Anyone who knows me will tell you I’ve always leant a little towards the weirder side of life. Delve a little deeper into my past and my mother will tell you this was obvious from a very, very young age. In fact, one of my earliest memories is my mum suggesting that I could quite possibly be possessed (yes, I’m totally serious), while a later one implied our family had been cursed by witches and our home was haunted by ghosts (believe what you will) and it was always drummed into me that I must never ever bring tarot cards or Ouija boards into the house. Of course, that only made me want them more. I’ve been obsessed with horror movies since I was pre-teen. Freddie Kruger may, or may not have been my first crush – it was him or Johnny Depp, both were in the film and I’ll never tell!
I was always morbidly fascinated with death and anything slightly macabre – The Elephant Man was my favourite movie when I was only waist-high; I have vivid memories of loving a Diane Arbus photography exhibition while in primary school while Stephen King was my author of choice. For a while there, I wanted to grow up to be a taxidermist. The Lost Boys was the first movie I ever saw at the cinema alone. I later built a coffin that housed my vampire related art works (and today I scoff at all the Twi-hards out there) in high school. The first apartment I ever moved into just so happened to overlook an ancient seaside cemetery that I would stroll around at dusk, getting to know the headstones of its inhabitants. And of course, as most readers know, I’ve always had a cat by my side…
You get the picture, right? I didn’t go into life seeking out scary things – scary things just found their way to me. Well, except for that time I holidayed in Mexico City and made the pilgrimage to a tiny island in the canals called Isla de las Muñecas, which is strung from top to toe with creepy plastic dolls (Google it – if you’re anything like me, you’ll love it. If not… move along!) When it came to the scariest night of the year however, sadly, little Miss W grew up on the wrong side of the equator to celebrate Halloween. It just wasn’t part of our culture. I’d watch American films and dream of trick or treating, pumpkin carving and of course, grotesque costumes. But it seemed it was never to be… until I moved to Ibiza, that is.
As I reached the end of my very first summer season, so many witchy moons ago, I started to hear talk of Halloween and my interest was piqued. I didn’t think Spain would be an adopter of this most Yankee of ‘holidays’ and yet, there was an entire party dedicated to creatures of the night. And this was not just any party. This was Ibiza’s original Halloween bash – the annual Bambuddha Halloween Dinner. Being my first season, I had no idea how big islanders went when it came to costumes, and so – scared I was going to be overdressed – I went as (my heart shudders now at the very thought) a basic sexy cat. From the minute our car drove into the Bambuddha car park, and I could see the spooky swirls of mist over the restaurant’s roof (I still don’t understand how they did it!), then stepped through the spider’s webs to get inside, I knew I’d made a gross miscalculation.
It was like walking onto the set of a horror movie. I really couldn’t recognise ANYONE. The entire restaurant had been turned into a haunted house. There were bloodcurdling screams of terror coming through the walls (ok, it was probably the speakers) and while for some people it was like something out of a nightmare, for me it was like all my Halloweens had come at once. It really was a dream come true. I knew, at that very moment, that I was home (and since then, I’ve never left!). Obviously I vowed never to stoop to such a costume low again and since then, I’ve loved the challenge of coming up with a get-up that would scare Beelzebub back to where he came from while simultaneously masking my identity!
Fast forward over a decade and Halloween in Ibiza is an institution. The holiday has pretty much extended the summer season all the way to October 31 (most locals will tell you winter begins on November 2… the day they get home/wake up from Halloween) and weirdly, the weather also usually stays blissfully sunny right up until that point too, turning grey like clockwork on November 3 (side note: 2018 is looking a bit wet and wild – though to me, this is how Halloween should be!). The party scene has exploded and now includes a virtual road map of places and spaces that would quite honestly take two days to visit. And many people do this. Full flights from the mainland and the UK jet in the week and days leading up to the event, and baggage handlers are so petrified at the things the X-Ray machine spots in checked baggage they just let them go on their merry way.
While there are indeed a plethora of parties to attend, for me, Halloween in Ibiza is all about two events. Everything begins at Pikes, where the Brothers Grim have spent the past week transforming what was once a whimsical and quirky hotel into a true house of horrors. There’s no telling what it will look like this year, but let’s just say previous incarnations have included an authentic style kill room with the walls smeared in blood. Real blood. If heaven is a place on earth for Halloween lovers, it’s got to be Pikes. As the sun starts to come up, all roads then lead towards Boutique Hostal Salinas – and when I say all roads, I really mean it.
Once each and every Halloween party around the island has closed its doors, BHS becomes the one and only destination where it’s still acceptable to be in full face paint, carry plastic weapons, be drenched in fake blood or in any kind of costume whatsoever. This is the after party to end all after parties and by the end of it, the venue truly looks as if there has been a massacre. J-u-u-u-s-t the way I like it. Halloween in Ibiza is not for the faint hearted (side note: if you have kids, there are actually some great family-friendly events that take place before the freaks truly come out). It’s where everything you’ve ever dreamed could be under your bed comes out for the night. To me, it’s like my Christmas (though I am also quite partial to that holiday too); it’s the night I look forward to for 12 whole months of the year. It also falls the night before a national holiday in Spain, so no one (except for the ACTUAL vampires) needs to go to bed before the sun comes up – and that, dear readers is the point where the lines between fantasy and reality become a little blurred. Sure, it’s creepy. As the sun shines over BHS at around 8am and you become aware that absolutely everyone is still in full costume (no changes or wash-offs are allowed) – that’s the moment when the real Halloween black magic really starts to happen. Get ready Ibiza… in just two more sleeps, something wicked this way comes. And if you can recognise me… well, I haven’t done my Halloween job. Photography by Phrank for Pikes