Are mid-life Mods & Scooterists channelling their inner Peter Pan or whatever the female equivalent is? For those of us returning to the scene, are we embracing our mid-life transition? I would never use the term mid-life crisis that puts far too negative a spin on it. My personal definition of the mid-life transition is the point in life where you were expecting to feel settled and satisfied only to find, when you get there, that you are neither settled nor satisfied…
Getting older means never having to play it cool about how much you like something.
…Maybe, you have been living your life according to external expectations, rather than your internal values and, you have discovered they are not the same. However, (and here’s the wonderful part) you have had enough experience to be clear about what makes you happy and enough time left to enjoy it. My lovely friend (and talented hairdresser) Karen, has a more succinct term for it: “second-life” or “second-lifers”. Personally, I think we’re all just geeks. Simon Pegg is quoted as saying: Being a geek means never having to play it cool about how much you like something. I rather like that!
I fear this won’t be the only post to feature the subject of age; George and I are slightly obsessed with it at the moment. I turned 45 this month and George will be 50 in July. The fact that we celebrated my birthday in Ibiza, in the middle of the Pacha dance floor, meant we had a lot of chats around the hotel pool about age, aging and age appropriateness.
Ibiza has been on my bucket list since I sat by a pool in Tenerife, about twenty years ago, with some girlfriends, listening to an early Café del Mar chill out album on my Walkman. George was reticent; for him, Ibiza conjures up visions of boozed up young Brits abroad and he didn’t want to find himself in an episode of Sunny Beach or worse, Sun, Sea and A&E. Basically, we will pay extra to party without the 18 to 30 crowd (is there still such a thing as the 18 to 30 holiday? You couldn’t have paid me to do that when I was 18 to 30 to be honest) but, we’re not ready for a private villa in the hills either. To be honest, we don’t even like the adult-only pools; other people’s children are the perfect combo: entertaining and, not our responsibility. Anyway, we needn’t have worried; Ibiza is FAR too expensive for kids. But, make no bones about it; Ibiza is, most definitely, a party island. In fact, to say Ibiza is a party island is a bit like saying the weather in England is changeable – it’s a given!
When the Carthaginians discovered Ibiza in 654 BC and founded a port (later Ibiza town) they dedicated it to the Egyptian god of music and dance. Later, in 123 BC the Romans conquered the Balearic Islands and, although it was never made part of the Roman Empire, Centurions would travel to the island to get their jollies between campaigns. More recently, in the 1960s, the hippies arrived, avoiding the prohibition of Franco’s mainland Spain, to party and settle. The hippies and their chilled vibe are a prominent influence in today’s Ibiza alongside the infamous club scene.
over the centuries, cultures around the Med have used the island either as a playground or a dump for the kind of people who didn’t quite fit in back home, but who you’d probably quite like to meet at a party…
The Ibiza club scene, as we know it came into its own by the late 1980s but, even that is experiencing a mid-life transition. Gone are the days of Manumission’s live sex shows, fraught Radio One broadcasts and DJ’s going AWOL (remember Lisa I’Anson’s sacking from BBC Radio One after a no-show the morning after a night out in Ibiza?). Since the late nineties/early noughties, the Ibiza club scene has grown up: There are sponsorship deals, brand identities, dress codes and DJ’s pushing 50 (and older). And, just in case you are still in any doubt about the culture of the island; the advertising hoarding around the island says it all. Every twelve-foot by twenty-four foot billboard we saw; whether on the side of buildings, purpose-built hoardings or free-standing on the roadside; all of them; every, single one advertised a nightclub, a club night or a DJ.
To quote Stephen Armstrong (The White Island, Transworld Digital 2012) “over the centuries, cultures around the Med have used the island either as a playground or a dump for the kind of people who didn’t quite fit in back home, but who you’d probably quite like to meet at a party…” Or, as George put it “it’s full of people who, if you met them at home you’d think stop fannying around and get a job but, on holiday you think I’ve just met the nicest, chilled out guy!” Ibiza is hedonism in its purest form: The school of thought, which argues that pleasure, is the primary or most important, intrinsic good. Put simply, a hedonist strives to maximise net pleasure: pleasure minus pain. So, in the name of mid-life Mods and Scooterists everywhere I claim Ibiza as our spiritual holiday home.
Why do I love thee, Ibiza? Let me count the ways…
ONE: Scooters! Everywhere!
We probably could have lived without topless, overweight, middle-aged man flesh flailing in the wind and, it is terrifying to see bikini clad, flip-flop wearing riders. However, Ibiza is one of the few places, outside of the Isle of Wight in August, where there are so many scooters on the road that the machines themselves feel like a culture or tribe in their own right. Unfortunately ‘someone’ (ahem George) forgot his driving license so we were shanks’ pony for the most part. He’s not really in the doghouse; the use of a motor vehicle would have severely hampered our ability to enjoy copious amounts of vodka cocktails over lunch!
Hippies, in their natural habitat create a truly accepting and non-judgemental cultural vibe. How many times have you witnessed one Mod calling out another who they feel is ‘fake’, not a real Mod, not as ‘Mod’ as them? Or, Scooterists mocking the ‘Comedy Mod’? Honestly how many times have you been guilty of the same (I know I have)? Valuing how you present yourself and not judging others for how they present themselves are not mutually exclusive. It might help, sometimes to remind ourselves of that before the Mod movement implodes from self-celebratory narcissism. We are all prejudice (Yes we are!). It’s impossible not to be influenced by negative influences, experiences and stereotypes; the trick is to recognise the prejudice thought for what it is and not act on it. We shouldn’t be responsible for limiting someone else’s experience by acting on our prejudice. I was raised by hippies so, believe me when I tell you that calling yourself a hippy does not make you the perfect human being. However, in this context, where this particular group of people has had such a profound influence on this small island it’s a lesson into living your authentic life. It’s a lesson in being your authentic self and respecting the authenticity of the lives others choose to live. It’s presenting your best self to the world. It’s BEING the best version of you. It’s clean living under difficult circumstances.
THREE: Premium Hedonism
OK, on the face of it, paying a premium doesn’t sounds like a positive but, what it does do is create a niche; it’s a boutique Spanish holiday. It’s like the wine bar of bars, the country pub of pubs; the Northern Soul club of soul clubs. It’s Chelsea without the toffs. You may not be able to afford the drinks at the bar, but no-one’s going to look at you like you shouldn’t be there. It’s where you can say HOW MUCH?! (€28 for two cans of Red Bull in Pacha) and receive an apologetic shrug, no one’s judging you. It’s a Spanish holiday resort with a twist: It naturally filters out those that like the sound of it but can get it cheaper somewhere else. Bottom line: The people who are in Ibiza want to be in Ibiza; not the Costa del Sol, not the Canary Islands: Ibiza. It’s the place where grown-ups can go to be silly.
Ibiza is hedonism in its purest form: The school of thought, which argues that pleasure, is the primary or most important, intrinsic good. Put simply, a hedonist strives to maximise net pleasure: pleasure minus pain
Specifically, Flower Power at Pacha. I wanted to do something special for my birthday but didn’t want to end up somewhere feeling old and out-of-place. I did my research before we booked and, the general consensus appeared to be that ‘age isn’t an issue anywhere in Ibiza (people retire there, to enjoy the clubbing scene) and, there will always be someone older than you. But, it wasn’t just about being the oldest; I wanted a good night out dancing. Let’s be honest, I wanted to recognise the majority of tunes and spend the night throwing my head back, throwing my hands up in the air, shouting I LOVE THIS SONG! Flower Power is one of the few (only?) big club nights that isn’t seven hours of ‘doof, doof, doof’.
I would have been happy with some old house & garage tunes but, my ‘birthday joker card’ is only good for so much before George can veto and, it’s not really much fun unless we’re both having fun. Flower Power is billed as one of the most noteworthy but underrated parties in Ibiza; maybe lesser known to the majority of outsiders, but easily one of the most popular amongst those in the know. Resident DJ’s play music through the decades; 1960s through 1980s. Whilst, obviously not strictly Mod there is definitely some musical cross-over but, for the mid-lifers it’s like a bloody awesome 60s party stroke school disco stroke birthday party all wrapped into one. It is very difficult to explain exactly how perfect the night is. All I can really do is tell you that, the moment we walked through the entrance area and into the club, we were both quite overwhelmed. I am quite a conservative, reserved Brit (I know this because I work with a lot of Americans who tell me so, as do my Scottish in-laws). Don’t get me wrong, I like a drink and a good dance; I can let my hair down but, I am always conscious of not acting like a complete twit. I own a sweatshirt that reads Dance Like EVERYONE Is Watching! Upon entering Pacha (and, I’m not proud. Actually, sod it, yes I am) I turned to George and jumped up and down clapping my hands in pure joy. George, who had earlier in the evening let out a “oh, god I’m not looking forward to this” before promptly winding his neck in, giving me a hug, wishing me a happy birthday and, in his most cheerful voice said “let’s go and have some fun!” turned to me in that exact moment in Pacha’s entrance and screamed in my face “WE’RE DEFINITELY DOING THIS AGAIN NEXT YEAR!” … and we hadn’t even done it this year yet!
George is right, we are DEFINITELY doing it again. We’re already planning Ibiza 2016 …we’ll be in Pacha, second Tuesday in June. Will we see you there?
Click on the pink car for ‘Ibiza Views’
additional photos and my tips for visiting Ibiza