The relative calm of the onset of the Ibiza winter is normally punctuated with one last big festivity, this event is very different from the seemingly endless parties that make up an Ibiza summer, this event – Halloween Ibiza, is different because it belongs to Ibiza’s residents, a rare occasion when the people who make the party can take the party. It is a time when all the people who work tirelessly in hospitality or in tourism (which lets face it, is the vast majority of us) during the summer months have the free time to kick back, reunite with their fellow islanders and loose a few days in the best way possible. Halloween and perhaps New Years are the only times when all the islanders can party together and we can assure you, people from Ibiza know how to party.
In this year of 2020 when the world is reeling from the effects of the pandemic it would be insensitive to suggest any one group has it worse than another but its fair to say that on a small island that survives exclusively on seasonal tourism that Ibiza is feeling the fallout of the how the pandemic has been handled rather acutely. Not just financially, through the loss of jobs and businesses but also in our personal liberty. Spain has enforced some of the strictest measures of controlling their population that we have seen in Europe, we felt this first hand on our little island during the last lockdown when the government enacted the last state of alarm. There are few countries in Europe who could constitutionally, politically or infra-structurally enforce these measures on their population but Spain has the ability to do so due to its turbulent political history, something we forgot living in a place that has historically been a refuge from the more oppressive apparatus of past regimes, somewhere that for many of us has always represented a sense of freedom, how we long for those days now.
I must stress this article isn’t a thought piece on the rights or wrongs of the politics of the pandemic , this is a commentary on the time we are living in and our experience of it. It’s also a retrospective view of better times, something that I think is important for us to hold onto when we emerge from this pandemic into a brave new world, the new normal as it were. It’s important to remember why we live here and what is important to us when the virus is gone but the legislation and the politics remain. So as the late night party girl and president of the Balearic government, Francina Armengol kindly announces that she is giving us an extra hour before they tuck us into bed for our winter hibernation lets look back at some fun times we had.
Bambuddha 1999 – 2015 John Moon.
It was from very humble beginnings that Bambuddha’s Halloween Ibiza party began in their inaugural year of 1999, Halloween marked the annual closing of Bambuddha, from it’s very inception Bambuddha was the social beacon of the north of the island with the charismatic and occasionally outrageous John Moon at its helm. John Moon was one of the main protagonists of the hippie movement on the island and was a big part of the Ibiza – Goa connection, he was also a well known face on the club scene so it was only natural that all kinds of colourful people would gravitate to Bambuddha when she opened her doors in ’99 and it wasn’t long before its closing party at Halloween became a focal point of the islands social calendar too. “As the party grew bigger and bigger we put more effort into production, hiring the islands artists to create the decor, painting, sculpting, building, each year getting more creative and bolder. The party grew and grew with our event in 2015 being the most successful but also our last, we were shut down in spectacular fashion by the police. I wasn’t working that year, I was simply there to enjoy myself, Jonjon Moon my son was running the show, I remember I was dancing on the bar having a lovely time when the police shut the music of a 4am much to my annoyance, but that was that we were shut down with a huge fine and the threat of an even bigger one if we ever did it again” I recall how much effort people put into their costumes, how did you encourage that? “I told them if you don’t dress up then you can’t come in, we had queues of people outside trying to get in so it wasn’t a difficult request, we had make up artists on the door on hand to assist if people didn’t know but most people knew and got into the feeling of the thing with enthusiasm, it was a fun thing to do. We made it into a sexy thing too, we made it into a fetish Halloween, people enjoyed dressing up as nuns and priests, people came as deviants and all sorts of wonderful underground people”
I seem to remember one year you had no costume, in fact you weren’t wearing anything at all “Ah yes, I worked so hard that year on the production creating covered areas outside, it was a very elaborate production and eight o clock came and I hadn’t gone home to change into my costume so I just took my clothes off and greeted people as they came in the door with my dick hanging down to my knees, all my costumes have been very spontaneous, from dressing up as a syringe to Michael Jackson but that certainly took things to another level.” There was a special energy at those parties, what can you attribute that to? “We had a very strong punch that seemed to help people get involved, the punch got everyone launched” Halloween started to become quite a huge thing in Ibiza where traditionally it had never been “Yes people would fly in specifically for it, its such a shame it had to end but the authorities don’t see the value in these things, they were already on a trajectory of closing things down, the beach parties, the villa parties, all the things that had existed all the way through the eighties and the nineties were being stopped and now in Ibiza you can’t have any kind of party, the concept of Ibiza as it was has changed, the parties we had at KU were so ahead of their time, the Dirty Diamonds parties later on were so much fun but they don’t wan’t that here anymore. The inspiration for us was freedom of expression, the kind of thing Mike and Claire were doing at Manumission, The Motel and Space, they were the best times. Maybe after Covid things will be better, we can only hope.”
Pikes 2014 – TBC Mark Broadbent.
Mark start at the beginning, where did it all start? “Well we kinda inherited it when Sarah started working there full time around 2014/15 but I’m a little fuzzy as to when the first Brother Grim presents: Halloween was. I’m guessing 2014. Pikes had been doing it in house for a few years previously though. We felt that there was a massive gap in the market to do something really upsetting and disturbing as all the other ‘Halloween’ gigs where more about sexy devils and people having a generally nice time. We wanted to celebrate the true spirit of All Hallows Eve, the coming of winter, a time when the witches can come out from the shadows and celebrate the season the Earth returns to a state of torpor and rejuvenation. Spilling blood onto the soil in the hope that new life will spring from the font of death. We hoped that people would understand what we were trying to achieve.”
How has it evolved? “As the event became more successful and we had confidence that tickets would sell out quickly we were able to spend more money on the production and employ actors to further the immersive experience with seemingly impromptu ‘happenings’ occurring around the venue thought-out the night. Once we had the right people coming who trusted us and understood what we were trying to do we were able to fully push the boat out and fully let our imaginations run free.” How would you describe the party? “Horrible, bloody, wonderful and frightening, deeply sexual and rather disturbing all at once depending on your own personal take on it. A fully immersive experience.” Is
Halloween important to the island? “Are these kinda things important? I have my doubts. Maybe in helping to put Ibiza on the list of things ’not to miss on Halloween’ kinda thing. So increasing revenue streams maybe? I have noticed people starting to come from overseas to celebrate Halloween but I’m not sure if thats a good or bad thing tbh. Halloween for me and my friends was about saying thanks and goodbye to the season we’d just finished and really it was nicer when it was more about the people left on the island after the seasons finish. A time for us to party like we used to on Ibiza.” Any final words? “We are ever thankful to the team at Pikes for handing over their cherished venue for us to tear apart for one night at the end of October that we feel truly put the summer season to bed over the years we managed to get away with such things.”
Boutique Hostal Salinas 2012 – 2018 Ryan O Gorman
Myself and my pals Will and Brydie threw the first Halloween party at Boutique Hostal Salinas back in 2012, The Monster Mash Mornings Session, we did it simply because we needed somewhere for our crew to go after Bambuddha, necessity is the mother of invention and sometimes the best parties come from the simplest motives. Location was key and what better location for a carry on then in a hotel, but who did we know that were crazy enough to let us loose in their hotel? Lo Cura crew and fun loving proprietors of Boutique Hostal Salinas Dave, Duesi and Anita, that’s who. They had another generation of Ibiza party people on us so collectively we had a really interesting mix of Islanders and more importantly they were one of us, they understood, in fact they more than understood, in many cases they instigated.
It was perfect, Salinas is beautiful but also quite desolate in winter and November 1st is a public holiday (All Saints Day) so we thought a little day time get together within the confines of the hotel wouldn’t bother anyone. There’s plenty of rooms for people to hang out in, we’ll stick the DJs in the restaurant, perhaps a Lo Cura Lounge in one of the back rooms, maybe a room for Karaoke too, brilliant! There’s no denying we were dancing on the coat tails of what Bambuddha had created, they were the reason everyone dressed up and came out in the first place but we created somethings very much our own at BHS, what we had cultivated from our inner circles outwards was a diverse collection of Ibiza party people, a romantic snap shot of that illusive Ibiza spirit much lamented but rarely captured, a rare bunch of seasoned campaigners with endless shared stories, memories and jokes. Freaky people with a hedonistic disposition and an inherent knowing of the magic of this place we live in, a recipe for good times. We put a huge amount of creative energy into creating new themes each year, the artwork, the decor, the furniture, even the movies and the party goers put extra effort into the most elaborate costumes I have ever seen, it was a strong group effort from everyone involved and it showed.
Will & Brydie left the Island to pursue other paths and the BHS guys got more involved as the event got bigger. Eventually like many great parties we became a victim of our own success to a degree, as the event grew we needed a lot more infrastructure to keep cars parked correctly, to keep the roads free and generally make sure people could come and go safely without creating too much disturbance, however we weren’t exactly inconspicuous, there were a lot of very weird looking people passing though Salinas and it didn’t go unnoticed. As respectful and responsible as we tried to be the authorities closed the curtain on us in 2018, it was the end of an era for us but deep down we knew it could never last forever. We were never going to do a watered down version of what we created, it was a wild party, a beautiful thing.
There are so many memories, making our horror films, the days spent decorating the venue with the crew, watching the sun come up from the balcony revealing a sea of freaks below, seeing old friends reunited, seeing all my favourite people in one place, playing some of the most fun dj sets I’ve ever played anywhere, watching Alfredo play the closing set, the lock in and the aftermath antics… so many good times. If you were there you will know if you weren’t well this is a scant description but it’s the best I’ve got in these short paragraphs. I’ve done a lot of parties in my lifetime but these were without doubt some of the best.
“Ryan O Gorman”