Is Ibiza a point of no return? It's scary to see how quickly things have gone too far in terms of development and commercialism on the island. Money and greed do tend to go hand in hand, and what's happening now is simply unsustainable.
A few years ago politicians and businessman started to talk about improving the image of Ibiza. West End-style mass tourism severely affected the reputation of the island, and the idea of doing something about it was not that bad in the bud. But instead of elaborating a well thought-out and efficient strategy the suggested solution was to make Ibiza more expensive which would hopefully turn it into a high-end travel destination. However, raising the prices isn’t a panacea in itself – the road to hell is paved with good intentions and hard cash, and this summer we have had quite a glimpse of it.
Afterparties were considered to be the source of all things evil and trashy. In 2008 they were banned as a step toward a new, conscious, pure Ibiza. Did this help to control the excess? No way – 5 years after the ban trash behaviour is still omnipresent on the island and in fact became even worse. Ibiza is being positioned internationally as a 4 months spring break, as opiate of the masses, and these masses just don’t know how to push the “pause” or “stop” buttons. In a free market society based on consumption the notion of being expensive has nothing to do with being responsible – but it rhymes very well with the saying “after us the deluge”.
Since a couple of year’s money, bling bling & VIP started to be heavily promoted on the island. New venues were created to cater for this lifestyle and new marketing campaigns were launched with the aim of obliterating the destructive cheap tourism. However, the package tours are still very much here, while the notion of a VIP became depreciated and nonsensical. Being a VIP in Ibiza does not mean being an important person anymore; it means only to be a rich person, so a proper abbreviation should be VRP. It does not make a difference if you are a celebrity, a legit rich person, a pimp, a drug or an arms dealer – what matters is that you have money to pay for the expensive bottles, beds or tables. VIP areas are not the areas where the greatest fun takes place, it’s where rich people are protected by their body guards, surrounded by beautiful prostitutes and obviously serviced by their personal drug dealers. They might be called VIPs, but there is no class in them, no style, and no breed. Luxury life has degraded into a mere show off of the riches – is this what we wanted to see? Is this our new beautiful Ibiza?
Since drinks are so expensive inside the clubs, the nasty "el botellón" phenomenon is taking place at every parking near to a disco: it’s when you have a group of people quickly emptying few bottles of liquor before getting into the club. When they enter the dancefloor, they are already drunk to the max – no wonders that accidents happen and the crowd is really nervous and aggressive since the very beginning of the party. During the night people avoid buying water because it costs staggering 10 Euros a bottle, and as a result many suffer from dehydration. Those who try to take a sip from the tap in the toilet find out that the water there is hot and salty, but some still do drink it for the lack of a better choice – and few other drinks can be as harmful for a drugged body as salty water.
We said it many times and we repeat it: it should be a legal requirement that the clubs give out running water to clubbers so they don't dehydrate! Spirits are even more costly, so it’s more economical for a punter to purchase a pocketful of drugs than buy drinks in the club. As a consequence, this year there were twice as many deaths caused by drug overdose on the island than last year.
Superclubs’ only vested interest is to make punters spend more money. They do not want to promote temperance; they don’t care of people's health and safety. How many times did you go into a party that was criminally overcrowded? What if there is an emergency, what if a fire breaks out? Ibiza has been lucky till now, but how long will this luck last?
The island has become insupportably expensive not only for tourists but also for the locals and season workers. Since the cost of living is so high, some workers who come here to live their “Ibiza summer dreams” will not hesitate to do illicit business to sustain their basic needs. For example, if you're selling tickets, you can get maybe 10 or 20 euros per day. If you're good, maybe 50. How you can pay your expensive rent (no less than 300 Euros a month) and high living cost with such a modest income? It's very easy to establish a little business on the side, selling some drugs and earning yourself an extra hundred. It is so easy to be tempted and getting involved in a vicious circle – the example of two young girls arrested in Peru as drug mules finally turned the public eye to the dark side of Ibiza, and the world witnessed the shame and curse of the island.
Of course, politicians and the local government can't and won’t do too much about it, because they want money to be invested in the island – and money has no smell. At the end of the day, Ibiza is one of the few Spanish regions that perform rather well during the financial crisis. But chasing for quantity we are losing quality, essence and soul. Money is flying to Ibiza and VIPs are spending thousands in new posh restaurants, but it’s a Pyrrhic victory for the island.
Without being to pessimistic we should say that life develops cyclically and after every ascent there is a downturn. What’s happening today is considered to be a rise, because Ibiza is really growing in demand, in popularity and in price. Thinking philosophically, there will be a downturn soon – and hopefully when it comes there will still be some nice people left on the island.