The writing has been on the wall for daytime clubbing in Ibiza for some time, with whispers suggesting this year would see the mandatory end of morning rave-ups. Unfortunately, the prognosticators weren´t wrong – just ahead of their time, as this morning´s Diario de Ibiza confirmed in their front-page lead. The Consell Insular made public their intention to prevent clubs from opening "any hours," though they have yet to announce the details of the new rules. Needless to say, they will be stricter than the current ruling, which allows up to 22 hours opening in a 24-hour period.
Superficially, this is hardly news. We knew it was coming, and the iron-fist-in-rubber-glove policing this season has clearly demonstrated the governement´s attitude towards clubbers. Yet the tone – more than the content – of the story is enough to spook any island lover. It´s not just that they want to end after-hours parties, it´s the outright hostility of the language used by the government.The Consell president Xico Tarres justified the new rules saying after-hours clubs "attract a lower quality of tourist and cause more problems than benefits." He failed to define what constitutes a "lower quality" tourist, but his comment that after-hours parties attract people who come for just two days, "don´t book hotels" and stay up all weekend taking drugs is telling. As with the golf course vs clubs debate, this government´s idea of "quality" is explicitly linked to how much cash they can wring out of tourists. To a point, this is understandable. Any tourist economy seeks to attract well-off visitors; that´s not rocket science. But it´s the sneery suggestion that clubbers are, en masse, a bunch of indigent drug-monkeys is frankly offensive. Certainly, there will always be a few who fit that description, but they are in the minority among the hundreds of thousands of visitors who flock to Ibiza every summer. Presumably none of the Consell members have been clubbing recently, otherwise they´d know that with tickets running from €40-80 and drinks averaging €10-15 clubbing on the White Island isn´t for the hard-up.
The talk of an island wide clampdown is also somewhat misleading. Sant Josep – home to Space, DC10 and Bora-Bora – is the only district in Ibiza that allows after-hours parties at all, so this new rule is effectively targeted at those three clubs. Two of which, of course, have already been on the receiving end of governement censure this season. This fresh ruling seems designed to ensure DC10, et al will have no wiggle room or space to appeal. After all if it applies to all of Ibiza, how can they complain? The phrase "using a sledge hammer to crack a nut" comes to mind, especially when you read the tired arguments trotted out in support of this new prohibition: that the clubs are too noisy, they disturb the neighbours, they are drug havens. Again, all these justifications ignore the fact these clubs are contained, the sound levels constantly monitored and strict security in place. With the exception of beachfront Bora Bora they are not in situations where the passing public is liable to "suffer" from their presence.
Yet Josep Mari Ribas, mayor of Sant Josep, has even sharper words for the clubbers who provide the economic lifeblood of his contituancy. He is quoted as saying after-hours clubs are "totally undesireable... we don´t like them at all." Adding, ominously, that Sant Josep will no longer be a "paradise" but that it will do everything it can to combat the clubs. Judging by the flavour of his comments you´d think a horde of Vikings were rampaging through Sant Josep every Sunday and Monday, not that a few thousand kids who love music and dancing show up and pay good money – and a lot of it – for the privilege of a few hours of fun.
This attitude, far more than the actual ruling, is a cause for concern. If the goal of the Ibicenco governement was simply to regulate aspects of clubbing to ensure the best quality of life for residents and visitors it would be hard to object. Even if, say, the rules changed from the current two hours mandatory closure to four or six it probably wouldn´t have a seriously detrimental effect on the clubs. But harsh comments and ugly, adversarial outlook they convey should have all Ibiza-loving party people worried. The Consell is effectively trying to criminalise clubbers. If they succeed, where will it end?