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Summum, 1991Photo courtesy of Jari

Ibiza recruits ‘party detectives’ to crack down on illegal gatherings

Current restrictions, including €600,000 fines for organisers, haven’t helped curb the underground parties being blamed for the island’s surge in COVID cases

Spanish officials in Ibiza — famed for its hedonistic club nights and dusk-till-dawn dancefloors — are busy assembling a team of “detectives” to help infiltrate and expose illegal events, following a surge of coronavirus cases on the island.

Most of Ibiza’s nightclubs are currently closed due to COVID — or restricted to outdoor events, during which partygoers are required to remain seated — and bars and restaurants are similarly limited to small groups. However, the island has reported over 1,800 cases per 100,000 people over the last two weeks, leading officials to point the finger (or sweaty glow stick) at organisers of illegal parties.

“They’re not only an issue related to public order, which they have always been, but now they pose an obvious risk to people’s health,” says the local official Mariano Juan, speaking to the newspaper Periódico de Ibiza.

Various restrictions have been introduced in an attempt to curb the illicit partying, including a ban on multi-household gatherings between 1am and 6am, and staggering fines of up to €600,000 (or £513,000) for convicted organisers. However, the illegal gatherings apparently haven’t stopped, and police are having trouble detecting events, which are organised on social media and often take place on private property.

That’s where the “party detectives” come in. The small squad of killjoys (all in the name of COVID safety, ofc) will be made up of foreigners aged between 30 and 40, in the hope that they won’t be as recognisable to organisers.

“Police themselves say it’s difficult for them to infiltrate, as they are known to locals,” Juan explains. “So we have to look outside for help.” 

The initiative is likely to be up and running “this summer” he adds, saying: “It’s a necessity to safeguard the health situation in Ibiza.” It’s currently unclear how strictly the scheme will be enforced, though. There has also been pushback from some local administration, with the Socialist Federation spokesperson Vicent Torres calling for “serious proposals” to combat illegal parties, rather than hiring private detectives.

If you’re not jetting off to infiltrate some illegal raves in Ibiza, you can reminisce on the hedonism of pre-pandemic partying here.