Time means little under the shade of this bougainvillea porch at the side of a lonely road in Sant Joan. Eclectic rogues gesticulate, smoke, share stories and gather advice. It makes me want to learn Spanish just to earwig a little. All of the real island scoops are in these laughs and animated pats. Let’s go inside.
That same black and white Incan pattern domes over ‘el casero’ Juan’s hunchback. The well-worn shirt rounds over his spine like a trumpeter’s cheek or a full sail in a hot Balearic wind. He’s only got one outfit. This one. And he’s a proper grumpy twat. Flicking between dubbed Simpsons Espanol, Peter Andre’s 60 Minutes and a Spanish version of Pimp My Ride on a wall-bracketed TV from a cling-film wrapped remote, his place oozes class. Ses Arcades must be where Naomi Campbell jets straight to when she’s on the island. But what makes it so amazing?
Style is just is not a thing here. A bar. A truck stop. A lounge. A café. A canteen. A games-room. It’s none and all. Sports. Royal Doulton. 70’s ski lodge. Net curtains. Dried grasses in vases. Digital. It’s all represented. There’s no theme. Walnut cabinets. Energy drink endorsed mirrors. Calendars from fruit wholesalers. There are Clip Art posters printed on low-grade A4 and oversized beige tiles where you can see the shape of that flying dog from The Never Ending Story in the pattern when you squint. A red Coco Cola clock is so faded it’s yellow. The emergency exit sign is the highlight of this confused scuffle de decoración y meubles. And it’s not just the decor…
Weirdly interspersed with dried and dusty hollowed calabaza, seriously old-school spirits line a ledge above the bar. If you fancy a Fernet Branca, a Brandy De Jerez, some Cutty Sark blended Scotch or a Larios gin from a bottle that’s got a bus pass, you’ve reached Xanadu. Grab a packet of Lay’s Corn Bugles 3D’s and you’re set. If Spanish guys played darts, this is definitely where they’d do it.
Next to the 80’s Nestle ‘helados’ chest that’s full of frozen foot-longs for jamon bocadillos, there’s a ‘WHO DUNNIT?’ pinball machine in a film noir style. Nobody’s ever used it. I genuinely suspect it’s haunted and solely for the purpose of Euro laundering.
You can only get full strength Malboro reds from the fag dispenser and there’s a special way of doing it that only Juan knows. How a fag machine gets sun-faded is beyond me, but this one genuinely looks to have been in a shop window since Julio Iglesias was pre-pube.
The broadest man in the world drinks at the bar all day every day. He’s on crutches, he wears a camouflage t-shirt and he’s owns a grand total of zero front teeth. He has the same ratio of dimensions to a newborn baby, except he weighs at least 30 stone. He has a soft spot for me because one night he caught me imitating the mating call of an equatorial bird to a parrot that lives in a cage outside. I make him smile. Toothlessly.
Badass White 40-A-Day Lionel Ritchie watches UEFA Nations League on the flat screen that hangs under the faux arches in the back room. He’s licking a roll-up. He’s got a stained silvery bouffant you just want to land on when you jump from a bridge. It’s so blow-dried and mullety and criminal. If it wasn’t his hair it would be used to pack Domyos own-brand cricket balls. Spanish commentators try to cram as many syllables as possible into absolutely nothing happening.
No-necked and petrified gay-man-couple weirdly both look like Simon Pegg’s mate in Hot Fuzz. Will they ever speak to each other? Who knows? Their dates at Ses Arcades always look really shit, like they’re breaking up. How they ever got together is a mystery for sure. www.silentgaymeetup.com
Foreign labourers in Ibiza don’t come any more weathered than the self-proclaimed and long-haired, Strong Wolf, or Fuerte Lobos. Slovakian, vested and badly inked in prison, he looks like he’s been outside for longer than I’ve been alive. He’s like a sunburned Vigo from Ghostbusters 2. Stumbling over to us, giggling with six drinks – three pints of Estrella and three shots of Jagermeister – he professes his love for Collette because she drinks pints. He can’t get over it. In broken English he starts to describe in some detail, with hand-gestures, how most women drink smaller drinks. He’s got a point. His 6 drinks are for us all. Two for Collette because he loves her. Two for me to apologise for the fact that he loves her. Two for him so he can sit down. It’s a tad awkward and he’s been blasting too much weed, which he shows off about and then loses. Desperate for a post-roadworks threesome, Fuerte Lobos can be found stoned in Ses Arcades regularly buying multiple drinks for any couple under 45.
Wine glasses here aren’t filled to the widest point, they’re filled to just below the highest point. When you’ve finished your food, you’re still likely to have about 4-kilos of white bread left, and you will stink of garlic.
One Sunday moning, Ginger Day Flash is like a furious middle-aged whirlwind of female-to-male head-peck. Zooming in, late, from a finca-with-a-missing-husband, she finds him half-cut in this dream bar where she arrives to tend. Ibiza hath no fury like the Ginger Day Flash. Crikey. Plates smash. Voices bellow through the kitchen. Feet pace on the ceramic floor tiles. There’s much cinematic posturing and grossly unnecessary shows of public laundry hanging. Her red-faced man lasts not much more than five-minutes before heading to the Repsol garage for some cans of San Miguel and home.
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