Ibiza’s Best Road

View from the Sant Joan road

Portinatx to Sant Joan, Ibiza, Spain

Hotels cling to the cliffs at Portinatx like acrylic nails, a perfect backdrop to sunburnt kids and beery parents. A small brown sign points the way out: Sant Joan. Sharp right, down-shift. The road lifts you above the roofs of the holiday apartments and turns its back on the dive school. Flirt with third, settle for second. No need to rush along the ribbon of asphalt unwinding in a haze of pine boughs. You’re following a track carved out over centuries by peasant feet and donkey carts. Only the surface has changed. Above you, a jewel-bright sky. Pull over and inhale the silence. Beyond a shimmering basin of green, the Mediterranean gift-wraps the view with a band of silver.

Creative Writing Courses – What Are They Good For?

Discouraged by an aimless and effortful morning’s writing, I go browsing for inspiration. Perhaps the University of Iowa Writing Center will have some wisdom. Sure enough, the first words I encounter are so to-the-point that I check to make sure the author isn’t peering over my shoulder:

I’ve noticed three frequently recurring traps that beginning writers tend to fall into when developing characters:
[First] The narrator or protagonist of the story will often be a barely veiled version of the writer himself (in this situation, secondary characters will often also bear a close resemblance to real-life people from the writer’s life). The first problem with this is that the story tends to become autobiography dressed up as fiction.

I feel exposed, caught red-handed making up a story about someone who talks, moves, reads, dreams, and fails like I do; someone who has friends, a sister, parents, and a house like mine. Disgruntled, I go to the beach, take refuge in the lee of an abandoned boat and pull my sunhat over my face. Footsteps pad along the wooden promenade; a bike creaks past. The protagonist is a thinly disguised version of the writer. Unbidden, my brain chirps: so what? Like the final click of a combination lock, this thought is succeeded by a heavy door swinging silently open. A stream of ideas tumbles out, insistent. I sit up, fish around for a pen and notebook, and start channelling:

Is that a bad thing? First novels have to begin somewhere – why is the writer’s life a less-legitimate subject?

I’m propped awkwardly on one elbow, holding the sunhat in place with my left hand. F Scott Fitzgerald – This Side of Paradise, Mavis Gallant – When We Were Nearly Young, Martha Gellhorn – The Fall and Rise of Mrs Hapgood, Evelyn Waugh – Brideshead Revisited, J.D. Salinger – For Esme – With Love and Squalor. I could go on, and on, and on, listing magnificent fiction starring protagonists who are quite patently “barely veiled version[s] of the writer” and are, unapologetically, “autobiography dressed up as fiction.” Plainly the implicit criticism of autobiographical fiction is nonsense. Why would a writing teacher suggest otherwise?

I continue:

The problem with [creative writing] MFAs is they make you self-conscious before you should be. By telling you the stages of a writer’s development they make you want to skip through [them] but knowing and experiencing something are two different things. The self-consciousness doesn’t automatically make you better it just makes you self-conscious – this is only intermittently useful. Making dire blanket statements is lazy, and promotes the idea there is a formula to good writing – [an] ideology designed to keep people fearfully shelling out for MFAs. If I had it to do again I’d have paid off my credit card instead, or bought a round-the-world ticket and a Kindle and had something to write about.

The more I think about it, the more creative writing MAs seem like an audacious con. Writing is like having love affairs. You go through good, bad, ugly, heart-breaking, stupid, euphoric, and catastrophic iterations. You learn by doing, by making bad choices, by making good choices by accident and only recognising them as such in retrospect. There is a certain, limited amount you can absorb through studying the experience of others but, ultimately, when it’s you and the page, nothing anyone tells you is going to make your writing right. At best, you might start off being a little less wrong, but I imagine a good writer only gains a few metres competitive advantage by taking an MFA, and a bad writer will still be a bad writer – only armed with jargon.

If you wish to have a faculty for reading, read; if for writing, write…
if you wish to acquire a habit for anything, do the thing. – Epictetus

If there is a justification for teaching writing it is that most writers need deprogramming from the rest of their education. After a lifetime of rote learning, exam scores, grades, etc they need to rediscover the ability to not-much-give-a-fuck what anyone else thinks. They need to unlearn the habit of respect for authority. They need to trust their instinct and learn from the language itself. In The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas (a work of fiction U Iowa would presumably disparage) Gertrude Stein writes: “The English language was [my] medium and with the English language the task was to be achieved, the problem solved.”

A useful, necessary writing course is one that begins from the premise that great writing cannot be taught. Its function should be to protect writers – especially from excessive self-consciousness and self-criticism; to guide them around obvious pitfalls; and encourage them to write joyously, with increasing control and confidence. Good writers are invariably readers. They will absorb all the linguistic nutrients they need if they just stay rooted long enough. Writing courses should exist to give succor and space to think. Advice and writing exercises are only aids, toys for children to splash around with while they gain the strength to tackle deeper water.

NB: All of this is written with respect and appreciation for the wisdom and support of my creative writing tutors. Among other things they prompted me to read a number of excellent books based entirely on the authors’ lives and experiences.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – James Joyce
The Things We Used to Say – Natalia Ginzburg
Another Country – James Baldwin
To The Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf
Goodbye to Berlin – Christopher Isherwood
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas – Gertrude Stein


Posted by Cila Warncke

As usual, I’ve been in Ibiza about five minutes and am already bored to the back teeth. Nothing and no-one, has changed. Walk into a bar and the same drunks are propping it up, the same coke-heads are rambling to anyone who will listen, the same high-pitched squeals are coming from nondescript women in too little clothing. When I bitched about this over dinner my friend pointed out that, by and large, the expat set isn’t overburdened with education or ready cash. Hence the tendency to sit in the same places, repeating themselves, like parrots on perches.

It’s a plausible theory, but wrong. Money is no no object when it comes to being interesting. I’ve spent some of my happiest hours drinking gut-rot wine in unheated houses, never caring that my friends and I were flat broke. Being penniless with the right people is a wonderful aid to conversation. Without the distraction of the things you can do with money, you make your own entertainment.

The notion that the well-educated are automatically delivered from dullness is equally nonsensical. Education can’t make anyone a jot more interesting than their nature dictates. Where education is telling is the lengths to which fascinating people will go to pursue it. The difference between stultifying and intriguing boils down to curiosity. People who are restless to learn, see, experience, discover, discuss and explore are never, ever boring.

Poor doesn’t matter, educated doesn’t matter, age doesn’t matter, location doesn’t matter. All a person needs to be endlessly, intoxicatingly interesting is to be full of questions, and always seeking answers.

DJs 4 DRC – DJs for the Democratic Republic of Congo

Posted by Cila Warncke

An excerpt from my interview with DJ/producer and philanthropist Jay Haze about his
DJs for DRC charity project.

djs for drc

Read the original at Ibiza Voice

Jay believes music can help save the world and he’s leading by example with his charity project DJs4DRC (DJs for the Democratic Republic of Congo).

Jay has changed since he gave Ibiza Voice an unforgettable interview chronicling his chaotic journey from teenage jailbird to musical powerhouse. Then, he simmered with ideas and outrage, drawing a self-portrait of the artist as a bareknuckle brawler. Today he is equally sharp, still occasionally self-aggrandising, but he has the confidence and urgency of someone who is pushing towards the future, rather than meditating on the past. Here’s what he has to say…

What’s new with you, Jay?
I’ve been travelling a lot – Thailand, Brazil, all over. I’m working on DJs4DRC, trying to raise awareness within the club culture and motivate people to do something.

What is DJs4DRC?
It is a charity project I started by donating 100% of the proceeds of my Fabric mix to charities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is [the site of] the world’s biggest peacekeeping operation right now. There are children being used as soldiers, women being sexually abused. It’s bad. What I’m trying to do is kick people in the butt, remind that even small efforts can have big results.

What are asking people to do?
I’m donating 50% of all my DJ gig fees from September through December to the charity, and asking other DJs to donate 50% of their fee from one gig. Tiefschwarz, Tiga, Loco Dice, Luciano and DJ Sneak are some of the DJs who are contributing.

Where do those donations go?
In January I’m taking the money to the DRC. We’re going with a film crew and we’re going to shoot a documentary. We want to raise clubbers’ awareness, as well as DJs and promoters. We want to create a picture of what is going on [to educate] club culture as a whole. Right now the face of club is one of ignorance.I want to represent dance culture in a positive way, through my charity work…

Does this mean you’ll retire from music?
No! Music is my passion. I’ll never stop making music. But I make music to express myself. I never made music to get a gig, never made music to be cool. I make music to feel. This is why I have so many musical styles. It’s a form of expression to me.

What about paying the bills?
Art and money should be completely separate. One is an expression of thoughts and feelings; the other is an expression of ego.

What’s next for you?
Just keep doing what I’m doing! I want to represent dance culture in a positive way, through my charity work. Through releasing what I believe in and doing projects I believe in. After we shoot the documentary [in DRC] I want to set up DJs4DRC as a foundation.

What kind of work will the foundation do?
I want to build schools to teach music in Africa, to promote peace through creativity. Tapping into my creativity changed my life, and I want to share that. I see my future doing music with children, with people from all different kinds of backgrounds. If people in conflict zones can go and put their mind into something creative it can have a huge impact.

Dance music has a reputation for being self-centred – can you change that?

This industry is not filled with people who only care about themselves. It is full of people who don’t yet know how they can help. DJs4DRC is showing a way they can.

DJs for DRC

Fuckpony ‘Let The Love Flow’ is out 26 October on BPitch Control.


Free Thinking – Fighting Capitalism from Within

Posted by Cila Warncke

I just finished Peter Chapman’s excellent expose Jungle Capitalists about ruthless banana baron United Fruit Corporation which ran Central America as its private fiefdom for most of a century – casually killing off unruly workers, uncooperative heads of state, uncharted jungle and anything else that got in its way. It got me thinking about the antidote to brute free market economics. Given that we live in an anxiety-riddled, security obsessed, paranoid late-capitalist society there are limited alternatives. You can’t drop out and live off the land anymore unless you’re rich enough to buy the land in the first place, and our high-tech culture makes it difficult to live a private life. It isn’t easy to shape your own existence, given the physical, legal and ideological constraints on personal freedom. There are people, however, who take on the challenge and look for creative ways to address the ever-present imperative to pay the rent while doing something that is personally meaningful and socially beneficial. These unsung freedom fighters fuck with the system by surviving within it while doing what they want to do – and by using their skills in constructive, cooperative ways. In a perfect world, it’s what everyone would do.

This is the first instalment of what I hope will become a long series of blogs profiling individuals and businesses that operate outside the prevailing paradigm. First up, Algo Mas – a 100% Fair Trade shop in Ibiza.

Thursday evening in the tiny village of Sant Miquel and the plaza below the Iglesia is full of children, music and the scent of home baking. On the corner, door and sky-blue shutters flung open, sits Algo Mas. This small Fair Trade shop has just celebrated its second anniversary and judging by the stream of locals who stop to say hello, it is firmly cemented in the community. Italian expats Valeria Cova and Aurietta Sala run the shop, along with Blanca Llosent. Aurietta and Valeria are Italian, but have each lived in Ibiza for more than 30 years and have fond memories of the days when visiting friends meant half a day’s walk through the countryside and dinner by candlelight. They are not hippie dilettantes, however, or airy fairy idealists. Algo Mas is the product of hard work, common sense and a firm commitment to the principles of Fair Trade. Click here to continue reading

DJ Mag: 50 Ways to Do Ibiza

Posted by Cila Warncke

Originally published in DJ Magazine Ibiza Edition 2008

1. Look both ways
Traffic runs on the right-hand side of the road here. Whether on foot or in a hire car an unexpected encounter with a fast-moving moto will ruin your holiday.

2. Take the bus
Everything else in Ibiza is “mañana, mañana” but the buses arrive and depart with Prussian regularity. You can zip between Ibiza Town and San An or Santa Eularia in 20 minutes, for a mere €1.65 (compared to €20 in a taxi) or hop on the Disco Bus to Amnesia or Privilege for €2.10, saving yourself the cost of a vodka limon.

3. Go to Underground
The tagline on its website reads “not for everyone” but that’s precisely why you should spend at least one night partying at this converted 200-year-old farmhouse. It’s a second home for the island regulars so the best place to pick up gossip or news about the coolest villa parties.

4. Go to a local café

Spanked your MasterCard buying shots at Pacha? Seek out the Ibicenco equivalent of a greasy spoon and enjoy a three-course meal with a drink for under a tenner. Also, Spanish laborers are partial to a beer or chupito with their breakfast so workerman’s cafés are an ideal place for a sneaky post-club bevy.

5. Have a drink at Teatro Pereyra
The drink prices are daunting (watch out for the €50 bottles of wine) but you have to visit this red-velvet venue at the end of Vara De Rey at least once for its live music and retro ambiance.

6. Hire a chef…
You’re in a villa full of hungry people more adept at frying their brains than frying eggs. Why not pool your resources and call for help? Catering companies like Le Grande Bouffe will whip up dinner, or provide a fabulous beachside picnic – for less money and hassle than doing it yourself.

7. Try vino payes from the source

There are polished local wines on offer in restaurants and shops but for an authentic taste of the island visit a vineyard like Can Pep (Sant Llorenc) or Can Rich (San An) and ask for a slug of vino payes – the Ibicenco vintner’s version of homebrew. Quality varies wildly by year and ‘yard but it’s better than the €2 bilge at Spar.

8. Talk to bar staff
They’re more than just drink dispensers, you know. If you’re looking for a great underground party go chat to Dave and Duze at Lo Cura or make friends with Steve or Sophie at Delano. Curious about island history? Miguel at Marino is a walking encyclopedia of local lore.

9. Take a barbeque to Sant Llorenc
Don’t spend your whole holiday living on ham & cheese baguettes – get out of town and up to the tiny village of Sant Llorenc to its municipal park/barbeque spot. There are picnic tables, individual bbq pits and even firewood.

10. Make sure you have your EHIC card

Hopefully you won’t need it but be sure to get your European Health Insurance Card before you fly. It entitles you to free emergency medical treatment (and Spain’s top-notch state health service puts the NHS to shame, so you’ll be in good hands).

11. Embrace Eroski
With its red white and blue logo Eroski looks more like a petrol station than a grocery store but it’ll save your budget. They do freshly baked bread, inexpensive booze, nice produce and their own-brand toiletries will bail you out if you forgot the wash bag.

12. Dance to cheese on the Sunset Terrace
Now the Space terrace is just another box with a roof and windows go catch the last remaining vestiges of the open-air vibe on the sunset terrace. Tom Novy, a resident for going on 15 years, will play the most appalling cheese imaginable and but somehow the extra dose of sunshine makes it bearable.

13. Get invited to a villa party
You haven’t lived till you’ve gotten off your head at a stranger’s country house… and with the strict opening hours laws in effect this season villa parties will be the only way to go. To snare an invite strike up conversations with the regulars at the bars in the old town.

14. Wear fancy dress

Embrace the un-coolness of wonky glasses, comedy wigs and outrageous charity shop castoffs. Look like a plum? Who cares! It’s Ibiza. Put on your weirdest clobber and take to the dancefloor with pride.

15. Get a tattoo
Perhaps it’s something to do with the general air of live-and-let-live liberalism, but Ibiza has more tattoos per capita than most prisons and great tattoo artists as well. For a permanent reminder of your perfect island summer visit Sandra at Tiki Tattoo who creates one-of-a-kind Tahitian tribal designs, or head to Inkadelic in the Mercado Viejo where Luca specialises in gorgeous script.

16. Hang out at Ocean Drive
The DJ hotel of choice, Ocean Drive at the end of Marina Botafoc is the perfect place to gatecrash debauched after-hours parties. Every weekend its full of the We Love… line-up and Pacha regulars so get down to the bar, blend in, and see where the night takes you.

17. Have a pizza at Punto.It
It’s approximately the size of a phone box but this pizzeria on the main drag in Figueretes dishes up the most delicious, authentic Neapolitan pizzas imaginable. Can’t be bothered to leave your apartment? They deliver too, just call +34 971 39 30 67.

18. Stock up on Saturday
Ibiza shuts down on Sundays so get in plenty of water, booze, loo roll and Rizla the day before. There’s nothing worse than rolling home after a heavy night to find your apartment fridge empty apart from jar of mayonnaise and a half-drunk tin of San Miguel.

19. Experience the ice cannon at Amnesia
You haven’t lived until you’ve stood in the pulsating centre of the main room at Amnesia, blinded by the lights and suddenly felt the temperature drop from 35 degrees to zero as the ice cannon belch out a blast of dry ice. It’s the best rush on the island, even stone-cold sober.

20. Get a massage on the beach
It’ll help shift the toxins and lactic acid produced by a heavy night’s raving and give you the energy boost you need to enjoy the next party.

21. Hire a mountain bike
Cheat traffic by hiring at bike. It’s the best way to get to Salinas or Es Cavallet during the height of the season, and if you fancy getting away from it all head inland towards Sant Llorenc or Sant Mateu for a relaxing ride in the countryside.

22. Get in the swim
There’s no call to learn open water swimming in England but it’d be a crime not to take advantage of Ibiza’s the crystalline shallows. Brush up on your skills and confidence with an hour or two of personalized coaching from Ibiza Swim.

23. Drink hierbas
Make like one of the locals and finish off your meal with a chupito (shot) of hierbas, the traditional Ibicenco licquer. It tastes a like a sweeter, milder Sambucca and is strangely, addictively refreshing.

24. Learn enough Spanish to order a cab
Radio taxi dispatchers in Ibiza are known for their zero-tolerance, especially at the height of the season. Speaking English will get you nowhere so remember this phrase: “Quiero un taxi desde (where you are) a (where you want to go), por favor.” It’s your only hope.

25. Go diving at Punta Galera

This rocky stretch of coastline at the end of San An bay is a fantastic place for diving. And the lack of a sand beach means it’s never crowded, even in mid-summer.

26. Eat fruit from the tree

We’re not suggesting climbing any fences to steal oranges (tempting though it might be if you’re down to your last 10 euros) but if you happen upon a fruit tree in the campo there is nothing more delicious than a freshly picked, sun-warmed fig or Clementine.

27. Share a taxi with a random
Shed your British inhibitions about talking in queues and find out who else is headed your way. It saves time, money, the environment and is good karma to boot.

28. Wine spritzers
Mixing good wine with fizzy water feels wrong somehow, but after a couple of stonking hangovers you’ll begin to see why Ibicencos regularly dilute their vino with a dash of agua con gas. It stops you drinking too quickly and – most importantly – keeps dehydration from sneaking up and wrecking havoc with your head.

29. Know the police
There are three police forces in Ibiza: local, national and the Guardia Civil. The local police are in charge of safety and public order, not drugs or violent crime. So remember who’s who, mind your manners around all of them and, if you’re unlucky enough to be involved in an incident, remember you’ll need to report it to the Guardia – not the local police.

30. Count on the chemist — 24/7

You can get almost anything over the counter in Spanish chemists for aches, pains, itches or ailments, including contraception and antibiotics. Be aware some medications are expensive without a prescription, though. Chemists operate a 24-hour rota system so there’s always one open.

31. In case of emergency…
There are two numbers you need to know: 112 – the standard Spanish emergency number — and +34 971 301 818 which connects you to the British Consulate, which can help with lost passports, legal issues and financial crisis (email: BritishConsulate.Ibiza@fco.gov.uk)

32. Buy a memory stick for your camera
Half the fun of coming to Ibiza is being able to taunt your friends back home with endless Facebook albums of your wild nights and sun-soaked days. Don’t spoil the fun for yourself by running out of memory space on day five.

33. Get a Spanish SIM card
They are about five euros each and mean you can receive calls from home for free and if everyone in your group gets one you’ll save a mint on those “I’m on the terrace mate, where are you?” texts.

34. Embrace locutorios
These cheap and cheerful internet cafés are the best place to pop in and check your email, or make a phone call. They also sell snacks, beer and cold drinks – which comes in handy at odd hours or on Sundays when the ordinary shops are shut.

35. Go to a market (but not Es Canar)
The “hippie market” at Es Canar makes Southend look like St Tropez. Avoid it at all costs. For an authentic market experience head to the Saturday morning car boot sale at the Hippodrome in Sant Jordi or to chic boho hangout Las Dalhias.

36. Buy at least one piece of “island clothing” (i.e., trashy, sexy, outrageous)

As far as high street shopping goes Ibiza is a bit of a wasteland so snap up some fabulous piece of Eurotrash gear instead. Diaphanous floral button-down shirt, lads? Feather-trimmed crop top with strategic cutouts, girls? Why not? With a fresh tan, and after a few days on the rave diet, you’ll look great in anything.

37. Arrive at a restaurant by boat

Be a VIP for a day and cast anchor off-shore from one of Ibiza’s super-chic beachfront restaurants. Ex Xarcu (34 971 187867) in Porroig is tops for luxury seafood, or idle off Cala Jondal and have your meal ferried out to you from Café Tropicana.

38. Check out the record stores
Vinyl outposts in a digital world, Ibiza’s record shops are among the best in the world. Satisfy your music cravings at 40-year-old institution Delta Discos for a Balearic-style mix, Industria (run by Inigo and Pepe from La Communidad) for hot underground electronica and techno or M15 for the latest compilation CDs (all in Ibiza Town).

39. Forget Atlantis

Honestly, unless you have a mate who knows exactly where it is the search for this mythical beach is about as fruitless as that for its namesake lost city. You have 80 other amazing beaches to choose from so don’t fritter away your sunshine time trying to find this one.

40. Have a drink at L’Elephant
A total style-magnet, L’Elephant boasts one of the coolest roof terraces on the island. Enjoy a sweeping view of the island as you sip a pre-Amnesia cocktail amidst its chic, minimal furnishings.

41. Jump into a pool with your clothes on
…because you can.

42. Have a close call/get thrown out of somewhere
Today’s catastrophe is tomorrow’s legendary tale. Just ask my mate who is still dining out on the time he got thrown out of Privilege for jumping in the pool, wandered wallet-less into a nearby cow pasture and was next seen slumped over on the back of a random’s scooter, fast asleep, after hitching a ride back to his hotel.

43. BYO to Amnesia
No, you can’t take your own drink in the club but you can do as the local kids do and loiter in the footbridge over the new motorway guzzling rum & coke before actually making your way into the club.

44. Have a tacky night in San An
It’s horrible, leery and full of 18-year-olds from Dagenham or Brum throwing up on each other and flashing their knickers. Er, what’s not to love? Rock on down to San An, get pissed on the cheap and enjoy the inevitable sense of superiority.

45. Take the water taxi to El Divino
Have a couple of drinks at Rock Bar then hop on the boat plying across the marina and arrive at El Divino in style, even if you only stay for a drink on the waterfront terrace.

46. Enjoy the view in the main room at Pacha

For sheer style Pacha is still the club to beat, and they have entertainment to match. Find a spot in the main room and admire the sexy moves and jaw-dropping physiques of their dancers.

47. Start a rumour
Wild rumours are to Ibiza what punch-ups are to Glaswegian pubs: an essential part of the ambiance. Tell your mates you’ve heard that Erick Morillo is going to have a secret all-drag theme party at Burger King, or that they’re going to open the roof at Privilege so Tiesto can sky-dive into the pool on opening night, and see how long it takes to whip around the island.

48. Play spot the DJ – whoever tots up the most wins

They are bloody everywhere, those DJs. Make a game of it (two points for a Space resident, three for anyone sporting a techno ‘tache, etc) and at the end of the week buy the winner a novelty tee-shirt.

49. Be careful with your valuables
It’s tempting to think that nothing bad can ever happen in Ibiza. This, unfortunately, isn’t true. If you don’t want to spend three hours baking in the Guardia Civil shack while some surly Spanish cop remains totally indifferent to the traumatic loss of your camera/money/passport keep your stuff close. You wouldn’t leave your bag on the floor in a bar in London, don’t in Ibiza.

50. Come back…

The worst thing about Ibiza is leaving. Ease the airport blues by planning your return journey ASAP. Whether it’s a “no luggage” two-day jaunt or a week during the off-season you’ll feel better for being able to say, “I’ll be back soon!”

Running to Stand Still

Posted by Cila Warncke

Blogging is like exercise: addictive, once you get the hang of it but dangerously easy to leave aside when life gets hectic. There is little to say about my several weeks’ hiatus apart from: stuff happened. Mexico. London. Ibiza. Plans made and then unmade for journeys to Ireland, the States, Mexico again. There were patches where I was seriously considering going to the nearest airport and buying a one-way ticket on the first flight to someplace I’d never been before. I got a little caught up in the idea of someplace new. A succession of adventures, coincidences, gin & tonics and long conversations with friends nudged me into the realisation that the ‘someplace new’ I need to explore is Ibiza – and my own motivations.

Home to Ibiza

Home to Ibiza

Jumping on planes is A) more fun than jumping off them and B) only very occasionally an antidote to chronic discontent. I tried it with Mexico and couldn’t, at the end of 14 weeks, figure out why the hell I hadn’t learned anything there. Why I had come back as bored and irritable as I’d left. A few weeks rattling around in the Mediterranean sun, making fantastic new friends who kickstarted my brain from its tropic slothfulness into frisky, if somewhat tentative life, suggests that my problem wasn’t where I was but how I was thinking. Somewhere between Ibiza, E17 and Merida, I completely lost my bottle. Not that you’d have noticed, necessarily. I was still walking around spouting opinions, still capable of summoning enough bravado to actually get from E17 to Merida, but there was something missing. The best lack all conviction.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go, how I wanted to live or who I wanted to be. I was stumped. Then I got the following advice from a smartarse filmmaker:

Whatever you decide, feel good about it. Feel amazing about it. Feel as if you couldn’t have made any other possible decision. As long as you do that, everything will work out exactly as it should.

When I started to think like that suddenly the stubbornly wedged pieces began to fall into place. The decisions I fight the hardest are usually, in retrospect, as easy as falling over. It’s like standing at the top of a high dive. Turning, fretting, pawing at the board to buy time. Praying for a heavenly waterslide to appear. It never does. So I jumped. And my fear-hazed, pinched-in little world bloomed. There is much to be determined, questions to be posed and answered, work to be done, but it’s okay because life is exciting again.

Tattoos – More Than Skin Deep

Posted by Cila Warncke

It seems there is a segment of the population who think women who have tattoos are white trash hos. I refuse to take this personally since, on principle, I disregard the opinions of people whose IQs are lower than their waist measurement.

Tattoos 1 & 4

Tattoos 1 & 4

Anyway, I love my tattoos. They each have a very specific and personal meaning and I remember with what is, for me, uncanny clarity the situation and circumstance of each one. My first was 6 March, 2000, my bestest friend and biggest crush Andy’s 21st birthday. Partially out of bravado, I think, I went to Camden Town with my friend Miranda and had an Aquarius symbol tattooed on my right shoulder blade. It cost £55. I was petrified, but I survived. That night I went to Andy’s birthday drinks wearing a hot pink Oasis vest. I have no idea if he noticed my tattoo.

Giddy with my own courage I went with my friend and drinking buddy Lucy to get my second, at the end of term that year. We went to a place on Berwick Street, Soho, that was roughly twice the size of a phone box. I went first, getting an infinity symbol tattooed on my left hip. It was a blazing hot day and I remember looking over at myself in the mirror. I was literally as white as a sheet, sweat pouring off my face. Agony.

The next time the impulse took me was back in Philadelphia, the following autumn, during my final year of university. I persuaded my two roommates to come to a dingy little tattoo place on 43rd and Chestnut. They were good middle-class girls and didn’t take long to refuse to get involved with ink and needles. I wanted a tiny crescent moon on the top of my right thigh. It was a Saturday night and the parlour was full of West Philly hoodrats, goofing around. I had to drop my trousers and sit in the middle of all that, trying to look nonchalant — which at least took my mind off the pain.

After that I eased off. Three seemed like a nice number and I didn’t have a blinding urge to get any more work done. Then I moved to Ibiza. Surrounded by gorgeous bodies adorned with stunning tattoos I started to crave another. One of my all-time favourites is DC10 DJ Tania Vulcano’s tattoo. She is one of those striking woomen who don’t mess with makeup, hair fripperies or, heaven forbid, dresses. She’s always in jeans and a tee-shirt, with just this fabulous tattoo around her right elbow. I wanted one too. My first mission to find the right artist didn’t go well. Inkadelic is the dudely tattoo parlour of choice in Ibiza, where I met Luca. I told him what I wanted and his reaction was: “if you were a big hairy lesbian I might do it, but I think you should have something more feminine. How about flowers?” I could hardly speak for scraping my jaw off the floor and, needless to say, never went back.

Then I happened across an article about Tahiti Tiki Tattoo founder Sandra. She talked about the spiritual and emotional significance of tattoos, how each one she creates is designed for the individual. Curious as hell, I wandered up Calle de Virgen one night, about 1AM, and leafed through her booklet. Unlike Luca who was rude, combative and arrogant from the moment he opened his mouth Sandra projected tranquilty. Ibicenco tattoo parlours at 1AM are inherently hectic, but hers was a sacred space. I felt safe, welcome and understood.

A couple of weeks later I went back for the tattoo, equipped with a mantra to get me through the pain. It’s a line from Lawrence of Arabia

“The trick is… not minding that it hurts.”

Armed with this wisdom, I lay down, took a deep breath and let the needle sink in. After about five minutes my hands went numb. After half-an-hour I started shaking involuntarily. Sandra very calmly told me to relax; somehow, just hearing her say it helped. We talked about Ibiza, about her daughter, about tattoos. Then, before I’d dared hope, she said, you’re done. I walked the two miles home in the warm Ibiza night, elbow sweating in clingfilm, goofy on adrenaline and pride.

This was more than a tattoo, it was an achievement; my gift to myself for surviving my first summer in Ibiza, for daring to leave London and everything I’d called my own for five years to start somewhere new. Sandra designed it on the spot, drawing freehand onto my arm as we talked. The pattern unites Tahitian symbols for freedom and creativity. It is my badge of courage — and an invocation for the future.

My most recent tattoo is another of Sandra’s masterpieces, done in spring 2008. Once again, it’s an affirmation of what I choose. This time, borrowing the lyric ‘like a rolling stone’ from Bob Dylan. Only, as it’s an Ibiza tattoo, it had to be in Spanish. Sandra’s first languages are French and Italian so we spent a week or so settling on the right translation, eventually agreeing on: ‘rodando como una piedra.’ It’s a literal, rather than a literary, translation but the sound and feel and freight of it is exactly right.

Sandra creating tattoo 5

Sandra creating tattoo 5

Kat was visiting at the time and sat by me, bless her, for over an hour while I went pale, fidgeted, gnawed a lollipop stick to a pulp and talked utter nonsense to take my mind off it. When it was done I had that now-familiar rush of delight. It’s dangerous to get addicted to the adrenaline hit, but I’m hooked on more than that. My tattoos are precious because they mean something. They remind me of where I’ve been, how I’ve felt, what I love, who I am and what I want to be. For me, at least, a little ink goes a long way.

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Sinner In Me (Villalobos Remix)

Originally published in OWTL issue 47. Posted by Cila Warncke

Sinner In Me {Ricardo Villalobos Remix}

I don’t have space here to explain why Depeche Mode is the only electronic band you’ll ever need, but this remix proves my point. While their contemporaries languish sedately in a bin marked “nostalgia” Depeche Mode is as vital in 2006 as they were in 1986. Jacques Lu Cont made ‘A Pain That I’m Used To’ an essential electro anthem on its release, and now lifelong Mode fan Ricardo Villalobos has turned the melancholic Sinner In Me into an achingly beautiful, minimal, vocal anthem. You don’t get many moments of introspection on the DC10 terrace, but when this got dropped there was a collective deep intake of breath. Dave Gahan’s plaintive lyrics, wedded to an icy backdrop of minimal techno, bear a shiver-inducing poignancy. A fraught mixture of defiance, acceptance, weakness, and longing, ‘Sinner In Me’ wrestles with temptation, redemption, and that fleeting moment when you’re standing on the top of the world waiting for the inevitable fall from grace. There is, allegedly, a 7” promo knocking around… here’s hoping for a proper release

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