tourist like me find it. He ponders my question before answering “Ibiza is a movement, a state of mind if you like. It is always changing and part of a greater scheme of things” While not an easy question to quantify he adds, “the mindset of people looking to find it today may not be the same as it was in the ‘60s. Also is requires organisation and financial support to live a hippy lifestyle but yes, it is still can be found if a person seeks it”.
What has happened to the Flower Power children that came to Ibiza in the ‘60s. Jane is testament to the fact that some are still living happily on the island. “Ibiza was different from India in that it was a clean and safe island to raise children. Hippy children died in India as it was a third world country, so Ibiza offered better prospects and the more discerning hippy stayed here especially after the establishment of the Morna Valley school were my kids were educated”. When Jane’s children returned to America, they received scholarships to University, such was the high standard and quality of their learning at the Blackstead school. Jane feels she is now a more complex person, a hippy with a bank account and a job, existing alongside the fast pace of modern society. “The hippy movement of the ‘70s in Ibiza were the happiest times of my life. I was barefoot and pregnant for most of it but it was a special time full of wonderful memories and I am so grateful to the Ibicencos for their unique tolerance and allowing us to live here in harmony with them”.
While Jane and Melchior have a more positive outlook on the health of the Hippy movement in Ibiza, there are others who do not share the same sentiment. For them, the Hippy dream is long dead and buried deep in the red soil of the stony earth. Claudia, an Italian woman who arrived in Ibiza in the early ‘80s and now works in a Hotel, feels the original Hippy movement died out in the early ‘90s. “There was a real feeling of freedom as the island was very quiet, especially in the winter when we had time to visit each others houses and party for 2-3 days. We shared a simple, communal life surrounded by nature, beauty and love. We would bring firewood, smoke marijuana and take LSD”. I ask Claudia when did it start to change. “Cocaine arrived in the mid ‘80’s and with it the money. Spanish and German people started to buy up the Fincas which we were renting for less than 10,000PTS (€50) a month, so the Hippies had nowhere to live. They more transient crowd, the ones without families left Ibiza for Alpujarras in Granada. It ended when the Clubs were commercialised in the early 90’s and for me the Hippy Movement died in 1994”.
There is also a school of thought in Ibiza that is connected to the growing influence of Biodiversity that would have parallels with fundamental Hippy values of love, peace and beauty. It is an earthier movement, that unlike the hippies, is more connected to the planet and the natural rhythms of life. While the Hippies were “out there” always wanting to travel to the next plain, there are green shoots emerging from a fledgling Biodiversity movement. A thinking connected to natural healing, well being and one with nature, that would suggest a merging of the two cultures onto one path. The Hippies were enthusiastic believers in the organic movement which was established to protect the environment and became a trendy fashion throughout the 1990’s. The Biodiversity movement is 100% organic and holistic in its nature, being a little more cultured than the Ibiza Hippy scene. It is an interesting concept and as Ibiza is a melting pot for different cultures and lifestyles, this could be a natural progression for the original Hippies, now in their sixties, to blend into.
The one thing the Hippies were very good at, was adapting to the environment around them. A resourceful bunch who could always find a way to make ends meet or get around an obstacle. They were talented individuals and while society labeled Hippies as “drop outs” they believed that society rejected them. The Hippy movement gave us hope and love, where conformist society gave us despair and war. Their children have grown up to be grounded and artistic individuals and carry the flame of individuality that their parents instilled in them. They stand apart, influencing people with their inner strength and beauty. Is the Hippy movement of Ibiza still alive? Yes, I believe it is. Like a beautiful woman, mystery entices us with her seductiveness and this is one reason why we will always have a warm place in our hearts for the beautiful nirvana the hippies believed and lived in.