The faint sound of a choir echoes through the tunnels. The hustle and bustle of the restaurants and people filling the streets aren’t ever enough to detract from the soundtrack filling the air as night falls on Ibiza’s old town. It’s almost like the town has its very own theatre troupe, moving through the cobbled streets and laneways, entertaining passersby and those who have a front row seat in its restaurants and bars. Every type of instrument, every style of performance, actors, performers, musicians and artists of all ages and all nationalities flock to the island in summer, to make their living busking in the streets – some of them amazingly talented, others just having a good old fashioned go, and those stalwarts who’ve been here year after year after year.
There are the painted human statues, ranging from beautiful mermaids and bronze pirates to windswept professors and amazing turban clad men balancing on an almost lifelike levitating magic carpet. I swear, you never see them arrive and set up – it’s seriously is like magic. You get the odd arm movement, whistle or smile, as a thank you when someone leaves some coins in their collection tray but these people must have nerves of steel as they can stay for hours in position! Funnily enough, I’ve also never seen them pack up and leave… it’s something like a phenomenon. Then there are the artists. Lining the frontline of the port, live painting anything from caricatures of friends and family, serious portrait style pencil or charcoal illustrations, landscapes and cityscapes capturing the scene set out before them. There’s a man who paints the Dalt Vila skyline in chalk on the concrete of Plaza del Parque every night; there’s another man who sculpts dogs from sand (when you walk past a second time, the dog has had puppies!) and yet another who uses his artistic talents to paint henna tattoos on those who are willing to give up half an hour of their time.
There are the bubble blowers, using huge circles of rope dipped in soap to create whimsical, oversized bubbles that float through the air and fill little kids (and the odd grown up like me) with glee. There are the crafty salespeople, arms laden with LED slingshots, shooting them up in the sky like colourful shooting stars or shining a laser in the shape of a heart, star, paw print or smiley face on the walls of the surrounding buildings. Of course, the little ones who are lucky enough to be gifted a slingshot seem to lose it on a nearby balcony or down a drain within minutes, meaning mum and dad snap up slingshot number two to avoid a dinner time tantrum – that’s savvy business sense from the sellers, right there! The musically inclined also hit the streets every night, ranging from the occasional out-of-tune violin player and always smiling accordion players to the wheelchair bound flute player who sets up camp at the top of the Dalt Vila drawbridge for hours on end. My personal favourite is the gorgeous Italian opera singer, who takes over a little corner of the castle with her little amplifier and incredulous voice, serenading us with Ave Maria, Nessun Dorma, Con Te Partiro and countless other classics I am sadly not cultured enough to know the names of, but will forever be burned into my memory because they have floated up onto my terrace and brought tears to my eyes on a nightly basis for years.
On Monday nights, we have the amazing Pacha Flower Power parade, streaming through the streets in their bohemian hippy outfits and blaring a ghetto blaster with the best tracks from the 60s and 70s as they sing along and hand out merchandise like fans, flower headbands and CDs. At the same time, concept store Sluiz sends a vocal quartet dressed in quirky rockabilly costumes, singing songs from all eras… with anything from Grease always managing to mesmerise their audience. If that doesn’t inspire you to get a headband on and head to Pacha… you’re obviously into techno and on your way to Cocoon. And last, but never least, there is always the boisterous Capoeira troupe, whose boundless energy (and perfectly sculpted muscles) never ceases to amaze me as they backflip, tumble and one-handedly walk their way through the fortress. If you were impressed by the professional Olympic gymnasts recently, then you’ll be guaranteed to love these guys. Though I must admit, I do wish they’d sing a different song every couple of nights – five months into summer, I think I know the words as well as they do.
It’s almost time for the 2016 curtain call for our nightly local theatre stars, as the restaurants and bars start to wind down for the season, the tourist influx slows down and they go back to…. Well that’s the thing! Where do they go? Is there another hot busking destination after Ibiza summer officially ‘closes’? Do they go back to their studies at university in their hometowns? Do they just spend the next two months counting up the bags of coins they’ve accumulated all summer, swap them for some nice crisp notes at the bank and live a happily ever after type winter existence on the island? What I do know is, you’ve only got a couple more weeks to experience this nightly show for yourself – come Space Closing these guys have all packed up for the season and disappeared off the streets. Sure there, are a few who stay all year round (hello curly haired man who still sings Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here offkey in a Spanish accent while playing an out of tune guitar every night – I am tempted to pay him just to get some lessons but then I find his ‘two lost souls in a fishbowl’ kind of quaint), but as soon as the calendar flips to October the airwaves go quiet. So come to town and check out our theatre show while you still have a chance – Ibiza is not always about house and techno you know…