Juan Marí, who since childhood has been known as Juanito of Las Dalias, is owner, part of the history, and someone who has been instrumental in the enduring popularity of one of the most famous hippy markets in the world, which has now been running for over 65 years in Sant Carles de Peralta.
“When you come into Las Dalias you change a little bit, you smell the incense, and the leather, and you can feel that the people here have a different energy”, explains Juan Marí as he recalls how this particular spot, in the north of Ibiza, has welcomed and watched the rise, through the generations, of genuine artists of every kind, representing over 50 different nationalities.
“I consider myself a normal run of the mill person, however I am a restless soul, and I am always looking for what’s next on the horizon” claims Juanito of Las Dalias, mentioning his father who, he assures us “made sure that I had no option but to take on this place and anything that came with it, but I will always be grateful to him for that. Thanks to him I have been open to the influences of so many different people, and this has broadened my outlook on life, allowing me see and enjoy so much”, adds Juan Mari who confesses that his dream is to travel to different cities, spreading his philosophy to the five continents and recreating his special Las Dalias concerts.
Ensconced in the middle of this vast multicultural garden, Juanito settles himself down in the knowledge that he will be chatting for quite some time, and quite frankly, if you set out to try and discover just what is the secret of this place and its history, so beloved and respected by Ibizans and tourists alike, you should prepare yourself to plunge into the deepest most traditional aspects of Ibiza. “The history of Las Dalias started with a group of villagers and farmers, who used to gather in this field on Sundays for a bit of eating and dancing and it ended up as a haven of colour and life with all the amazing essence that is still so typical of this place 65 years later”, he recalls.
“Las Dalias was my father’s dream, he was always looking around for new business opportunities, especially some kind of tourist venture in Ibiza, but he kept it to himself, no one else realised, but everyone knew that he was up to something, and that something was going on, but what they didn’t expect was that this would become one of the most fashionable spots in Ibiza where it became the place to be”, explains Juan Marí’s son.
“The market has a before and after, and the first 30 years before it are equally important”
On 4 November 1954, the music came on and since then it has never been turned off in this iconic place. “That day they took 4,400 pesetas, we couldn’t believe it, those were difficult times, we are talking about the Franco era and a rural village where there was no electricity or infrastructure of any kind”, explains Juanito who emphasises that “since then the music has never stopped, it has been a part of our story, and also it saved us when times were hard.” That is how Las Dalias started out, a little bit more than just a cafe or a dance floor and went on to become a venue for most of the island’s weddings.
In the 1970s, the whole place underwent a transformation and a new concept emerged. Las Dalias belonged to the Ibizans, and just as the local people had always done, this scenario gradually absorbed the customs and outside influences from its visitors. “My father began to organise barbecues in the garden for the English tourists who came, and you could stay overnight, listen to music and drink until three o’clock in the morning”, Juanito remembers. “I found bills from that time where the full evening and overnight stay here cost 150 pesetas”, he remarks, and goes on to tell us how at that time “my father still managed to combine his life and his job in the Las Dalias restaurant with his work in the fields, right here, where the market is held today, he grew apricots and peaches and then sold them in the farmer’s market.” In those years before the market started, Las Dalias was also, for a short time, an art gallery showing works of some excellent artists who left their mark on Ibiza.
In the 1980s, Las Dalias had its own revolution and began to focus on live concerts featuring all the heavy music groups popular during the time of the “Movida Madrileña”. “Rebeldes, Obús, Rosendo and every group you can think of from that era would finish in their studios and come here to let their hair down and they would play for free”, adds Juanito. Soon the hard winter of 1985 was upon them “a very cold February when we thought it might be a good idea to open a kind of flea market to see if we could save the business”, Juan Marí continues, adding that the first Saturday they had four stalls, but a year later, there were around thirty. “We realised that it was getting a bit out of control with so many people, so in the late 1990s, we extended the land, renovated some areas, and built the car parks that you see today. I was always in favour of the market, I went for it”, he says with a smile that reflects all his hard work, enthusiasm and the history of this place.
Today the market in Las Dalias consists of four separate areas, one pays homage to the best cuisine around, then there are the exclusive events every week during the summer season, live music on Saturdays, and the Night Market with over 400 hippy stalls where you can buy some real works of art and crafts from all over the planet. More than ever before, Las Dalias today remains a magical place, a multicultural enclave where the atmosphere is one of universal harmony, full of the essence, the joy and the legacy of Juan Marí Juan.
According to Juanito de Las Dalias, an ideal winter’s day out in Ibiza should include:
- A long walk along the beach in the morning.
- Enjoying a lunchtime guisat de peix or a salmorra (both fish based dishes).
- Spending an evening with friends putting the world (or the island) to rights with a glass or two of Ibizan herbal liqueur on the table.