From Pacha and Amnesia to Privilege and Cocoon, VIP entry means five-star treatment, privacy – and space. How does the system work, how much does it cost and what do clubbers get for their money?
Writing this article was an education for me. I had only the vaguest idea of how VIP worked, though I'd heard of people paying €300 for a bottle of vodka which gave them access to nirvana behind the velvet rope. That was pretty much the extent of my knowledge.
Of course, I have been in the VIP areas of all the big clubs – but I am a journalist who lives in Ibiza. If I wanted to pay to get into a club, I’d get a proper job that gave me sufficient income to buy a ticket. I do have some shame, though. I’m far too polite to ask the punters sitting with their bottles of vodka how much they were charged.
The answer, I thought, was to email the clubs and ask how much it cost to get into their VIP area. Only the very helpful Armando Daura from Amnesia replied, so I took the opportunity to go and have a chat with him and see the new Amnesia terrace.
As we talked, it quickly became clear that I was stupid to think there would be anything along the lines of a VIP price-list for any club. Supply and demand is everything in Ibiza. You want a table near the DJ booth for Cocoon or Cream in August? Of course it’s going to cost you more than a Fiesta de Agua in June.
In some ways, VIP follows the flexible ticket-pricing policy that exists for ordinary club admission. Early in the season, it is easy to pick up free passes – especially if the night in question is not too popular. Getting a few extra punters through the door, to pay through the nose for drinks, is better than nothing. Who knows: maybe they will encourage their pals to come the following week.
With VIP admission, the position is more complicated because there are no published prices. Essentially, you either phone the club direct or get a concierge services to do it for you. Explain what you are after, and they will quote you a price. As nothing is fixed, this means you can haggle. It’s up to you – but do call at least a day in advance.
Whether you accept the first offer or not, you won’t get a ticket or be able to pay for your admission upfront unless you go through a concierge service. You reserve a table at a club in exactly the same way as you would at a restaurant. Pay when you get there, and make sure you have cash. Credit cards have their uses in Ibiza – but they don’t always include paying for drinks or food.
While the prices may vary, the package you get from each club is fairly similar. It typically includes:
• One bottle of vodka, whisky or gin, plus five energy drinks or 10 standard mixers between two people. Alternatively, you can have a bottle of Champagne.
• A table – guaranteed for the night – where you can leave those drinks while you head for the dance floor.
• A special entrance, free from queues (and, of course, they will have your name on the list).
• Most importantly, you will have room to breathe – no matter how rammed the rest of the club is.
Despite these similarities, the actual VIP experience varies hugely from club to club. Sometimes the service is impeccable. A nod towards the attentive waiting staff brings perfectly-chilled drinks to your table in seconds. Equally, you can feel invisible as you try to get somebody, anybody, to bring you a bottle of over-priced, tepid liquid. Generous tipping, by the way, does wonders for your visibility. Don’t worry about staff sneering at ostentatious displays of cash. They will keep their contempt well hidden.
The other great variable from club to club is the celebrity count. Most people with tables in the VIP area have paid for them. (It’s a strange definition that makes a “Very Important Person” anybody who can spend €300 euros on a bottle of voddy.) The meaning of “celebrity” is equally loose. Perhaps, if I spent more time watching reality TV shows, I would have more luck spotting them. Then again, I am a VIP on occasion – which shows just how lax the rules are.
Well, not that lax. Before I get myself blacklisted by every club on the island, I should point out that admission policies for VIP are stricter than they are on the normal door. Basically, if you turn up barely able to stand in your cut-off shorts and football shirt, you won’t get in. End of story. You won’t be on the list.
So now you know as much as I do about paying for VIP. Frankly, drinking the half bottle of spirits included in the deal would mar rather than enhance my night’s clubbing – but that’s me. On the other hand, there are times when I would pay almost anything for a little air-conditioned room to breathe.
Next time, I will tell you about the secret über-VIP rooms where celebrities snort lines of coke off the naked breasts of beautiful groupies. Or maybe not.