Shhh! The Sound of Ibiza

  • San Antonio Hotel Ordered to Cease All Music Events after Appeal Rejected
  • Bora Bora Terrace Closed, Playa D’en Bossa Club Told The Party Must Move Indoors.
  • Es Canar Hotel Fined 10,000€ for ‘Whisper Quiet’ Air Conditioning
  • New Over 25s Club ‘Alter Ibiza’ Closes after only 3 Days due to Impossible Sound Restrictions
  • Nick Gibbs


Given Ibiza’s worldwide reputation as a non-stop party island, the tough regulations in force applicable to where, when and at what volume music can be played comes as a surprise to many of our visitors.

Decibel limits have been in place for some years. Many bars and clubs have Decibel limiting and recording equipment installed, acting as a 24/7 control on any audio excess.

Shhh! It's The New Sound of Ibiza; Ibiza Rocks, Bora Bora, More
Shhh! It's The New Sound of Ibiza; Ibiza Rocks, Bora Bora, More

The permissible hours of music have also become ever stricter over the years. There is considerable disparity with some venues allowed to hold open air parties while their neighbours are not. One regulation that now seems to have island wide standardisation is that outdoor events must cut the noise completely at midnight.

The issue of acceptable sound limits is one that will have wide ranging opinions among the public and residents of the island, but in the business community many are saying the levels and restrictions imposed are unreasonable and compromising their ability to trade.

This week has seen two significant sanctions imposed by the San José and Santa Eulalia municipalities, and we also report on the difficulties faced by new British owned club Alter Ibiza, that forced their closure after only 3 days.

San Antonio Orders Town Centre Hotel to Stop All Music Events

  • The municipality conducted an inspection on July 24 during which breaches in sound and other regulations were detected.

The acoustic study revealed that the un-named establishment “did not meet the conditions laid down by the regulatory bylaws relating to noise levels and vibrations.”

It also stated that the hotel had changed the location of the stage so that it hinders emergency exits in the event of an evacuation.

The City Council conducted the inspection on July 24. On August 12, the city administration ordered that all music events be stopped. An appeal was dismissed and the order became effective  on September 14.

Since then the hotel has stopped any musical events in compliance with the municipal decree.

Though the official statement does not name the hotel, the order became effective on September 14th, the same day Ibiza Rocks hotel relocated their last live event of the year to the Ibiza Rocks Bar.

Time Up for the Terrace at Bora Bora

  • San Jose issues suspension notice after local police find the terrace area only holds licence as a restaurant.

On Monday 19th September, San Jose town council ordered the suspension of Bora Bora’s long established open-air terrace parties.

Councillor Paquita Ribas said that Bora Bora does hold a licence to operate as a nightclub in the back/inside enclosed area, however the terrace, which has always been the focal point of the Bora Bora daytime party, only holds licence to operate as a restaurant.

Ribas said that the local police made a “routine inspection” of all establishments in Playa den Bossa.

Back in the day ….. Bora Bora was all about the party getting started on the beach amongst the beds

On receipt of the police report, the council elected to take  the “precautionary measures to suspend the activity of the open-air disco”.  Bora Bora were issued with an injunction allowing them 48 hours to comply “which they did” said Ribas.

“We are working to ensure everything is done according to the law in San Jose and we do not give preferential treatment for anyone. We just want things to be done correctly to the benefit of the municipality”.

Councillor Ribas went on to say that “Bora Bora could continue to work as a nightclub in its indoor area, but must not continue on the terrace. At that point, the premises become a restaurant, as it is now clear and denoted on the municipal licence. Although they have a right to play music, it must not be as a nightclub,” she said.

For those unfamiliar with Bora Bora, Playa den Bossa’s original party beach bar has something of a ‘love it or hate it’ reputation.

Historically the terrace party would start early afternoon and included not only the Bora Bora terrace, but also the entire beach area in front of the bar. In around 2010 the bar was compelled to erect fences which went in place early evening. From then the party was contained within the bar itself.

The restaurant is to the left of the main bar when you face Bora Bora from the beach and the open area to the right was where the terrace parties were being held.

The inside room at the back of the bar has been used for many years as the late night party, from midnight to the early hours.

Es Canar Hotel Fined 10,000€ For Noisy Air Conditioning

  • Santa Eulalia city council has imposed a fine of 10,000€ to an unnamed hotel in Es Canar due to what was considered excessive noise made by their air conditioning system.

The hotel has taken technical measures to resolve the situation which has had the effect of gaining a 50% reduction in the initially proposed 20,000€ fine.

Proceedings were initiated last year when various sound level recordings confirmed that the hotel had noise emissions exceeding the permitted 17 decibels limit.

How loud is 17db?

According to IAC Acoustics, 17 decibels falls below their 20 decibels example of ‘whispering and rustling leaves’.

Alter Ibiza Closed For Sound

  • Ibiza’s new club aiming for the over 25’s based in the bay of san Antonio, Alter Ibiza, closed its doors following difficulties with sound regulations.

The Cala de Bou based club opened in July this year following a successful crowd funding initiative. Intending to hold parties with a strict over 25’s policy, they ultimately had to close their doors after only three nights due to what were insurmountable difficulties.

In a statement issued by Alter Ibiza Director Sara Altman, we were told “Due to issues beyond our control, Alter Ibiza must close for 2016. Sound and vibration issues with the building combined with issues with some of the promoters mean that it is not viable to open this season. We are all dedicated to relaunching the project, working with the sound and vibration issues over the winter and in talks with some exciting promoter teams for 2017. We would like to thank everyone involved in the project for their continuing love, support and hard work.”

Decibel levels

The issue of noise and particularly with reference to music levels in bars and clubs, has been a long-standing topic of discussion in Ibiza.

This guide gives an interesting insight to what these decibels levels equate to in the real world.

In considering the numbers it is important to understand that decibel readings are not applied on an equal and sliding scale. For example, 30 decibels is only one sixteenth as loud as 70 decibels.

One of the common complaints of bars playing music is that the noise from the people in the venue can be louder than the music itself, so leading to the peculiar situation where if a party gets going and the crowd begin to enjoy themselves, they can at the same time stop the party in its tracks.

Example Noise Levels DB Effect
Jet take-off (at 25 meters) 150 Eardrum rupture
Aircraft carrier deck 140
Military jet aircraft take-off from aircraft carrier at 50 ft 130
Thunderclap, chain saw. Oxygen torch (121 dB). 120 Painful. 32 times as loud as 70 dB.
car horn at 1 meter. live rock music (108 – 114 dB). 110 Average human pain threshold. 16 times as loud as 70 dB.
use of outboard motor, power lawn mower, motorcycle, farm tractor, 100 8 times as loud as 70 dB. Serious damage possible in 8 hr exposure.
 power mower (96 dB); motorcycle at 25 ft (90 dB). Newspaper press (97 dB). 90 4 times as loud as 70 dB. Likely damage in 8 hour exposure.
Garbage disposal, dishwasher, average factory, freight train (at 15 meters). diesel truck 40 mph at 50 ft (84 dB) 80 2 times as loud as 70 dB. Possible damage in 8 hour exposure.
Passenger car at 65 mph at 25 ft (77 dB);  Living room music (76 dB);  vacuum cleaner (70 dB). 70 Arbitrary base of comparison. Upper 70s are annoyingly loud to some people.
Conversation in restaurant, office, background music, Air conditioning unit at 100 feet. 60 Half as loud as 70 dB. Fairly quiet.
Quiet suburb, conversation at home. Large electrical transformers at 100 feet. 50 One-fourth as loud as 70 dB.
Library, bird calls (44 dB); lowest limit of urban ambient sound 40 One-eighth as loud as 70 dB.
Quiet rural area. 30 One-sixteenth as loud as 70 dB. Very Quiet.
Whisper, rustling leaves 20
Breathing 10 Barely audible