Interview with Max Viva Ibiza worker and resident
Max Viva is a seasoned Ibiza worker having spent 7 summers working on the island. He now plays an active role in promoting and running Viva Bar in San Antonio a fantastic workers and open deck venue. He also DJ’s at a number of venues across the island.
We sat down with Max over a Sunday afternoon beer at the Fish to chat about living and working in Ibiza, Ibiza itself and the future for the west end.
Why and when did you first arrive in Ibiza and where did you start your Ibiza career?
I arrived in 2011 which was a spontaneous decision thanks to my best mate who had decided to come and do a season in Ibiza so I tagged along to see what all the fuss was about.
I started as a PR (enticing people into bars and clubs) at Viva and Es Paradis and returned in 2012 as PR manager at Es Paradis.
In 2013 I sold tickets and PR’d at Pink Panthers and Revs bar as well as starting to DJ at various bars and clubs around the west end of San Antonio.
Since then I have worked in various roles at Viva Bar, DJing as well as advising seasonal workers and also making the move to the island to live here all year round.
How have you seen Ibiza change since you arrived?
When I first arrived the bars and hotels lacked the forethought to invest back into their businesses. Year on year this has changed massively and now every year venues and hotels are all being upgraded or are adding to the services on offer.
Tourists coming expect higher standards and more choice than they did only 5 years ago, the range of activities types of bars and accommodation available has grown and as an example when I first came there was only 1 five star hotel on the island now there are 14 open.
What would you say to those who are thinking of doing a season in Ibiza?
You have to be serious about doing a season in Ibiza and you have to understand that you are here to work and work very hard, it is not an extended holiday.
Most businesses on the island only have a 5 month season and the owners have to earn a year’s worth of income in this short window of opportunity.
We see year on year people coming to the island expecting to work a few hours a day a few days a week but the reality is expect to work 12 hours plus a day 6 days a week.
The basic wages are low and you will need to work these hours to make it pay plus the business owners need hard working reliable staff who are on the ball all the time.
Yes you will have fun make new friends have incredible experiences but expect to work hard in return. Come with the right attitude and you will have the time of your life.
What are your top 3 places to go when you have a rare day off?
Days off are rare but I do get a few hours here and there and as well as playing football in a local team. I regularly watch the big games at The Fish Ibiza, people are very passionate about football in Ibiza, I also play for the Ibiza Cricket Team which is a great laugh.
When I need a beach day I head off to Cala Moli which although is only 15 mins from San Antonio is a little piece of heaven with a beach club and is a great place to relax for a few hours even in the height of summer.
My favourite spot to go though is Cap Negret to watch the sunset which even after 7 years never gets old. This is a place where only locals and those that know go and it is truly a spot to get away from it all and to reconnect with the island away from the masses.
For those who want to become a super star DJ in Ibiza what advice would you give them?
To make it as a DJ in Ibiza is very hard as so many people come wanting to be DJ’s. However it is possible if you are prepared to put the time and passion into it.
Come to Ibiza for the season without any expectations, get to know the bar owners those that make the bookings, pick up a few open deck sets at various bars, be heard and be seen.
Come with the ability to play a range of genres depending on the venue and crowd and be adaptable in your sets.
If you are good people will hear and see it and you will get more offers as the season goes on.
Make sure you make the most of social media ensuring people know when and where you are playing. You could play the set of your life but if there is no one in the venue you won’t be invited back.
Also and especially in your first season do not expect to be paid well. DJs are ten a penny in Ibiza and until you have proved yourself to pull a crowd and keep then dancing and drinking you will be playing for passion not profit.
The West End seems to be under attack by the local authorities year on year with more and more limits being put in place, do you feel the West End will ultimately be destroyed in its current form?
The West End has always changed and adapted to every situation it has been faced with, this year it is the removal of the terraces last year it was the ban on PR’s a few years ago it was a limit on opening hours but it has always survived.
The bar owners maybe mostly British and Irish but the buildings are all owned by Ibienco’s so it is in everyones interest to work together and diversify to cater for a new way and a new style of tourist.
This year we have already seen some new bars appear offering something different and a couple of new clothes shops so the changes are happening but the West End will be here to stay for many years to come that’s for sure.
What is the best part about working in Ibiza?
I love working in Ibiza, yes the hours are long but you get to meet so many amazing people every year, some old some new. The experiences it gives you cannot be found elsewhere.
Also when you do get chance just 10 minutes out of San An or Play d’en Bossa it is the most beautiful island you can imagine with incredible beaches, viewpoints and activities on offer.
It’s not one thing that makes Ibiza what it is, the whole island makes Ibiza.
What is the worst part of working in Ibiza?
Unfortunately, I have to say drunken tourists are one of the worst things. People without a little self control who knows when its time to stop and grab a couple of hours sleep and some food.
Sadly they get themselves into a state where they are easy pickings for the prostitutes and pick pockets to pray on them and ultimately this will ruin their holiday in Ibiza.
The authorities are stretched especially in the peak summer season so individuals taking responsibility for themselves and having a little more self control would go a very long way to improving the situation.
The cost of living is rising across Ibiza especially accommodation yet wages seem to stay static for summer workers, do you see a time where not enough summer workers will come to ibiza?
It is changing from a few years ago with the squeeze on accommodation and the wages still being low but people will always come for the experience even if they have to part fund a season to get them through.
You can eat cheaply here and there are opportunities to get on the guest lists from time to time so you can spend less on going out, its who you know here not what you know.
There are also more people moving out to the island all year round and with a growing winter tourist season more bars are staying open for longer offering a few more winter working opportunities and getting a yearly rental is cheaper than just a summer season rental.
With most of the super club announcements having been made what are your top picks of nights to attend this summer?
This summer looks amazing the biggest move is Defected coming to Eden on Sunday nights which has everyone buzzing in San Antonio. It is great to see Eden putting on some big names this year and establishing itself back at the forefront of club nights in Ibiza.
Abode at Sankeys is one of my favourite nights on the island I love the underground feel of the music and as a brand they are expanding across the island this year which is fantastic.
Pool parties at Ibiza rocks hotel are also on my list of must attend this summer, Cuckoo Land by Do Not Sleep will be a revelation in the open setting added to that two exclusive Elrow pool parties will be incredible taking their craziness pool side.
You have spent many winters in Ibiza, what is it like to live here all year round?
Living on the island all year round gives you everything, busy chaotic summers, quiet relaxed sleepy winters.
The few months in between the extremes April, May, September and October are truly magical with perfect weather, a time to catch up with people, relax, prepared or to wind down from the summer.
The island also offers cheap flights to mainland Spain due to the residents discount which means travelling for holidays or to visit friends and family tends to be very cheap.
Having made a career here for the last 7 years do you see yourself staying on the island forever more?
100% I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else, the island offers people who are willing to make it their home so much, its one huge community and you will never be bored in Ibiza.
There is always something to do someone to see, work to do a new beach or walk to do. The pace of life is slower more relaxed even in the height of summer you get the chance to enjoy the island from time to time.
It truly is the magical place people say it is and more especially if you are here all year round.
Our thanks to Max for giving us a fantastic insight into Ibiza and you can find him working hard in Viva Bar this summer or playing at various venues across the island.