Why do we refuse to change?
For quite a while there is a topic circulating in conversations on the island that starts to get a bit boring. ” Ibiza is not what it used to be.” You think Ibiza has changed? Why? Why is it not the same as it used to be? And why should it be? In the last edition Igor Marijuan answered a question from dub as follows “To those who think Ibiza has changed i ask a simple question – and you are the same you used to be?” Change is the eternal sign of the times. The crisis. The Change. Advance. Evolute. Risk. Break the limits. All this is positive and a sign of evolution. Or at least of learning. To not open, not wanting to know, not moving on means to have fear. And fear is of the worst feelings humans can have. Change includes to discover, to be surprised, learn, feel alive. The way to get the most out of this life. Let’s change.
Naturally the island has changed, sometimes for the better and for the worse in others, and even then every evaluation is subjective. Me personally i plead for a change in some things and to maintain others. Obviously I do not plead for the change to a VIP model. And I stand up to maintain the Spirit of Ibiza but to change the cultural dynamic of the island.
On the one hand the musical proposition is based on EDM and ‘easy’ House tailored for the posers, not the movers and shakers. Then there are the more ‘Underground’ parties with some bass, pseudo Techno (which ends up to be Techhouse) and House (normally) misinterpreted ‘Underground’. Those parties share a big part of their DJs and, as a matter of fact, there are few fresh names in their line-ups from one year to another. And, with some nuances, the musical style stays the same. It is the same dance with the same DJs in a slightly different way. And the order of the factors does not alter the product…
Even though some say “In Ibiza the proposal of electronic music and Underground is bigger than ever.” Come on. Let’s dismantle this frase: First – electronic music is not just House. Even those who sell themselves as Techno are based in House. Electronic music can be Disco, Hip Hop, dub, Trance, IDM (not EDM), EBM (no, not EDM), Industrial, Jungle, Drum n’Bass, Chill Out, Electro, Gabba, Ambient… and in Ibiza there is very little of it. Second – Electronic music is not a style. Electronic is a medium to make music. Nowadays 90% of all productions of popular music contain electronic elements. In the words of my compatriot John Talabot “Electronic music is not even a genre, Techno is an antique thing, as is House. It’s like Pop, very established.” Who cares what it is as long as it is music made from the heart, transmitting feelings and making you dance. Why are we limiting ourselves? You have to listen to music without prejudice, without being conditioned by sociocultural cycles. Music has to be listened to as an eternal thing. The only thing that matters is that it makes you feel alive. Third – Underground? This is one of the concepts dictated by the mainstream and forms part of the capitalistic cycle. In fact sometimes it is interpreted as subjective; what for you can be Underground can be not for me, depending on your cultural background. Not. The definition of ‘Underground’ is more like a cultural manifestation or artistic expression that goes against traditions, rules and common culture. Therefore look for change. The alternative to the established. Once this manifestation is born and it gets popularized it is used as currency for the capitalism, and so it is no longer Underground. It happens when the cycle has to start all over and create something new, aside from itself.
So, can Underground be something that includes half of the musical programming of the island? Can Underground be something that is listened to by 5000 people in a club? Jesus. An underground proposal is born out of the love to offer and share something new, special, made out of limited media and where you sometimes (mostly) loose money. This is Underground! The ibizencan collective ‘Chiringuito a Greenland’ is Underground. To sell 5000 tickets in a club with a beer for 15 Euros is NOT. Fourth – Often advanced music is used to define things that can be heard on the island. Advanced music defines new musical expressions, using new ways of composition. The one that marks the beginning of a change towards new paradigms. Let’s not fool ourselves. This music is not present on the island. Frases that are not used in the appropiate manner lose their meaning. Ibiza, specifically, is a free spot, maybe the most free spot in the world. so why only dancing to electronic music? Why don’t we open our minds? This island saw the birth of Balearic, a way to comprehend music in a transversal, eclectic way. Something acclaimed worldwide and at the same time radically local, from here, ibizenco, that got lost in a wide sense. This Balearic Spirit is the spirit of the island: free, hedonistic, cosmopolitan, restless, open, heterogeneous. This Hippie Spirit from the 70’s, of those who opted for a change. There are very few eclectic nights offering a musical alternative. Recently I spoke to George Evelyn from Nightmares on Wax about Spirit, changes and the local musical propositions. “I think the Spirit will maintain itself but change is the only constant thing. We can always moan about changes but they will happen always everywhere. When I moved here what disturbed me was the lack of alternatives (2005). Today we got them and this is very important. We can moan about the VIPs but they will always persist in places tailored for them.”
Luckily this path towards a change, this alternative, this openness seems to gather weight. So yes, it is possible that the island is changing and I opt for seeing it in a positive way. It has to be like this. In the same week as I write those lines artists came to Ibiza like The Libertines, Nightmares on Wax together with A Guy Called Gerald playing Hip Hop, DJ Harvey playing a whole night in Pikes and Phil Mison came back to his home. The Eivissa Jazz Festival and the Ibiza Reggae Festival with Horace Andy, Johnny Osbourne and George Clinton & Parliament performing for the fist time in Ibiza took place at the Baluart of Santa Lucia. So I opt to keep opening the options and I will cite somebody who keeps coming to the island for 20 years being one of the persons to understand best the musical propositions in this country. Gerardo Cartón is the ex director of Pias Spain, founder of the platform Playmoss and author of the flaming ‘Manual for the perfect ‘Festivaler”. Cartón explains that “The new generations keep changing and they are not as ‘specialized’ in their consuming habits as we used to be. The teenagers accept more genres. The Primavera Sound and Sonar in Barcelona knew how to popularize themselves without losing their identity. Those two events have a very specified personality and they keep programming about 80% of their proposals. Festivals outside of Spain are much more like it, in Coachella and Glastonbury you can find all kinds of music.”
If this island would open itself step by step it would become paradise in my eyes. A festival that lasts 120 days, in an incredible location inspiring as those where you can discover artists, bands, DJs, genres… without prejudice. The richness lies in the variation, and, in fact, this is one of the characteristics of this island. True? The mix. I would be even satisfied if we would just open our minds. Another example is our Croatian competitors. More than just a regular programming of clubs they offer a continuous proposition of festivals, with line-ups of electronic music without congeries, where ‘almost’ everything is possible. Exit, Outlook, Dimensions, Barrakud, Sonus, Soundwaves, Garden…. are an example that the music loving public, the fresh, interested, are moving towards them and leave Ibiza with a cheap tourism, the snob and the VIPs. This way the insulting concept of Ibiza for the cool and ‘intellectualoid’ keeps feeding itself. Let’s open up and potentise the cultural diversity. And I don’t mean to convert this into an island of intellectuals and hipsters (we got enough snobs), but a variety in its cultural proposal would segment the tourist who comes to explore Ibiza.
It would slow down the cheap and VIP tourism and would bring a more, let’s say, cultural interested tourist. And I don’t say to radically change the scenery. The line-ups during the summer are impressive, The global epicentre of dance music (oops sorry…) in terms of House, Techhouse and EDM keeps being Ibiza. But instead of repeating genres, concepts, DJs and line-ups, instead of offering more of the same and with it multiplying the competition causing half of the parties to be half empty, let’s do a step forward. There is music out there. Very interesting music. And good. And it is possible to adapt it to the paths of the island. In fact it would be good the island would adapt to certain proposals. And on the other hand if there are the same of the same, let’s leave some space to the residents. It’s cheaper and more beautiful. Valentin huedo, Ibizenco, ex resident of Café del Mar, now playing in Heart and Blue Marlin, told me “Being from Ibiza should not implicate to have more opportunities. If you earn the job you earned it. But the problem is that the resident has lost the respect towards him. The resident is filling holes. At the end the programming is done by agencies, those that book big artists. And on top it seems normal that ‘what comes from outside Ibiza is better’. If you have spent 1000 Euros in a DJ that comes as the ‘+ 1’ with the pack to book a big name DJ (the one who really sells the tickets) you obviously have to show more respect towards him, but the resident DJ knows the venue and certainly will play a better set than the other guest DJ.” A question of marketing and business. Once more, nothing of Underground.
Who can change this? The responsibility to not be left behind, to not get stuck in the same of the same, is with the bookers and media of the island, and maybe one of the problems of Ibiza is its omphaloskepsis and its endogamy. Generally it is said that Ibiza is the most cool and there is where we got stuck. So finally it looks like we are looking more into it when it comes to line-ups instead of looking at what happens in the global music scene (only when it comes to dance music). What is trendy in Ibiza this season? This? Ok, so all opt for the same thing. Somebody has to set a landmark, no? I repeat – the responsibility to do the next step is with the promoters. The professional ethics of a cultural booker should be to offer entertainment, but at the same time to open up for new artistic proposals and to cultivate.
A pedagogic equilibrium, economic, ethic and esthetic. Now this is a moral question. That is how it should be. If not we have to accept to be an island of industrial parties, and concepts like ‘Underground’, ‘Electronic music’ or ‘Advanced music’ are empty phrases. If we limit ourselves to say ‘we have to sell tickets’ we admit that this is all about business. But do we want that? Really? Cultural education is created by cultural agents, leisure time facilities and communication media. The ones that understand Ibiza just as a business model, the ones that only opt for money will befoul everything. That is what money does. Luckily there are only a few like this in Ibiza, the problem is they are very powerful. They want to offer the same parties, with the same people and the same style of music. Means – the ones who feel comfortable in the same style of activities will suffer from a lack of cultural supplements. Vital ones. The ones that feed the soul. And art, music in this case, means health.
That is why we get closer to a fellow human being, why we comprehend the other in ourselves, why we observe that something from an unknown gets reflected in our own inner self. From a stranger. And this helps us to understand a bit more about this world and our existence within. And, at least for me, to enjoy it more intensely. Ibiza has to be, and for me still is, this place on the map where you go to rediscover yourself. The sociologist Yves Michaud speaks in his book ‘Ibiza my love: Attempt to industrialize pleasure’ about the parallelism to Eden, to paradise. The almost perfect vision of hedonism where trance, liberation of repression and disorientation fuse together. Disorientation is difficult to specify but it is meant as something like a change of air on the search for new experiences. Let’s change air. Let’s search for new experiences.
Yes please – let’s change.
Tags: Christian Len Rosal