For decades the Spanish island has played host to a revolving pantheon of queer icons and bristling locales, divas and discotheques—from Grace Jones and Freddie Mercury to the iconic and enduring Pikes that played host to them both (and to the latter’s 41st birthday party).
GAY TIMES spoke to some of the iconic faces and visited some of the iconic places, that loom large and beautiful over the legendary Balearic island. Our gorgeous base of operations was the dazzling W Ibiza: an exquisite 5-star paradise nestled on the promenade along Santa Eulalia Beach (a convenient backdrop for indulging in a moonlit, midnight swim as we did). Beautifully decorated rooms, decadent dining at its groundfloor restaurant Fire, rooftop cocktails at Glow bar, and delightfully attentive staff made for the dreamiest of stays—and a perfect location from which ‘La Isla Blanca’ unfolded itself to us.
Finn Love, queer Artist, dancer extraordinaire, and much-recognised face of Glitterbox Ibiza had plenty to muse on about Ibiza and it’s queer history: “Old town has gay clubs, and there is a queer history there, but for me one of the the most thrilling and exciting things about Ibiza [for me], especially to begin with—In 2018 when I first flew out there for work, London was having this venue-closure crisis. Savage had just shut down, and it really felt like in London especially, nobody gave a fuck about queer nightlife. It felt like we were constantly being carted around to different venues; there was a real sense of scarcity. I landed in Ibiza, and literally couldn’t believe that every single billboard on the island was dedicated to nightlife. I had this moment, of ‘This is what is possible, when people actually care and value creating nightlife spaces.’
There are all the negatives and challenged that come along with that, but it was such a liberating experience for me, because Glitterbox obviously puts our friends, our community, the people that dance for them, on these huge billboards—out in the dessert, by the airport. So my experience and the relationship I have with the island is one of a sense of childhood giddiness, of feeling valued and famous for doing something with the UK really doesn’t respect in the same kind of way. The island does have some kind of mystical power…there’s also an element of Ibiza being a rite of passage. It exists as this mystical place, because everybody who goes there imbues it with this sense of magic.’
The unmitigated luxury of a day at Six Senses Ibiza firmly placed us in White Lotus territory, with an infinity pool and views unmatched across the island. The Standard, upholding its reputation for chic surroundings and even chicer attendees, played host to a gorgeous rooftop dinner in the heart of the old town that was a night to remember.
Ashraf Ejjbair, coordinator of HE.SHE.THEY—a multi-hyphenate self-described “record label, fashion label and inclusive party for EVERYONE specialising in house and techno music”—said this of its part in Ibiza’s eclectic queer nightlife offering: “Historically, Ibiza used to be way more queer, way more of a haven for artists and have a much grittier rave culture than it’s known for now. With our HE.SHE.THEY. residency at Amnesia this past summer, we are harkening back to those original roots of what made the island fab. More inclusive space with diverse line-ups and a dancefloor filled with ravers properly loving it. Over the moon with the response.”
Joey Ghazal, founder of the MAINE Mayfair, Dubai, and most recently the MAINE Ibiza (where we had a gorgeous dinner and shots of the local digestif before heading to DC10) had this to say: “I have been going to Ibiza for 20 years. I think the first time I went was in 1999 or 2000, the first year of Circo Loco. Obviously it’s changed over the decades, and I’ve changed. I’ve always had my eyes set on Ibiza, it’s always felt very familiar to me. To be honest the [location of Maine Ibiza] found me—I got a call in March, that this location was available—an old 17th Century parish that belongs to a church, and it had been a restaurant about four or five years ago. It really had good bones and I immediately knew what I wanted to do with it. It’s really such a magical location, located in the UNESCO world heritage site: the protected salt flats of salines where the flamingos come to feed. Ibiza is kind of becoming a foodie destination over the years. People are not only going to the island to party, but also to relax and discover and to hike, to have many different experiences. I think part of that is obviously food and entertainment, and it was very important for me to create something that had a sense of place, and really drew on the surroundings, on the nature, and really work with local farmers and producers and bring something to the island that I felt was missing.”
Whatever your desire—your goal, your tastes, or persuasions—there is an iteration of the Ibizan adventure waiting to be lived and discovered by you; one to be remembered for a lifetime. As Finn Love concludes consummately: “Depending on how tacky or chic you want to go, there’s every step on the ladder of holiday vibe…no matter where on the socio-economic ladder you are, going to Ibiza is still something that’s considered exciting and glamorous, and I think it’s quite unique in that respect.”