“After a meeting of various bodies, the mayor (of San Antonio) ordered the municipal police to stop music being played in the streets after 1.30 a.m. and to confiscate glasses and bottles from people drinking outside. Fights broke out when the drinkers, unaware of the new regulations, resisted.”

It sounds like a description of Ibizan current affairs in 2018. In fact it is from an article in the Observer 9th of September 1984. Acclaimed Photographer John Reardon and reporter Robert Low travelled to Ibiza to investigate the new scourge of British tourists inflicting their loutish behaviour on Ibiza.

Familiar Voices

“We are praying for the end of October,” said Barbara Harrison, English Resident in Ibiza.

“I am ashamed and disgusted to see these gangs of hooligans roaming the streets of San Antonio, wearing four tattoos on each arm, carrying cassette players the size of a suitcase and drinking beer straight from the bottle which, once empty, will most probably end up smashed on the street.” said Elaine Spires, in the then English newspaper Ibiza News.

Sound familiar?

In a fascinating report, Robert Low speaks to a ‘senior Police Officer’ who refers to this new class of British tourist as beasts. “They are like savages, uncontrollable hordes.” he says.

He talks to a local journalist who says the British have become much worse since winning the Falklands war. He quotes the then Club 18-30’s manager who refutes responsibility for the problem. And he talks to many other players in the tapestry of San Antonio life as it was 35 years ago.

Football Hooliganism

The association with the behaviour and football hooliganism carries through the article. Ibiza’s early dance music days are referenced in San Antonio. “Around 2 a.m. they make for the Star disco, a cavernous joint holding 3,500 people.”

The report identified the main concerns of locals and ex-pat residents alike being that this new hooligan trade would drive away the better business, the more affluent tourist. There are fears that Ibiza’s reputation as a beautiful and bohemian island retreat would be lost forever.

It is often said that television reality shows were responsible for the negative side of Ibiza’s reputation. If this report is to be believed, and it certainly comes across as credible, the issues started way before the reality TV was even conceived.

The report appeared 35 years ago today. Can Ibiza have been fighting this fight for so long?


It is a very interesting piece from the Observer’s archives. On a personal note I would like to reference the quality of the photography. This was back when photo journalism was the job of professionals who had an eye and technical skill largely forgotten in a world of a thousand digital shots from a thousand mobile sources. John Reardon, was just such an awesome photographer. He died this year, too soon aged just 66. Read the full article here observer-archive-ibiza-9-september-1984 Read John Reardon’s obituary here john-reardon-obituary