Thursday, 14 January 2016

Tales from the summer in Ibiza

Over the summer season in Ibiza I meet hundreds of visitors to the island. Often, because I’m playing, my conversations are rather limited but sometimes just observing people leaves a lasting impression.

One beachside venue I play seems to be a particular favourite with young and older lovers. Some can’t keep their hands off each other, some haven’t yet learned how to touch with easy affection, some laugh together while others sadly seem to have run out of things to say.

One evening before starting my set I noticed a young couple arrive. She was obviously thrilled to be in such an exotic location and had, I’m sure, spent quite a bit of time preparing herself for what could have been a romantic evening meal by the sea. It could have been had her partner not been such an inconsiderate oaf. Unlike her he seemed to have made minimal effort in dressing and gave scant attention to his delighted partner, frequently turning away to flip through messages on his phone.

At one point I saw her politely ask one of the waiters if they would mind taking a photo of them as a keepsake. She quickly straightened dress and hair in readiness while he kept the waiter waiting as he was forced into the present dragging his attention away from the phone. He grudgingly assumed a slouching position and an expression of disdain while she smiled sweetly and lovingly draped herself around him. And so the evening continued, she taking care of his every move, passing him cushions for comfort, brushing crumbs from his shirt and generally lavishing attention on him while he continued turning his body and attention away from her to immerse himself once more in his phone.

Meal finished, they moved to sit near me in the DJ booth with their backs to me. For a moment she managed to engage him in what looked like an enthusiastic conversation but then he withdrew back into himself and turned once more to his phone. At this point she reached into her handbag and produced her own phone for the first time that evening.

I watched with interest as she very purposefully opened up her photo library, scrolled through to the photo that had been taken of them an hour or so earlier and without stopping, even for a second, to consider its merit, very firmly clicked delete. I’m sure my mouth must have dropped open as I was so shocked with the finality of her action and because I believe it was also symbolic of the future of their relationship.

Smiling to herself she popped the phone back in her bag, turned to him, and in a very firm bright tone announced that she wanted to leave — getting up immediately and leaving him fumbling to register and catch up with her.

Years ago, when I was a student, I did a lot of hitch hiking. I remember noting at the time how sometimes people would use the cloak of anonymity to reveal quite personal information about their life during even a short journey.

One evening, playing my music to a very quiet hotel foyer, a man approached me and quickly began to unburden himself. For many years he had worked as a financial trader in the City. A few months earlier his wife had announced that she wanted a divorce. My heart went out to him and I tentatively enquired if there was anyone else involved.  “I doubt it,” he sneered, “but you’d think she could have thought about it before we had a second bloody child!”

About an hour later when he had consumed a bit more alcohol he returned, I thought to continue his tale of woe but began to regale me with stories about a possible investment that he had come across on the island. He had found a fabulous villa which was going for a snip at only €6million and wondered if I thought it was a good investment. I suggested that it might be an idea for him to wait until the pending divorce was settled before investing such a large sum. “Oh no need to worry about that,” he said, “The bitch doesn’t even know I’ve got this money.” My sympathy was beginning to wain.

Soon afterwards two young holidaying couples from south London appeared in Reception. All looked stylish and toned from hours in the gym. In the spirit of friendship (and also to free my self to concentrate on mixing) I introduced these young couples to Mr Trader, who was by now getting rather drunk.

All seemed to be going very well until about half an hour later when I noticed that Mr Trader had backed one of the young women into a corner and was trying to stroke her face. Her partner was only a couple of paces away and I feared that a fight was about to erupt. Fortunately he simply stepped forward, placed his hands on Mr Trader's shoulder, firmly moved him away and then waved a finger at him saying “No” in the same way one might chastise a naughty pet dog.

In this simple incident I felt as though I had glimpsed the possible cause of the impending divorce. This man had spent way too much time with his fellow traders in lap dancing clubs which had dulled his sensitivity to women and made him open to such totally inappropriate behaviour.

Every DJ gets requests. In most cases I think it’s a way for people to make contact and share their enthusiasm for music. However, if drugs, or more specifically cocaine, is involved, the discussion can sometimes become rather tiresome. I have often been asked how I cope with working in such noisy environments and in truth it is not the noise from the speakers I most fear but rather the client who has taken too much cocaine and insists on screaming in my ear. When I see such people approach I will often try to move my headphones onto one ear for protection.

Another effect of the white powder is that people can sometimes get stuck in cyclical thought. A lady approached me to ask for a specific track, which I didn’t have. She then started to move behind me to look at my computer screen and asked, “So what do you have?” I politely remarked I am not a jukebox and if she could tell me what flavour she would prefer, e.g. funk, techno, pop, etc, I might be able to help.

She looked disturbed by this and then said, “What about that woman that was in a band a few years back? You know who I mean?” I looked at her blankly but then realised she was stuck in a loop. “Or maybe that great track everyone is playing at the moment. You must have it.”

 “Give me a clue,” I suggested, but by then she looked disturbed by the chaos of her mind and simply turned and headed back to the toilets to refuel.

Sometimes people can be incredibly rude. One day a rather drunk American ambled up to me. He was short and muscle-bound with a square head —  a look and mentality that is often referred to in the States as “Meathead”. In a rasping slightly slurred voice he demanded to know if I had Dr Dre’s new album, Outta Compton. I replied that, “No I don’t,” but I was looking forward to seeing the film.

He looked disappointed but fortunately by coincidence I had a particularly good classic rap track lined up. I apologised for not having Dr Dre but said, “As you obviously like rap you will probably enjoy this,” and I moved the mix slider across to introduce the new track. He didn’t bother to register more than the first three notes before declaring, “No, that’s fucking shit!” and staggering away.

Earlier that afternoon round the pool I’d spoken to a delightful Turkish couple comprising a wiry nerdish looking gentleman and his very glamorous partner. As Meathead moved away from me he staggered towards the glamorous Turkish lady who was currently sitting alone by the pool. I didn’t hear what he said but she looked outraged while he simply shrugged and ambled away. A few minutes later I saw her partner rushing through the foyer in pursuit of Meathead screaming, “I don’t care who you are I’ll fucking kill you!” Meathead sheepishly retreated to the other end of the pool.

I quickly pieced together what must have been the gist of Meathead’s comment to the elegant Turkish lady. “Hey are you the fucking hooker I ordered an hour ago?” My idea seemed to be confirmed when only a few minutes later a pneumatically engineered eastern European woman with a pallor that suggested she saw little sunlight and might also have a rather serious drug problem, arrived at the poolside, scanned the people and headed directly to Meathead.

A lot of celebs visit the island during the summer but in most cases I am happy to let them go about their business without being interrupted by me. However, one day a jazz musician who I greatly respect arrived by the pool with his wife and baby daughter. When I felt it was appropriate I wandered over to enquire if he was playing on the island and to tell him how much I respected his work.

As an American gentleman he accepted my compliment with a gracious, “That’s very kind of you to say so, sir.”

Later in the afternoon they returned after a trip round the island and he came over to thank me for my musical selection adding, “I must say that it’s a very hard job you have to do here and I really don’t now how you manage to concentrate,” turning to eye to beauties round the pool with a smile. I noted many of those he saw were somewhat medically enhanced. He smiled again saying, “Yeah but they still looks good.” I noted that some of the more startling sights might also carry a bit of baggage with them and he turned to me with a knowing twinkle saying, “Ah so you’ve learned that lesson have you.”

Particularly in upmarket establishments the staff are obliged to maintain their decorum no matter what occurs  but I have often enjoyed those momentary lapses when a glance betrays their real feelings.

One day an African Princess arrived in the reception area where I was playing. She dazzled with glamour and physique. I noticed an Italian waiter serving her seemed hesitant, apparently lost for words. After she departed I commented to him that he seemed to be having difficulty to which he replied, “My God she was the type of woman that only allowed me to do one thing at a time. I could look but I could not think.”

One couple I met are etched on my memory: an elderly, working class couple from the north of England who seemed unlikely guests in the five star hotel they were staying in. He was of stocky build with hands like shovels that had seen a lot of physical work. She was bright and delicate with a face etched with the deep lines of family struggles.

Chatting to them they quickly explained that they had won the lottery. They didn’t tell me how much but noted with a grin that it was enough to furnish their immediate family with their own houses and take the extended family on a number of lavish holidays.

Sadly for many people the arrival of monetary good fortune can quickly overpower a sense of gratitude, so that each new fine living experience is not so much enjoyed but rather compared with other experiences that have been consumed.

Some years ago I heard a wise man comment that, “If we experience gratitude it will open up a realm of life that previously we didn’t know existed.” I have found this to be true and it seemed so for this elderly couple. While the original euphoria of their new found wealth had subsided they were (and I hope still are) enthusiastically pursuing the dream of visiting the many places they used to view with longing and fascination on TV travel shows. But they were not merely ticking off experiences but living with a sense of gratitude and youthful enthusiasm that I found contagious.

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