“Club Tropicana”: There’s enough fun and sunshine in Wham!’s 1983 video for everyone

By on August 22, 2017

Our summer fun-in-the-sun (when it isn’t totally eclipsing on us) continues with Night Flight’s “Take Off to BBQs and Bikinis,” which originally aired on May 27, 1988. This special episode — devoted to music videos with a sun/surf or backyard BBQ pool party theme — included Wham!’s “Club Tropicana,” which promised “Fun and sunshine, there’s enough for everyone.”

Read more about the video below, and watch it on our Night Flight Plus channel.

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By the time we aired our 1988 episode, the British duo comprising Wham! — George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley — had already moved on to separate careers nearly two years earlier, having played their last show together at London’s Wembley Stadium on June 28, 1986.

“Club Tropicana” — released as a single on July 23, 1983 — had been quite a departure for Michael and Ridgeley, considering that up to that point most of their best-loved hits had been motivated by social or political issues, or at least teenage rebellion and defying parents.

This tongue-in-cheek song, however, was considered somewhat playful and satirical, or at least it was an ironic statement of sorts, lampooning the way young European singles pay for cheapo island getaway packages to singles resorts in order to escape their boring, humdrum lives for a few weeks of fun in the sun.

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There, they all enjoy lots of uninhibited sex and the consumption of alcoholic beverages, and laughs, too, of course (“Club Tropicana, drinks are free/Fun and sunshine, there’s enough for everyone”).

Read more about Wham!’s “Club Tropicana” video below.

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The video — directed by British film and music video director Duncan Gibbins — was shot on the island of Ibiza, part of Spain’s Balearic Islands.

Most of the action takes place at the luxurious Pike’s Hotel (seen above, and it’s apparently pronounced “peek-ayes”), which had originally been a countryside finca (Spanish for “estate”) before its 15th century stone mansion and surroundings were converted into a playground for the hedonistic rich and famous by British-born Australian Anthony Pike in 1978 (Pike had a pretty incredible life up to that point, which you can research further if you’re inclined).

The location was selected for the Wham! video by Simon Napier-Bell, the duo’s manager, who was told to check it out after an acquaintance of his recommended he check it out when scouting Mediterranean locales.

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As the video opens, we see a couple of bikini-clad beauties, played by their actual back-up singers Dee C Lee and Shirlie Holliman, driving their jeep to what appears to be a secret hideaway beach, where they flirt with George and Andrew.

The action then moves to the pool at Pikes Hotel, where everyone’s relaxing and sipping cocktails. We see Andrew lazing away on an inflatable chaise while talking on an oversized cell phone, and then we’re treating to a trumpet sequence performed mid-pool.

If you look close, you can also see the hotel owner Tony Pike, who was persuaded to act as the barman in one of the scenes.

There’s a bit of sexual tension between the two men and two women, and there’s also a bit of a “twist” in the end when we find out that George and Andrew are actually airline pilots on a vacation, and Dee and Shirlie are stewardesses who work for a different airline.

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“Club Tropicana” — the fourth and final single released from Wham!’s Fantastic album — ended up peaking at #4 in the UK.

The success of the video also led to Pike’s Hotel becoming a popular getaway spot, particularly for members of the European-based music industry, until the wild orgies and rampant drug use brought it to the attention of Ibiza’s police community, who began to crack down.

Before then, however, it was sight of one of the most lavish parties ever held on the island of Ibiza when, in September of 1987, Freddie Mercury of Queen threw a massive get-together for his 41st birthday, just a few months after discovering that he had contracted AIDS.

The guest list of more than five hundred of Mercury’s friends included a veritable who’s who of ’80s-era celebrities, including Grace Jones, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Boy George, Robert Plant and members of Spandau Ballet.

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In addition to Mercury’s birthday cake — in the shape of Antonin Gaudí’s famed La Sagrada Familia cathedral — and the hundreds of gold and black helium balloons (which took three days to inflate), there were reportedly 350 bottles of Moët et Chandon consumed by the partgoers (that’s the champagne mentioned at the beginning of Queen’s “Killer Queen” hit) as well as 232 glasses broken during the festivities.

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Duncan Gibbins would also direct Wham!’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go” and George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” videos, as well as music videos by Eurythmics, Musical Youth, ABC, Bananarama, Glenn Frey and many others (he also directed a few feature films and a TV movie).

Gibbins died in 1993, as a result of third degree burns he received from a fire — trying to rescue his cat — at the home he was renting in Malibu. He was 41.

We hope you enjoy the rest of your summer, and be sure to check out Night Flight’s 1988-era “Take Off to BBQs and Bikinis” — also featured are video entries by the Cars, the Untouchables, Jimmy Cliff, and the Fat Boys — and also check out our “Take Off to the Beach“… you’ll find both episodes streaming over on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.