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We're going to Ibiza! How the Vengaboys became the sound of political protest in Austria

The Ibizagate scandal may have toppled the government – but it’s great news for a 20-year-old Eurodance anthem

We're going to Ibiza! How the Vengaboys became the sound of political protest in Austria
Vengaboys, coming back into fashion. Photograph: Alamy

Mired in a political scandal that forced the resignation of the deputy vice-chancellor and the collapse of their government, the Austrian people have found their voice through that protest song standard: We’re Going to Ibiza!.

Twenty years since its release, the Vengaboys’ party anthem is at No 1 on Austria’s iTunes chart in the wake of a scandal that took place on the Spanish island in 2017. A video appearing to show the deputy vice-chancellor, Heinz-Christian Strache, offering lucrative public contracts to a Russian investor in exchange for campaign support, has been dubbed “Ibizagate” and swept Austria.

After German comedian and TV host Jan Böhmermann shared the music video with his 2.1 million Twitter followers on Friday, We’re Going to Ibiza! was embraced by protesters, driving it up streaming charts and lending new meaning to the mostly meaningless song. Representatives for the Eurodance group confirmed it had been No 1 in the Austrian iTunes store for three days; at the time of writing, it was sixth in Spotify’s Austrian Viral 50, and fourth in the YouTube daily chart.

“Captain Kim” Sasabone, one of the Vengaboys’ lead vocalists, told the Guardian, in a voice note sent by email from Paris: “Hello pretty people, this is Captain Kim speaking. Welcome aboard Venga Airways! What a crazy world we live in – We’re Going to Ibiza! No 1 in Austria … We are very curious to know if we will be invited to Heinz-Christian Strache’s farewell party. After takeoff, we’ll pump up the sound system, because We’re Going to Ibiza!”

Vengaboys (@vengaboys)Wow, Going to Ibiza is #1 in Austria #ibizavideoHey @janboehm Did you make this happen?!https://t.co/grujlnjsuBpic.twitter.com/3q0hMbb705May 21, 2019

Up to 20,000 people chanted the mid-tempo millennium classic outside the chancellor’s office in Vienna on Saturday, calling for an end to the government. “Enough is enough,” said the Austrian People’s party’s Sebastian Kurz of his conservative-nationalist coalition, or maybe the Vengaboys.

Evan O'Connell (@evanoconnell)I love that “We’re Going to Ibiza” by the @vengaboys has become an anti-far right protest song in Austria pic.twitter.com/uT2jGDfaCsMay 20, 2019

Now Austria is bracing itself for elections in September – and it seems the Vengaboys might be the unlikely agents of Austria’s song of the summer. Can Gulcu, a curator at the Wien Museum who organised Saturday’s protest as part of the Wiederdonnerstag collective, said the mood had been “energetic” – no doubt in part thanks to the Vengaboys. He told Al Jazeera of Wiederdonnerstag: “We address problems that concern us all – from education to housing, poverty, work, Europe, racism.”

With the group already on the record as supporting sustainable transport (via Vengabus, naturally), freedom of movement (Movin’ Around), climate crisis awareness (Hot Hot Hot), and wealth inequality (Up and Down), it is possible that the sound of the resistance will be bubblegum.

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