it considers Magalluf through the eyes of people who live there

it considers Magalluf through the eyes of people who live there.

17-05-2021M.A. CAÑELLAS

It’s a strong recollection, but I’m blowed if I can find any YouTube evidence to back it up. Cliff Michelmore reported from Magalluf circa 1970, and Cliff wasn’t overly enamoured of the place. Those were the days when the BBC’s ‘Holiday’ programme would typically carry reports of holidays ruined by building work going on right next to the hotel or by the hotel itself not actually having been built.

It was building, a great deal of it, that led Cliff to question the merits of Magalluf. But such high-mindedness was clearly lost on the package holidaymakers of yore. Magalluf was the place to go, and when ITV came along in 1974 with its rival show, ‘Wish You Were Here’, where did the first ever edition start? Yep, it was Magalluf - Judith Chalmers with a glass of champagne, sitting on a pedalo on Magalluf beach.

Depending on your point of view, 1970 had arguably been the year which heralded what was to be the rot setting in or the good times rolling - certain good times, that is. Twenty years earlier, Vladimir Raitz had founded Horizon Holidays. He wanted to offer holidays to as wide a public as possible, and this was at a time when tourism was viewed as a means for bringing world peace and bridging cultures.

In keeping with his egalitarianism, Raitz wanted to ensure that holidays were available to young people, and so - in 1970 - Horizon set up Club 18-30. It was sold three years later and was to be repositioned as a holiday experience that Raitz had never quite envisaged.

When was the reputation acquired? You’ll know which reputation I’m referring to. Certainly by 1987. Ivor Biggun’s ‘The Mallorca Song’, the version of which Esther Rantzen was most certainly not about to allow on ‘That’s Life’, could just as easily have been ‘The Magalluf Song’.

“She was topless, I was legless, We boogied the moonlight away, Oh she swallowed my pina colada, Oh blimey, oh riley, olé.” Come forward to more recent times, and the notorious “mamading” video and Stacey Dooley’s shock at the bar sex game, as she was in pursuit of the truth about Magalluf, made Ivor’s innuendo seem distinctly tame.

For fifty years, Magalluf has been honoured but more typically savaged. The media, the British and Spanish media that is, have loved Magalluf and continue to love Magalluf. This is not a love of passion, of intense desire and longing, it is a love characterised by a lust, as every bit as overt or as loveless as a bar sex game. Magalluf sells and Magalluf, in the process, has become a place of legend. And for Mallorca, regardless of the scorn, Magalluf is integral to the story of tourism.

Yes, there is certainly more to Mallorca than Magalluf, but only so much that can qualify for legendary status. If and when Magalluf truly passes into a transformed other world, it will be as if it as a resort and Mallorca as an island have emerged from an extended period of a rite of passage. From the youthful desire for a Maga rite of passage will come a touristic adulthood of sustainable gentility, of hotel-branded aspirational lifestyle - an oasis of calm on what Santiago Rusiñol famously dubbed the island of calm. And yet in years to come, they’ll look back and say: “Magalluf. What a place that was.”

Miguel Ángel Blanca is the director of a film entitled ‘Magaluf Ghost Town’. Is this another media-driven sensationalist stab at legend-making? No, as it considers Magalluf through the eyes of people who live there. Even so, Blanca has said that Magalluf is a living legend, it is a mythological space where people look for something that doesn’t exist - the idea that anything is possible. He believes that it is the media who have “articulated this reality”. Magalluf can be whatever you want it to be, as it is like a myth, the perfect place to build legends.

Blanca’s approach to his film is similar in some respects to Sergio Boas’s ‘Paradis’ and Toni Bestard’s ‘Pullman’ inasmuch as it is from the point of view of people who live with tourism in what can seem as if it had been designed solely with tourists in mind. He therefore considers coexistence between those living in Magalluf and the resort’s tourists, and it is here where one is reminded of what Vladimir Raitz and others had believed back in the 1950s, as coexistence was inherent to bridging cultures.

Along the way, that principle was abandoned or just ignored, and so - as Blanca explains - “the duality between love and hate of tourists runs through the film”. A living legend, but also a place where people live. The legend will live on for now, but the future lies only so much with gentrification. It is about remembering that Magalluf isn’t mythical. It’s real. People live there.

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