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Go BackIBIZA CRISIS: Amnesia, DC10 and Bora Bora shut down by authorities. Fight for your rights to party, post your comments.

Posted: 8/6/07 15:54

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"I biza woke up to ugly news for clubbers this morning: a whiplash Government mandate to shut down DC10 for the next two months and Amnesia and Bora Bora for the next month, effective immediately. Our source says  clubs are banding together to take legal action, and will be bringing you updates as and when news happens..."

"Holy shit" was all I could say when I heard. A whirlwind of vicious rumours about policing and politics always blows through Ibiza like an ill wind, but seeing the news in a three-line head on the front page of Diario de Ibiza still came as a rude, rude shock.  

The news inside was brief, non-specific, but to the point. The action is in response to local police and Guardia Civil reports on the use and/or dealing of drugs within the venues during 2005-2006, and the allegation the clubs have done nothing to stop it.

Their argument is: it's dangerous and it damages Ibiza's tourist credentials. Also, they say, during the opening weekend this summer 450 people were found to be in possession of intoxicating drugs, and one hospital took in 11 people with symptoms of drug intoxication (though no details were supplied as to the types of drug(s) involved, or the number of cases involving alcohol abuse in the same period). 
Where do you start with that line up of information? Curiously, no facts or figures are given for the drug use "observed" in 2005-2006. Or, more saliently, to back up the Government assertion that the use created "dangerous situations." After spending seven sweaty, crowded, but peaceful hours in DC10 last Monday (where two blokes tried, but didn't quite manage to have a fight, and wound up shaking hands and dancing together 20 minutes later) I walked back to my hotel through the West End of Sant Antoni. The streets were crammed with ferociously drunk Brits staggering, shouting, shoving or simply collapsing. It was the only time all weekend I felt unsafe, and I'm prepared to swear none of them were taking drugs.

This adds an interesting twist to the argument that the use of drugs in these three particular clubs damages Ibiza's tourist image. To whom, unwilling, does the drug menace present its ugly face? The hard-hit DC10 is down a side road where no straight-headed tourist would ever have a reason to be. Moreover, it's doubly enclosed: a high white fence around thick white walls. You have to be a paying customer to see what goes on inside, and it's hard to imagine many people go through the doors who don't know exactly what to expect. The same goes for Amnesia, hermetically sealed off from the outside world and certainly from passing families on their way to the beach. Arguably Bora Bora may be accessible to "unwary" tourists, but the worst thing you're likely to see there are ruddy Englishmen putting away too much San Miguel, or the odd hippie wandering around sporting bad dreads. Hardly enough to scar even the most delicate sensibility.

On the other hand, the binge drinking in Sant Antoni is an obvious, ugly, intimidating fact of life for many who are merely trying to have a week in the sun with the kids. Yet that scene is apparently immune from the clenched fist of the law. 

Of course, there is the superficially impressive figure of 450 people caught red handed with "sustancis estupefacientes" in three days. It sounds like a lot. Until you remember how many thousands of clubbers poured into each of the clubs over the past weekend. Space and DC10 accounted for 30,000 clubbers (a conservative estimate). Assuming the majority of those seizures were from those two main parties, that leaves the rate of drug busts at a paltry 1,5%. That's more than 98% of clubbers, according to the police's own statistics, who did nothing wrong. Which makes these club closures a monstrous punishment meted out to many for the sins of very few.  

It also raises the interesting question: why these? Amnesia isn't even open, so they surely aren't responsible for any of last weekend's busts. Why one and not the other? Who´s next?

One thing is certain: the people who are going to suffer most deserve it the least. The industry in Ibiza lives for summer. To be shut down for a month here is like an ordinary club being shut down for a year. First to get the chop are going to be the people who work the hardest for the least money – PRs, bartenders, cleaning staff – many of whom will have saved up all year to come out to the island for a summer of work and play (and will shortly be on a plane home); many more Ibicencos who rely on the summer months for their main income. It seems a cheap, ugly shot for the Government to take at its own people and economic stability. Almost as if they threw it before thinking quite what would happen when the blow fell.  

Then there are the thousands of people who've already booked and paid for holidays, and are eagerly anticipating their favourite events: Circoloco and Superfreq at DC10; Cocoon and Cream at Amnesia… Forget damaging the tourist industry: don't the powers that be realise people spend all year looking forward to one or two blinding nights in Ibiza, and will be bitterly disappointed and angry – especially at the timing? Since this action is in response to alleged problems in 2005-2006 many will wonder, rightly, why they waited until the start of the season (when most dedicated clubbers are already committed to their holidays) to make this brutal announcement. There is a whiff of bait-and-switch about it. Almost as if they waited till the last moment, till the frenzy of opening weekend got everybody excited about Ibiza, talking about Ibiza, planning for Ibiza, to drop the bomb. (Surely if they were that concerned following last season they could have spent the winter discussing and working with DC10, Amnesia and Bora Bora to implement changes or increase security?)

This will inevitably deal a massive blow to this season, but it's the coming years the Ibicencos will have to worry about. Once this becomes public knowledge people from around the world will think twice before booking their week or two weeks´ holiday next year. Why spend your holiday money to go to clubbing paradise when there's a good chance you'll arrive to find your favourite clubs locked up, dark and silent? Some people will take the chance – depending on how the situation plays out – but many more will be understandably reluctant to commit to Ibiza again. Which, again, will have a deleterious knock-on effect for the majority of Ibicencos who work in the tourist trade, and on the rest of the local economy that relies on their spending power year-round.  

Ibiza-Voice sources assure us DC10, Amnesia and Bora Bora have banded together to take legal action against this ruling. Unless there is incredibly compelling information that's not yet in the public domain it is hard to see how the Government will justify this particular course of action and its timing. Speculation will be rife until the matter is settled, one way or another, and probably for long after.

Money, drugs, politics: it's a witches brew, and the authorities have stirred up a pot that may have been better left alone. The spectre of future arbitrary club closures is a kick in the teeth for the industry as everyone looks over their shoulder and wonders, "who's next?" now a political Pandora's Box is open it may be impossible to contain the heavy, ugly repercussions...

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Words by The Voice of freedom