One of the Balearic islands, approximately 90 kilometres east of mainland Spain, Ibiza has been a retreat for artists, writers, bohemians, hippies, millionaires and petty criminals since the early twentieth century. The Spanish holiday boom of the 60s helped to make it an affordable holiday destination for the British and other Europeans. In the 80s, the huge clubs of San Antonio began to boom, owing to a number of experimental, pioneering Spanish DJs (particularly Alfredo at Amnesia), an affluent and hedonistic holidaying elite and the island's liberal acceptance of alcoholic and narcotic excess. The Balearic sound was a blend of sophisticated UK and US pop with funky US house sounds, all with an ethereal "spaced out" feel. Famously, it was a group of London club promoters and DJs including Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling and Nicky Holloway who visited the island in 1987 and tried to recreate the magic formula in London when they returned. Following this, clubs such as Ku, Pacha, Space, and Amnesia began to attract an increasingly large number of foreign visitors, predominantly from the UK.
Countless Ibiza-themed compilations (beginning with the 'Avin' It In Ibiza and Café Del Mar series) have been released and a thriving tourist industry has grown around the bright lights of San Antonio. The Spanish inhabitants of the rest of the island remain largely oblivious to the vibrant, hedonistic nightlife. Several UK-based superclubs, such as Ministry Of Sound, Cream, Renaissance, Gatecrasher, Trade, and Godskitchen established summer residencies at clubs on the island, while Clockwork Orange and the infamously decadent Manumission have a semi-permanent base there. Most of the UK and USA's top DJs visit several times during the summer season, while some UK holiday companies now run tailor-made Ibizan holidays for clubbers. In 1998, the UK's BBC Radio 1 began sending a number of its DJs there to broadcast live shows at the peak of the season.
Purists feel that the special, beatific atmosphere of the island in the late 80s and early 90s has now been spoiled by the huge numbers of visitors in the summer and the vulgar "lager-lout" contingent that dominates parts of San Antonio. As a result, by the late 90s alternative venues such as Ayia Napa in Cyprus overtook Ibiza as the destination du jour of the committed clubber. In the early years of the twenty-first century the local police began to crack down on the reckless behaviour of UK clubbers, leading to a number of lurid tabloid headlines exposing the sordid reality of the summer season in Ibiza. Nevertheless, most of Europe's dance music scene and thousands of committed clubbers annually spend part of the summer and a large amount of money, enjoying "the white island".