Like most islands, Ibiza is reliant most particularly on the boon of summer tourism. More specifically, “party tourism.” The kind that the Brits are notorious for bringing to the island (hence an entire enclave infiltrated by their ilk, Sant Antoni de Portmany). With the feast of the summer months, the islanders were always able to deal with any winter “famine,” so to speak. Saving up their alms from May to late September (when those final Brits would try to get their last bacchanalian experience in) so they could continue to party it up without the “infection” of outsiders for the rest of the year.
The Ibicencos could never have counted on what was to come that summer of 2020, when the entire world was shut down to everyone except the privileged. It was not enough to keep the clubs open. Not just literally, but in the sense that many owners weren’t convinced their businesses would survive, not even with the help of a little government subsidization. No one saw an end in sight once the disease started spreading and the shutdowns became just as rampant. Even the policía were starting to get concerned for their own jobs, what with crime being far less rampant without Britain and the U.S. using the island as their playground. Sure, there were still bar brawls and petty fights, but nothing to crack down on the way there used to be. During those massive parties, both foam and non-foam. Such things were sort of the highlight of their career, the entire raison d’être for being a police official on the island. Without that “cause,” they were left with nothing more than a tight uniform that almost made them look like they should be the ones out on the dance floor.
When 2021 finally came, and with it a summer that actually opened up all of Europe to (most of) the rest of the world, the policía had suddenly forgotten how to do their job. Or rather, just how intensive their job actually felt to them after a year of standing around twiddling their thumbs (often inside another person’s asshole). The reemergent barrage of law-violating bodies was presently a foreign concept (pun intended). To compound the issues that usually went hand in hand with carrying out their job, now they were assaulted with “COVID protocols” and other assorted “government mandates” to enforce. It was a flurry of restrictions that would have made anyone’s head spin–even the oh so fond of subjugation Stasi officer.
And that’s when one of the most well-respected officers at the Policía Local de Sant Antoni de Portmany, Juan Ramon, came up with an idea to help lighten their load (from a scrotal perspective, they already had that covered with the ample selection of call girls on the island who were in their back pocket in exchange for rarely arresting anyone). It was Juan Ramon who suggested putting an “international ad,” of sorts, out into the world by announcing to news outlets that they were in the market for people between the ages of thirty and forty (“We don’t want them so young, they’re going to end up just partying, or so old that they’ll stick out like a sore thumb”) to infiltrate parties and report on COVID breaches.
A colleague of Juan Ramon’s, Mateo, was the sole member of the precinct who suggested that maybe this was all just a little too public. That putting people on their guard was not the best way to determine if rules were really being broken or not. Juan Ramon scoffed at his insolence and told him they were going through with the plan. People never think, “It’s going to happen to me” anyway, he assured.
Although they had expected far more applicants for the unique “role,” only a handful of candidates actually proved to be viable. At the top the list was a thirty-three-year-old man from Birmingham named Elgin. He seemed the least conspicuous out of everyone they interviewed over Zoom and, wanting to give the experiment a trial run, sent only for him to come to the island as a party decoy. He was briefed endlessly on protocols to look for, from a lack of social distancing to a lack of mask-wearing. Elgin nodded along throughout the meeting, assuring Juan Ramon and his associates that he was the person for the task.
Of course, what Elgin didn’t tell them was that it had always been his lifelong dream to run away to Ibiza. Not to become a DJ or anything, like most other Brits wanted to, but simply for the sake of “just being” on the island, which, to him, had always come across as paradise. But most who have been to paradise (not to be confused with Jamie Jones’ Paradise) will tell you that it can quickly turn to hell when the boredom sets in, therefore the need of people to “create excitement” that ends up tainting the perfection of any erstwhile utopia.
His first night on the job, Elgin was tasked with going to a party at Eden. He was instructed to inform on whether the bouncer was checking every entrant for a negative COVID test or vaccination card. It didn’t take him long to see that wasn’t happening, yet he was too distracted by the pulsing music and pretty lights beckoning to him inside to bother with texting Juan Ramon anything just yet.
By two a.m., Elgin had very clearly lost sight of his original purpose in being here. In fact, it felt as if he had been here his whole life. That he was born on this dance floor and would die on it–and that would be just fine as far as he was concerned. Just when he thought he might finally collapse, a remix of “Eat Sleep Rave Repeat” came on to revive him. A woman sidled up to his groin and proceeded to grind on it, violating all COVID rules as she kissed him sloppily on the mouth and offered him a sip of her drink. Elgin had gone down the rabbit hole of partying, and there was no turning back. That was the thing about asking Alice to join you in Wonderland: she was always going to end up drinking of the unidentified Kool-Aid.
The next afternoon, Elgin awoke to a barrage of texts from Juan Ramon asking how it went last night, and what the report was. Elgin groaned as he rolled over to see a pair of black panties with discharge on the crotch left behind in the center of the bed. Perhaps they belonged to the woman who had given him coronavirus. Though, in that moment, she was just the woman who made him cum last night. Reflecting on it later, he should have known better. No woman is “for free”–not that easily. And yet, he went about his day as usual, mingling among crowds on the street and touching all manner of public surfaces before finally landing on the beach where he chose to “sleep it off” further. But not before he responded to Juan Ramon, placating him by saying there were about ten people in the club not wearing masks. It sounded believable enough, he felt, and, at the same time, wouldn’t put the precious club at risk of being shut down.
Juan Ramon was appeased enough by the intel, giving Elgin the address of a more exclusive party that was taking place that night in Sant Josep. The night when Elgin would spread the disease of his one-night stand to everyone else in the elite enclosure.
When Juan Ramon and his fellow officers discovered news of the outbreak originating at the party, they recoiled from it, offering no claim over Elgin or having ever made contact with him. The attempt to draft “mole” partiers had all at once become a black (read: failed) operation never to be spoken of again. The media had already moved on from reporting on the island’s want for “recruits” anyway, its memory hardly elephantine–nor shrewd enough to make the correlation between the policía’s covert enterprise and Elgin’s presence at the event. What’s more, Elgin certainly wasn’t going to talk about it, for he ended up dying a few days later. As for Mateo, the most outspoken officer against the setup, well, Juan Ramon knew ways of silencing him if he started to act suspicious.
As the summer continued, so did the spread of the contagion and a total inability to enforce anything like “COVID rules.” But no one seemed all that worried. There were worse things to die for than one’s right to party, they supposed.