The Duality of Ibiza
“Nothing exceeds like excess. You should know that, Tony.”
-Elvira Hancock (Michelle Pfeiffer’s character in “Scarface”)
If Tony Montana were alive today, instead of being gunned down in the finale by Columbian drug lord Alejandro Sosa’s hit men back in 1983, I have no doubt he would be spending summers here in Ibiza, where I am. Your intrepid columnist has taken on the assignment of spending half the summer on this Balearic Island off the coast of Valencia, Spain. I know, crazy, right? Hard to imagine anyone would leave the cozy confines of Laguna just when our warm days buffeted by the cool ocean breeze become the envy of the world.
I’m here to milk every ounce of experience I can with my only child, who lives here. She’s a commercial photographer, and there’s plenty to photograph. Besides the turquoise Med, vertiginous cliffs and pine forests, there is the daily human circus of excess.
You see, Ibiza has always been a libertine place. From the Phoenician settlers who chose this island to colonize in 654 BC because of the peaceful indigenous people, to the hippies who came in the 60’s to celebrate ascendant consciousness, drugs and nudity, to the ecstasy-fueled house raves of the 80’s, and now finally to the world capital of wealth, hedonism and vice, Ibiza has always been a sea change away from mainland Catholic Spain.
No one can say for sure what triggered the shift, but legend has it that Ibiza was such a remote backwater in the 50’s that Generalissimo Franco gave half the island to his friend Abel Matutes, and several generations of his family have been milking every meter of profit ever since, controlling land, electricity, banking, clubs, and local government. They have welcomed all comers, perilously overbuilding the island, with perennial water, waste, and traffic problems.
But come they do, rock stars, soccer stars, royalty, oligarchs, technocrats, tycoons, princes and pashas, strutting their swagger aboard the most fabulous of pleasure crafts. This is the place to cast repression aside and party as if the world is not on the precipice of global collapse. This is where models go to parade their décolletage, men wear skin-tight pants, and everyone celebrates their wealth without a shred of circumspection. There are ultra homes, Bentley’s and Ferraris (on an island that is 200 square miles), and a nightly parade of high-end call girls carousing the boat slips. It’s one reason Ibiza has been called the “Gomorrah of the Med.” Anything you want can be delivered. The parties go on for days between beach clubs, yachts and villas. Boat parties always include jet skis, personal underwater craft, and aqua jet packs, among the toys. Hiring mermaids to frolic at pool parties is de riguer. Someone once had a giraffe imported to the island for a party. It’s a nightly Bacchanal of Vegas style shows and molecular gastronomy, without a care that Rome is burning.
It’s exhausting to indulge in so much non-stop pleasure. That’s why, after a week of unbridled hedonism, I will be seeking an island detox, away from the food, noise, shops, and carnival of flesh. I will be out discovering the real Ibiza, on my preferred mode of transport, a kayak. Circumnavigating the island with my daughter, seeing what the seafaring Phoenicians saw when they arrived from Lebanon 2500 years ago. And while we could have challenged ourselves more with a virile trip down the Amazon, through Patagonia, or perhaps Siberia, we opted for the warm, turquoise waters of the most decadent place on earth.
We’ll paddle in the morning, then make our way to a beach, wait for the beautiful people to head to the clubs, and then find a hidden place to make camp (it’s actually illegal to pitch a tent). We haven’t trained much, but we fear not, because a massage, sushi, green drink or circus animals are a mere a phone call away.
We won’t be bringing much food either, because Ibiza has snack bars at nearly every beach called Chiringuitos. We’ll try to experience as many as we can, and turn it into a book of reviews. My daughter will take the pictures, and I’ll write the text. We don’t have a name yet, but we’re thinking “The Squid Whisperers.”
I look forward to the extended time to just hang with my girl, cell phones down, in the beauty of this resplendent place. We’ll bathe in the silence, and the gentle lapping of the Mediterranean on the shore. Or perhaps the distant sound of a DJ spinning well into the morning in a massive club filled with thousands of sweaty, oozing, delirious revelers. Gyrating as one mass of human flesh to the sound of “oonz oonz oonz.”
I’ll keep ya posted.
Billy Fried hosts “Laguna Talks” on Thursday nights at 8 p.m. on KX93.5 and can be reached at [email protected].
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