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Flora Botsford in Ibiza
reports on the clubbing clampdown
 real 56k

Thursday, 12 July, 2001, 19:19 GMT 20:19 UK
Clampdown on Ibiza nightlife
Ibiza clubber
Clubbers have little thought for the chaos they leave
By Flora Botsford in Ibiza

The "anything goes" lifestyle of hundreds of thousands of ravers on Ibiza could be changing, thanks to a government crackdown on some of the excesses of the Mediterranean island's world-famous dance scene.

Everyone is welcome in Ibiza, but we have to ensure that they behave themselves

Jose Maria Rivas Tourism Minister
Two million tourists go to Ibiza every year - 700,000 of them British - and with clubs open all night, many go simply to party.

At the top end of the dance music scene, there are clubs like Pacha, where high-flying DJs such as Erick Morillo drop in from New York or London for one or two nights, attracting big crowds.

Ibiza provides the cutting edge of techno or trance music, although many also come to the island for drink, drugs, sun and sex, paying little attention to the chaos they leave in their wake.

Drunk sleeping
Some are so drunk they fall asleep on the street
Now the local government wants tighter controls: a 65-decibel sound-limit to cut down on noise pollution, all clubs to be fitted with noise-limiters, and restrictions on the capacity of clubs to be strictly enforced.

"Everyone is welcome in Ibiza, but we have to ensure that they behave themselves," says Jose Maria Rivas, Ibiza's Tourism Minister.

"We want people who come to Ibiza to have a good time, to enjoy themselves, but within certain controls. We can't just be swamped by so many people coming, mainly groups of young people, who sometimes go beyond the limit."

if you don't want to be disturbed, don't come

British clubber
The town of San Antonio, at the cheaper end of the market, is one of the government's main areas of concern.

Inebriated tourists, most of them British youngsters, stagger around the streets, some supported by friends, others crashed out in doorways, sleeping with bottle in hand.

While other towns in Spain are introducing on-the-spot fines for public drunkenness, in San Antonio locals and police mainly leave the tourists alone.

It's understood here that for many on holiday in Ibiza, the whole concept of tighter controls goes against the grain.

"I don't think they should come here if they're disturbed. If you come to Ibiza, this is what you come for - parties 'til 6 o'clock in the morning, it's why you come. And if you don't want to be disturbed, don't come," says one pretty blonde English girl, on holiday with her boyfriend.

Many in the music industry believe the 'anything goes' atmosphere of the island is what has created this special brand of Ibiza music

Both are wearing togas and planning a night out in Eden, one of San Antonio's big clubs.

A British law-student from Aberystwyth University agrees: "I think it's crazy to introduce controls. Ibiza has been like this for more than 20 years, a place for people to let their hair down and stay up til 6 o'clock with all their friends.

"There's no trouble at all here. Look at the streets - there's maybe one fight a night. In England, if you go to Liverpool or somewhere like that, there are maybe 40 fights a night or more."

Many people in the music industry are also opposed to the new measures. They believe the "anything goes" atmosphere of the island is what has created this special brand of Ibiza music, now a major export product in itself.

Locals say there is more to do in Ibiza than dance all night and sleep all day
"Everyone is soaking up that vibe, that Balearic feeling as it's been termed," says Lenny, a music producer from Denmark, who makes his own CDs under the name Ibizarre.

He is typical of many foreigners who come to Ibiza and love it so much that they never go home.

"There's something uplifting and positive about Ibiza," he says. "A joyous final escapism from the cruel world up north, where there are hard cities and you run away and this is paradise that you find. In all this, music is the predominant factor."

We have always been tolerant, but now we want to sleep, we want to rest, we want to have back the island

Local journalist Nito Verdera
But many locals support the government's efforts, and sympathise with the difficult balancing act it has to achieve: Ibiza badly needs the income tourism brings - $939m a year - and does not want to drive tourists away.

"Here we live out of the tourism, but people are fed up", says Nito Verdera, a local journalist who has been campaigning for years to clean up Ibiza.

"If you have bars making noise and you cannot sleep, and you see your children getting used to bad behaviour, it's too much. We have always been tolerant, but now we want to sleep, we want to rest, we want to have back the island."

Winning back the island is also a question of image; the government hopes in future to attract a different kind of tourist, one who is interested in the island's culture and wildlife.

Above all, it says there is more to do on Ibiza than dance all night and sleep all day.

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