The original Ibiza Uncovered series is rerun from time to time on Sky television channels. When it was filmed across Ibiza in 1997 I was on the Island, supposedly to shoot film for a travel company.
Ibiza Uncovered in many ways led the way for cheap, fly-on-the-wall television and was a precursor for bottom-of-the-barrel ‘reality’ television shows like Big Brother. The fact it is still being shown eighteen years since it was made shows that the 15 minutes of fame that made the original series possible, can be strung out ad infinitum.
Of course Ibiza wasn’t totally uncovered because the series makers kept their eye on mainstream music, vomit and blind hedonism, and left the interesting stuff alone; like the age-old culture of baksheesh, for example, in which travel companies use their paying customers as pawns and attempt to make money on every drink they buy, in pretty much every bar and club into which they are herded.
The commercial blueprint was to fly the punters out cheap, then make money by pressuring this captive audience into buying tickets for daily and nightly excursions, for which the mark-up is far higher. At the time, I thought it strange that a bus bus load of impressionable young Brits were taken go-carting after getting blind drunk on a wine-tasting expedition. But when an ex-rep told me that backhanders even extend to some companies taking a cut of the medical insurance payouts, from a preferred list of emergency Doctors, it made a perverse kind of commercial sense.
Some days into my stay, I was so pissed off by the schmooze and cynicism of those higher up the Rep-chain, and the way the company worked new reps like Chinese slaves, I decided I didn’t want to make these bastards look good.
So I went off and did my own thing, shooting Ibiza clubbing images in my own time and for myself.
For some of those featured in the Ibiza Uncovered series, the 15 minutes of fame they enjoyed back in the day will have turned into a nightmare on a loop, as their year of living dangerously keeps coming back to haunt them in never ending repeats.
But the majority, who’ve long been back in the humdrum world of 9 to 5, will no doubt be happy for one more opportunity to tell it like it was to the guys on the shop floor, at their A.A. meeting, or the other mums on the school run.
When I watched Ibiza Uncovered again recently it confirmed what I felt at the time: that Ibiza, like sunshine resorts the world over, is a magnet for shits and sharks, who ruthlessly exploit paying punters and the escapist dreams of those who arrive at the airport with little more than the clothes they wear.
Each and every summer, the people who shine through the grubby mess of humanity aren’t thieving employers nor navel-gazing club promoters, but rather the gullible first year reps and young clubbers: Unlike professional manipulators and poseurs, their behaviour isn’t pre-meditated and their excess at least has the fresher air of youth.
Humanly speaking, Ibiza Uncovered chose not to dig deeply into the bigger story, of how the Ibiza dream quickly becomes the nightmare, and for every person who flew out that year (and every year since) in search of a summer of love on a decent wage, there are dozens who end up stuck up on a podium and PRing pizza’s for peanuts, or flogging dodgy E’s with their fliers (or worse).
A far more interesting television series could’ve been made from the out-takes, or if those featured in the original Ibiza Uncovered series were revisited, to see how their lives had changed in the years since they got their fifteen minutes. But this might have delivered too much reality for mainstream television to swallow.
One of my favourite writers stated somewhere than the future sometimes projects a shadow backwards, occasionally giving you an intimation of what lies ahead. This feels true of photography, and quite often you can feel a great picture coming and you lock in on the forthcoming moment like a laser guided missile.
The above picture is of of those moments, which captures much of the essence of Ibiza Nights in a single frame, and which lasted perhaps 300th of a second.