Part of the vision of CNI Network and our local projects is to be available to pub and club workers not just those who are out and about enjoying the night-life scene. Through a chaplaincy style approach our street and club teams are ideally placed to be available to bar staff, door staff and management of night-time establishments. In this interview we chat to Rachel who at the age of 20 headed to Ibiza and ended up working at Manumission, one of the world's leading clubbing experiences, in its mid 90's heyday. Rachel shares her thoughts on life working within a clubbing environment and how that shaped her life today....
You were working in one of the world's biggest nightclubs at the height of its popularity - how did you end up doing this?
It was early 1996 and I was working as a waitress at an American Diner in Halifax called The Hughes Corporation. I had wanted to go to Ibiza since watching a TV programme about house music when I was just 15 years old, and low and behold some of my friends from The Hughes Corporation also wanted to visit, so three of us packed our bags with a view to get some work in Ibiza and head back to the UK after all the infamous closing parties in late Summer. I was 20 years old at the time and knew that if I didn't go to live in ibiza then that I may never do it! We arrived in Ibiza, immediately found somewhere to rent for a few months, enquired about part-time jobs with restaurants, bars and nightclubs, and hey presto I landed both a restaurant job as a waitress for a Dutch couple at their little place called Cafe Amsterdam, they served garlic bread with the best aioli dip I've ever tasted, and I got a job on the Monday night Entertainment's Team for Manumission, the biggest and best club on the island.
Tell us about some of your experiences working within the night time industry
The nighttime industry in Ibiza in the mid-90s was so much fun, my job for Manumission was to be a 'Flashing Monk', yes that's correct, I wore a bikini under a monks habit and then I flashed at people in the club. It was a great job description "we're looking for a flashing monk", one that I'm sure wouldn't be allowed these days, but I loved it. The industry was fast-paced with street entertainment every Monday night, daytime activities for the rest of the week at the then Bar M, and working at the restaurant too. I saw plenty of British drunks on the streets of San Antonio, it wasn't a pretty sight, but on the flip side the clubs were an exciting, exotic and raw place to be. I would work at the restaurant until 10pm, then head over to Manumission for the party and change into my costume, where I would usually work until sunrise - having loads of fun.
As a young person within this crazy culture were you ever pressured into doing things you didn't want to do or was it more 'anything goes'?
The culture of Ibiza was definitely 'anything goes' in the 1990s, I was never pressured into doing anything I didn't want to do. There were drink and drugs all over the place, but that was all part of the fun of Ibiza. I did see a fair few drunk tourists fighting with the police and others being arrested for drug dealing, but fortunately I didn't know anyone personally who was involved with this in Ibiza. My time in the Balearic was all about having fun, working, and sunbathing outside Mambo and Cafe Del Mar with my friends. Don't get me wrong, I did have a headache most mornings as I definitely liked to party hard!
You have lived a nightclub from the inside whilst our teams are either working on the streets or offering welfare support - how can we better support staff and managers of clubs?
I think that just by being on the scene and letting the nighttime club managers know you are there is going to be a great support mechanism. Sometimes just knowing that there are people on hand for nighttime help is great.
Generally what was the attitude towards the customers, presumably mainly young people, who were your customers?
I can't answer for the Manumission club owners Andy and Mike, but I can say that for me as both an Entertainment Team member and a customer of the club, the venue was just amazing, yes there were drugs around, but mostly people just wanted to dance, it was the height of the dance music era with big named DJs taking to the decks, and both customers and workers alike were there for the music. It was an expensive night to go to Manumission, the entrance fee was one of the highest in Ibiza, the drinks were extortionately priced (£15 for a vodka lemonade in 1996), but you were paying for the big named DJ and the venue. Customers loved Manumission because it included DJs, erotic shows, live performances, unusual acts, people dressed in weird costumes doing weird things at 4am like tea-ladies serving cereal to clubbers, or flashing monks. It was the best place to be in Ibiza on a Monday night and all the staff were there to make each and every customer have a memorable night.
In the 1990s there wasn't any form of after care, nothing like what the Street Angels, Club Angels or Festival Angels offer these days. If you were too drunk to get home or back to your hotel, you sat on the side of the road until the first bus back into San Antonio or cadged a lift in a taxi and quite often just got left somewhere near Ibiza town or San Antonio. In those days it didn't seem to matter.
How did your experiences help shape your life
My time in Ibiza definitely shaped who I am today, I learned to be more independent, a stronger person, it gave me drive and determination to work harder in the future. It taught me to be brave, because if you've ever been a flashing monk at 4am on the Manumission terrace at the club Privilege then there's nothing you can't do! Since then I have worked in radio for 10 years, set up a DJ Agency for world-renowned DJs, run a Marketing and PR Agency (which I still do today), and write for a number of magazines (which I still do today). Ibiza really did shape me, I'm forever proud of myself for having the courage to pack my bags and head off on an adventure at the age of 20.
The night time economy has changed drastically over the last decade or so - people now go for experiences over weekly nights out. Some of the most famous clubs are no longer. How you see the future of the night-time economy?
I truly believe that everything comes around time and again. Dance music was massive in the 1990s and it has returned with vengeance today, clubs are bringing back the big named DJs after quite a few years off, and the youth of today are loving it, just like the youth of the 90s did. I think the nighttime economy will stay strong, there's always going to be the need for music and people getting together to dance, it's a form of liberation, and who doesn't like to feel liberated. There may be less big named clubs in the world today but there are more ways to enjoy yourself on a night out than there ever has been.
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