Caught on camera: Brits behaving badly in Ibiza

A British photojournalist has captured his fellow countrymen at their worst as they enjoy the excesses that Ibiza has to offer. The Local talks to Peter Dench on the publication of his new book "British Abroad".

Caught on camera: Brits behaving badly in Ibiza
Peter Dench documented Brits on holiday in Ibiza Photo: Peter Dench

“As summer gets underway, the flashed buttocks of British abroad are spread across UK tabloid newspapers,” Dench explains.

“The British behaving badly provide a year round television viewing staple. It’s fair to say, the image of the young British abroad isn’t great and I wanted to add my voice to the visual debate: some of the images endorse the stereotype, others challenge it.”

Photo: Peter Dench

Why did you decide to focus on Ibiza?

The British Abroad book completes a personal and professional narrative; these were the kind of holidays I experienced as a teenager. Ibiza has a history of hedonism and remains one of the most popular destinations for the British to party. It might be a hundreds of miles from home but, rightly or wrongly, it doesn’t feel so. The cheap drinks, English reps, fish ’n’chips and pubs with British names, make it feel like Britain abroad.

What struck you most about being there?

Ibiza was the trickiest of the five European party destinations I chose to document. Generally I understand how a person under the influence of alcohol behaves but in Ibiza, there was noticeably more drugs in the mix, which makes the situations I found myself photographing more uncomfortable. The crowd in Ibiza is also noticeably older than you would find in Ayia Napa and Magaluf.

Photo: Peter Dench

What makes people on holiday an interesting subject?

The young British on holiday is a fascinating subject to photograph. Their behaviour and national identity is amplified and distilled into a few essential items and choices: towel; clothes [or lack of]; bar; chants; food.

What do you think will surprise people about these images?

My goal as a photojournalist is to effect change; if the photographs can do that in an informed and engaging way, that’s progress. I think what people may find surprising is how formulaic the behaviour of the Brit abroad is: from Sunny Beach, Bulgaria to Magaluf, Majorca; San Antonio, Ibiza to Porec, Croatia, the same routines and behaviour can be witnessed. The images in the book don’t have captions as each scene is echoed across European beach destinations. The book also highlights British fatalities from balcony falls, which may be surprising to some.

What sort of work have you done previously?

As a photojournalist, I’ve had the privilege to work on editorial assignment in over 60 countries across the globe. However, it’s towards England I’ve consistently pointed my lens, it’s my home, my passion and its people are the ones I want to understand most. The British Abroad is my third book looking at British identity: England Uncensored [2012] and A&E: Alcohol & England [2014] completes the trilogy.

A portrait of the photojournalist Peter Dench

British Abroad by Peter Dench is available on Amazon. For more about the photojournalist check out his website.

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