THE REALITY OF IBIZA WITH DAVE BROWNING

By Jo Dargie

Club culture is engraved on the heart and soul of Ibiza. Ravers have travelled from all across the globe for generations to experience the magic of the White Isle’s clubbing scene. Put simply, there is no party island quite like Ibiza. 

Over the years, the island has faced its hardships for various reasons, but it’s always had its loyal party-goers to rely on each summer. Flocking in their millions to hit up top clubs such as Hï IbizaAmnesia and the legendary DC-10. That is until 2020. For Ibiza, the pandemic presents the unimaginable: a summer with no clubbing. At least not on the phenomenal scale that it’s used to. 

With rumors and clickbait headlines rife, we wanted to delve into the reality of how Ibiza’s 2020 summer season is shaping up. So, who better to speak to on the matter than Dave Browning? Once the catalyst behind Carl Cox’s iconic 15 year Space residency, Dave remains a highly respected figure in Ibiza’s clubs scene. Now channeling his energy into Game Over; a joint promotions venture which hails itself ‘by clubbers, for clubbers’. Along with WILDCHILD, Ibiza’s slice of nostalgic fun.  

Hey Dave, thanks for chatting to us. How’s lockdown been treating you and what’s the atmosphere like on Ibiza at the moment? 

“I think that the best way to describe the atmosphere on the island is confused.” 

‘’The information that filters down from the government is confusing. The information that you see everywhere is confusing. I think more and more people are getting a bit pissed off with it all. From the research that I have read, and I’m no medical expert, this whole lockdown was a stupid thing to do. For a lot of people, it’s ruined their whole livelihoods and it’s going to take a long time to recover from.’’ 

“My office is about a kilometre from here and I’ve been going in just for my mental well-being. I’ve been stopped three times by the police saying, ‘what are you doing?’ I’m going from my apartment, into my car, into my office. All on my own, without coming into contact with anyone else. Where on earth is the problem with that?” 

“We’ve broken the system financially and severely impacted many people’s mental health and well-being” 

Moving forward, can you see good can coming from the effects of the pandemic for Ibiza’s clubs scene? 

“At the end of the day, in the face of adversity lots of creative things happen. For anyone who does events, it’s now about looking at other options. We still want to run events and people still want to go out. However, the whole situation is changing people’s perceptions. It’s putting into people’s minds that going out is dangerous. It’s insane.” 

‘’On Ibiza we were locked in our apartments since the 14th of March. No plans, no events, no DJ’s. It’s a crazy situation and now they’re trying to backpedal as rapidly as possible with the government starting to realise that a huge amount of the GDP comes from tourism. They’re trying to welcome tourists, but the damage is done.’’ 

From your perspective as a promoter, what does the overall landscape of the 2020 Ibiza season look like? 

“From a business end, the economics of it have to make sense otherwise there’s no point in hosting events. There will still be parties on the island. People will still party in their villas. Why would you want to stop the party? I think as citizens of the world, we’ve been far too apathetic to let ourselves get pushed around. Nobody stood up. The idea that we can’t all gather in a hot and sweaty room because it’s my choice to do so, is ridiculous. If I choose to go into that club and take that risk that someone might be infected with the flu, I’m going to do it.’’ 

The last few summers have seen more restrictions put in place around Ibiza’s nightlife from the local authorities and there’s talk of more to come. Do you think that the 2020 season, running without some of the biggest clubs, could sway a new perception of how important the industry is to Ibiza’s economy? 

It’s true, for a certain amount of time the authorities have been wanting to get rid of the lower end of mass tourism. The working-class club enthusiasts, the people that originally brought the colour and the flavour to Ibiza. If they don’t come here, then it’s going to cause an absolutely massive hole on Ibiza financially.” 

“Now they want people to come here, stay in a nice villa, go to a nice restaurant. Maybe go to one of the superclubs, then go home and behave themselves.” 

“Mass tourism has been coming to the island since the 80s and it’s very short sighted to think ‘we want to get rid of them.’I get that nobody wants a load of drunken Brits making a mess everywhere but young people want to drink, party, do drugs and get loose. It’s part of growing up.” 

“So, in my opinion, the best thing to do is let them do it in a safe environment. Educate them about behaviour and what they can and can’t do. Beating them with a stick doesn’t work. It has never worked.” 

“The idea is that people go out, bust themselves and go home with not a penny in their pocket thinking ‘that was worth it.’ For me as a promoter, that’s alway my intention. If you see someone walking out of a club in the early hours of the morning without a penny in their pocket but a huge smile on their face. Then we know we’ve done a great job as a promoter.” 

What about Ibiza itself as an island, I know for one I fell in love with the place instantly. Do you think that a new kind of season could highlight lesser known parts of the island to visitors, away from clubbing?  

“Probably. Speaking to a lot of villa rental owners this ‘experience’ type of thing is going to be what’s more popular this year.” 

‘’Everyone who lives here is going to be looking to see how they can get some kind of revenue stream. People will discover all of the beautiful parts of the island that are generally only known by residents.’’ 

“Before we lived here I used to always say that when you come down the steps of the plane you could feel that little bit of magic. If one day they squeeze the magic out of this island then we’re screwed because you can’t get that back. Even during this crazy time, the magic is still here. You walk along the beach and it’s just beautiful.” 

You’re right. The magic of Ibiza is what has brought tourists back year on year but money is an ever growing factor on the island now. 

“They need to understand that the streets aren’t paved with gold. The prices need to come down. It was pricing itself out of the market. It’s beautiful, it’s amazing but the costs are going through the roof. People that come on holiday have a certain budget and the majority of people don’t have 5000 euros to spend on their week’s holiday. Why should they?” 

“This place doesn’t warrant spending 5000 euros to have a good time. I’ve had some of the best nights ever where I’ve not even known who was playing. If you’re with the right people and the sound system is good then it’s amazing.” 

“As an industry we made the mistake a few years ago where we slowly started to put DJs higher and higher on a pedestal. From a marketing perspective I kind of get it but now it’s come to bite us on the arse. It’s primarily driven by the agents rather than the DJs. People are booking people by how many followers they have on Instagram these days. I couldn’t give a shit how many followers you have. I want someone who’s going to come down and do the job.” 

Looking back on your early days clubbing on Ibiza. What are the main differences now and what key things will always remain the same? 

“Good music will always be good music. I hope that the reasons people go clubbing remain the same but it seems to be changing. There’s a new generation of people who are going out for different reasons than I did. I went to a club because the music really drove me there. Now, the way things are heading, the most important thing is to get in there, get your shot and get the fuck out of there. They get their ‘Instagram moment’ and off they go.” 

“We tried out a rule a few years ago of ‘no phones allowed on the dancefloor.’ It’s quite a difficult stance to adopt but for me it was perfect. It had gotten to the stage where Carl (Cox) would come on and there would be this sea of phones in the crowd. It really was like the Pope was coming to give a sermon!” 

“They were in that moment and they lost it because they were so intent on getting that shot to share with their mates. That’s one of the fundamental changes. It’s more important for people to say that they were there, than actually being there.” 

“The backlash of this is that it’s very difficult to develop an underground scene because as soon as everyone is in that scene, they want to tell the world about it. The underground scene is the foundations of it all and if we squeeze the underground scene too hard then this whole building is going to collapse

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