The title of this article might lead you to think you’re about
to read about a destination in the Caribbean – where Calypso music is such an
important part of popular local culture.
You’d be wrong. This is about Ibiza – thousands of miles away in
the Mediterranean. It’s the story of an island with a strange double life. The
Calypso of the title is the original one – the enchantress that lured sailors
to hazy oblivion, as described in Homer’s Odyssey.
“Hazy oblivion”, you might think, is a bit of a strong
description for the effect one small Mediterranean island can have on anyone.
But after a night dancing in one the local superclubs, you’d probably change
your mind. Because Ibiza is the self-appointed party capital of the world, for
the past decade it has become the regular haunt of clubbers from all over
Everything centers around the town of San Antonio, over on the
west coast, which is the second largest settlement after Ibiza Town itself. The
west end of San Antonio is almost entirely given over to clubs, pubs and bars.
Things can get a little riotous here at times, though there are no longer
problems on the scale that the resort suffered in the 1980s when it became a
haunt for football hooligans from all over Europe. San Antonio has other claims
to fame, too – the local population, at least, maintain that the town is the
birthplace of none other than Christopher Colombus. A large public sculpture,
commemorating this birth, dominates the center of town. It’s not, as you might
think, a statue of the great man or anything as sensible as that – rather it is
a great, egg-shaped lump with a hole in the middle, suppose to symbolize
Columbus’ spirit of adventure and discovery. In recent years ‘The Egg’ as its
known has come to symbolize the good times and hedonism that the resort has to
offer, and it’s often used a meeting place by groups who have become separated
in the huge crowds that throng the town’s streets every summer.
It does get awfully busy, especially in the early weeks of July
after students in the UK finish exams. San Antonio is the number one hotspot,
but Ibiza Town itself can also become pretty packed. If you’re going to the
island bent on partying, it’s a really good idea to get a very firm idea of
where your hotel is before you go out. At the end of every night (i.e., around
6am) the streets are populated by lost souls, tired and rather the worse for a
few drinks, desperately trying to remember where their accommodation is.
If you’re a hardcore clubber, Ibiza is paradise. The clubs on
Ibiza are large scale, almost industrial, concerns. The biggest club in the
whole world bar none, Privilege, is to be found between San Antonio and Ibiza
Town. This establishment is huge – the ceiling of the main room is close to 100
feet above the ground – and has become the leading club Mecca in Europe. On
Monday nights at Privilege is Manumission, arguably the most famous club event
in the world.
If you like things a little more chilled out, you should perhaps
search out the legendary Café del Mar in San Antonio. Something of a haven for
worn out clubbers, the café is famous for its customized chillout music and
sunset sea views.
But there’s another side to Ibiza, too. Although Ibiza Town and
San Antonio are usually packed with clubbers – as are most of the island’s
better beaches – there are quiet spots where you can get away from it all. The
north side of the island is relatively peaceful, and, if you are looking for
peace and quiet there are a number of all-inclusive resorts which have a full
range of vacation amenities.
But most people don’t go to Calypso’s Isle to get away from it
all. If you’re interested in the island’s history – which is long and quite
interesting, especially as it’s a focus of both Spanish and Catalan cultures –
or you simply want to enjoy the clubs and cafes when there are few other people
around, probably the best time of year to go is September, when the students
who make up such a large percentage of the summertime population have started
their terms and semesters once more. If you’re over the age of thirty, there’s
a distinct chance that you will feel rather out of place on Ibiza – this is a
place that for all its free-and-easy hedonism, (relatively) free love, and talk
of tolerance and openness is not for the oldsters – this really is the land of