How Ibiza Became the Most Sought-after Party Capital in the World
The making of a European party capital.
Ok, let's talk about the European party scene. There's a reason the party circuit in western Europe is world renowned. The atmosphere is more relaxed than any we could cultivate in the U.S. The drinks are plentiful and make particularly good use of potent liqueurs. The parties start later and end much, much later. And of course, there's the European party music, which somehow has a shelf life years longer than American pop — you'd be surprised how much mileage the French, Spanish, and Italian clubs are still getting out of Alors On Danse and Dragostea Din Tei.
When we say that Europe is known for its culture, that applies just as much to the nightlife as it does to the art and architecture. Yes, Florence is known for the Uffizi Gallery and the contributions of the Medici family — but it's also known for the night clubs. And by day in Paris, you're challenged to see the Manet and Degas paintings at The Orsay and the Egyptian collection at the Louvre — but by night, if you miss the 2 a.m. metro, the challenge becomes to stay out till 6 a.m. when the trains reopen.
Spanish nightlife is a breed of its own, from Madrid to Mallorca. This isn't L.A. clubbing, where you're trying to get into the same West Hollywood club as Ashton Kutcher — though it's just as idealized. This is laid-back, let your hair down, join the chorus of Ai Se Eu Te Pego (nossa! nossa!) kind of partying. The party culture in Spain is about feeling the music and leaning into the captivating atmosphere, in a way that just doesn't translate back in the states — even in Vegas or Miami.
The holy grail of Spanish partying is none other than Ibiza. Part of the Balearic Islands, Ibiza is off the coast of Valencia and south of Palma and Menorca. Ibiza has garnered quite the reputation as the capital-P, capital-C Party Capital of the world — which isn't likely to change any time soon. It's where house music and pop remixes reign supreme — from the early 2000s Benny Bennasi and Basshunter vibes to the more recent Dua Lipa hits. And the drinks — think: Ibiza craft beers like Ibosim, the island's famous infused spirit hierbas, and classic European party liquors like absinthe — are as much part of the culture as the beaches.
So, when did Ibiza actually hone their boozy, music-fueled hedonistic reputation? When did it become the true Party Capital, not just of Europe, but of the world?
Unsurprisingly, Ibiza party culture dates back to hippies, creatives, and artists fleeing conformity (and, well, real jobs) in the '60s and '70s. What party culture doesn't stem from that notion, to a certain extent? There was already precedent for a more laid-back, artistic culture on Ibiza (which goes even farther back to those who departed mainland Spain in the '30s), so it wasn't surprising when this culture further took hold in the '70s.
While the general public might see Ibiza as just a scene for electronic house music, the sound of Ibiza is so much more multi-faceted. As with most music scenes shaped in the '70s, rock'n'roll is a big part of Ibiza's early party history. In fact, BBC Travel, reported that Eric Clapton showed up with George Harrison here in '77, Freddie Mercury hosted his 41st birthday in Ibiza, and Wham! recorded their Club Tropicana video at the now iconic Pikes hotel.
Two of the oldest clubs on Ibiza opened around this time: Pacha in the '70s, followed by Amnesia in the '80s. Through their Ibiza tenures, both curated an environment that welcomed the '70s and '80s anthems along with bass-laded house music and guest DJ series from the likes of David Guetta. Clubs followed the example of Pacha and Amnesia through the '80s and the '90s, and the Ibiza party scene grew, anchored by party nights hosted by celebrities and must-visit club venues.
Because music is such a large part of Ibiza's culture, live concerts and music festivals — beginning in the '90s and early 2000s — continued to encourage growth in the party capital. The increasingly hedonistic destination runs the musical gamut, too, welcoming talent that would make the rock stars of the '70s proud. There isn't just house music for the EuroClubKids (TM) on Ibiza — the island has played host to the Arctic Monkeys and The Libertines at the Ibiza Rocks festival, proving once and for all that those skanking to I Bet That You Look Good on the Dance Floor can indeed play nice with the house music evangelists.
And that's the beauty of Ibiza — it's more than just a place of pure, unadulterated fun and drinking till the wee hours of the morning. It's also an inclusive party scene, and that's why Ibiza continues to draw crowds from every part of the world. Whether the techno, boho, or rock'n'roll vibe appeals to you, there's a party for you on Ibiza.