music & information for those who know ...

What Is Goa ?

|| 2006 Jan 7 ||

Für alle die das immer schon mal wissen wollten…ein bisschen GOA-Geschichte.

1. How did it all started?
Life is everywhere we look, from worms in the soil beneath our feet to tiny plants in the purest spring water, in the air we breathe. Where there is life there is evolution; it’s a part of the deal. Evolution affects not only the physical forms life takes but also its behaviour, and homo sapiens has certainly developed some remarkably complex cultures and societies over the millenia. But also music is constantly evoluting… That’s why there is Goa-Trance right now!!

Now let’s jump to the sixties and remind ourselves of a place called Goa in India. During the late sixties Goa has turned into a beach for freaks, rock stars, travelers, and various other excitement hunters, who lived by the ancient mantra of “sex, drugs and rock and roll”. Although the fab of Goa has dropped by the late 80’s, a hard-core group of Europeans and Americans have remained in that place. By the early 90’s, people in Goa have found out the wonderful effect of the Acid music on a stoned head and started to further develop the style. The first people to do so were Goa Gil (It’s really THE Goa-guru and a completely insane hippie from San Francisco) and his friends, who were living in Goa and experimenting with various musical styles to dance to since the late 60’s (They made a LP with their post-industrial band Kode IV on Belgium’s KK label).

Anyway, in the 80’s there was still no Goa-Trance in Goa, at that time you’d be likely to hear Talking Heads or Yello. The turning point was Techno, in the times before it was cool or had even been named. The days when it was Industrial or New Beat. While Acid House was shaking the UK, Goa was being pounded by the Belgian group Front 242 or A Split Second.”It had the type of stomping groove that people could settle into for hours and hours” explains Mark Allen, famous Goa-DJ, owner of the Phantasm-label and member of Mindfield.

But there were more influences as the New Wave/Industrial music of Front 242, Einstürzen Neubauten, Killing Joke and the likes. At the same time there was the electronic disco of Detroit and because of all the hippies there was still a psychedelic influence from the music from the 70’s. All those styles were mixed together till there was a new kind of music. The people discovered that this music was still very psychedelic and XTC and LSD-friendly! Since that day this Trance-music had a name: Goa-Trance!

2. The Psychedelic Goa-Trance…

To start I want to say that I’m using the words “Psychedelic Trance” and “Goa-Trance” for the same kind of music! But what really is Goa-Trance? Because Goa-Trance came out of New Beat, Gothic, New Wave, Industrial, Electro, Detroit & Psychedelic Rock it has an unique sound that is more complicated as the most modern Electronic dance music!

I can’t give you a definition of Psychedelic Trance simply because there’s NO definition!! But I can give You some typical things of Goa-Trance :

-The time of a track is generally around 8′30″, but can be between 6′00″ and 12′00″ … sometimes more, sometimes under 6′00″ (especially on mixed compilations), but too short tracks are generally hard to get into.
-The beat is generally 4/4 and around 135-150 BPM … sometimes less, rarely more!
-In the music there’s a constant use of strange and psychedelic sounds, and that gives a strange atmosphere. Sometimes those sounds are frogs, barking dogs, crying baby’s but mostly you can’t describe it… You simply have to hear it!! Also used are the famous acid or 303 sounds, and even guitars, who drive people completely crazy!
-Most Goa (but NOT all) is also very melodic.
-The music is mostly very full on, good to dance…
-The basslines are mostly harder and deeper as from normal Trance or Techno.
-The combination of all those things make this music very good for dancing, tripping and listening…!

So like you see Psychedelic Trance is something different. Before I end this part it’s maybe good to know the explanation of some terms used in English for some kinds of Goa-Trance:

“Nizhonot” = The cheesy, pretty simple and happy Goa-trance, the most famous Nizhonot producer is Holy Men
“Minimalistic Trance” = A rather new and progressive style, it’s made out of a hard bassline, with only a few but well chosen Psychedelic sounds, very good to dance! Famous artists are Intact Instinct, Son Kite, Die Sonne,…
“Morning Trance” = The melodic dream-trance, it’s good to dance during a sunrise and after… And mostly the melodies are really touching! For example: Yahel, MFG, Shidapu, Hyperion,…
“Psychedelic Ambient” = This is the softer Psychedelic Trance, great for chilling or listening at home when you’re tired.

3. The magic of the Goa-parties…

Everyone who’s ever been to a Goa-party knows that they are really incredible and that it is 100% different from normal parties or clubs!

When you arrive at a Goa-party you mostly can’t believe your eyes, most of the party’s are on locations where you can only dream about… Sometimes it’s in an ancient castle, sometimes in the middle of a big forest, sometimes on a boat, sometimes in the middle of the desert,… But mostly they are in a basement! But once you’re going in, you’re walking straight into another world… The only things you can see are peoples UV-clothes and UV-decorations all around you. And surely there is that magical Goa-music… When you start to dance you’ll understand, it’s all about ritual but also about people coming together, having fun and reclaiming certain powers we’d lost. There’s always so much energy at Goa-parties, you can feel that when you’re dancing, after a certain time you’ll get tired and your head says “stop” but you’ll still dance and dance… You won’t feel any pain or anything, because at that moment you’re going into a deep trance! Or like But there’s more, when the parties are in open air it’s all one big journey towards the sunrise. Then the sun comes up and then it’s, “Yeeeessss!”

Gav has been there… And how the Goa-parties are in Goa can he tell better as I do! So here is his version!!

“Twice I went to Goa in 1992 - the first trip I had no idea what was happening. For sure, I loved it but I found it all so strange. This was before Man With No Name, Astral Projection - no Goa Gils no Mark Allens. Things were almost so better, no egos just pure energy. Parties talked about days in advance, rumours, warnings, promises, expectations. Procrastinating and hanging off, getting there and taking off. Think the brightest colours in the world, a haze of blues, purples, yellows, reds, greens, saffrons, oranges. Colours never looked this way before. Think tripping under the stars, recovering whilst strung out in bars. The parties have always been called parties and not raves. Party meaning that everyone has a good time and lots of psychochemikals in the area.

Parties happen on beaches in South Anjuna, Bamboo Forest in South Anjuna and the best of all in Disco Valley in Vagator. For me, the smaller parties were always the best - a couple of hundred fluro painted freaks waiting for the party to happen. People wandering down the deserted beaches carrying speakers with friends, a generator materialising out of the thin midnight air, a strobe appearing simultaneously. Sharing chillums with strangers whilst the set up continues. The first beat of the night kicks in and we all lift off together, journeying our way into the deeper world of trance. The music was very different to today, lots of acid music, and industrial stuff too. No big name DJ’s - just completely anonymous freaks playing the most delightful music in the world. Music to make you dance, music to take you out there, music to control your mind.

The sample ‘We Weren’t Going To Get It Without A Fight’ starts and the energy lifts up another level. Between the hours of three and five, the music turns even more acidic, reflecting the general wired ambience. Everyone tripping out on identical waves - Celtic Cross paradise. Things take on another dimension out here in the middle of the night - a fire starts and the strobe plays with our brains, dancing around the fire, all negativity replaced by positive energy. The trip runs deeper in the middle of the night, beats per minute increasing, everyone locked into the world of the unnamed DJ leading us all on this magical journey into infinity. Suddenly there is only us and the music, nothing else. This is it, this is what we are - Everything Is All Right. Bodies responding to every single beat of the music, lost in it, wanting and needing more.

Suddenly the sun is here already. A new dawn begins and the mood changes once more. You look around the dance floor - seeing people for the first time. Radiant smiles, shining eyes, that polished sheen, that knowing smile. Music uplifts now, this is a celebration - everything is so warm; the air, the sand, the sea, the sun. We are marching now together onwards and upwards, the sun reflects the myriad of colours amongst us all. Rubbing fluro paint from the trees and smearing our faces with it. Going for walks and spending some time with precious strangers - meeting and loving, wishing the wishes of a thousand dreams. Two hundred dancing freaks defiantly surrendering their souls to the DJ - things don’t get much better out here. Evenings spent in the Shore Bar in South Anjuna, watching the sun come down.

Chillums to the left of me, mushrooms to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you. The sun sets and the music pumps up big time. People spill out onto the beach, dancing and trancing their way forward. Gazing at the majestic horizon - seeing a million things there. Stars start to appear inside and out - join our trip! The tunes get faster, the floor gets busier, sand kicking up. Feel the beat, feel the power, this just gets stronger by every hour. A melody floats in and we all fly off. Motorbikes whiz past in the wet sand, causing confusion momentarily - reality is strange here too. Crazy nights in the Shore Bar - the most hedonistic bar in the world then, the biggest adult-supermarket in the universe. A friend called Cosmic Magick who only sold nice magick and definitely nothing too tragic. Dancing your way across the floor, watching the waves float in a few metres away, BOM BOM BOM pounding in your ears. Spliffs attacking you from every angle, running your way onto the sand. Collapsing under the stars, losing yourself in them, the biggest fireworks display in the eternity of the world. A docile cow stepping its way past you, not batting an eye lid - these humans are strange, the people are good, all smiling and everybody’s happy…”

Another wonderful moment in Gav’s life was a moon eclipse during his visit in 1992…

“Because of the Eclipse there was super anxiety before the party kicks off, so many rumours, so much paranoia - the police have cancelled it, they want too much baksheesh. Cue the Primrose Bar in Vagator - eleven PM and no word. People driving around in little packs of motorcycles looking in hope. The bar filling up, so many people drinking water, whilst looking at the person next them, everyone waiting. A shout goes up - it’s kicking off in South Anjuna. A convoy of bikes leave immediately - perhaps two hundred people in tandem. A trail of lights stretching across the horizon, following the beat of the distant drum.Getting there is half the fun as a convoy of motorcycles arrive en masse. One set of decks and one solitary strobe meet us - welcoming us to the twilight zone. The music kicks off and we come together, joining our very own eclipse party. The next few hours are very strange - Chai wallahs arrive and set up shop, their mats become chill-out havens, the dance floor fills and fills up with friends and strangers. The music stops and the police raid the party - everyone flees the floor for the sanctuary of the beach, three hundred freaks flying down the sand as one. Someone says ‘Why Do We Run?’ when it’s only a few police. Adrenalin pumping as we glide over the soft sand, paranoia turns to laughter, laughter turns to ecstasy as everyone turns and heads back to the party. The music still absent as the eclipse nears - the moon slowly becoming covered. Forty minutes, fifty minutes pass, then as the moon is almost fully covered, primal screaming starts. One solitary scream which reverberates around the distance, everyone joins in. The fire jugglers appear, tossing their diablos and clubs up into the air, watching balls of flame. Then as the moon becomes covered completely, the strobe commences and the music lifts off. Bom, more baksheesh as been paid to the police, the generator runs and the DJ lifts us to oblivion. Dirty pounding music, lifting our spirits with every beat, dancing for dear life, unable to stop, the sun appears, the music gets faster and everyone celebrates together. Winter mornings were absolutely made for this. Walking proudly back to a chill-out bar, radiance gleaming from our sweating faces - we travelled so very far last eve. Too wired to sleep, more music, more dancing, lots of hugging, lots of kissing etc etc.”

But Goa is not just dancing…You’re also discovering people there; in the night, all you can see are people’s UV-clothes.

As the darkness fades you can begin to focus and recognise people you’ve been dancing with all night. That’s when the grins and smiles start to pass around. It spreads and by the time the sun’s out everyone is happy and celebrating the new day… If you start talking with the people, it won’t take you long to notice that these people aren’t the type you see around you everyday. Not only are they dressed either in bright colours or shamanic clothing. The people are so open and friendly from first sight that its hard to believe without experiencing it. Strangers can be hugging each other in cosmic brotherhood. And it’s not only on the superficial level, but when you get to know them better you usually find loving, tender and spiritual people with hippie ideals.

In Europe and America we have flyers to announce Goa-parties but that’s not the same in Goa… There are no flyers in Goa. In the original state of the Raving Society a bush-drum works fine. So newcomer fear that they miss something. No wonder, the illegal parties are hard to find. But no fear! Simply follow the stream of the Vespas! In the evening everyone is viewing the diving sun. The night is slowly coming. Black-lights let everything glow white. The beats are going harder and harder, everybody goes into the Primrose in Vagator to power-up and to get the party-location of the evening, often it takes place in Vagator at the Spaghetti-Beach or the Tel-Aviv beach or in Disco-Valley or you can always visit the Paradizo, a trancefortress in Anjuna!

But everything is changing… The parties are not as good as they used to be.
“This is certainly true” says Gav.

“On my second trip to Goa in 1992, parties were hitting off maybe five/six times a week in peak season. Nowadays, these are getting harder and harder to pull off. These used to be organised by a lot of Westerners and kept pretty small. A lot of freaks helped destroy the party scene along with the police, mass tourism, ketamine and a host of other problems. Parties used to kick off all the time in South Anjuna, on the beach or in Bamboo Forest, but the best parties for me were those held in the infamous ‘Disco Valley’ in Big Vagator. Returning home each morning, passing schoolchildren on their way to studies, big grins on our faces, as over a hundred freaks walk back to civilisation. Now, the parties tend to be fewer and more commercial with the Government and police preferring visitors to go to the Paradiso above all other places.”

4. Goa is much more than just music…

We all know that Goa is an Indian town, but it’s more than that, 99% of the people who’ve been there changed have really much by the time they returned (if they returned…). Gav, one of the members of our site, is been there…
This is what Goa is for him :

“Goa for me is where it all happened in my life. Goa changed me, Goa helped me, Goa transformed me, Goa made me what I am. It gives and sometimes it takes, yin and yang at it’s best. The opposites, the contradictions, the timelessness, the modern, the past, the present. It gives you synergy and saps your energy, revitalises and tantalises, draws you in and spits you out. Goa is one of the nicest places in the world to take a holiday from reality - all norms, all rationality can leave the building immediately. Prepare for the ultimate lift off.”

Goa is a world apart from the rest of the country, it’s peppered with white-wash villas, Catholic churches and mellow Goans as likely to be called David or Chris as Raj. Bare-legged back-packers ride Enfield Bullet motorbikes around the party zone: Anjuna, Chapora, Vagator and Bardem are little more than cillages where they live alongside the locals. The paths are dusty, pot-holed and often blocked with sacred cows. Anjuna is the social hub, kind of Camden market on a beach. Every wednesday heads arrive from across the state to sell bags, beads, carvings, wall hangings, giant skins, tatty paperback books, the shirt off their backs. Gav, who’s been there, gives us now his own vision from those Indian places in the middle of the party-zone…

“Anjuna is where everything once happened and still does. Accommodation can be found in guesthouses but these are rather expensive and not so good value. Most people either rent a house out between themselves or else stay with families for a few dollars per night. The ambience of staying with families far outweighs the paranoia of staying in a guesthouse, as guest houses are often the first places to be raided by police. The Shore Bar in South Anjuna is world famous in the psychedelic trance world - a place where like minded freaks get together to dance the night away. This is a pretty chilled out place, although in high season, it maybe gets raided once a week or so. The sunsets from here are amazing and the dance floor can be heaving with people. Think sharing chillums with strangers, gazing out into infinity as the sun drops lower and lower over the ocean. Be warned though - the Shore Bar is usually over by eleven PM, no all-nighters here!! Elsewhere in Anjuna, you can walk northwards along the beach, passing the Guru Bar as you do. This is quite a shady place, late at night, with lots of wheeling and dealing invariably going on. At the very north of Anjuna is The Paradiso- party owned by the Indian Government. This is perhaps the future of Goa - not so many illegal parties, but nights in places like this. It’s an okay venue, but for me, it lacks any real soul or vibe. But this is how it is nowadays, even Goa Gil has played here, so things have moved on. Half the fun is staying in Anjuna and making friends with all different nationalities - it’s still one of the most beautiful places in the world at times.

Vagator, or Chapora, is where a lot of longer term visitors stay. As in Anjuna, most travellers stay with local families or rent houses for a period of months. Food and accommodation are significantly lower in Vagator as opposed to Anjuna and this tempts a lot of people. There’s also a chemist in Chapora which some people claim to be the most friendly in the world - the choice is yours!! The main highlight in Vagator at present is still the Primrose Bar. The evening maybe picks off here at half past eleven, as there is a mass exodus of people moving from the Shore Bar to over here. Things can go on here to two/three on a good night - lots of room for dancing and lots of room for chilling too - this is a nice hang out.

Along the beaches in Goa are wooden shack bars selling unbelievable seafood: wjole lobsters, mackerel massala and of course tellow, cooling Indian beer. Then there are the bars with little hand-painted things like “woodstock”. These are the ’60s Goa revellers that never came back. Now the drop-outs from the dance generation are settling too. Also magic about Goa is there are so many tribes, Italian, French, Japanese,… all talking their own languages. Slowly the network is growing and different races are connecting. In Goa everybody is one big family.

“My life changed” says Tsuyoshi Suzuki (member of Prana and Joujouka & Owner of Matsuri-label):

“I dropped out of the society completely. In Japan, you have to belong to the company. This is how our parents educated us, So I graduated from university, then I worked. After Goa, I just quit.”

Goa is more than just a good times, Ibiza-style, two weeks beach’n babes’n holiday.

Mark Allen (Member of Quirk, Mindfield & Owner of Phantasm-label) had just qualified as a solicitor, when he went up into the Indian mountains.

“I realised working to earn lots of money was not what I wanted to do with my life. My optimistic vision is that it’s not so much dropping out as realising that you don’t have to do a nine-to-five. It’s actually trough coming together and celebrating life together that it inspires other people to go off, travel, get creative. So many people are just in a job, frustrated, dreaming.”

Everyone who has done the India trip seems to agree.

“It opened me up to religion” says James Munro (half Technossomy & owner of Flying Rhino-label), “Seeing how you can be happy without materialism. The ambitions I had when I was little, of earning shit loads of money, just went.”

The difficult thing for most who’ve done the Indian trip is cominghome. “Fitting back into what had been there before was strainded,” continues Munro.”I wanted to continue my new way of life. A non-work ethic, taking it very easy, not having responsibilities… A lot of people lose the plot. Cities and responsibilities fry them. You can either create the best of both worlds or carry on travelling.” Many become perpetual travellers. Since the ’60’s a network has grown up of those who go out to Goa, chill for six months, come back with loads of gear, sell it at Camden and the UK outdoor festivals and then head back to India again.

“People’s lives seem to be forever changed.” says Sarah Champion (a member of Return To The Source and Goa-traveller) “Last I’ve met a friend at Return To The Source, he’s changed.” He explains,”I’ve been to Goa, I can look around and see people I met at the beach parties.” Now he’s hooked “I’m just back home to save up enough money to buy a motorbike in Thailand. Then I’m going to ride it to Australia…” Maybe this is the real message of Goa, that people can be happy without materialism! Altough most of us don’t know that… But is not only the loss of materialism. That is more a result of a deeper way of thinking many people find through the music.

Also Gav changed his lifestyle after visiting the Indian town… “Seeing a Full Lunar Eclipse in November 1992 - the most wonderful night in my entire existence. The minute when I knew that this lifestyle is forever, there is no turning back to how things were before. It’s so good to know that you can never return, only keep on going and going forward.”

In a way Goa-trance can be similar to religion for a religous person, but it’s still very different. There are no words, but there is still message in the music that directs ones way of thinking and the way we see and experience the world through the emotions and the world peception that can be gained from it. It’s not like religion which tells you what to think. It’s more like a way of life, like yoga to yogies. In psy-trance there are no facts that are pushed to you, but abstract ideas that can influence you. Because of it’s abstractness, it can allow you to think whatever you will, because you can interpret it in different ways, but at the same time it guides you. Psy-trance does not take control, but it is like a filter through which one can see the world. It opens up new aspects about everything, aspects that you couldn’t find before

5. What’s so special about Israel?

As every Goa-trance lover knows almost half of all the Goa-trance that is made in this world comes from Israel. But why? It has to do with their history, we all know there is/was war in or around Israel. Because of the war many people went to India to forget things… This is known as “The post army trip”. But during the 90’s when the music was evolving they brought tapes with the music back to Israel and that music suited the Israeli state of mind very well. The music was highly emotional and very releasing which was just what the post army traumatic Israeli needed to release all the tensions built into them. The artists who were making Industrial in the late 80’s started to pick up this new wave of music, and those artist became very famous as the starters of the Psychedelic Trance scene… (Now we’re talking about Astral Projection, California Sunshine, Witchcraft,…) Another step to the people was the use of DAT’s (Digital Audio Tape) and the fact that the prices of digital equipment were dropping… And because Goa-Trance is for 99% electronic, almost everyone who wanted to make this music could try that on their own home computer, without the need to invest huge sums of money or seek the sponsoring of big record companies. This fact has made Trance into a true underground musical style, with an entrance ticket into that is very cheap.

But in Israel, the music is also more popular and known than in the rest of the world. A whole culture has evolved in Israel around Trance music. This culture professes peace, love and harmony with mother earth and with other human beings, and it includes clothing, psychedelic artwork, cinema. A big part of the culture includes elements of Hinduism, Buddhism & Shamanism (since India is one of the motherlands of Trance), and an aspect of returning to the nature, harmony and New Age. All of that, without blocking technological progress, all together a lifestyle that is called in Israeli slang “Karahana”

6. The future of Goa

Unfortunately many tourists found the way to Goa, last year was the biggest yet for Goa-parties, with 1000 at many events and parties almost every night. There are many who fear what this invasion might be doing to the local people and environment. Package tourism is killing the vivid local cultures of Hawai, Bali, Gambia,… Sucking up all the water, taking over the land, bringing capitalism and funnelling all the profits back to the West. This is happening in Goa too. The tourists (who are mostly not ravers) are using the water to keep the lawns green and to fill the swimming pool while the people four miles down the road are wondering why they haven’t got enough for their crops. Large-scale tourism is a much bigger threat than party people! Compared to this, the party-goers are low-impact. At Anjuna they stay in guest houses and mainly primitive private houses. Most reckon there’s a kind of symbiosis between Goa and the low-rent-travelling types.

But drugs are also a major problem in Goa. The jails are full of Westerners arrested for drugs possession. But that doesn’t mean the authorities are arresting everyone. Most of the people pay the police to keep them away… So Goa isn’t just a party paradise: from corruption to poverty to greed to religion, it’s a part of the whole Indian trip. Also Gav knows why they have problems in Goa :

“Things to look our for include the police. Don’t take chances, use your head when walking about - particularly at night. Like most places in Asia, Goa is wonderful for those who choose to use drugs until they get caught. Then unless things are paid off quickly, a very expensive lesson can be learned. Never, but never, keep anything, particularly charas, inside your room. People leave ounces of grass lying around in rooms then complain when the police search rooms at random. Same goes for walking and motorcycling about at night - always hide stuff well!!!! You just have to use your brain - in all my visits to Goa, I’ve never had my room searched but have been personally (although not very thoroughly) searched maybe eight times. So, you have to use a little bit of common sense at times.

Other dangers include ketamine, datura and heroin. Ketamine is very cheap, very available and screws so many people up in such a short space of time. The same goes for heroin and taking datura can be plain dangerous. Every year, there are another few drug related deaths, which largely go unreported as it doesn’t make for good tourism!!”

But not only in Goa there are problems, there are problems too in Europe and especially in Israel, there occured an interesting phenomenon the last few years. The scene was driven even more underground by the authorities (mainly the police) that have connected wrongly the music and the lifestyle with drug use. Parties were raided by police looking for drugs, people were beaten, equipment confiscated, organizers and DJs arrested, festivals weren’t granted security and fire regulation approvals and were cancelled only hours before the start with huge losses to the organizers. And yet, the music was gaining even more popularity with the people. As a reaction to the explicit violation of human rights by the Israeli authorities , a big demonstration took place on Rabin square in Tel Aviv, with the best of the Israeli musicians performing live in front of more than 30000 people partying. But unfortunately until now the authorities are still not willing to try and understand the new culture growing under their noses…

But as always in the end the right will win over the wrong! But even with the problems, all the Goa-lovers have the responsibility to show everyone we can live without making problems! And although it will probably always be underground music we will love Goa-Trance till our death!!

We trust in trance and love to dance,
Hare Hare Mahadev, Om Namah Shivaya!

Written by Gav & Anoebis with occasional additions from Mindbender.

Thanx to: The Psytrance Team, Isratrance, Return To The Source, Grow!, Goacidia.

(Anmerkung der Redaktion: dieser Text kommt aus den Tiefen des Internet. Die genaue Quelle und das Erscheinungsjahr ist uns leider nicht bekannt.)



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