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Americans and Ibiza

A discussion and comparison of Ibiza's growing influence on American clubbing culture, from one of their own.

For many Americans, experiencing Ibiza is what dreams are made of. It is something that seems so extraordinarily fantastic, yet just beyond our reach: it's the goal. For many, on the other hand, it's something that they know nothing about.

With the talk of a direct flight from New York to Ibiza, a dramatic change could potentially be on the horizon. Overflowing with Spanish, Italians, Brits and other Europeans, how would Americans react upon arriving in Ibiza? This is tricky to answer, as the US is huge and the music culture varies considerably depending on where you are and what you like. It varies considerably in NYC alone; imagine trying to group the entire country together.

Many Americans, unless really a part of the underground scene (since our mainstream is purely EDM, Taylor Swift, or Drake ft. fill-in-the-blank-with-artist-of-the-moment), are blind to all things Ibiza. What do you wear? At what time do people go out? What's the vibe like? Wait, so Cocoon is in Amnesia, or Amnesia is part of Cocoon? These are questions that you could ask about almost anywhere, but transplant an American to Ibiza and the result could be exponentially more difficult/entertaining, depending on how you look at it.

And this isn't to bash Americans. I am one, and I think we must admit that we are years behind Europeans when it comes to house music, despite its American origin. Sure, we have some iconic cities: Chicago, New York, Miami, but look at the listing on RA for Los Angeles, for example, and compare it to Barcelona. They're just in different leagues.

So what does the average (keyword average) American think about partying and music? A representational slice of the club culture that exists in the US is Vegas, one of the most sought after party places within all fifty states. Las Vegas is in the middle of a desert, composed of a strip of hotels that house casinos, clubs, spas, luxury pools, and a number of chic bars and restaurants. It's fun, and it's something to see, but Vegas isn't about the music. It could be about the party, but that's often ruined by overcrowded venues, aggressive party go-ers, and unrealistic expectations. To be clear, everything about Vegas, in one way or another, is manmade and artificial. And this is where you really feel the divide between Vegas, the mecca of clubbing in the US, and Ibiza.

Ibiza is truly about the music. It always has been and hopefully always will be. No one, for example, is just "going" to Space. If it's Tuesday you're going to Space because you want to see Carl Cox. If it's Thursday you're going because you know Richie Hawtin's playing. If you're in Ibiza, you know who's playing on what night for the extent of your stay. The island is full of professional partiers in every sense of the word. Apart from that, Ibiza feels natural. It's made up of one stunning beach after the next. There's no show that must be put on here, but you can if you want to, and that's the beauty of Ibiza. In Vegas, without the show and the glamour and the grandeur, it ceases to exist.

Of course it wouldn't be true to say that Ibiza is totally without its "opulent" side; there are events that relish in the flashy pomp and ceremony akin to Vegas - and many do it well. Despite this, the essence of the island is still very much about freeness, and we have a fifty year cultural history to thank for that. Despite its growth, Ibiza is still a small and liberal island in the Mediterranean, and retains the casual atmosphere that is so conducive to enjoying music and meeting people from all over the world. So, Americans coming to Ibiza expecting the VIP culture of special treatment for attractive and or rich people, bottle service, and women dressed in heels that may or may not be cutting off blood flow to the foot - to be the dominant one, are going to be thrown far out of their comfort zone in finding that the real action is on the regular dance floor, and it goes down in sneakers.

So Vegas is the goal for most Americans who want to party, but Ibiza is the goal for those who want to party with the best in electronic music. To sum it all up, Vegas and Ibiza are two different animals, and on two different ends of a very long spectrum. For me, Ibiza feels organic. So much of it is devoid of the stress, pretentiousness and drama that can ruin a really good night out, or that can leave a bad taste in your mouth even after having your mind blown by an amazing set. Ibiza, at its core, is about people coming together to enjoy music.

So what of more Americans in Ibiza? Ibiza isn't exactly around the corner, and I think Americans who make the journey are there to completely lose themselves in the culture. Ibiza's impact on America may be just now in the making, but hopefully it brings the recognition that there are more authentic ways to party than just pounding shots and brawling with any and everyone who looks at you the wrong way. Time will tell!

For Americans reading this, if you want to feel at one with real people, in a beautiful setting, all to the soundtrack of the best DJs in some of the most amazing clubs in the world, go to Ibiza. Forget about all of the nonsensical things that make so much sense to us when partying in the states. Take it from someone who knows, you won't be able to go anywhere else in the world without comparing it to this magical little island. Ibiza will absolutely ruin you in the best way possible.

View this feature in the Ibiza Spotlight Magazine, Issue 007.

WORDS | Alexis Donavan


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