Tuesday, 5 April 2016

San An Shenanigans: Twelve teens hit Ibiza

I fell in love with clubbing long before I was old enough to set foot in one. Well, legally anyway.

At fifteen, I papered my bedroom walls, door and even the ceiling with flyers for raves and club nights, signing up to the Flying Squad mailing list to have all the latest party invites posted to me. I would eagerly await their arrival, marveling at the trippy graphic designs and poring over the intriguing details of all the upcoming raves in fields, manor houses and other off-limit locations.

Okay, so I wasn't allowed to actually go to any, but it didn't stop me listening to the pirate radio stations on my old stacking stereo system, making my own mixtapes and plotting my escape to run off and join the circus of parties.

I started hand-drawing my own designs for flyers as I lay on my bed listening to tinny happy hardcore, before progressing to painting a giant mural of a psychedelic face on my bedroom wall - lashing paint over the chintzy Laura Ashley wallpaper underneath, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering parents.

It was around this time that I first became aware of a magical little island in the Mediterranean Sea that was set to become an important feature in my early adult life and beyond: Ibiza.

Ibiza (pronounced eye-beef-ahh in my downmarket teen dialect) popped up regularly in the various dance music magazines that I had started buying, such as DJ and Mixmag, and I became focused on the idea of jetting off, sans parents, for a party-packed package holiday with my fellow female schoolmates to this mystical floating clubber's paradise.

One evening, I recorded a TV show called The Rough Guide To Ibiza, hosted by the glamorous Magenta Devine and that was it, I was officially obsessed. I'd sit there in my school uniform, gazing transfixed at the screen as beautiful exotic dancers clad in feather headdresses, towering heels and jewel-encrusted bras paraded through the streets of Ibiza Town, promoting the night's festivities ahead of their later stints in the club, where they'd be gyrating to pumping house music on the stage at Pacha. I'd rewind the VHS and replay that TV show ad infinitum, or until my Dad came in and commandeered the remote so he could switch over to the footy.

To my absolute amazement, in 1993, not only did my parents agree to allow me to go on a two-week jaunt to Ibiza on a Club 18-30's holiday, but so did the parents of my fellow 17-year-old besties....all eleven of them.

Our naive Olds were obviously under the illusion that since we were all intelligent, well-behaved and well-performing grammar school pupils we'd be more than capable of taking care of ourselves. Well, we may have breezed through our Eleven-Plus exams, but we hadn't all got full marks in that most important of life lessons....common sense. Some of us may have even bunked that particular class.

Imagine a room full of hyped-up puppies bounding around, tails wagging furiously, multiply that ten-thousand-fold, and you still won't come close to conjuring up the excitement we all felt as the cheap early-morning red-eye flight filled up with fellow teens and twenty-somethings. As we soared skywards, everyone on the plane was chain-smoking and guzzling alcopops (pilot and crew probably included) despite the early hour. Why? Well, because we could, of course. Duh!

There were no smoking bans in those days, even on tube trains or aeroplanes, so we flipped open our little armrest ashtrays and puffed away. It was an airborne party from take-off.
Rip-off baggage charges had yet to be dreamt up by the money-grabbing airline fatcats, so our suitcases were jam-packed with every item from our wardrobes (I remember opening the doors and just scooping the whole contents out and into the case), along with a ton of make-up, beauty products and about ten pairs of shoes.

My beloved 'ghetto blaster' - a giant black plastic monstrosity - and a selection of my favourite cassettes were also vital items of luggage, the stand-out tunes of the summer being Mother's 'All Funked Up', Nightcrawlers 'Push The Feeling On,' Aftershock's 'Slave To The Vibe' and 'Give It Up' by The Goodmen:

The Poniente Apartments overlooking Kanya beach were basic at best, but to twelve buzzing young birds on their first foray to The White Isle, it was The Ritz. We squeezed ourselves six to an apartment to keep costs down and within minutes the two adjoining rooms looked like a bomb had gone off, as cases were flung open and clothes tossed over shoulders in an unpacking frenzy. It was boiling hot, we're talking ninety Fahrenheit (no metric measures for us!), so we were stripped down to inappropriate hotpants and vest tops with a Budweiser in each hand before you could say "Hola Guapa!"

Determined to rinse us whilst we still had pockets full of pesetas, the 18-30 reps set about the serious business of parting everyone with their hard-earned cash, acquired mostly from various Saturday jobs in hairdressers, hotels and shops. In an effort to kill twelve birds with one stone, they backed us into a corner of the bar following the 'welcome meeting', plied us with ominous-looking shots of something cheap and luminous, and convinced us that if we didn't sign up to all their trips we'd be social outcasts in our apartment block, shunned by our fellow fun-loving holidaymakers, who'd be trotting past us smirking as they headed off on all the exciting excursions. Spirits consumed, and our own spirits eventually broken, we handed over the majority of our cash, shrugged, and headed down to the beach.

Every detail of that first holiday is forever etched on my memory. Well, the bits I was conscious for anyway. Which is probably about a third. The days were spent on the beach, whereby we'd line up our twelve identical lilos and bronze (ie burn) our tender teenage skins to a crisp, rotating at regular intervals like suckling pigs on a spit. Nothing to worry about, skin cancer wasn't invented in those days.

When the scorching Balaeric sun became too much to bear, we'd trot out to sea and line up the aforementioned lilos along the length of the safety ropes, tucking the ropes attached to lifebuoys under our heads so that we could doze lazily without fear of being washed out to sea. The bass from the pumping house music at Kanya would drift across the ocean - soothing our ears as the waves gently rocked the bobbing airbeds. Bliss!

We quickly fell into a routine - rise at lunchtime, chuck on bikinis, eat cheap English fayre such as beans on toast or burgers and chips. In those days, food was merely fuel.Well, we didn't want to waste our precious drink money on such boring necessities as food, did we?  The lazy sunbathing days were broken up with games of cards (Shithead or Blackjack), as well as the occasional boozy party boat trip or hair-raising ride on the banana boat. The girls would sing Simply Red tunes to me in jest at my sunburnt skin, as my fair colouring turned an increasingly alarming shade of puce in the glare of the midday Med sun.

As the sun went down, it'd be a bunfight to get ready for the evening's events. Imagine the carnage of twelve teenage girls, packed six to a bathroom like spruced-up sardines, attempting to simultaneously shower, primp and preen, hairdryers all blowing in unison, make-up everywhere, music pumping from my tinny old stereo. Clothes were strewn from every available surface, sticky drink-stained worktops were littered with half-empty beer bottles, the air thick with a heady mixture of Impulse and duty-free Anais Anais, Poison and Samsara.

The EDS (Early Drinking Sesh) was all part of the prepping process, and by the time we tottered out for the evening we were all 'refreshed', in high spirits and a little unsteady on our high-heeled Top Shop sandals. We'd dance the nights away in San Antonio's West End, in venues such as Nightlife, Trops, Gorms Garage and Koppas: free-entry clubs that the British PRs (or props as they were often known) would coax us into on the premise of free shots and group discounts. Their eyes would light up at our huge gaggle of giggling girls, and we'd be ushered into the bar before we could protest. Which to be fair, we didn't do very often. We'd dance until dawn, taking occasional breaks to sit sipping cocktails and people-watching outside the clubs on the bustling strip.

The most memorable night came courtesy of Es Paradis, a stunning pyramid-shaped labyrinth of a club filled with palms, podiums and posers. Having been given a fistful of free-entry flyers, we set about throwing some shapes to all the latest floor-fillers, awaiting the 'piece de la resistance' - the Fiesta Del Agua, whereby the dancefloor filled up with water for the last tracks of the night, and everyone jumped and splashed about in waist-deep murky water in the name of fun.

Obviously the foam and water-parties of old would never work in these tech-obsessed times, but we're talking about the early Nineties here, when Smartphones were merely a twinkle in Steve Job's eye. We didn't have to stress about destroyed Iphones, (nor incriminating photos ending up on social media within seconds) or our hair going frizzy, as  'mobile' ( ie 'housebrick') phones were the sole preserve of yuppy bankers, and our hair was already of the kinky afro variety as we'd not yet been blessed with straightening irons. When I speak to young girls about the 'good ol' days', they look at me open-mouthed in horror when I inform them that there are people still alive today who grew up without phones or GHDS, those now-essential hair-taming devices.

If someone chucked me in water at a club these days I'd be livid, but I can clearly remember the euphoria of sloshing back to our apartments at sunrise with soaking-wet clothes stuck to our skin, the dye seeping out of cheap China-made garments, flat hair plastered to our pinheads.

On 'excursion' nights, we'd be herded like groggy cattle by the holiday reps on a by-numbers pub crawl or hypnotist show, drinking cheap toxic spirits and eyeing up the other groups of tourists, who all seemed to come from just around the corner back home.

Those two weeks were a rite of passage, our coming-of-age celebrations which will stay with us all forever. We squabbled, gossiped and bonded our friendships with a superglue that remains stuck fast even now, 23 years later.

It was the cementing of our life-long girls-own gang, and my love of those ladies remains as strong today as ever. My budding romance with Ibiza was also sealed on that trip, although little did I know at the time that I would end up living on the island, and 'starring' (I use that term loosely) in the first-ever fly-on-the-wall documentary, Ibiza Uncovered.

But that is another story...

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