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Used to work for AVIVA offshoring IT to India.  Now retired through ill health, writing my life story as a series of blogs chronologically from birth to current time.  At www.jw-alifeofsurprises.blogspot.com

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Confusion! Confusion!

As House and Acid were predominant, the island was gearing itself up for what became known as the “Summer of Love - 1989!”  All the major clubs, Ku (later re-named Privilege), Amnesia, Space, Pacha, Es-Paradis and Star Club, were preparing to deliver what the clubbers wanted; Bottled water at extortionate prices, celebrity DJ’s and House and Acid Music.  The licensing laws on the island at that time stated that all clubs and bars had to close for at least two hours per day.  Space, a club just outside Ibiza Town launched that year, was an ‘open-air’ club and fed on clubbers who wanted to continue partying into the late morning (Midday) its dance floor packed with people waving bottles of water above their heads (occasionally drinking it to stop themselves dehydrating from the Ecstasy Tablets and Speed they’d taken), and shouting their heads off at the Airliners that flew directly overhead, as they landed and departed from the islands airport just a few miles along the coast.  As well as Space; Amnesia, Ku and Es-Paradis were also open air and were renowned for their late night (3am) foam parties and as they were going to be limited in the main to selling huge quantities of bottled water, not alcohol, they inflated the price of water to near £5 per 330ml bottle and doubled entry prices to compensate for lost revenue.

The bars in San Antonio (in what is called The West end) were all vying to attract clubbers for early drinks and dancing with a number of gimmicks; male and female ‘props’ in the street offering two-for-one drinks and free shots; live music, cocktail hours and happy hours.   Bar Confusion was not on the main drag so we needed something dramatically different but equally as enticing, if not more so, to attract customers.  We needed to differentiate our product from the mass-market offering available everywhere else (Is what a Marketing expert would say).  The only customers in the first weeks of the season would be holidaymakers passing the Bar as they walked from their hotels into town or from town out towards the west coast and Café Del Mar.  Café del Mar had become “The Place” for the ‘Chill out scene’; Ravers would flop down on the imported sand beach which covered the hard rocks beneath, (the sand would be washed away each winter requiring new sand every spring), crack open a litre bottle of finest water and watch as the sun slipped below the waves, listening to soon to be classic chill-out music played by the DJ’s who would then re-appear and at the top clubs later that night playing music at the other end of the musical spectrum.

The real brilliance of Dave’s plan, our “Differentiator” was the music we’d play and how we’d promote the bar.  Prior to our departure to decorate the bar, Dave enlisted the help of Vic, who had a vast collection of music in all formats.  Providing him with 50 or so blank tape cassettes, Vic was asked to copy onto them all music that fell within strict limits, which was either by the bands listed or fell strictly within the same genre, bands such as: U2, REM, The Alarm, The Cure, Killing Joke, Pixies, Sisters of Mercy, The Associates, Simple Minds, Water Boys, The Smiths, Joy Division and New Order, Talk Talk, The Fall, OMD, Morrissey, Tears For Fears, Art of Noise, The Adventures, B-52’s, Depeche Mode, A Flock of Seagulls, INXS, Gary Numan, Soft Cell, Talking Heads, Bowie, Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, James, The Charlatans, The Farm, Blur, Oasis, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Clash; I could go on and on.  There was definitely no disco, no love songs and no soft rock.  Although I was allowed the occasional Wham! or George Michael song by way of appeasement, I never heard them played.  My input was very limited which was probably for the best.  In between some of the songs, Vic inserted vocal clips from movies (Robin Williams shouting “Goooooooood Moooornnnnning Vietnammmmm!!” for example) and the chant “Confusion” from the New Order song of the same name and after which the bar was named, would jump out between numbers as well.

The outside of the bar was painted white and below the front window, Sid The Hippie, a resident English guy who’d been on the island for many years, reproduced the cover of the Joshua Tree Album by U2 in black paint and  to the left of the door, a large silhouette of The Edge.   Listed on this in chalk were the names of some of the bands and some of the pirated movies we’d play during the day.  Dave hit upon the idea that many of the clubbers would be too frazzled to hit the beach and would be happy to sit in our bar watching movies, the pirate copies such as: - Who Framed Roger Rabbit (! Go figure), Midnight Run (De Niro), Licence to Kill (Bond), Batman (Michael Keaton), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Star Trek – The Final Frontier, Good Morning Vietnam (very popular) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.  Obviously some of these were aimed at the younger generation as well, but you’d be surprised at what a drugged up Acid Head will watch.  I being somewhat of a soft touch, would happily allow guys to sit there watching a film without ordering a drink, whereas Dave would be asking who needed a drink, “I’ll bring it over to you,” he’d say.  If anyone declined he’d ask whether they thought this was a charity bar?  “Buy a drink or fuck off,” was his last offer before he’d eject them into the street.  Acidheads were notorious for making a 330ml bottle Mineral Water last all day, they’d sit in a trance-like state, staring at the TV screen rocking back and forth as if personal soundtrack to their life was playing over and over inside their head.  Families who came to watch the kid’s films always coughed up with Dad’s drinking numerous bottles of beer, as Mum would be downing the Southern Comfort.  Their kids would run around annoying the Acidheads, who’d moan and then be told to “Fuck off you cheap twat” by Dave as they’d spent hardly spent a peseta on beer.

Bar Confusion was next-door to The OK Corral, a typical English Pub abroad serving British beer, Sunday Roasts, Cottage Pie etc. owned and run by Liverpudlian husband and wife, Kaz and Reg and their friend Rick.  Dave called Rick either, “Souness”, due to his likeness to Graeme Souness the Liverpool FC player, (the likeness being a large moustache’) or the “Horizontal Barman”, on account of his falling down drunk one evening after a late night session as he “disappeared”, moving from the vertical to the horizontal in a second.  Next-door to The OK Corral was the Bar Quack Quack, owned by Ron and Bob, two Englishmen nearing retirement age and opposite was Bar Cantiti, an Ibicencian Café/Bar serving Tapas and drinks that attracted the locals run by a charming man called Bartolo.  

Reg, at The OK Corral had an amazing claim to fame and Dave called him the 5th Beatle, as he had been a school friend of Paul McCartney.  Meeting the teenage Paul McCartney on the bus one day they got talking about music and Reg said he played guitar.  Paul asked him if he wanted to join his new band?  Reg said he’d, “Have to ask my Mum as I’m at College,” and his Mum said “No!”  Thereby ending abruptly before it ever got started, the career he could have had as one of the Fab Four and hence becoming, the 5th Beatle.  The Iceman was perfectly named as he delivered all our Ice-cubes.  His father had started a water purification plant on the island and began producing ice-cubes en-masse to cater to the bars and clubs.  He was a real charmer, driving around the island in football shorts and a t-shirt in his refrigerated van.  I’m pretty certain that he’d have a beer in every bar he stopped at.  We closed up after the redecorations and caught a flight back to Luton, a quick trip back to collect anything we’d need for the summer and then we headed straight back to serve the masses.

1 comment:

  1. Jon, had a fantastic time there in the September of 89, I can remember reading the football scores in Quack Quack and drinking your ridiculous cocktails. Do you remember playing air guitar to Wish Away by the Wonderstuff?. As a mad Man City fan I used to harang Dave for stories from his time there, pretty sure this pissed him off a bit. Still listen to the songs from that summer, Pixies, wedding present etc, happy Days. Went back a few years later, the place was looking really tatty and just wasn't the same so drank up and left.
    Any ways, thanks for happy times that I still look back to now, cheers Rob