As acid house crossed over nationally in the UK and the tabloids started whipping up their manufactured outrage, Time Out Nightlife Editor Dave Swindells went to Ibiza with i-D writer Alix Sharkey to see where this culture had come from. They planned to reconnect the ‘Balearic beats’ that had kicked things off the previous year to the island of their birth. But their editor Don Atyeo told them to take a whole week and forget any preconceptions. He was a veteran reporter who had spent months in Zaire for the Rumble in the Jungle, getting to know Muhammad Ali, and he gave them the dream assignment – ‘Ask questions and let the story tell itself.’
Dave’s visual chronicle of that week in the sun has finally been packaged up into a glorious book, and while you’ve doubtless seen a couple of the more famous shots before – like the couple reflected in the Amnesia pyramid – seeing the full collection is brilliantly evocative. It’s like owning holiday snaps from a clubbing moment most of us missed out on. For the magazine (it was 20/20, Time Out‘s monthly lifestyle title), Dave concentrated on capturing a few dancefloor portraits and those all-important sunrise moments, picking out the incongruous mix of aristocratic Eurotrash and seasoned clubbers on the blag. Nightclub photography was a different game back then – the technology meant you needed an intrusive flash to catch any after-dark action. With a full book to expand into he’s been able to add all the contextual shots, showing the sleepy rural nature of ’80s Ibiza, giving us some great images of the epic club architecture, acres of fashion nostalgia, and a hint that Brits-abroad lager-boy lairiness was already in evidence.
1989 was the year before Ibizan authorities made the clubs build roofs over their dancefloors, so there’s a poignancy to the carefree partying. They were there for the opening of Amnesia, which figures large in the book – the club where Alfredo Fiorito’s playlist did so much to energise British music. Read the captions and you get a great idea of who was there – it’s a roll call of the more exploratory members of London nightlife. Alix Sharkey was very much a face about town and between him and Dave they could spot a London DJ or promoter at 20 paces. In fact the first person they encountered in Ibiza was Boy George, always an early adopter. Sharkey’s original piece is included and it’s a great scene-setter: scallies dancing with Italian princesses, labourers chatting up girls fresh from daddy’s yacht. There’s a nostalgic intro from Terry Farley, and Dave adds plenty of stories too. Blaggers rushing the door by getting on their hands and knees, ecstasy urchins shooting water pistols filled with liquid MDMA. All in all a wonderful time capsule. Frank Broughton
© Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton. All pics © Dave Swindells