Moondust festival 2006

Review on India´s classical trance festival

Author: Divyan Salotra
Date: Aug 8, 2007
Views: 3482

Date: Aug 07, 2007
Text: Divyan Salotra
Photos: Moondust

Moondust - The sands of time

The first Indian psychedelic trance festival, popularly known as Moondust was meant to run from November 3 –7 2006. It was held in Rajasthan, say about 40 odd kilometers away from the pink city of Jaipur. The location was one amongst the scenic mountains of the ancient Aravali range, amidst an arid desert. Interestingly enough, the organizers had got permission from the Rajasthan tourism board to execute the carnival.

A fascinatingly large lineup was initially promised, featuring artists from Shivlink Records, BNE, Digital Psionics, Phantasmk Vertigo, Temple Twisters, Parvati, Trishula, Zenon, Open, Third Eye, Tantrumm, YSE, Mechanik Sounds and DejaVu, amongst other record labels.

Although the lineup was considerably reduced when the festival finally occurred, various styles of music were represented, from darker pounding psytrance to emotionally charged morning harmonies right up till ambient/chill tunes. It showcased the subcontinents rapidly developing music culture.

A large barren area close to 30 acres just off the main highway formed the sanctum sanctorum of ravers across the country for the few days.10 acres of flat land was reserved for free camping, whereas another 5 acres were present for parking. Clean fresh fruits, salads and main dishes of different cuisines were available, specially garnished by the mystic powers in the land of lord Shiva. There were two different stages present at the festival, a main stage and a smaller sub stage.

The whole area was peculiarly described as a ‘huge UV ball that could possibly have landed from outer space’. Electronic devices such as cameras and mobile phones were restricted in the main area.

 A head count of 2500- 3000 was noted. As expected, the crowd consisted mainly of foreign tourists. The energy levels were soaring to new heights as excellent vibes filled the air. An atmosphere of bliss was all around, so much so, that some claim Moondust to be the most splendid psychedelic trip of their lives. Artists such as Jalebee Cartel, Naked Tourist, and Mind Distortion System created an amazing ambience with their vigor, which lasted through the whole festival. Bully, Winter Demon’s mixing skills were particularly appreciated. Kohra of Shivlink Records played the opening set of the festival. His set was said to be an exemplary performance of fine mixing skills.

Other musicians who displayed their talent included the likes of Giuseppe, DYNO, Paulo, Backspace, Kohra, Varun, Moonsun, Claw, Nirmal, Vectro Electro, Nirmal, Trippy Train, Grapes Of Wrath, Aghori Tantrik, Psyboriginal, Ma Faiza, Merry Prankster, Strange Frequency and MDS. Although some artists encountered problems and did not get their rightful chance to perform, most found the festival to be professionally organized.

Unfortunately the carnival struck a discordant note with the locals and Pink City officials.

A culture shock came upon the villagers of Ramgarh, which was astonishing as Rajasthan is a state, which generates a large part of its revenue from foreign tourists. Moondust had to be hastily called off after allegations of sex, drugs and alcohol. Local villagers were awestruck by free use of smack and booze at the musical fête, or so they claim.

An announcement was made on the public address system around 05:00 hours that the area must be evacuated. Paranoia and havoc clouded the cheerful & uplifted vibe. When people realized that the show was being discontinued, a stampede-like situation occurred at the venue, with participants rushing to leave the place.  The festivity that had begun with high zeal and enthusiasm on Friday evening lasted until Tuesday.  The organizers were forced to call off the festival early.

The TV channels and newspapers covered the event and portrayed it to be in bad taste. Organizers have been charged with playing music on speakers that are thousands of watts in decibels near a forest area. The government, which had initially given permission for the festival, was caught on the back foot, forcing a magisterial inquiry into the matter. The media showed footage of the party scene littered with booze bottles, cigarette cartons and used condoms.

Artists claim that a large amount of equipment was stolen from the ‘safe artists accommodation area’. The equipment stolen includes computers, synthesizers as well as hard disks.

The ravers across the country had a rather optimistic view of the whole scenario. Moondust was acknowledged as a fine attempt for a first time festival, (owing to the fact that it is not easy to play loud music, let alone pounding psytrance bass lines, continuously for such a long interval of time in India). It was termed as a fiesta of positive vibes, uplifting atmosphere, unity, joy and high spirits. However, it was widely felt that it might be a while before the Indian locals adjust to the trance culture, psychedelic as it may be!

   

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