EDICIÓN: August - October 2012

Namaste & World Family Ibiza - A family business

Text: Cat Weisweiller

“Namaste”, a heartfelt greeting originating from the Indian subcontinent, is the given name of the Wednesday night revelries at Las Dalias – a night that has enchanted locals and island visitors for 14 years. As the name alludes to, the organisers have strived tirelessly to maintain its spirit of openness, warmth, acceptance and hospitality over its considerable lifespan. ibiCASA hooked up with the organisers to learn more about one of the island’s best loved nights.

Two of the main instigators, Alok and Merel, both came from distinctly ostentatious backgrounds. Dutch born, Merel, was a catwalk model. Spanish born, Alok, a high flying estate agent. That was until 17 years ago, when their paths met here in Ibiza. Once they’d succumbed to Ibiza’s charms, they renounced materialism. Like so many, this was not by choice, but through circumstance; within no time at all, any savings from their bygone material age had been used up. However, as a couple very much in love with each other and Ibiza, there was no turning back. They lived out their first few years here in a tepee followed by a van on Benirrás beach; making crafts to sell at Es Canar market – all this with 3 kids in toe. Despite the financial challenges and drastic change in lifestyle, they had never been happier.
Only 3 years on from their arrival, they joined forces with a close friend, Belinda, and Namaste was born. Merel, always a rabid creative, set to creating its legendary décor with Belinda’s help. On the actual nights, Alok was left in charge of DJing, Merel took to waitressing and Belinda, inspired by his 30 years lived in India, ran the chai shop. The cosy furnishings, for which the night is also renowned, were the offerings of Merel’s previous flat in Holland – with no funds to rent a place here, everything had been relegated to storage until this moment. Three weeks into the night’s existence, a musician and dear friend, Jon Michell, joined the Namaste family to source the live music that, to this day, never fails to delight the crowds. Although not related by blood, Alok and Merel consider Jon Michell and Belinda to be every bit a part of their own family. Namaste is also quick to acknowledge many other key players who have graced its management team: “The Namaste group has had many valuable partners over the years – all wonderfully creative people that have added their love and art to the project – making Namaste what it is today.”

Thankfully, 14 years on from Namaste’s birth, not much has changed. 3 of the 4 original organisers remain the same. The ethos remains the same. Every night remains as important to the organisers as the first one they ever put on. Alok, by popular demand, is still spinning his tunes in the garden area. Jon Michell will still stop at nothing to bring the greatest variety of live music to its doors. The trance room still bursts with teenagers larging it – just out of sight and earshot of their parents; but close enough to be safe. Meanwhile, eating and drinking whilst absorbing the exotic sights and sounds of Namaste or browsing the eclectic market stalls are on offer to the less energetic amongst us. Most importantly of all, Merel is still lovingly designing the décor, although, she is quick to point out: “The back bones of the night are Paveu, Kristian and Yahema who, for the last 10 years, have helped me with the décor. Without them, Namaste would simply not happen each week.”
Perhaps one notable change is that Merel and Alok’s family has grown dramatically over the years. They now have six children and a huge list of extended family living here in Ibiza – all in some way connected to the family businesses. Not to mention Merel’s formidable mother, Johanna, who has been here since the day Merel arrived, and proved integral to all the family’s creative endeavours ever since. Together, this tight-knit family has enjoyed months of travelling to the furthest reaches of the world and even survived a Tsunami together.

Their annual international jaunts were the very thing that aroused their fascination with embroidery, beading, tapestry, textures and fabrics from different world cultures – inspiring their fashion line World Family which is built up of handmade one-off belts, bags, footwear and clothing; all designed by Merel. Whilst other kids were fixating on their Nintendos, Alok and Merel’s children grew up busily sewing, beading and embroidering these creations– but, I get the feeling from their eldest children, Goldie and Carlota, that they did this out of their own free will and happily continue to do so to this day. The results have been splashed across the pages of Vogue, InStyle, Hola and Grazia and can be found at Las Dalias market and in their family-run shops here in San Juan and San Carlos, or further afield in St Tropez and Barcelona. It is probably fair to say that it is the success of this family business, now 8 years old, which subsidises the considerable time and effort put into Namaste – a veritable labour of love on the whole family’s part.

So, there it is. What makes Namaste so successful? I would hazard that it is the combined result of a harmonious and passionate family unit at work and their humble, heart-led approach to the night itself. Merel, Alok and Jon Michell are delighted that the new Las Dalias management are exceptionally supportive in sharing the same unwavering ethos, vision and excitement – making it likely that Namaste is set to soar to even greater heights than ever before… •