Visit The Mother In INDIA

The complete story about Trance in the India!

Author: samrat
Date: Aug 12, 2005
Views: 4579

Visit The Mother In INDIA

The land of extreme contradictions, India is an all-year party spot, offering amazing party locales, from beach, mountain, city to desert, and an equally vibrant culture, both expat and local. At another level, it is about vivid colours, hospitality, some lessons in patience as well as bartering, and a hilariously affordable holiday.

Much like its IT image, India has metamorphosed, some say too rapidly, as a trance destination in the past few years. Economic parity for one (you need money to party), coupled with better awareness and appreciation of psy sounds, has helped the seeds of trance culture being sown, and nurtured, in various corners of the country. Just like everywhere else though, media has played a bitch, and every once in a while damning reports in newspapers do cause the usual lull, but thankfully, just like everywhere else, it ends up making the impending blast even more powerful.

That said, apart from Goa and Mumbai (the commercial capital on west coast), the trance scene is pretty nascent in the rest of the country, and needs much support and encouragement from the artist/dj/trancer community in the world.

Let me tell walk you through the various possibilities, in the order of excitement.

Go Goa

This is the mother, and there is no way one can miss that feeling. India was discovered by the West through Goa (Portugese explorer Columbus landed here, though technically now the exact spot lies in neighbouring state, Kerala), and funnily, it continues to be three hundred years later as most travelers either start their India tour from here, or make it a point to hop by while at it. For trancers, it many times is Goa and back, though given the other treasures the country has in store for the seeker, this is a shame.

The party season in Goa begins in November, and ends around March, when it gets too hot to heave, and the scene shifts to the mountains in Himachal Pradesh (northern state bordering the Himalayas). Usually, and especially peak season (from mid December to mid-February), a party consists of about 1,500 people. Since many top artists/dj’s of today got their first dose of this music here, many return year after year to pay homage and play for free. This makes the vibe just the way it should be, though the locals seem to have succumbed to greed lately and this is causing some problems.

Brief background

Goa is a small state along the western (sunset) coast of India, and was under Portugese rule until only 40 years ago. Hence, the state is judded with awesome Portugese architecture and monuments, and its influence is visible right upto the way small houses are built and decorated. The streets are narrow, winding and scenic, making a bike ride enjoyable as a paradise trip (hiring one is easy and cheap, though don’t if you can’t handle the handle after a party, or worse, can’t remember where you are staying!). It is also owing to this permissible and compatriotic Christian culture that the trance movement could find both voice and fodder in this land ever since Gill and his friends began to experiment with it in the early seventies. So when the trance scene really blossomed in late eighties, Goa was there to give it the right push and, until now, the security of a cradle.

After Indian independence in 1947, though mostly in last ten years, a lot of unwelcome changes have come about. For one, the majority population in the state now is that of Hindus, but that is not the real problem. The issue is, as usual, with politics. For political mileage, a right-wing political party (BJP) engineered the unlawful breaking of a 400 year-old mosque in central India in 1993 (claiming it was built on the birth site of a Hindu god by a Muslim ruler). Soon after that, the animosity was also extended to the Christian community, though thankfully it has yet not become as mainstream as that with the Muslims. In Goa however, there is a continuing attempt to divide the two people. What makes the problem grave is that right now, the ruling party in Goa is BJP! Thus, foreign tourism and Goa rave parties have been branded anti-national and there is a visible attempt to stifle their spirit. The number of private flights that can land in Goa per day (the way most trancers land in Goa) has been brought down considerably, last year more parties were busted than let to happen, bribes have gone up by a huge amount, there is a new law making it very difficult for non-Indians from setting up restaurants and shacks on the beach (one of the main draws of beach life in Goa), and Goan media, which until now was in fair understanding of the fact that even though they don’t like Goa trance parties,  they bring good business for Goan people so everything is ok, is being fed with wrong stories and ideas, making them much more hostile than they ever were. The Goan people themselves, helpless from dwindling tourism, have become immensely frustrated, which reflects in the alarming increase of robberies during season time last month, or through upscaling prices of everything, from renting a house, bike, or eating in a restaurant.

This, among others, was one reason why Goa Gil, whose Disco Valley new year’s party in Vagator used to be considered a veritable pilgrimage by many trancers, decided to play instead in Japan this time (he played in Disco Valley every year for over a decade!). Many other hippie freaks, who used to drive the Goa trance scene, have given up on this once magical land. The bright side though is that a whole lot of fresh talent is still moving in, parties still rave on, and the global trance spirit, though stifled a bit, endures.

Party Facts

Season: Anytime from November to March, though if possible, avoid December 28-31, since half of India’s urban crowd (many of who are non-trancers) lands up, and besides everything becoming on average five times more expensive, there are traffic snarls and beaches get littered, unless, however, this is just the madness you crave for! Also, from December 31 to January 2 afternoon, Hilltop (one of the key party locations in Vagator) hosts a three-day non-stop party with a very decent line-up and a massive party crowd.

From mid-Jan onwards big names start coming in, presumably after doing their new-year money gigs elsewhere to play free and unexpected parties, in some awesome locations, and the vibe, until February (the best month, if you have just one), is something to behold.

Hunting stint: There are only a few public party locations in Goa (mostly around Vagator and Anjuna beaches), so news usually flies, though to keep in line with the original spirit of hunting down an unexpected party by the ear, organizers play as many tricks as safely possible.

The best way to start on your journey is from the south Anjuna beach where most hardcore party animals gather for a sunset smoke. After that, head for Nine Bar (named so since it used to shut at sharp 9, but nowadays at 10 pm) which is a free open air club and hosts 2-3 hour sets of almost every act in Goa. After that, for a faster bpm, take off to Primrose (another club close by, though much smaller). If there is still no news of party, better to land some food and sleep, wake up fresh, and do it the way our ancestors used to! Start asking from Anjuna square. Some very private and awesome parties still happen in pristine locations, for which, it is best to know someone in the know.

Other attractions

The good thing about Goan beaches is that there are many, and each comes with a different flavour, atmosphere, and sometimes even food. While Anjuna and Vagator are strictly party and psy, Calangute and Baga are more commercial, with decent clubs and upmarket shopping. Further north, there is Arambol, known for its shanti feel and hot-water springs (best for relaxing from a stomping day). Towards south, there are some excellent untouched beaches popular with chic and water-sports crowd, though Palolem on the southernmost tip is held generally as the most beautiful. From here one can also head for Kerela and Karnataka.

Date: Aug 12, 2005
Text: Samrat
Photos: Chilambaba, Nanda
Taken from: The Trancers Guide to the Galaxy 2005


MUMBAI (formerly known as Bombay)

This is the sixth largest city in the world, though the most dense. It is the commercial capital of India and the most advanced in every sense of the term. It is also the closest than any other metropolitan city to Goa (600 kms), and has thus been the foremost in imbibing the Goa trance influence. The trance community in the city is thus not only mature and aware, but also has the right mix of endurance and caution which city life involves. There are a load of outdoor parties every month, sometime two in one weekend, but unfortunately some major busts in 2003 have pushed the scene inside clubs. Nevertheless, thanks to an array of promoters, both for indoor and outdoors, a promising bunch of labels, dj’s and artists, some of which have also made a mark on the international arena, the scene is continually evolving.

Brief background

It began in Bombay when some people ahead of their time started making small rave parties for a select and exclusive group in early nineties. Dj Freeaatmah (aka Asad) is generally considered to be the pioneer of the movement in the city, breeding an entire generation of trancers through his regular Friday nights at, what has to be the oldest psy club in the country, Razzberry Rhinocerous (Razz). Daniel Pierce (Daniel baba) was then the key promoter, and though now mellowed a little because of some unfortunate busts, still breaks out with a small party or two once in a while. In mid-nineties, as the movement caught the imagination of more and more people, parties began to burst through their seams. This later led to the police catching an eye of it, making some infamous busts. As is the story everywhere after that, the scene shifted underground, and far off from the urban settings.

Fortunately for the city though, it is flanked by an impressive mountain range on one end, making it possible to reach an untouched party location in a mountainous forest in a few hours. Some of the locations, though not in use any more, are still the talk of many nostalgic conversations. In the initial days, a bust would kill the scene for a considerable time, but as organizers and party goers learnt to come to terms with it, the community became stronger and more resilient. The struggle continues till this day, but the impacts of police interference have been relegated to more of a bad incidence than a devastating tsunami. The group leading the outdoor trance movement then was Paradiso (held at the helm by Asad), who made parties for the true spirit of it than any monetary gain, which in turn infected the whole vibe in a way which is rare to be found in today’s more commercialized world. They have now turned into a label, Paradiso Records.

The number of people in a party have risen gradually, from about 100 people in the early nineties, to about 6-700 today. The number of psyheads though is considerably higher, as most prefer the comfort and safety of a club, and especially now since there are many.

Leading the club scene is Fire n Ice, which started as a mega psytrance club in the late nineties. It is also generally considered responsible for opening the city’s eyes to truly international psytrance music, giving it the opportunity to experience first-hand top psytrance acts such as GMS, Skazi, CPU,…. It if from this point on, can it be said emphatically, that the trance movement entered the collective consciousness of the city youth, and that trance caught the attention of one and all. On average, an international act would safely draw a crowd of over 2000 people, cramping that club so much that bigger venues had to be sought and entry had to be shut after a point. Suddenly, trance was the most hip genre, and everyone was talking about it. To cash in on the boom, others clubs also tried to follow suit, but none could match the fervour Fire n Ice could generate. Some clubs later shifted back to their usual styles, though some struck the idea of trance nights, a theme which is now-a-days followed my most clubs in the city. Given that it is these nights which draw the maximum crowd, trance music can be safely said to be the genre of choice of the Mumbai party people!

After a while the club ran into some ownership issues and had to shut the venue. There was a moment of scary void, until it decided to become a promoter, taking up venues and booking artists anywhere in the city. The results have been remarkable, as huge parties (sometime over 5,000 people) have been organized in abandoned factories, right in the middle of the city, and also some in golf courses ;) In another recent move, they have opened a club in nearby satellite city Pune, which is bound to decrease their presence in the main city itself.

The scene today

Artists/dj’s: Whether it is because of the recent busts, or despite it, the psymusic scene in the city seems to have reached a peak, with a lot of labels releasing in the coming months. Leading the pack is young and stylish Karan Bhoj whose slot in the Hilltop new year’s party is talk of the town. While he has kept his presence in India alarmingly low, his work has been much appreciated in many parts of the world where he has spun his magic, including Boom last year. Having already released under his own label Third Eye Records, he is gearing up for another blaster in February. Paradiso Records have their own talent in Dj Brian26, arguably the best dj in the country and also among the most experienced after Dj Freeaatmah, who is also set to release a dark album under his newly formed label, Foot Stomping Records. Brian is also releasing through other labels and is much sought after all over the country. Also very worthy of mention are Beyond Logic, a strong team of three which bring down excellent acts and while they are at it, have released two fluffy compilations in December with another two lined up for February. Their partnership label Temple Twisters is also due for release, focusing mainly in dark, soul-wrenching psytrance. Dj Dash is another budding talent, who is continually releasing under his label Serephana Records. EssenseX (Shatul aka Dj Tool), until now mainly party organizers, have also taken the leap into the compilation act, and a jump further, by bringing out what should be the first clubbing magazine in the country.

International:  India seems to be pretty high on the list for psy dj’s, and within it Mumbai tops the list. It is no wonder then that even after Fire n Ice tempering down, international acts are easy to come by. During Goa season the frequency goes up tremendously though and if passing by the city keep your ears open for that partying shot!

Clubs:  While any parties organized by Fire n Ice are arguably the best, a nice experience can also be had at many others, and thankfully, many have regular psy nights (though not stable). Some notable ones are Rain (lounge), Rock Bottom, Lush, Red Light, Shooters, Razz, Avalon (stays open the latest, though the crowd is not always the right type).

Watering holes: While there are no fixed places to pick up information, a small checkout at Lynx (a clothes shop in Bandra), or a coffee at nearby Just Around the Corner, or a shave at Juice (saloon with a few centres across the city) might yield interesting results as well as people. For definitive information though, check the site mentioned at the conclusion.

The deal: While Mumbai can be fun - cosmopolitan megacity options with Indian flavour, it can also be quite cramped and scary for its sheer density. If one can manage that however, it can be like traveling at another level, through the minds of the people rather than through the landscape.




Edits Psynapse, India's only Psytrance Magazine

"Let your dance amaze you"


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