Finally… after months of excitement, positive discussion and unrealistic dreams, I clicked confirm. My one way flight from Birmingham to San Antonio was booked and despite being £92 lighter in my bank account, there was no going back – I was going to Ibiza for the season in search of work, new friends and most importantly the summer of a life time.
For years I had dreamed of encountering upon such an experience – ever since I ventured upon my first” lads holiday” back in 2010. When I first touched down in Greece, it felt like living life in the fast lane on another planet, every teenagers cup of tea – or shall I say glass of sex on the beach? Either way, I wanted to experience this for longer than just a week or two, I wanted to work a season and where else better to go than the granddaddy of them all? Ibiza.
Prior to booking my flight, I had arranged accommodation in San Antonio not too far from the manic strip known as the West End with four people who I had never met in my life – Tom, Regan, Abbi and Luvia, however we all shared a common goal in wanting to last the entire season. With everything now official, the date of my departure from home was set for May 15th and I simply couldn’t wait.
I was going through several emotions every night as I counted down the days until the season begun. The thought of attending all of the opening parties gave me butterflies in my stomach. I was also quite nervous as I had never worked in another country before, it almost felt like going abroad for the first time again simply due to the time period I would be away from home. I was intrigued at the fact of meeting my new house mates but at the same time I was going to miss everyone back in England. Nevertheless, as soon as May 15th came around, my long awaited adventure had begun.
1:1 – “Ibiza We Have Arrived!”
Before I even got chance to breathe, the big day had arrived. Having not slept a wink throughout the entire night, I was up and ready with only my extra small ice cream swimming shorts left to pack (I picked up the wrong size, I’m allowed to be let off this time). With the taxi outside and having said all my goodbyes, I gave my mum one final hug before heading for the airport. On my way to the airport, several thoughts were going through my head including mixed emotions into meeting the people I would be living with for the whole summer.
Having arrived at Birmingham International, there they were – two fellow Brummies, Tom and Regan, ready for the summer of a lifetime. As we waited for the plane to depart, we got the chance to bond. We hit it off straight away and it put me more at ease now I was meeting new people who were in the same boat as me. Following a beautiful, chilled pint and a refreshing early morning Burger King – it was take off time! The higher we got in the air, the smaller the city of a Birmingham became through the passenger window. And the smaller it all appeared, the bigger it was that the realisation began to settle in that I was going to be alone for the first time in a foreign country for the entire summer…
As soon as we had landed, we collected our luggage and jumped in a taxi at the earliest opportunity. Having been to Ibiza on vacation last year, one thing I had learnt was the White Isle was far from cheap. A taxi journey from the airport to San Antonio cost just over €28 – a substantial amount for a journey of about 25 minutes long. We were then introduced to our landlord for the season, Mark, of Ibizaworkersaccom. We paid off our first month’s rent and remaining deposit balance and the keys were ours! I couldn’t wait to check out where I would be staying for the next couple of months. Five minutes away from the West End, we were guided to a Spanish residential block called Faro Apartments, the only annoying thing was it was up seven flights of stairs which even with a lift would still be frustrating if you forgot something in your room. We opened up and it was official, the Brummies had landed! After glancing around at a very spacious apartment with a view of the San An harbour, everyone was pretty jet lagged and passed out asleep.
Whilst I was getting use to my new surroundings, I couldn’t help but feel alone still. I still hadn’t got to know my housemates fully yet, with more to arrive, and I was definitely having second thoughts – but of course now it was too late. I was in Ibiza and was determined to make the most of it with further my journalism career being at the very top of my things to do this summer.
1:2 – Strangers That Would Become Family
Having caught up with my sleep, there was a huge knock on the door as our next housemate arrived, Abbi, loud and proud and all the way from a little town near Cambridge! We all embarked on our first night out together – where else would we go other than the West?! Known for it’s cheap booze, lively atmosphere and predominantly British presence – you couldn’t deny this was the life and the soul of San Antonio. Despite knowing each other about as well as I knew the lady who owned the supermarket at the bottom of our apartment, we had a cracking night out exploring such hotspots as Tropicana, Hush and the worker’s personal favourite – Viva! As we mingled and meshed with a strip with a ratio of more workers than tourists, this messy night became one of many “West End” experiences throughout the summer.
During my first week on the island, it was literally all about settling in and getting everything sorted – from getting to know my housemates to sorting out a job to even the little things which would save me money in the long term like getting season passes for super clubs and shopping at Lidl! My lifestyle had been turned on it’s head and to quote one famous wrestling stable, Evolution – I was either going to “adapt or perish.”
Making friends was one of my top priorities coming to Ibiza. As well as looking to extend my experience in journalism, I wanted to have the summer of a life time! Having gotten to know my housemates a little more, we had bonded quite well. We were then introduced to a little place called Es Vedra.
1:3 – Es Vedra
Possibly the paradise of Ibiza when it comes to socialising with other workers however on the outside it looked far from paradise. With several blocks of flats opposing each other separated by a pool which looked similar to an oversized bath tub, I prepared myself for the worst. However, when we were introduced to several new workers, my first impressions and opinion of the premises drastically changed. I fell in love with it immediately. It was as if each and every block were an individual family a part of one big family. There was a big community feeling at Es Vedra and I met several new people – so many in fact that when I looked at my Alcatel (my trusty little Spanish phone) the next morning, I literally couldn’t match a name to a face! You had to save names with a little memo by the side like “Lora Scotland” because you’d have other people with the same name in your phone. Some of the names saved in my contact list shall never be discussed. Obscene!
1:4 – The Essentials
When it came to applying for season passes, notices would be stuck up either at The Ship (possibly the most useful tool on the island for any worker looking for work, accommodation or season passes) or Lebara shops. They would give you a time and a place for you to collect your passes and like the majority of workers, you would go in order to save money. One of the toughest things about being a worker in Ibiza was being able to survive, when you ran out of money – that was it, it was home time. Prices were far too extortionate for workers to spend their wages freely. Therefore, a workers season pass to Sankeys was seen as a bargain at only €50. The queues were long but when the pass was in your possession, it was well worth the wait.
As far as obtaining work in Ibiza went, the majority of workers would apply for PR or bar jobs on the West End, something that supplied cash in hand and was simple to do. Others would delve into slightly more luxurious occupations like ticket selling in the day time, waitressing, dancing or even body painting. However one of my main ambitions during my time on the White Isle was to ideally land journalism work. I struggled at first searching and searching having to work on a voluntary basis for various outlets before my big break finally came. I had to work other jobs on the side to gather a form of income too.
I firstly tried my luck on the West End as a PR for a couple of bars. I was pretty confident in my skills as a promoter but I wasn’t enjoying the work. I was then offered a job as a waiter in a bar in San Antonio. This was a completely new experience for me which I enjoyed to an extent due to the challenge the job provided and because you got some of the best food on the island for absolutely free, so I wasn’t complaining. My ticket selling job which I had successfully applied for prior to heading out to the island, had begun. This was very difficult as you had to promote a boat party and sell tickets. Yes, it had the best commission on the island but like any other ticket selling job, if you don’t make a sale, you don’t get paid – so it was always unreliable as I had weeks that went swimmingly and weeks where I struggled.
1.5 – The Opening Parties and The Famous Mambo Sunset
Whilst I was trying to establish a regular income by gaining myself a job on the island was one my main priorities, my top priority was to have the best summer of my life. What better way to enjoy the end of May and the start of June by attending as many opening parties as I could?
Having obtained my Sankeys worker’s pass, it would be simply put rude not to put it to good use. Queuing hours for the season pass was well worth the wait as we simply waltzed into the worker’s favourite club every time. I attended the opening of Sankeys, Tribal Sessions and VIVa Warriors and all three were a huge hit. I became more familiar with the clubs residents with the likes of Darius Syrossian and Steve Lawler regularly plying their trade within the venue as well as getting to check out crossover acts up close in person – Duke Dumont being the pick of the bunch.
That wasn’t it for the opening parties though. Aoki’s Playhouse will be forever etched in my memory as it was one of the few times I got chance to visit Pacha all summer, not only that but seeing the EDM star actually cake someone was always going to be a memorable occasion. The setting was like no other with portraits of the platinum DJ hanging from the ceiling wherever you looked. My liver wasn’t the only thing that took a beating that night as my bank balance felt the wrath of Pacha too with double mixers being priced at €24!
There were further wonderful season openers that included the Zoo Project, ANTS at Ushuaia and the first water party of Es Paradis. All of these parties provided unique entertainment in their own unique ways to further add to my Ibiza worker’s experience.
Whilst attending the opening parties was a highlight of my season, nothing could compare to the eclipsing sunset that occurred every night at Cafe Mambo. Located on the aptly named Sunset Strip next to Savannah’s, tourists and workers alike would gather at the Mambo rocks to begin pre-drinking for their night of naughty antics ahead around 8pm to watch one of the most beautiful sights known to man. Setting like the sun in the Sahara Dessert, it was so aesthetically pleasing it almost became a mirage. Not only this but Mambo would usually provide their own entertainment with a DJ kickstarting everybody’s night. Names like Duke Dumont, Steve Aoki, Hannah Wants, Mark Knight, Solomun and many more would grace the Mambo stage to entertain the several flocking part goers before moving on to their allocated sets later that night. The sunset at Cafe Mambo is a must see if you ever visit the White Isle.
1:6 – Learning The Shuffle
As we approached the end of May, I had become very familiar with everyday life in Ibiza. Faces started to become familiar, the sewer smell of San Antonio became an everyday normality and you could actually tell the workers and tourists apart because workers began to develop tans now. Another thing that was constant as apart of this year’s nightlife was a little dance called the shuffle.
My roommate Tom could perfect it. It began with a casual two step left to right and you would kick one foot off the other and rotate fluently to make the move look effortless. When done correctly, it was a joy to watch. When done incorrectly, a seat at the bar was waiting for you as your time on the dance floor was up (this was me the majority of the time). As the months progressed though, I slowly but surely began to learn and master the basics but to this very day, I still haven’t perfected it no matter how much I like to think I have.
To be continued…