The Worst Travel Experiences Of My Life, Part Four: Ibiza 1999

Getting absolutely battered in Ibiza is usually a whole lot of fun. Except there was this one time when it all went wrong for me on the White Isle.
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Ibiza, ah Ibiza, I hypothesise that many readers have great memories about lost nights in Ibiza, the great restaurants and beaches, the clubs, the drugs, the DJ's, the atmosphere, new lovers found and lost, the fucking stupid prices, and the horrible twats that run the entire island.

Hang on, you are thinking, the previous sentence doesn't finish the way I'd thought! What is going on?

Let me explain.

It was summer 1999, I was still young, just 21 in fact, still at University and working in a summer job in telesales that involved flogging mobile phones to the terminally insane.  I'd cobbled a few quid together and managed to pay for a week long holiday to the White Isle, at the time I was a devotee of house, drum and bass and, I'm ashamed to say, trance. The island holiday loomed large in my mind. I'd been working hard in a shitty sales job, and was looking forward to using the cash I'd earned to have a decent summer break. Three mates and I had booked the trip, and I boarded the flight at Cardiff airport in raptures.

My friends and I had planned what we'd do on the holiday, in one week, we could do a lot of what the island had to offer - Pacha, Es Paradis, Amnesia, Cafe Del Mar, Salinas beach, Ibiza town, hell, even Cafe Mambo and Eden were on the agenda. However, most of all we wanted to experience what was at the time THE one big Ibiza night, and that meant Monday.

Brighton's finest Norman Cook was spinning in the back room, if Norman Cook is playing the back room, you know the front room must contain someone special, and so it proved.

For us and about 10000 others, Monday in Ibiza meant a night at Manumission followed by all day at Space. That is exactly what we did, my friends and I went along to Bar M in San Antonio and got the tickets, at the time costing an extortionate £45. Remember this was back in 1999, even now this seems a huge amount for entry to a nightclub.

No matter, I was blown away, as soon as I entered I thought Privilege the most amazing place I'd ever seen: the decor, the people, the dancers, the performers in their ornate, sinister and brightly coloured costumes, the noise, the sweat and most of all the music. Despite the peripheral goings on - live sex shows, transvestites on stilts, fire eating dwarves and all the other things that Manumission was known for, to me, it was all about the music.

In my own view, there are two DJ's that most encapsulate Ibiza's history, hedonism and style of music - they are Jose Padilla and Alfredo. The latter was playing the main room at Manumisson that night. Brighton's finest Norman Cook was spinning in the back room, if Norman Cook is playing the back room, you know the front room must contain someone special, and so it proved. I danced till dawn, the time seeming to pass in minutes rather than hours. I cringe to admit it now, but "Luvstruck" by "Southside Spinners" was dropped at one point and I struggled to hold back the tears.

Oh dear.

My only excuse is immaturity.

Eventually, it was time to go to Space, we partied on way into the next day, spurred on by the amazing atmosphere on the terrace back in the days when it wasn't covered over. The following evening, which by now was Tuesday, we ended up in San Antonio at a bar called Amsterdam. At this point my three companions and I had been awake for the best part of 36 hours, we hadn't been drinking heavily, but, in order that we could get to sleep we decided to down a few shots before leaving. The four of us downed a few shots and were about to leave when fight broke out at the front of the bar, it was getting pretty rough. A load of Geordie boys had somehow got into a scrap with another group of lads, in any case, it was nothing to do with us and so we remained where we were and waited for things to settle down.

After a few minutes the police arrived, I thought that a good sign as the fight would calm down and normality would return, how wrong I was. The police, rather than restoring order, set about exacerbating the problem, they achieved this by throwing all the females out of the bar and leaving the males in there, then they gassed the place. At that point, utter chaos ensued, somehow, my friends and I got down on all fours and crawled to the front of the bar, by this point the cops were working other punters over with batons and barking in Spanish. We managed to get out of the bar and into the street, still on all fours. Once there we got up and ran for it down a hill toward the sea front.

We were all in our early twenties and were easily out running the fat, moustachioed, lazy Spanish coppers

In hindsight this was the most stupid thing we could have done, had we simply got to our feet, played it cool and melted into the crowd, the police most likely would have taken us for passers by and left us alone. However the fear was in us, and when one ran, we all did.

This action only served to draw attention to us and immediately a few cops peeled off from the main squad and gave chase. We were all in our early twenties and were easily out running the fat, moustachioed, lazy Spanish coppers. That was, until I got to the seafront and tripped over on some cobbles. This gave a few of the cops time to catch up and one of them took aim and swung his baton hard into my arm, connecting with the shoulder, I can't remember for how long or exactly what happened whilst I was being worked over, all sense of time became warped. When it was finished, they left me for dead and headed off. I got to my feet, my shoulder blade was sticking through my skin. A crowd was gathering and I was escorted to a bar where an ambulance was called, my friends were nowhere to be seen.

When the ambulance arrived it was explained to me that before going to hospital I would have to pay the ambulance driver a fee of £100 to take me. I didn't have the money so the ambulance took me to my hotel, the staff carried me to my room, opened the door and I gave them the code for the safe, they then took all of my money, around £300. I protested immensely but they ignored me, I was in shock and needed the hospital. Darkness fell.

I woke up the next morning in a hospital bed, slowly I pieced together the events of the previous night.  At first the memories were pleasant, then I recalled how I got there and became distraught. I didn't know where my friends were, I didn't know which hospital I was in, no staff were around. I started shouting for a nurse, one immediately appeared, clearly she was waiting outside my private room for me to wake up. She filled me in on what had happened: I was on a drip, a consultant was to see me later that day as an operation needed to be performed, the insurance company needed to be informed.  The nurse also imparted that actually it wasn't the next morning, but the one after that - I'd been asleep for around 36 hours.

Quickly, the situation became clearer, a message was sent to my friends at the hotel who were coming to bring my things. When they arrived they explained that they came back to look for me but that they saw the cops standing around as I was put in an ambulance and stayed away, they were too afraid to return to the hotel in case the police picked them up there, so were not around to witness me being robbed by the ambulance staff.

The insurance company agreed to pay my medical bills and also they flew my Father out to see me, I'm not a travel insurance salesman but if it wasn't for them, my medical bill and repatriation costs would have totalled £22000, as I didn't have my E111 form with me.

My father arrived and I asked him to get me a change of clothes, my bag was next to my bed but I couldn't reach it as my arm was strapped up and I was on a drip. He opened the bag to reveal what I should have known would be there. As well as my clothes, my mates had filled the bag up with the most despicable kinds of pornography: people fellating and penetrating horses, pigs and a whole menagerie of other animals. My Father is an intelligent chap and realised I'd been stitched up. Still, a tense moment, and one I laugh at from time to time when it pops into my head. Disconcertingly this is often when I am day dreaming on public transport. I've sometimes noticed through their expressions that other passengers have marked me out as the token "nutter" on the train - the ubiquitous character who laughs and gurgles to himself  -  I am sure he has been a feature of all commuters' journeys at one time or another.

I digress.

Instead of holding vigil at my bedside, the Old Man threw me a change of clothes, a couple of apples and sandwich and said "right, I'm pissing off down the beach", or words to that effect. I hardly saw him for days. I had my operation, the shoulder was dislocated and there was ligament damage, not to mention the bone through the skin. The Spanish surgeon did a good job. I spent in total a week at the hospital, which turned out to be in Ibiza town. My Father had a great time exploring the many boutiques and restaurants in that most cosmopolitan place and was even given an allowance to spend each day by the insurance company. When I told him I was being discharged and that we'd be leaving the next day I am sure he weighed up the risks in smashing my shoulder up again, just to prolong the holiday. That of course, is a joke, my Dad would never do that.

As far as my shoulder is concerned I still have no feeling in it to this day, and doubt I ever will. For months afterwards I had nightmares about one particularly vindictive Spanish cop with a huge moustache that did a lot of the beating. Apparently he is well known to those Brits in Ibiza that have done seasons over there. I sincerely hope what remaining life he has is plagued with misery. That sort of police brutality is a disgrace. The ambulance guys fare no better in my view, robbing patients who need prompt medical care. I salute you.

As my Father and I were going through security at Ibiza airport, my Father was carrying my hand luggage as I was unable. All around happy families with young kids were making their way back to their corner of the UK and were patiently waiting for their bags to be scanned. As we passed through the metal detector we were pulled to one side. The customs official opened my bag to search it, he proceeded to retrieve from the bag a huge black rubber dildo and a pair of handcuffs. Neither of us had checked the bag you see.

My friends of course had done a thorough job, I wouldn't expect any less.

My Father didn't speak to me, he didn't need to, the look on his face said it all.

It kept me chuckling right the way to my front door.

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