Main content

Ibiza: Britain's Balearic Soul

Kate O'Brien explores Ibiza's influence over British youth culture and nightlife, and the rise of the Superstar DJ. From 2011.

The island of Ibiza has subtly influenced British youth culture and the nation's night-time economy for well over 20 years.

The Balearic attitude to nightlife and entertainment was adopted in Britain during the late 1980s and soon many young Brits were united by their devotion to house music, recreational drug taking and warehouse parties or raves.

By the mid-90s, millions of ordinary young people spent weekends 'dancing on drugs'. As alcohol sales dropped, the licensed leisure industry replaced so-called spit 'n' sawdust pubs with more modern bars. Bottled beers and alcopops became the drinks of choice. With BBC Radio 1 broadcasting live from the world's house music clubs, dance music culture became mainstream – staying there ever since.

Dr Kate O'Brien meets those at the heart of these changes. Internationally celebrated DJ Paul Oakenfield shares his first experience in Ibiza and how he tried to recreate the island's bohemian, hedonistic party scene. DJ Pete Tong explains how he pushed Radio 1 into being part of this unrelenting youth movement.

A former Chief Constable recalls struggling to manage 40,000 party-goers at an all-night rave. Plus experts on alcohol and drug consumption tell how society and government reacted to the 'normalisation' of recreational drug taking, with young people's determined move away from the limitations of licensed premises.

The history of British dance culture and clubbing is complex and fascinating, and Kate explores its impact.

Producer: Russell Crewe

A Made in Manchester production for BBC Radio 4 first broadcast in August 2011.

Available now

30 minutes

Last on

Thu 26 Nov 2020 02:30


  • Sat 27 Aug 2011 10:30
  • Fri 2 Sep 2016 06:30
  • Fri 2 Sep 2016 13:30
  • Fri 2 Sep 2016 20:30
  • Sat 3 Sep 2016 01:30
  • Wed 25 Nov 2020 14:30
  • Thu 26 Nov 2020 02:30