From secret pubs in Salford to underground club nights, a new exhibition captures Manchester’s gay nightlife from the 70s through to the 90s
2nd FLOOR – Is Manchester turning its back on music? This is the second event in the Floor electronic music talks and discussions panel series. The event starts at 7.00pm sharp at Lock 91, 9 Century Street, Manchester, M3 4QL. Admission is free.
We return to Texture for the 2nd FLOOR. This time, we bring the the two often opposing worlds of music and property development together and ask “Can Manchester be the blueprint for a city where we break new ground without forgetting our roots?”
Friday October 9th
All you fear is fear itself,
Check out your own backyard before you check out someone else.
Janet Damita Jo Jackson’s ‘Unbreakable’ has been soundtracking my days recently. I love everything about it – from design and styling to the lyrics and feel that we are practically twins under the skin, being fierce black women, earth signs AND firehorse babies (just like Halle Berry and Mike Tyson both of whom I am also obsessed with). Her lyrics resonate and echo my exact feelings about love, loss, fighting against the establishment, loving yourself and dancing like no one is watching.
She’d be an A1 neighbour: someone I’d invite out on a Coffee Patron bender with and enjoy making fun and sense of this world. I know we’d laugh long and hard at life and its ridiculous wardrobe malfunctions. Bumping back down to earth musically inspired, I write a glowing review for DMC World online.
The themes of ‘Unbreakable’ have set me thinking about my little universe. I’d recently worked at the WAKE UP festival : it’s like Atzaro’s Healing Ibiza but and it all takes place at Gala Night in Benimussa outside San An. If you embrace the alternative lifestyle, then this is as profound an ‘experience’ as you can get, mingling with and enjoying the talents and skills of some of the best (and the kookiest) spiritualists of every persuasion and discipline. It’s a full-on festival of music, rhythmic dancing, meditation, talks, chakra balancing, drumming circles, laughter therapy, smudging, yoga of every kind, tarot, crystal healing, reiki, hypnotherapy, gonging, doing whatever it takes to realign, balance and focus – to wake up the spirit and put us back on the spiritual path, rejuvenated and refreshed. I gave a talk on ‘Keep Talking’ which aimed to encourage better communications. It was truly beautiful maaan. But now the results feel as shortlived as the after effects of a lungful of poppers.
Why? Well, I am being haunted by The Myth. You know the one that says the island bounces you back to where you came from if it doesn’t like you. I keep telling myself that it’s just a myth, an urban legend, that it’s not true. I know that that sort of legend can only make relatively sound and reasonable people tough it out for the all the wrong reasons. But pride can be such a dangerous thing. Love too. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been swayed by all of the above during my time here. Then I chance upon this …
11 August · Edited ·
is reached through the doorway of grief and loss. Where we cannot go in our mind, our memory, or our body is where we cannot be straight with another, with the world, or with our self. The fear of loss, in one form or another, is the motivator behind all conscious and unconscious dishonesties: all of us are afraid of loss, in all its forms, all of us, at times, are haunted or overwhelmed by the possibility of a disappearance, and all of us therefore, are one short step away from dishonesty. Every human being dwells intimately close to a door of revelation they are afraid to pass through. Honesty lies in understanding our close and necessary relationship with not wanting to hear the truth.
The ability to speak the truth is as much the ability to describe what it is like to stand in trepidation at this door, as it is to actually go through it and become that beautifully honest spiritual warrior, equal to all circumstances, we would like to become. Honesty is not the revealing of some foundational truth that gives us power over life or another or even the self, but a robust incarnation into the unknown unfolding vulnerability of existence, where we acknowledge how powerless we feel, how little we actually know, how afraid we are of not knowing and how astonished we are by the generous measure of loss that is conferred upon even the most average life.
Honesty is grounded in … admitting exactly where we are powerless. Honesty is not found in revealing the truth, but in understanding how deeply afraid of it we are. To become honest is in effect to become fully and robustly incarnated into powerlessness. Honesty allows us to live with not knowing. We do not know the full story, we do not know where we are in the story; we do not know who is at fault or who will carry the blame in the end. Honesty is not a weapon to keep loss and heartbreak at bay, honesty is the outer diagnostic of our ability to come to ground in reality, the hardest attainable ground of all, the place where we actually dwell, the living, breathing frontier where there is no realistic choice between gain or loss.
‘HONESTY’ Excerpted From CONSOLATIONS:
The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning
of Everyday Words
© 2015 David Whyte and Many Rivers Press
So what if it’s not the island that bounces you back. What if real life out-trumps the legend?
My sister Elicia’s Whatsapp shatters the post-deadline calm. My Mum, Blanche, has been rushed to hospital with a heart attack. Her condition has been stabilised without surgery but the surgeons are concerned and keeping her in for tests and observation for the next week or so. Elicia has a 5am flight, the rest of my family are unavailable so can I take over the vigil. ‘Of course, no problem’ I say. No matter that Google Maps confirms that I am currently 2,360km away and unable to do anything more constructive than Whatsapp, Skype and phonecall my family, my friends and the hospital non stop and bounce like a ping test between them all.
I call the ward at 04.00 UTC then write an update to the FAMILY Whatsapp group. Mum is stable and settling into the ward. Tests will be done over the next few days and they are keeping her in for observation until the results are clear. Any phone calls for her are to be directed to the following ward number. I ask the family if we can organise a visiting rota – that sort of thing.
SATURDAY OCTOBER 10TH
I don’t sleep and am exhausted when day breaks. I have horrible flashbacks of me going to see my Dad, seven years before. In the flashback I am about to board my flight to Manchester at Charles De Gaulle having worked Friday night somewhere in deepest Southern France. I have flown back to Paris to fly back out at silly o’clock to see and comfort him, when my sister Audrey calls to tell me that I’m too late. My dad has just died. I hadn’t even boarded the flight. That sense of uselessness swung hard at me like a prize fighter then. And I can still feel the full force of the KO even now. Today my mum is seriously ill and somehow her situation has triggered a ‘red button’ scenario. Reality check. I have been happily living in Europe for thirteen years, have had the best time ever too but in all that time, the one thing I have consistently missed – and missed out on – is my family. Maybe it’s a good time to reconnect, to get to know my Mum and my family better? Is work and dj’ing and living a gloriously sun-drenched Ibiza life really so important to me that I would sacrifice my – and our – personal needs for it? Hold on. Who am I? And why am I still here when my family need me over there?
Without a suitable emotional (and sometimes moral) sat nav you can get terribly lost in the Land of Loss. But no more Ms Denial for me.
Shit gets more real by the day. I’m as guilty as the next smartphone addict for not memorising names or numbers and for relying on my phone for everything. It’s a sign of the milennial times that even my BFFs can’t recall my phone number without checking their phone or my Facebook. I need an anchor. I am a responsibility-free adult, cut adrift on this island where I have no significant other, I don’t have kids and I don’t even have a cat or a goldfish. Finding someone close and reliable enough to mind my spare house and car keys was a mission. And as for that time when I found myself choking on a Schtroumpf with no-one close by to Heimlich it out of my gullet, that took the fun out of Haribo for a while, I can tell you.
In ‘choking alone-single serving-no next of kin’ terms, there is absolutely nothing to keep me here. This house (ok penthouse apartment) hasn’t stopped whirling for long enough for me to make a soft landing in Oz. Still, my ruby slippers will always have magic.
The people in A1 block aren’t A1 neighbours at all. Their Neighbourhood Watch has consisted of them watching me and spying on my landlady through the twitching Judas. They never say hello and prefer heatedly shouting and complaining when I’m a) parking b) (un)loading luggage or shopping into / out of the lift c) opening my front door d) closing my front door e) breathing f) not even there to be guilty of any of the above. They make no secret of saying (in Spanish) that they think English people are ‘tonto’ and show my Loco Landlady little or no respect. Loco Landlady has flashes of lucidity (good day / sober / not ill) but most days she can’t find the keys to her own house let alone to this apartment. When I moved in she handed me forty identical looking keys on a fob then tootled off with a shrug. As for the possibility of her next of kinship, she has a horrendous track record with cars and insurance and as such is as useless to me or my family in a crisis as a little toe is in a very pointy shoe.
My friends Sophie and Lee have become the closest thing I have to family here: yet even they don’t know the names of or have the contact details for my immediate family. In fact, the closest to kin is my 90’s ex, Simon Bushell who knows my family by name and close friends well enough to find them should anything happen to me here. My squad? The people who have that information on lock live in London, Manchester, Paris and New York. This pulls focus. I’m done with this free falling and falling away of things. Where will you go when the party’s over? Ask me tomorrow – when I wake up.
Saturday October 3rd
TO EXCEL, NOT COMPETE
WORD OF THE DAY (Collins 2008)
Past, Bad, Overdone, Out of date
A Workshop or studio, especially of an artist, artisan or designer
The opening notes of Otis Redding’s ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ are playing in my head. Since I was small I have had music playing in my head 24/7 and it always carries a predictive message. At times it feels like I have a prophetic Wurlitzer – all ‘Simon’ flashing lights and chrome – perched on my shoulders where my head should be.
First phone call of the day involves some ‘misunderstanding’ with work. The Voice is shouting at me because I have got the wrong end of the broomstick. I have NEVER been booked for the party that I have had blocked in my diary for three months since it was first discussed. I say that I have turned down other offers to do this party. ‘That’s stupid. The Voice says ‘Why would you turn down two paying gigs to do this?’ I reply ‘ Call me loyal but I’m a first come, first served person and I always keep my word. ’ I go into detail about the original booking. The Voice stops shouting. Then there’s silence as the penny drops. Voice rushes off to make some calls and when Voice calls back the tone is upbeat, enthusiastic and apologetic. There’s no money in it though. Alfredo has taken the budget.
For the record, I have a minor cob on. It’s true that none of this matters in real life but that doesn’t stop me wanting to crawl into a hole or eat chocolate and ice cream until my jeans don’t fit. I dream of kicking back in LA. dressed casually for a date at The Ivy. I’m wearing huge Jackie O shades, sitting in the sunshine and dining with my literary agent. In the dream we are celebrating signing the rights to this blog on to HBO studios for a pilot series. It’s going to be like Two Broke Girls but with one dj and based in Ibiza. A dream is a wish your heart makes.
I snap out of the reverie by jousting with the two washing machines outside on the upstairs terrace. There’s CL’s machine that has never worked but is in the way of mine which normally works but is throwing a post electrical storm strop. I hiss ‘if you don’t work I’ll break you down for Robot Wars’. It moves. Then it works. I have no doubt that it fully understood. I reckon you will never find David Guetta on his hands and knees covered in suds and dirt and terrace guana, brandishing a spanner, a stanley knife and an iphone in full ‘Ask Jeeves’ mode. No I bet you never will but welcome to my single Ibiza life.
I have waited in all day to go to Space Closing with my friend who – at 2pm – is still on the missing list. He has bleached and rinsed it at Amnesia and Bora Bora and only hits his bed for a quick siesta at 3pm. So much for the ‘let’s go early to Space Closing and side-step that difficult guest list’ plan. I’m well pissed. Then, out of the side of my eye, I catch a news bulletin about Roseburg, Oregon where people have died in the 45th campus shooting this year. I feel ashamed and petty for being childish and shallow so fill my (now) party-free time by doing something positive and planning my upcoming trip to London instead. It is booked and confirmed for the beginning of November and I have set up a radio interview and mix with Sophie Callis at Soho Radio, three radio interviews for a DMC World Magazine feature with Cocoa Cole, Horsemeat Disco and Josey Rebelle, one gig at Housewife and one lecture at the University of Westminster. No matter what else happens today I have some interesting work to do this winter.
When I go to meet my friends for the Heart Closing Party everyone – except me – is late. Waiting alone outside Downtown Cipriani’s AT THE AGREED MEET TIME, I see that it is already closed for the winter. Whatsapp group alerted, we agree to meet at Prince but your woman on the ground checks and finds that this is also closed for holidays. More waiting. I walk half the length of the Avinguda d’Ocho Agosto in Rita Ora’s evening dress and gold strappy sandals only to stand out like Wilhelmina No Mates at ‘dressed-down-every-day’ I-Pizza until they arrive. Four pizzas, a few beers, some w(h)ines and loads of chat later and we’ve frittered away our valuable free entry / no queueing time.
In the approach to Heart, the empty doorway that sported a clutch of golden egg, queue-jump ticket holders when I first passed by at 10pm now looks like the Stock Exchange trading floor. My heart sinks like a stone. Everyone is waving something, trying to catch the eye of someone important who knows someone who works there who knows someone they might know who runs or owns it but that someone is doing their damnedest to avoid all eye contact. It takes a good half an hour to get to the front of this queue only to find that only one of us is on the list and that’s the late-comer who was responsible for sorting out the guest list for all of us. Awkward. She goes in to find someone to help us get to the front of the paying queue. No pressure for her then. And more waiting for us. Damian Lazarus arrives – I try ‘the friendly chat’ ruse but he is rolling with a sizeable entourage. His ‘plus-sized’ guest list forcefield is fully engaged. Happily, our friend succeeds. We smile as we are each charged 25 euros entry. It is a nicer club, with a stylish older crowd and great music. We stay, we pay, we play. At least we get in. Many don’t.
It’s kicking inside as Damian Lazarus is in back-to-back flow with Acid Pauli. Theirs is a strong sound full of dark techno shadows and the dancefloor is heaving and kinetic. Heart clubbing is a world away from the k-hole walking, shuffling zombies or cake throwing and stage diving (into the crowd in an inflatable raft) antics of Ibiza. It’s a great closing party.
Wednesday October 7th
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Boss at Mehdi Dressy
Lives in Balham, London, England
8 minutes ago
Hi Paulette, hope you’re doing well today !
I take the liberty of sending you this email as I really want you to know this.
My name is Mehdi Dressy, DJ/Producer/Composer signed on Avant Garde & Space Invader Music (Joachim Garraud’s imprint label) & Warner U.S (for my producer part) to name a few, and I’m really glad you’ve accepted my friend request.
The reason why I’m sending you this email, is to thank you. Simply, and here’s the reason why.
I discovered a genre of music that moved me some years ago, which is house music, throughout many sources on internet, including during a special radioshow on Radio FG, which was yours. I was downloading a copy of your set every week on some forums and was blasting it in my student’s room back in time. With the time it became such an obsession for me, that I started by playing others music, then creating mine and come play it as well.
I am thankful to be able to live from my passion, to get recognition for my work from the simple listener to world class dj’s playing my music during festivals, and for that I want to thank you for your contribution to my musical education and self development.
With much respect,
My soul has been lifted.
Wednesday October 7th
SELF ESTEEM, NOT SELF PITY
WORD OF THE DAY
Difficulty in experiencing, expressing and describing emotional responses.
Started the day with yoga but cried throughout the session. Asanas can sometimes release energy in unusual ways. I roll with it and roll the mat up.
I’d feel much better if I could swim in the sea but I recently weaned myself off Talamanca beaches when I missed a red flag, swam for an hour then read about the ruptured sewage pipe in Diario d’Ibiza that afternoon over brunch. I thought I was going to die from toxocariasis and felt like I should be chanting ‘unclean, unclean’ and ringing a bell for weeks after. They say it could take years to clean that part of the coastline…
Another amazing email arrived encouraging me to value my past much more than I currently do.
From : ANDY H
TO : Paulette
Subject : How’s It Going DJ Paulette ?
In my seemingly old age, I have been going through all my old musical tastes and stumbled across loads of tracks that reminded me of when you used to DJ at the Zap in Brighton.
You may remember me, I used to carry your records now and again from the car to the club and vice versa, however, I was rarely in a fit state to do so!!!! ( I think you even left me a nice birthday message on the answerphone at me and my mates flat, which I was well happy about!).
Anyways, can you remember the sets you used to play?!?! I remember them and still make me smile. Been catching up with them all over again! Here’s a few classics that I can remember (it was over 20 years ago after all!)
Bobby Brown – 2 can play that game – k-klass mix THE BEST SONG DROPPED 🙂
Nutropic – I see only you
Solitaire Gee – Slumberland
Ina Kamoze – Here comes the hotstepper
Skee-lo – I wish I was a little bit taller
I can remember you used to rock the Zap!!!
There was another track you used to play and I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called, may have been something like the penguin orchestra or something but it had the massive drum and bass break in the middle?!?! Any memory of it? I’d love to find this one….
Glad to see your DJing is going so well too….
Might try and catch one of your sets if I go to Ibiza again.
Sent from Gmail Mobile
Thank you so much for this mail! It really touched me.
Send me a picture please? I can vaguely remember someone sweeping me into the club like a star, but I can’t put a face to you 🙁 I should be thanking you for the star treatment actually.
Records – funnily enough I have been playing a few of those out again this summer as I have been doing pool parties for Ibiza Rocks and Hotel Es Vive – Skee Lo – I Wish
and Ini Kamoze’s Here Comes The Hotstepper have pride of place in my sets in the sunshine.
I still love them – they are timeless party jams. I remember I always dropped Skee-Lo into the Size 9 I Am Ready breakdown about 6 minutes in.
Solitaire Gee – also amazing. I hammered that record everywhere. I must fish that one out again.
I wish I could find my Bobby Brown vinyl as that is a timeless classic.
WORD OF THE DAY (Dictionary.com)
A person who has recently or suddenly acquired wealth, but has not yet developed the conventionally appropriate manners.
I receive an email from I-Safe advising that the insurance claim against the Municipale is unresolved and ongoing following the flood at the storage unit. I’m not totally au fait with road names so when the freak storm hit last August it didn’t register that my storage unit was located on the flood ravaged Avenida de St Joan de Labritja. Nor did I connect that it was the self-same FITA / Eroski road connecting Talamanca to Jesus that I couldn’t drive down because it was closed due to water running like a fast moving two feet deep ravine. It’s only a bit of rain the residents said. The storage unit stayed closed and did not answer calls for two weeks. When eventually they allowed people entry we were told that the sewage pipe under the street had ruptured and that some of the units had been affected. One of the worst affected units was mine. Oh yes. That insurance claim.
My unit was waterlogged. Around 2,500 units of vinyl had been ruined and all the sleeves water damaged. Everything in the unit was covered in mud and silt, disgusting and slimy to handle and heartbreaking to hold. The management of I-Safe were unsympathetic. ‘Can’t you just stack them in boxes’ said Kathy. She has no concept of what water, silt, glue and sand actually does to vinyl when it dries or with friction when stacked sleeveless, loose and dirty in a box. No concept of what it means to leave them in this state until the loss adjusters can be bothered to come and view the damage. And no concept of the emotional attachment to and the financial value of the original sleeves to a collector. To I-Safe they are just records that have got a bit wet that can be dried out with a heater. Yes really.
In other better news, Barclaycard have credited my card with what is now a handsome sum after the ongoing non delivery and general jiggery pokery of my Visa card. It’s hard getting a simple letter delivered to my address because CL (my crazy landlady) has lost the key to the vandalised letter box, the entryphone doorbell doesn’t work and lots of businesses (especially banks) will not deliver to a PO Box. To sidestep this, Barclaycard are going to deliver my new card to my UK address on Friday October 9th. Yes. My mum will be at home to take the delivery.
… TO BE CONTINUED
When I say I haven’t decided what I want to do yet this does not mean that I don’t know where I want to live or be in 2016. I said I was tired not stupid. Of course I want to live here, in Ibiza. What’s not to love about living in Jesus? . Like every savvy Ibiza resident knows, at certain times of the year, island rentals are a feeding frenzy so the A1 golden rule is to secure your accomodation in advance preferably long before the summer silly season kicks in (before the end of March). Get your luvverly accomodation for the next year confirmed, signed and sealed before the end of the preceding season and you’re laughing. The lucky few who bag a beautiful bargain (without paying a six month deposit upfront) in the Holy Grail transfer window between the middle and the end of October are viewed with emerald eyed envy. The struggle is real here. Most long lets get snapped up like a gushing, mutilated leg in a shark pool and generally before the ink is dry on the ‘Anuncio’ page in Diario D’Ibiza. Those who are on a tight(er) budget find a ton of roomies (generally up the West End) and split the cost handsomely. 256 different ways to do the washing up or to go Dutch, French, English, Spanish, Italian or all of the above. All of them present and correct.
Me? I have this on lock. I met my English eccentric ever-so-slightly alcoholic landlady for a tapas lunch at a deserted La Vineria, on the Carrer Cap Martinet at the end of June when we agreed the terms for my contract and keys to Castle Grayskull.
My landlady greeted me looking angelic in a white, gypsy dress, heavy boots and her blonde hair worn up in that tousled, elder stateswoman way. She was demolishing her second large glass of wine as I sat down. As she ordered her third, she said ‘let’s get this out of the way, then we can eat’. I had been dreading this chat so was surprised when she offered me a contract to keep the apartment for another year. Golden ticket? Tick it! She said that she really likes me and wanted to help. Tick that too. Could I accept different terms? Rental seasons being what they are and her being a lady of leisure with no regular source of income, I knew I was looking at a serious price hoik. Brace yourself…
She was nervous about giving me another contract. There is a loophole in Tenants’ Rights legislation here that keeps a tenant in place for up to five years if a contract is renewed long term to the same tenant beyond the first year. Since she is trying to sell the apartment, this loophole is a worry for her. In order to combat this, the rent was being raised to a constant winter fee of 1200pcm, rising 200€ to 1400pcm from May to October. Vertically steep for one person. In fact it was 400 euros pm more expensive than the rent I had been paying on my flat in Paris when I left in 2013. That’s Paris. A metropole. With a strong transport infrastructure, museums, shops and everything. If I overstayed the contract end date she threatened me with murdering me in my bed. Normal. I laughed like I was the only person in the audience at a bad Comedy Store gig.
I have a good – and relatively long memory. Logic and reason tell me not to fuck with mad alcoholics. I remembered the house call last year. She had popped round to see ‘how I was settling in’ but really came to calm down in her own apartment after having made an unwarranted house call to ‘that Jonathan’. He wasn’t home but she threatened his girlfriend with a kitchen knife with a four inch blade just to make sure (she took this out of her pocket demonstrate). I’d only been in the flat two weeks. She told me that Jonathan was the previous tenant who had left her apartment in tatters with denuncios flowing like ticker tape (the neighbours say he was running Girls from his private parties. I had wondered what the chains in the wardrobe were for). Anyway, he had left owing three months’ rent which she was determined to recoup. That she would go to such lengths just to get the rent arrears did not sit well with me. We Capricorns can take life and living just a bit too seriously I suppose.
The apartment is not Ibiza Town prime real estate but it is in a respectable, developing location. Turn a blind eye to its basic, ok cheap furnishings and you know it is worth a bit. It has plenty of space for my dj equipment slash studio, has a guest bedroom for family or friends, is bright, airy and modern and rent-wise was not breaking the bank for a three bed in Talamanca. Even though the heating falls short when Ibiza drops the ‘pissed-wet-through to the clothes in your wardrobe and sheets on your bed’ humid fog and the boiler needs resetting every time the wind blows (which is a lot in Talamanca), it is big, airy, bright, modern, warm and dry and has a lift, a roof terrace with a 360° view and garage space. I could get comfortable here.
Like christmas toy batteries, bills were no longer to be included. The disappointment was Christmas present same.There was to be no sub-letting. Not that this was something I had ever done, but it would have been nice to have the option. This is the key income source that all of my friends exploit to pay their rent through the fallow winter months. Odds stacked up, condition by condition, what was once a decent deal was starting to stack higher against. Still, I loved the apartment; looked after it like a boss and was a model tenant. I assured her that the next year would be equally trouble free. I always pay my rent on time – how could it not be?
Freak of the week. CL massaged my feet to clinch the deal. WTF? Boundaries???! This foot massage is over-familiar territory even for family. Understand that it’s not easy to run when someone has your feet clamped in a vice-like grip before you’ve touched your tiramisu. Best to relax. Let it happen. The ‘Welcome to your new home again’ speech that followed this random activity was thus music to my ears. CL promised me that once her family visits and daughter’s university choice were out of the way we would visit her Gestor to sign the contract. The date was set for the end of September. Reassured, I chose to ignore her sniffing her hands when she’d finished.
Call me crazy for trusting CL and her fancy foot massage. I fully accept and assume responsibility for the incoming fuck up. So confident was I that we had made a solid verbal agreement that I took my eye off the ball. I forgot that something about this island – maybe the Es Vedra ley lines, maybe the population of gypsies, tramps, brigands, pirates and thieves – makes a mockery of written agreemements. And, schoolgirl error #2, I forgot that spoken arrangements count for nothing, especially where money is concerned. Everyone prefers to be paid in the tax and question-free black so there are no guarantees here. Nothing is ever as sorted as you expect. Not even your drugs. What I’m trying to say is that it’s easy to make a legitimate tenant disappear overnight. Without a contract you have no rights, your landlord (or landlush) can ask you to leave or throw you out as and when they want and with no notice served.
One week into October and I am all out of excuses. No phone calls or IMs are being made or answered and we haven’t signed any official papers.
They say if you can survive the winter then you are meant to be here. It’s not so much that it’s an expedition worthy of polar or arctic preparations but Ibiza is financially a summer seasonal island ergo winters here are, economically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually testing. Everything here that you once considered important – the post office, the bank, the supermarket, the shops, the church, the doctor, the dentist, the hairdresser, the vet, all close at 2pm (though some re-open for post siesta business from 5.30pm till 9 or 10) on any ordinary day. These services are also reduced to a jangly boned skeleton (if they are open at all) from October until May. If you’re not splitting your location year 50/50 with another european city – London, Paris, Manchester (we occasionally like to feel the home turf beneath our feet and benefit from the city dweller’s social and cultural benefits so lacking here), you have to think hard about how you can live, work and in extreme cases, survive (without an up-to-date cinema multiplex showing films that aren’t overdubbed) on Ibiza when the summer is over.
However, it’s Easter week end, the almond and fig trees are in bloom, cats and dogs hunt and feast on nature’s ‘all you can eat’ buffet. Geckos, voles, cicadas – and whatever else fails to avoid the claws whetted to surgical sharpness on palm tree barks outside the house – make cats fat, happy and prone to sleeping their campo safari off in the afternoon sunshine. Chocolate eggs have been imported in from the UK, but I take it as a sign that they melt in the sunshine and heat before they even get a chance to melt in my mouth. That’s Ibiza – for worse at times, yet more often than not for the better, nothing happens as you would expect it to.
I wasn’t sure I would get to this point but here I am, a year and a bit on, bracing myself for my second summer season here on this island of dreams and dreamers. Now I am committed to living here, I know that somewhere, somehow, someway – I will find my proper place. But I must be patient. You can’t rush the fog here. No matter who you are, what you were or how you did before you got here, you have to forget everything, tear up your rule book and reset your life to zero. This is a good thing. You now have a blank sheet on which you can create the life you want. If you are inspired by meeting new and like minded people, if you can build good relationships and know how to recreate a life from scratch, if you can bring your unique self to the table and find out what it is that you can do for the island, if you know how to work well with the tools you have when the tools you need don’t exist or can’t be bought here, if you can do all this without letting your past or your ego get in the way, then a good and prosperous island life is probably closer to you than you think.
There are many, like myself, who immediately fall in love with this magical, spiritual, beautiful island. Then there are those who, after visiting once and holidaying badly, detest this place with a vengeance and without further discussion. If you arrive thinking that Ibiza is just about the superstar djs, the VIP lifestyle, the five crazy kerching kerching business months a year (not for everybody mind), million dollar dj fees and a million parties that you can’t even afford to fully attend, then that’s the superficial level of experience you will have. The island has a strange way of holding the mirror up to your expectations. And yes, you will have bags of fun but the island will probably bounce you back to where you came from like shot out of the Dalt Villa cannon. It has a strange way of doing that too. If you don’t like or respect the island for what it truly is, then it will return the compliment in kind. But life and persuasion being what it is, if and when those same people return (because eventually they do return to try again), and look beyond the glamour and the superficial, they begin to love the island from a real islander’s perspective. That’s when you know there is no turning back.
It’s worth it for the mornings. At 6am when there is no-one about you’re at one with the dogs, cats, iridescent plumed cockerels, glossy, sinewy horses and the stunning peacocks who are all waking, tuning up and tuning in. You’ll greet a few farmers starting their day in the red-earthed fields and the postman filling his van with campo bound post but mostly you get to enjoy being alone with your thoughts, your breath and the silence. It’s a profound and special silence that jumpstarts the connection between your own and the island’s soul. Suddenly, you are tuned in and listening to the crunchy, satisfying sound of your footsteps on large gravel and fine sandy roads. Suddenly you are enjoying the firework explosion of pure, white almond blossom so delicate it could almost be embroidered on a piece of fine, handmade lace. Silence. Then a cock crowing. Silence. Then a chime bristling on the breeze. Silence. A rising, symphony of birdsong. Silence. Then there’s me and my long, deep breaths, breathing it all in, breathing it all out, breathing it all in again.
You will remember the smell of Ibiza long after you leave. There’s nothing more alluring than the rich perfume of cedars, wild flowers and citrus trees in fruit and flower – lemons, grapefruits and orange blossom scent the air with a smell as heady and seductive as jasmine. You will remember the natural sounds of Ibiza – nature’s music – the lapping of the sea, the rushing of the wind, cicadas singing, chickens and birds all vying for your attention. The trees and campo lanes shiver and shift as geckos and tiny animals skitter through the dry leaves. Then there are the butterflies, owls and eagles who occupy the airspace and thrill you with their appearance. You will delight in Nature’s free blockbusters shown on its uninterrupted 360° screen : the staggering rock formations at Punta Galera, the fathomless caves at Cala Comte and the sunrises and sunsets of so many dazzling hues and colours seen from so many equally beautiful beaches. The moon and stars, eclipses, sunrises and sunsets thrill us daily with their high intensity drama. You will be tempted to roll in fields full of poppies, margeritas, wild asparagus, clover, dill, fennel, wild garlic, rocket, rosemary, thyme, lavender, almonds, tamarinds and olives, as blankets of wild vibrant purples, pinks, yellows and orange campo flowers billow and ripple on a breeze and invite you to come closer. Then there’s a graffitti’d wall that says in capital letters ‘Leer Mas’ (read more) it is punctuated graphically with an enormous sun. Walking on a bit further I see another wall with a message in script that says ‘brillo magico que alumbra mi camino’ (magic light that lights my road / way). Moments like these are so precious and they happen every day.
Ibiza is an island of contradictions. Peak summer is intense – blending that heady, holiday brochure combination of ridiculous heat, azure sea, dip-dyed blue skies, white sands, blazing sunshine and dramatic vistas with an influx of holiday makers and musical tourists so greedy for what the island has to offer that they teem and swarm over it all like a colony of rampant ants. Many residents choose to leave the island in August to avoid them (and make some decent money by renting their houses out). This is the season of forest fire warnings and an island on guard for careless smokers and barbecuing revellers. This is the beginning of weeks of painful driving, traffic jams, unnecessary accidents and constant Guardia Civil and Guardia Nacional check points. This is the season of dirty cars, speeding scooters and ice free super markets and petrol stations. August is the most challenging month on this island for the island residents and as an outside observer with a resident’s heart, I can fully understand why.
The autumn / winter is beautiful with a twist of bizarre : on the plus side you can get from anywhere to anywhere on the island in less than 20 minutes by car. The temperature can change wildly from 20 degrees in the day time, (shirt sleeves, no jacket, al fresco dining) to a brisk 5 degrees at night, (Puffa jacket essential, scarf and boots optional). Add an osmotic, nocturnal damp (which rises from the sea to permeate practically every living cell of your body) that makes your hair frizz and your bed and clothes feel cold and wringing wet and you get the picture. Even for a Mancunian used to 365 days of rain a year, the all pervading humidity, the occasional flowering, mouldy wall and the musty wardrobe experience has been an unexpected revelation. Half the shops and boutiques are closed. The clubs and bars are winding down to a fall / Winter schedule. The tourists have left – and I’m still here.
I adore Ibiza for its unique rhythm and unique characters. I appreciate it for its old skool social, internet-free network and community spirit. I love Ibiza for its proliferation of music and media professionals with whom you can connect directly and discuss career / productions / problem solving / mooting collaborations in a smaller yet more vibrant environment. I love Ibiza for its curious tree-living, cave living people; for the drummers on Benirras, for the Robert De Niro look alike in Talamanca. The runners, joggers, fast walkers, personal trainers, gym enthusiasts and worker-outers on Marina Botafoch all have their charm. Then there’s the curious man riding a ribbon, flyer and sticker festooned bicycle, the early morning fishermen, the stretching and flexing yogis on the beach, the eco agroturismo farmers in San Augustine and Santa Eularia, the healers, the masseuses, the meditators, the teachers, the bar owners, the dog walkers and trainers, the beautiful spirits in the beautiful people and the guardian angels with invisible gossamer wings. These are the people who give the island its true colour. These are the lives around which the island itself revolves, lives and breathes. And I love this place.
This is an island run by families and locals for families and locals and I love Ibiza for holding on to that island mentality. I love Ibiza for its family restaurants like Ciao Pescao, Laurelito, Sa Soca, Sa Caleta, Fish Shack and Bon Lloc. I love Ibiza for its fresh fish and farmers’ market life style. I love Ibiza for Its small delicatessens like Casa Alfonso, Can Pascual, Can Espanyol and its big supermarkets like Viper Centro, Mercadona and Eroski. I love Ibiza for its chic shops and shabby markets. Clothes do not make the man or woman here and I love Ibiza for making that city-slick obligation seem so superficial and trivial. If I want to climb a tree I can climb a tree. If I want to swim in the sea, well, I can do that too. I love Ibiza for walking in the hills and mountains of San Josep and San Vicent, for walking around the old town and enjoying the view of the port from the imposing Dalt Villa or for looking out to sea from the ruins at Sa Caleta. I love Ibiza for the Formentera ferry. I love Ibiza for summer sea swimming and winter open fire warming. I love Ibiza for moving forward and building new roads, motorways and hotels like the Ushuaia Tower, Hard Rock Hotel, Destino. I love Ibiza for its knowing no fear, for trying new things, for occasionally making mistakes and for correcting them and trying again until it gets it right.
Most of all I love Ibiza for the smell of the cedars and the forests of tree barks glistening with amber resin. I love Ibiza because it’s an island that most of the time feels like a village community, that sometimes has a crazy city buzz and all of the time feels like home sweet home.
Grounding or zero?
Around this time last year I had three gardening face – offs 1) Jimson Weed 2) the wall climbing ivy 2) a giant vibrant violet thistle: all glorious weeds in real life that were each taking over a different aspect of the garden and morphing from beautiful, unusual delights into virulent, rampant and destructive blights. What had once, in its springtime, been a mass of delicate flowers, with a little rain and a lot of sunshine had become giant, unwieldy and unwanted. They had to go.
Not one of these extractions was an easy task. The root systems were so intricate and ingrained, and my strength no match for the subterranean anchorage they had established, that it required days not minutes and the use of hardcore tools and implements; one brand new pitchfork shattered into pieces whilst the root remained unscathed and I had only just started the job. But I succeeded. And, whilst not one plant went without a fight, I learned by doing and looking and listening and living, that some roots can be easily shaken loose, others need more serious intervention and in some situations it’s wiser to leave well alone in order to maintain the security of everything else around it.
It seems to me that growing up, leaving home and moving house / jobs / countries tugs on one’s own deeply ingrained psychological root systems.
It’s too easy to accept that we are defined by our roots then live our lives like trees rooted to the spot, clinging to a past for an identity that becomes by its very nature, outmoded and outgrown. The sins and graces of our forefathers and mothers cradle us softly then bind us fast, uniting one family member to another unconditionally through love, nature, nurture, justice, mercy, honour, hope and duty. Yet, as safe and comforting as this can feel, the inevitability of change awaits. If we are to truly grow, we must either break away – sometimes with a gentle tug or on a light gust of wind, sometimes in a violent tornado, or if we are lucky, all that is needed is a little occasional pruning, a regular cutting back or a cutting away so that we ourselves can be gradually potted on. Moving forward and moving on by unearthing and tending one root at a time is kinder to our Selves and all around us, less radical and undisputably the more humane option.
No matter what our backgrounds are, we are not our parents or families and our parents and families are not us. That does not mean that we have to erase all evidence of that and there from whence we came. No – those roots are as important and essential to the chrysalis Us as breathing. Make no mistake, there is nothing better than returning to home and hearth, friends and flames, gorging on those two handed hugs and catching up with everyone who gives us a boost is as good a healer as any guarana laced energy drink or weekend spa stay.
As loyalty and empathy begin to motivate our choices we must also remember that we are not our employers either, nor are they us. If trees can be uprooted, moved and then planted in more advantageous surroundings, then so can we. Provided that we handle ourselves and the situation with the utmost care, we can become strong, confident and thus capable enough to develop and nurture our own root system. Better that than clinging to a future that is pre-determined and that leaves us strangely wanting, unstable, wavering and deeply co-dependent.
Feel free to add your thoughts to this discussion.