Past Presents the Future

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Sometimes, it’s nice to go back in time… back to when life was simpler- or so they always say. In Ibiza, a place bursting with history, there are prize anecdotes, golden nuggets hidden all over of the past, life in the wonder years, back when there were few roads and even fewer discos…

Back in those days, it was all about the Dancehall or rather, at least for Mr Juan Marí, founder of las Dalias- it was all about the lack of one. Born and bred on the very land in which the venue stands, a real native to the island, Juan Sr had already proved he had a business head on his shoulders and wanted to open someplace where, simply, people could go to enjoy themselves, get away from the everyday grind. Don’t forget that those ‘good old days’ also had their darker moments- remember we’re talking 1954 here- with Spain still under the Franco Regime, repression and oppression reigned the roost. And so, Las Dalias was born to the island on the road to San Carlos.

Fifty-eight years later and the baton has well and truly been handed over to Juanito Marí, second generation of his clan to own and run one of the island’s most emblematic locations. He does so with the ease and confidence that comes with experience.

“Back in those days, people only went out on really special occasions and national holidays. My father wanted to establish a place where you could dance, have a drink, socialise every weekend if that’s what you fancied”.

Starting as it meant to go on, Las Dalias soon became the local meeting point, day and night, quickly becoming an undeniable reference on the map of Ibiza, “every weekend, the parties were packed with people. Mothers sat on one side of the hall, making sure there was no real mischief… the average price of a drink was 1 peseta… Good times”, Juanito says…

However, the popularity of the place started to cause problems with the local priest who, obviously opposed to such a frivolity, decided to open a cinema club in the Church Hall, in an attempt to stop the partying. Somewhat obviously, his cunning plan didn’t work, although Juan Sr did make a promise with the priest to never host a similar cinema club at Las Dalias- a promise he never broke.

Since those formative years, – “Things take time…” says Juanito – Las Dalias has become and remained a hive of activity on the island, a diverse melting pot of cultures and traditions. From the weekly Mercadillo now in its 27th year to the Noches del Arte and its unison of local and international artists, to Namaste, the signature night event, and the live music and the urban legends that surround the likes of Bob Marley, Mick Jagger, Nina Hagen and Ronnie Wood, to the more recent kids events – here’s a place simply bursting with fun and culture of all shapes and sizes.

Fast forward back to March 2012 and the sun is shining over San Carlos, a cover version of U2’s ‘With or Without You’ complete with didgeridoos is belting out over the soundsystem, the Hippy Market is in full swing. I spy the mini-train picking up and dropping off tourists and I marvel over some arts and crafts nestled amongst the 200 stalls that today make up the weekly market.

And then, as often happens around here, the magic of Las Dalias hits me right in the face and suddenly everything makes sense. – there up ahead,  the man himself, Sr. Juan Marí Juan. Smiling, sprightly, so full of beans, he asks me to guess his age. 74, I wager. “Wrong”, he cackles. “Put ten more on top”. Seems that Las Dalias and country life have kept the man young both at heart and in spirit, and with an infectious energy such as his, it becomes clear exactly why Las Dalias is such an important part of Ibiza History. And now, to make it even better, I even have my own anecdote.

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(THIS INTERVIEW WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN BLUE MARLIN IBIZA MAGAZINE, ISSUE 1, JULY 2012)

August 5, 2012. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized.

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