Last night, Ibiza’s very own Flamenco hero saved my life. Well… it wasn’t like he donned a super hero cape and jumped tall buildings in a single bound or anything like that, but I feel like he rescued me from a fate that would have seen me scratching, itching, squirming, crying and complaining for the rest of week. You see, last night, there was an attack of killer mosquitos in Ibiza, thanks to all that extra humidity from the rain, and Señor Fernandez, ever the gentleman, saw me in the midst of it and very kindly offered up his mozzie spray! You may laugh, but there I was in a restaurant, minding my own business when all of a sudden, my ankles just puffed up out of nowhere (hello cankles!)! I started rubbing them against each other – reminiscent of a cat or dog with fleas I’m sure – and then felt my back start to itch. And so I tried to scratch it, ungracefully. As you do. And then my arms started to itch. And then my neck. And then my knees. Even my temples. They were everywhere!
I know full well am one of those people who tends to get bitten more than others when the mosquitos come out to play. My bites turn into huge raging welts rather than little itchy lumps. And so as I felt myself being turned into some kind of human pin cushion, I wanted to run. I wanted to hide. But err, I was in the middle of dinner. There was nowhere to run. And so I started to scratch, itch, squirm, cry and complain and just when it seemed my dinner companion would up and leave me, Paco Fernandez, who was about to start performing, extended a hand holding the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. A little yellow spray bottle to ward off my enemies. I doused myself in the citronella-scented spray and gratefully vowed I would do anything in my power to return the favour one day. Having grown up Ibiza, Paco clearly knew the mosquitos were coming that night, and so he’d packed accordingly. I swore I would develop that same sixth sense for mosquito detection and if not, I would just forever pack a spray just in case I too can help someone in need one day.
If you’ve read this far and you’re wondering, who is Paco Fernandez, let me take the time to introduce you. No doubt you will have seen him onstage, the strains of Flamenco echoing out from his guitar in some of Ibiza’s best venues, ranging from restaurants to hotels and beaches alike. You may have seen him accompanied by beautiful dancers, cool young guys mixing hip hop beats or rapping over his live music. You may have seen him at a wedding. And while Paco does have the ability to be everywhere in Ibiza, watching him perform once is never enough. Paco was born in a little village in Granada, however in the 1960s, his family packed up and left to move to a little undiscovered slice of paradise – you guessed it, Ibiza. Surrounded by hippies and creative types, the story goe that Paco would spend daytimes at school, afternoons having guitar lessons and nights playing gigs in bars. He’d play popular Spanish music to the influx of tourists, who all fell under his spell, much as they do today. Hi travels took him to Barcelona to study, where began working with well-known jazz musicians and recording his first album. It was around this time that Café del Mar was rising to fame, and Paco started to experiment with a fusion of classic Spanish sounds with the chillout phenomenon. As you can probably imagine, his sounds perfectly conjured up images of sun-soaked days on the beautiful Balearic coast. Paco Fernandez was a hit.
When he returned to Ibiza, he continued to push the boundaries of sound, adding touches of Arabian and Caribbean music to his own Mediterranean Flamenco style. House music followed – naturally – and then made way for hip hop and rap. Today, the full Paco Fernandez live show is seriously impressive with Paco himself sitting to one side of the stage with his trusty guitar, the beautiful Flamenco dancer Eva Redondo stomping and swirling her frilled skirts passionately in the centre. To the right, a keyboard player and next to him, a Dj who mixes and samples effects as he also love raps over the music. A percussionist provides the perfect punctuation to it all and there’s even a light and sound technician, further adding to the overall ambience. He has definitely carved a niche for himself in the island’s musical history, and if you haven’t yet been fortunate enough to watch him play, I strongly recommend you put it on your next Ibiza holiday itinerary. I think the first time I saw Paco Fernandez, was way back when in the heady days of Manumission. In the middle of this thumping, heaving, sweaty, sexy throng of 10,000 people – the most hedonistic party you’d ever been to in your life – emerged a man sitting on a chair onstage playing Flamenco guitar. And it was almost magical. That was part of the power of Manumission – they had the power (and the creativity) to shock you, to enthral you and to show you things you would never ever forget. Since then, he has been a recurring element in my Ibiza life, right up until last night when he saved my life. I’ve seen him play to the packed crowds of Atzaró on their opening and closing parties. I’ve heard him play on the beach at Pura Vida Beach Club. I’ve watched him poolside at Pikes on a Saturday night over dinner. I’ve seen him in the magical gardens at El Carnicero. And yes, I’ve even seen him at a wedding.
Balearic Flamenco, Mediterranean Flamenco, Flamenco Chill, Flamenco Fusion – call it what you will, but to me, Paco Fernandez will always be known as my hero and saviour. And please, heed my warning – this week in Ibiza when there’s a threat of rain looming and the humidity levels are super high and the air feels almost heavy, be sure to leave the house prepared and pack a mosquito repellent! And if not… just be sure to make a beeline to one of Paco Fernandez’s Ibiza residencies: Saturday evening for Flamenco Dining at Pikes, Sundays in Deeva at Port des Torrent, Monday nights at Pura Vida, Tuesday sunset sessions at Kumharas, Thursdays and Fridays at El Carnicero and Villa Mercedes. Paco, I thank you from the bottom of my itchy heart!