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Ibiza: How it all began

Jo-Anne Waddington delves into Ibiza's past to find out how this small Balearic island came to find itself at the centre of the world's clubbing community.

Jayne Robinson

Date published: 18th Jun 2012

Ibiza has been a haven for music lovers, clubbers and partygoers for many years. But with its ability to welcome and cater for pretty much every niche, it’s easy to get caught up in the metamorphism and forget about the rich history that engulf the walls and beaches of the island. How is it that this small Balearic Island has managed to become such a music Mecca?

Most people associate Ibiza’s popularity with 70’s ‘hippies’. However, the island was already bustling in the 1930s, 1940s 1950s and early sixties - when Ibiza life was quite a bohemian affair. Pioneers, writers, painters and other artists were working and enjoying life from the magic white island, way before the hippies came.

Ibiza's genuine isolation since the Spanish Civil War also meant that pioneer travellers were more than tolerated - they were positively welcomed. The 1960s saw Ibiza start to boom with the 'flower power' revolution which saw stacks of forward thinking hippies from across Europe to descend on the Balearic island, attracted by its laid back attitude, unspoilt natural beauty and probably its great weather.

The 70s saw the real arrival of the tourist boom that has essentially continued ever since. It also saw the opening of the discos, which would define its history up to the present day. Rave made it big in the 80s, Balearic house really emerged in the 90s, and today an eclectic mix of musical styles and people make it a massive tourist industry and one of the most fascinating and mind-blowing places to visit.

The main pioneers of clubland in Ibiza were the large clubs of Amnesia and Pacha, which opened in the 1970s. Shortly afterwards the Ku Club joined the scene - now better known as Privilege - and gradually the reputation of the clubs spread as they quickly became fashionable, attracting the rich and famous to experience the island's lively nightlife. Check out this incredible photo gallery of the KU days

Amnesia was the first club in Ibiza. Somewhere inside the club still lurks the magnificent 18th century country house (finca) that underwent a multi-million transformation back in the seventies to become the legendary super club. In April 1970 the Planells family, who had inhabited the house for five generations, decided to move into town and sell their home to a widow from an aristocratic background. A young man named Antonio Escohotado leased the premises for use as a ‘discoteque’. He wanted somewhere for people to go out at night and to forget their problems, indulging in an unknown world far away from ordinary routine. He called it Amnesia.

The first modern-style club to be opened on Ibiza was Pacha. The first Pacha opened in the mainland Spanish beach town of Sitges in 1967. Six years later, in 1973 during the hippy movement, Pacha arrived in Ibiza. Even then Pacha was already a burgeoning empire, with clubs on the mainland. Pacha was opened by the Urgell brothers, Ricardo and Piti, the latter also being the founding DJ.

Traces of Ibiza’s hippie days still remain among the locals. In many ways, however, the island has strayed from its bohemian roots towards an extravagant, techno-fuelled party Mecca. Disco fiends, celebrities and party hungry revellers arrive in droves over the summer to be swept up in the island's outrageous party culture and to bake on its warm sands. Despite Ibiza’s wild spirit, the island is a safe and accepting place where anyone can come to let their hair down.

As the island grows and thrives, and new generations move Ibiza forward, this little gem is not likely to forget its roots and rich heritage. A heritage that truly makes Ibiza the special place it continues to be.

Words: Jo-Anne Waddington

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