What it’s like to work for a summer in an Ibiza club
I HEART IBZ! At least from what I can remember.
For many people, working a season in Ibiza is a rite-of-passage: something done on a gap year to celebrate graduation from uni or an extended trip taken with mates before plunging head first into real life.
For me, working in Ibiza was a full-time gig and my first ever proper job. At the age of 15, still living with mum and dad, I moved in next door to a man who ran several Ibiza club nights and, bizarrely, he liked me enough to hire me.
What followed was the most unexpected and unacceptable period of ~work~ ever. In total I spent four months of every summer in the years between 2008-2012 working at a nightclub in San Antonio, Ibiza.
My duties included organising guest lists, handing out drink tokens in the VIP area, managing a team of ticket sellers (all of whom were older than me), and scooting around on a clapped-out moped promoting events.
Not bad for a little'un, eh? Here's what I learned.
There are some obvious perks to working in a nightclub, especially as a teenager, and especially in Ibiza. Free tickets and free booze are the things that immediately spring to mind, but actually the rewards go much deeper than that.
Every year some 20,000 British kids descend upon the island for the entire summer, Most of them form a tight-knit community living and working together and will go a long way to help each other out. The "worker parties", as they are called, are usually sick, some of the best I've been to.
Ibiza is split in half between the messy "English side" full of obliterated kids, and the more bohemian "German side", where middle aged Euro-adults spend thousands of pounds a week for the luxury of a remote villa overlooking a beach.
Living in Ibiza, you get to experience both cultures, as well as the stalwarts of the Spanish island that seem to disappear at the start of every season when they hear rumours that "the British are coming". Sun, sea, sand and a constant stream of sexed-up holidaymakers makes for an insane atmosphere.
Working in a nightclub in Ibiza is unlike anything else, because you are constantly surrounded by people who have severely lowered inhibitions, even for the club business. It's not uncommon to see people dancing in the street to no music in the middle of the day, which can work wonders for your mental health. When you first visit the island, the madness can be overwhelming. Once you've been living there for a few months, absolutely nothing seems out of the ordinary.
Anyone who has worked in hospitality will tell you it's usually not all it's cracked up to be. Door work and bar work, in particular, can be pretty boring. Working in a 2,000 capacity club with a queue wrapped around the block can be so boring that you'll usually be forced to play games with other staff member just to amuse yourself and past the time.
A good one is asking groups of 2o or more women, who usually have to leave their passports with their reps, if they have ID and then watch chaos ensue.
If doors open at 8pm (literally nobody turns up at 8pm) then you'll be working through until 3am when the doors close, at which point you're only allowed to join the party until 8am when the club kicks out. Of course, afterparties are awesome, but you feel like you're playing catch up to about 1,999 people over the span of three hours. Before you know it the party is over, and the rest of the time you're outside in the warm Spanish air listening to the 'thump, thump, thump' of EDM coming through the walls.
Working in Ibiza means that even when times get hard, nobody will feel sorry for you - no matter how detached from reality, family and friends you feel.
Admittedly, it's probably pretty hard for people stuck in rainy Britain to have sympathy for the guy complaining about his really cool job in the sun.
In reality, for most workers living in Ibiza is a constant grind between scrapping together enough money to eat, and trying to have enough useable clothes to wear one day after the next.
Do not - repeat NOT - fuck with local Spanish law enforcement. Working in a club means that you'll routinely come into contact with the Guardia Civil, Spain's wholly unaccountable civil police bureau with an apparent beef against tourists.
For bouncers and doorman, the Guardia are a constant hassle. The line between the club business and the drug business is blurry at best in Ibiza, meaning that the police are constantly trying to make it difficult for the clubs to operate normally.
If they haven't met their arrest quota for the month, it's easier to stop and search club staff on the way home from work than it is to round up drunk holidaymakers. Once I was even cuffed and hit with a stick because the club manager over the road informed the police I was a coke dealer. We got shut down temporarily and the other club knicked half our queue.
It would also be disingenuous of me to write this article without touching on the rampant drug use (and abuse) that is considered normal in the Balearics during the summer. In a world where everyone is constantly upbeat, uptempo and shoving devil's dandruff up their noses, it can be hard to maintain a firm grasp on reality. When taking drugs is the norm it seems insane to be sober.
Many people who work long-term in Ibiza tend to return to the UK with the demeanour of PTSD-riddled Vietnam vets. But hey, thems just the breaks.
All in all, working in an Ibiza nightclub is a dream come true for a young person. But when you return to rain-soaked England, don't expect anyone to care about the Alice in Wonderland summer you've had.
Even fellow Ibiza-goers will tell you that you were wrong to have taken the trip, and that you "should have gone last year instead" or that the "pills were WAY better back in <Insert random year here>."
It doesn't matter, though. Chances are you won't remember much anyway.