I had COVID-19. Technically I am immune now (although it’s not nailed-on), but only to COVID-19. COVID-19.5 may be along any minute as will likely a fresh, hipper mutation. This does not exclude me from being in full European lockdown here in Ibiza. Nor would I want it to. Even if I’m not shooting it out of every hole like I was over January and Feb, I can carry it on my shoes. And my hands. My dancing pants, cardboard crown and favourite cape are not immune either.
I had no idea I had it, because it was incredibly early; I’m an early adopter, you see. Well …it was early for the media, but not for someone who travels for a living. I was at a very well-known Ibiza club on New Year’s Day hanging with an international crowd. I was on planes, trains and in cars all over during Xmas and January. And I was feeling better before I’d even heard the word ‘Coronavirus’ - it wasn't until I was tested later that it was confirmed for me. There's a lot of guilt, as you can imagine. I guess I must admit to being a vector for the time I thought it was just the worst flu I’d ever had. In my defence, however, I self-isolated completely naturally, as it was so bad I could barely do anything except cough so hard I felt my eyeballs popping out and whimper weakly in the moments I wasn’t exploding like a yodelling warthog. I instinctively thought “you do not want this” whenever the doorbell rang, so I’d tell the knocker to put whatever it is on the floor and sign their digi-pad with a long chopstick. Both my parents are elderly cancer survivors and have a small raft of ailments as well as their sheer age that would mean, without a shadow of a doubt, very serious consequences if they got it. I mean, I’m pretty strong and I nearly called an ambulance at one point. I hope you understand, you do not want this even if you are dense enough to be one of the "it’s just flu, I’m off to the pub" brigade. It’s not ‘just’ flu. It had me coughing blood. And if you are scared right now, that's probably a good thing. It merely means you are sane. Most of all, you do not want the crushing guilt of feeling you might be a highly infectious carrier.
Thankfully after some weeks in confined studios and visiting my Olds, no one I was in contact with got sick, so in that sense I was very lucky not to have passed it on. Ironically I am now having to do the whole thing over again writ large while perfectly healthy. And I am very OK with that. The best policy is to assume you have it, at all times. It likes to sneak about not showing itself.
Here in Ibiza, lockdown is nothing like the drastic thing you might think. We go to the shops (which are stocked just fine), go to work (if it remains open), we walk the dog. People stop and chat but a sensible distance apart. We wear gloves, sometimes an ineffective random mask, and only a certain number of people can be in the bank or shop at a time. Everyone does all this with a minimum of fuss and no panic at all. No one here thinks they know better, or makes a show of ignoring the advice. The police are here, especially the paramilitary Guarda Civil. They are not to be messed with. They WILL fine you right there on the spot if you don’t have a solid reason for being outdoors, and to be certain, have physical proof like a receipt. They will even fine you if you didn’t take the most direct route there and back. They are also friendly and helpful when it is clear you need assistance. We had one day of toilet roll nonsense about 10 days ago. Once people were under lockdown and the amount of shoppers allowed in rationed, everything returned to normal stock-wise. I still get deliveries, I still get my post. I wasn’t hugely social to begin with so I have to slightly shamefully admit my life hasn’t changed much at all. It’s bit quieter, which frankly I like a lot. Lucky for Ibiza’s economy this happened when it did and not later. Quick action was needed and we got some. People immediately pulled together and got on with it.
What did change was that I lost all my work. All of it. In reality the arts and especially the music business only really exists about three months into the future. I’d just booked my first UK tour in a long time. It spanned the months of February to May. There is nothing after that. Now there is nothing full stop. I’ve managed to be moderately sanguine about it; I see it as something that is happening to everyone. So it’s a postponement rather than an apocalypse. Sadly the early uncertainty of the UK government’s response was the thing that hit hardest. While European gigs were firmly and resolutely postponed, UK dates were ‘maybes’ and as such were still needing money spent on flights, marketing and other costs while venues were withholding deposits that might cover these expenses. Crises such as these need firm action, not opinions. Lessons learned this time perhaps.
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What can you do yourself? Firstly it would really help if you didn’t immediately demand refunds from clubs and festivals etc., but sit tight for a reschedule. You can buy from Bandcamp and music platforms that pay artists directly. DJs can report their setlists to PRS so artists get paid. There is no shame whatsoever in signing on, you have been paying tax for reasons like this. Crisis loans from the council for your rent are also there for you to use. The UK government has spoken of help for businesses, so some of that can be applied for. Speak to your landlord, speak to people who owe you outstanding monies, talk to your bank. Having an open and courteous dialogue about this is essential, while sitting around fuming won’t get anything done. You may be surprised at the reaction to your overtures.
Personally, I went to the bank and got a bit more credit immediately. You can do it online now quite easily. Physically I do all sorts of measures to keep chipper. Exercise isn’t easy indoors but I tell myself I’m not allowed to sit down until after 7pm. My physical wellbeing directly drives my mental state so I eat well and do a little sweating to avoid cabin fever. Other physical measures include making an ‘airlock’: leaving a specific set of clothes and shoes for outside hanging in a porch, balcony or by the door. I’m also destroying all packaging from deliveries before I wash my hands, and washing my hands like I mean it. I don’t listen to Bono or any Hollywood celeb sing-songs, that only makes things worse. I use old plastic bags for gloves/handling objects when I am out, and I always carry a pen for pressing buttons and dealing with card machines and cashpoints. I reckon it's best to assume you have it, even if you’ve had it, ‘cos if you’ve had it, you could still have it.
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Already it feels calm here in Ibiza, like a re-set. Dare I say I even feel a little bit, now the loss has settled in and been dealt with, like I am on a wee holiday. It’s not going anywhere. You can’t do anything about it. It’s time to have a break and think about what will happen when the dust clears. And it will. And Ibiza will be right here, I’m having it cleaned and kept warm for you. See you on the other side.
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