29 May 2011

An abandoned Idea

The abandoned Idea nightclub, once described as the most over-engineered bilboard in Ibiza.
The abandoned shell of the Idea nightclub dominated the skyline of San Antonio bay for more than 24 years. Most people wouldn't even recognise the name of the place but tell them that it was a half finished nightclub on Avinguida Dr Fleming near Es Paradis most of them would remember the abandoned skeletal steel framework that lay neglected in a prime position only a minutes walk from the beach for more than two decades.

After the demolition.
The club was one of the many failed ventures of controversial Catalan businessman Xavier Cabeu who died alone in his rural Puig den Valls villa in August 2007. Cabeu was born in 1954 and arrived in Ibiza as a child, as a young man he inherited his father's hotel business and used the proceeds to fund diverse business ventures across the island.

Cabeu had several run-ins with the authorities across the island, he served a 5 month stretch in jail for stabbing two Colombian tourists and a case that he violently and sexually abused his wife and two of his thirteen children was thrown out of court for lack of evidence despite the fact a policeman had offered to destroy the evidence against him in return for 3 million pesetas.

Construction of the Idea nightclub began in 1985 but the project was abandoned in 1987 as Cabeu decided to pursue other ventures across the island from Santa Eulària to Cala Tarida. At the time of his death Cabeu was working on plans to complete the Idea.

The local council finally gained approval to demolish the structure in April 2011 despite the objections of the Cabeu family and demolition commenced on 20 April. The local council paid the cost of the demolition (estimated at €39,000) and took control of the land in order to reuse it as a free carpark for 300 vehicles.

28 May 2011

4th International Music Summit, Ibiza

The unique open air closing party took place in the
UNESCO World Heritage site at Dalt Vila.
Between May 24-29 2011 Eivissa town hosted the 4th International Music Summit. The event in the spiritual home of dance music is rapidly establishing itself as one of the most important events in the contemporary electronic music scene. Highlights included a keynote interview with the film director David Lynch who made a surprise venture into the electronic music scene with the 'Good Day Today' / 'I Know' single which was released on the British label Sunday Best Recordings in November 2010. Other highlights included an opening party at Pacha, a presentation from David Guetta, a Ministry of Sound showcase, a Cadenza all-day beach party a Speed Pitching event with George Ergatoudis (BBC Radio 1's Head of Music) and a host of other speakers and events.

The crowd go wild during the 2manydjs set.
For me the indisputable highlight of the 2011 International Music Summit was the spectacular open air Grand Finale closing party on the Baluarte De Santa Lucia in the UNESCO heritage site of Dalt Vila in Eivissa town. It took place on 27 May between 6.00 PM and Midnight and could be seen and heard from locations all over Dalt Vila. The 2011 event was the largest closing party in the four year history of the IMS and is still the only contemporary music event allowed in Dalt Vila.

2,000 tickets to gain access to the event arena on Baluarte De Santa Lucia were available at a cost of €25 but the 500 IMS delegates and press photographers gained access for free. The line-up included sets from Dubfire (of Deep Dish fame), Pete Tong (celebrating 20 years on Radio 1), influential American radio DJ Jason Bentley and the Belgian duo 2manydjs. There were also live performances from Hercules and Love Affair & Japanese Popstars.

The balcony near the cathedral at the top of Dalt Vila
provided a spectacular view of the event.
Most of the press photographers spent the whole evening in the arena and I have no doubt that the ones with stage access got some quality pictures however I found that some of the most striking shots of the event could be taken from up at the top of Dalt Vila near the Cathedral, a location that provided spectacular aerial views and was too much of a trek away from the event for most of the professional photographers to contemplate.

Overall the closing party was an enjoyable event, I had a nice evening stroll around Dalt Vila, got free entry to the event, snapped some quality pictures and as someone who has far from mainstream tastes in electronica I found the music surprisingly enjoyable too.

23 May 2011

Festival Club

Festival Club is being taken over by pine trees.
Up in the hills above the small town of Sant Josep lies an incredible monument to Ibizan overconfidence, it's name is "Festival Club" and it is a massive concrete ruin.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s the Mediterranean island of Ibiza began to embrace package tourism and in 1969 work started on this huge hillside development. The isolated location in the midst of a pine forest meant that the owners needed to construct an access road and connect the site up to the electricity grid. Upon completion in 1972 the spectacular hillside venue was named "Festival Club" ad opened to the public. In those days tourists were happy to be bussed about wherever the tour guides would take them and for a few summers in the early 1970s a holiday to Ibiza almost certainly meant a trip up into the hills near Sant Josep for an evening at Festival Club.

The Festival club amphitheatre, now in ruins.
This immense development featured an amphitheatre which hosted performance art and even mock bull fights, a large music venue at the top and in between there were several bars and a restaurant with rows of concrete tables lining the slope of the hill like contours. It was a popular venue with tourists and locals of all ages too but looking at it now, it is quite difficult to imagine it full of happy revellers and as a place that provided employment to dozens of people.

The good times at Festival Club did not last long and losses began to pile up in the wake of the 1973 fuel crisis which caused dramatic rise in airfares, discouraging tourists from taking foreign holidays and making it increasingly uneconomical to bus the few remaining tourists up into the hills and back again each night. The venue closed in 1974 after only two seasons in operation and never re-opened despite being on the market for many years.

The site is the graveyard to many a joyridden vehicle.
After 37 years of disuse the site is rapidly going to ruin. Vandals have wrecked some of the infrastructure but the majority of the major structural damage is being done by nature. Pine trees are growing up through the concrete all over the site and their roots are slowly tearing the place apart. The place is covered in Grafitti of varying degrees of interest from fine works of street-art to scruffy tags and pathetic scribble and the whole site is strewn with the remains of wrecked cars. It is beginning to resemble the set of some low budget post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller.

Festival Club has quite an has an intimidating atmosphere if you venture there alone but this opressive atmosphere is offset by the wonder of witnessing how nature is reclaiming the site and the spectacular scenic views.

According to court documents in the 1990s the site had deteriorated to such an extent that a naturalist group attempted to use the courts to force the owners of the site to clear it up however their application was denied and the owners exempted from maintaining the site after the court ruled that since it had been constructed with planning permission they were powerless to use planning laws to compel the owners to do anything. Given that there is no economic reason to clear the site and the courts have no interest in forcing the owners to maintain it, it seems that the place will continue to be attacked by vandals and subsumed back into the pine woodland that it obliterated over 40 years ago.

See Also

19 May 2011

Minimal steps

Ibiza minimal: 5

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18 May 2011

Sant Agustí

The church at San Agustín
Sant Agustí des Vedra is a picturesque rural village situated on a hilltop overlooking San Antonio bay only ten minutes drive from San Antonio city centre. The village is wonderfully unspoiled by modern influences which makes a refreshing change from the crowds and ubiquitous overdevelopment of the San Antonio bay area. The dominant feature of the village is the iglesia (church) in the centre of the village which was constructed between 1791 and 1809 under the direction of Pedro Grolliez de Servien.

The centre of the village also features an bar, a restaurant and a small convenience store but other than these unobtrusive developments the authentic rural atmosphere remains evident all around. A short walk further up the hill provides some spectacular views in both directions, back into the village and out across San Antonio bay.

The village provided refuge for the notorious Hungarian art forger Elmyr de Hory who fled mainland Europe in the 1960s and lived there until December 1976 when he committed suicide in his Sant Augustí villa upon hearing the news that the Spanish authorities had agreed to extradite him to France to face trial.

Cactus plan colonising a derelict outbuilding.
One of the most interesting locations in San Agustín for photography is a once impressive but now ruined villa and associated outbuildings around two minutes walk from the centre of the village. It is highly unusual to find rural decay in such a prime location as most of the islands ruins suffered abandonment as their location far from utilities such as electricity, running water supplies and telecommunications lines made development economically unviable. 

The San Agustín villa lies within easy access of all of the modern utilities but the owners have let it fall into ruin when a sale to developers at the peak of the Ibiza property market could have yielded many hundreds of thousands of Euros. I'm glad that for whatever reason the owners decided to avoid cashing in on their asset as the overgrown and decaying structures make fine photography subjects.

There are still a number of working farmsteads in the village and a small orange grove behind the church. Next to the village shop is a small track leading back down the hill towards the busy  PM-803 road. A walk along it reverals some impressive cactuses, collapsing terrace walls, an old well and some abandoned and rusting vehicles.

The village is definitely worth a visit whether for a relaxing afternoon in a quiet rural location followed by a meal at the Can Berri Vell restaurant or for a hardcore rural exploration photography treck around the local area.

An old horse drawn cart lies in a derelict and collapsing shed next to the main road into the village.

14 May 2011

Metal pillars

Ibiza minimal: 4

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13 May 2011

Eivissa medieval festival 2011

Decorative bunting in Dalt Vila
Between thr 6th and 8th of May, Dalt Vila in Eivissa town hosted the Ibiza Medieval festival. The festival is an annual event to commemorate and celebrate Ibiza's selection as an UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999. Highlights included acrobatic displays, children's activities, a large open air street market, free access to many of the capital's museums and art galleries, street performances, battle reenactments, music concerts, medieval workshops and falconry displays. It attracts around 100,000 visitors over the course of the three days.

The street market extended from Carrer D'Antoni Palau outside the old city walls all the way up the hill to Placa de La Catedral near the top of Dalt Vila. It included many stalls selling a variety of products such as meat, cheeses, spices, soaps, teas, handicrafts, jewellery, costumes and metal work. There were also a number of workshops for children offering activities like painting and candle making. The streets were decorated with medieval themed items such as wooden farm equipment and bales, medieval weaponry and torture equipment. many of the modern roadsigns and street markings were covered over and all of the stallholders wore medieval attire in order to create the impression of an authentic medieval event.

A woman selling local produce
at the medieval market
The Baluard de Santa Lluciahosted a wide variety of food stalls with barbeques, traditional mediterranean cuisine, seafood, oriental food and even vegetarian options.

One of the big highlights for me were the blacksmiths from from the Fragua Segovia workshop from the town of Segovia near Madrid. They had a great display of handmade metal objects and put on regular live demonstrations of metalwork.

I spoke to many of the stallholders and other participants and found that the medieval market is not unique to Ibiza and that they tour across southern Spain throughout the summer. It is however one of the biggest events on their tour. Many of the people working on the market are not actually Spanish, I spoke to several south americans and also a lot of people from Eastern European countries such as Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.

I spent a couple of afternoons at the market taking photos, meeting people and enjoying good food and wines and I am looking forward to next year's event already.
The Blacksmiths from Fragua Segovia doing a live metalwork demonstration.


Ibiza Minimal: 3

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