A multimedia blog documenting geographies of the Psytrance movement in Goa as brought to the world by Goa Gil.

Based on John Street's discourse on music and locality, the content aims to throw light on the geographical origins of Psytrance in order to understand it better.

The Goa Scene

Goa emerged on the world scene back in the 60′s with the ‘Hippie Movement’ which brought the western world to the beaches of Anjuna. Composed mostly of white teenagers and young adults between the ages of 15 and 25 years old, hippies inherited a tradition of cultural dissent from bohemians and beatniks of the Beat Generation in the late 1950s. Stories of freaks in Goa and a slowly building counter culture made some enthusiasts hop onto an overland Bus leaving for Goa all the way from Europe (Greece). Disillusioned, disenchanted preferring an altered state of consciousness to the collective illusion the world embraces as ‘Reality’, they found home under the palm trees of Goa.

Staying in Goa was extremely affordable then and to the Hippies, money was always just a means to an end. They stayed and stayed and stayed even longer. The community doubled, tripled and increased exponentially in very little time. So began a long ongoing chapter in the history of the psychedelic culture spawning a whole new generation into an alternate reality, a different world where anything was possible and all boundaries dissolved.

 Full Moon Festival in GOA


This is just one of the many ways of telling the story of Goa, the Hippies, the Freaks and a generation of hipsters being exposed to a plethora of substances which dramatically alter ones perception of the world and the nature of reality. This is where it starts to get a little chaotic as in those days there was little or no drug awareness among the users. People began experimenting with all kinds of potentially damaging substances namely Heroin & Cocaine with little or no understanding of it’s effect on the mind, the body and the soul. To support their needs and addictions, some Hippies began smuggling Drugs all the way to Europe and America for a good price, enough to help them sustain their erratic lifestyles and keep moving back and forth till sanity stays alongside, watching closely what’s going on. Those days, Hippies could be seen walking along the beaches of Arambol, Anjuna or Vagator sporting their birthday suits, openly having sex with their respective lovers or indulging in orgies while the music played on in the background. The Freak capital had become a twisted saga of Sex, Drugs & Rock n Roll.

Over the years, as capitalism and globalization began making in roads everywhere, the locals and the Goan government started to become increasingly less tolerant toward the Hippie attitude as it conflicts with the ethics and lifestyles of modern day society. The authorities were now coming on strongly against nudism, drugs and loud music being played around residential areas late into the night. Some Hippies hence chose the path of reform and got back to the regular city lifestyle and a day job, some became Sadhus and Sanyasis and some stayed back and are still seen dancing around the shacks of South Anjuna, namely Curlies and Shiva Valley. If you ever get a chance to speak to some of these willing old timers, you would know they have a whole lot to talk about and for good reason. With the slow death of the “Hippie Era”, Goa’s reputation as the Freak Capital never diminished, but evolved into the Monsterattes we see on news channels and read about in the newspapers. Irresponsible use of drugs and sexual predation are closely linked in the darkness of our present times and it’s only we who can change this and turn things around in a new direction we collectively envision.

A place once known by some as paradise, Goa today is over crowded with people from almost everywhere on this planet. Mostly from other Indian states making there annual pilgrimage to Baga and Calangute checking out the scantily clad women folk and drinking unimaginable quantities of easily affordable alcohol while dangerously gyrating to electronic music they have never heard of. With this ever increasing population of seasonal tourists pouring into Goa each year, the crowd has literally overflowed into the once peaceful sanctuaries of Morjem, Vagator and Anjuna. As a result what we have here is a Van full of tourists at the junction, right before you take the left for the Flea Market looking for directions to any place where a party is happening. When told about Curlies from where we’d just left a FULL ON scene, heading toward Bamboo Forest, someone would say, “There was some weird electronic music going on there dude” so we promptly pointed toward the road heading back to Baga / Calangute. Hopefully, they found a place to hang-out where they didn’t feel as alienated ! 

This was 2 years ago, when Bamboo Forest was still on, re-engineered, re-worked as ‘Dolce Vita’ which has never been heard of ever since. Thanks to the residents living close to the mystical Bamboo Forest who are deeply disturbed with nonstop loud music playing for long hours. Hilltop & 9 Bar are one of the few places where you get to see some major parties happening.




An aesthetic perspective.

GOA is not a PLACE. GOA is a STATE OF MIND.

-Goa Gil
  • Artist: Goa Gil
  • TrackName: Polyphonia - Challo
  • Album: Worldbridger

Challo by Goa Gil

Goa Gil’s journey to India.

Why Goa? How Psytrance? The role Goa and India provided for the birth of Psytrance.

The Flower Children Community and Goa.


In 1960’s a youth movement got started up by mostly rich middle class people of America. This movement was for promoting the idea of peace, love, unity and freedom and for growing your consciousness to a whole new level, where mere materialistic concepts of life do not affect the way you perceive the world anymore. This group of individuals were called the Hippies (Hippy people). Their ideas of life and love amazed almost all the people across the Globe. Hippies were strange but at the same time funny and got connected with the people very easily. Trying to make the world a better place where there are no wars no violence was the main motive.

The Hippie movement basically started from San Francisco California where they initially got settled. San Francisco, corner of Haight Street and Ashbury Street – The place where the whole world got their first glance of this unique group of people with their colourful attire and funny but influential ideas. This place came to be known as the Haight Ashbury District.


 

The Hippie Movement – How it Happened


People who had problems accepting the constitutional laws and normal ways of living, in no time got influenced by the idea of Hippies the motto and joined them. Hippie movement or the youth movement which initially consisted of only people from the age group of 15 to 25 was joined soon by people from all age groups across the US sub-continent. All the way from their rallies against Vietnam wars till boom. In the culture of psychedelic rock people from different age groups caste and colour joined them for one common cause, no racism and no discrimination. Nearly 420,000 people joined the movement in 1969.



Hippie Movement – Its Nature and Lifestyle


Some hippies never worked till they were forced to earn a living. They always had parties filled with songs by Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and many other rock and roll numbers which brought a revolution in the music world. It is believed that in the birth and upbringing of psychedelic trance a major contribution was of the Hippie movement and their concepts of free your mind to the world of higher consciousness where everyone is a part of a higher energy source connected to one another. Marijuana and LSD were common in all the Hippie parties. Early Hippies were basically musicians and artists. This new tribe or religion or group of people was so strange that people from conservative middle class could not relate to them initially and saw them as aliens. Hardly did they know the fact that all that these hippies ever wanted was and ever stood for was peace, love, unity, freedom, respect, dance, bliss, joy and a feeling of oneness with the world. They had an immense love for nature.


The Hippie Beliefs


Hippies were known for their belief in ideas of peace, never ending parties with enormous supplies of psychedelic drugs, music and dance. They believed that life is a gift to embrace and enjoy it. They filled there lives with colours of love for everyone. They would socialise during the day and would party all night in their funny and lively clothing, they would drink beer, sing songs of love, unity and danced on different numbers of various genres.


 The Psychedelic Bus from Greece to Goa and How Goa Became the Mecca for the Hippies




 

Thousands of Hippies got together and travelled for thousands of miles from Greece Europe to Goa India, overland route to India or the Hippie trail. With small amounts of cash and almost no luggage they united and followed the same route, they hitch-hiked across Europe to Athens and then to Istanbul, from their by train through central Turkey via Erzurum, finally into Iran, via Tabriz and Tehran to Mashad, across the Afghan border, through southern Afghanistan. through Kandahar to Kabul, over the Khyber Pass into Pakistan, via Rawalpindi and Lahore to the Indian frontier.

In the early 1970s, Goa was discovered as a place of freedom from the stresses of western countries. The so-called ‘hippie’ movement of that time found a laid-back atmosphere in Goa’s beautiful surroundings and tropical attitudes. In India, hippies visited many different destinations and finally large numbers of hippies gathered on the beaches of Goa.

 

They said that there is something in the soil. They made friends arranged psychedelic parties which went for 72 hours known as full Moon parties. Joined by many intellectuals in Goa like Goa Gil and Stephen they gave birth to Goa/Acid trance.
 

Early hippie legacy was continued just migrated to a new land which in no time turned into a birth place of psychedelic music. Their love and their colorful life had a huge impact on locals and in no time with their help hippies established their own businesses and psychedelic events. New psy Dj’s started evolving and it gave a new phase to global music which later was known as Goa trance music or acid psychedelic trance which took a global turn and the hippie culture took a shape of a religion all over the world. India, Nepal, Russia, Germany, Israel, Brazil, and many states of the U.S became popular on a hippie-backpacker’s map.


 

The freaks of San Francisco

“The scene has grown up with us and we have grown up with the scene.”

This video serves as an understanding of the hippie movement the evolved in San Fransico in the 60’s. This marks the forming of a community based on an ideology about enhancing one’s consciousness through spiritual experiences, music and drugs. This collective ideology was what brought the hippies to the shores of western India (Goa).

Also, thanks to

Great Dead.

Today’s Goa trance is often assimilated to a techno music induced state of mind. This genre of music however is not the same sounds of 60’s music that the ex patriots who partied all day and night on the beaches and in the jungles of Goa were listening to.

1231071725a.jpgThe Grateful Dead made a move in the music world in an era when hippies and other citizens of the time were walking on the streets of many major cities with sandwich boards reading messages such as WAR IS NOT THE SOLUTION and WORLD PEACE NOT WORLD WAR.

The Grateful Dead or “the Dead” which they were dubbed by the cult roadie followers, themselves called “Deadheads”, was led by Jerry Garcia and they had a self indentifying style which emcompassed several of the then known music genres. The psychedelic rock scene found its way into “the deads” performances and Garcia and his entourage of musicians found themselves playing on the American West Coast and later on tours and then at Woodstock, to fans who had discovered LSD.

This psychedelic rock is described as music that expands your consciousness or your awareness. (The hx of psychedelic rock).

Mix the frequencies that emanate from the various instruments, which by this time are beginning to merge with electronics, with the inner body frequencies that are affected by hallucinogenic drug and one has a very potent cocktail. Throw into this mix some fluorescent lights or some abstract art and the concoction of waves that stimulate the mind and body have the ability to produce a trance. The trance is trippie and brings about voyages into peaceful dreamstates where pink elephants and hyperdimensional realities coexist. However a trip gone bad can bring about a frenzied state and the peaceful dream becomes a living nightmare where the gates of Hades release energies from the void of spacetime into the travellers being.

Music is a force. What does it do? It connects, disconnects, envelops, merges, clashes,
amplifies, mutes. Where does it go? How did it get there? Who does it love?

The father of Goa trance/ Psychedelic trance: How it all began.

Anjuna beach was and still is a favorite haunt of the hippies who used to  organize the famous rave beach parties. It was in the late 1950s to  mid-1960s that hippies started visiting Anjuna beach and since then  popularized the wild rave parties with trance music which have now  become the characteristic features of Goan beaches. Anjuna Beach is also an ideal place for full-moon parties held especially during Christmas and New Year.

Anjuna beach was and still is a favorite haunt of the hippies who used to organize the famous rave beach parties. It was in the late 1950s to mid-1960s that hippies started visiting Anjuna beach and since then popularized the wild rave parties with trance music which have now become the characteristic features of Goan beaches. Anjuna Beach is also an ideal place for full-moon parties held especially during Christmas and New Year.

Who is Goa Gil?

American born Gilbert Levey is the man best known as Goa Gil. Musician, producer, dj, party organiser and Sadhu, he is one of the founders of the entire Goa trance/psytrance scene and is considered and affectionately thought of as ‘the Godfather of psytrance’.

Gil was born in 1951 and raised in San Francisco, California. His psychedelic roots are deep, he was there when the hippie movement first began and acid rock started to appear and he was also a member of the Sons of Champlon and Family Dog ‘freak collectives’. However, in ’69 he felt that the music scene in San Fran was self destructing itself and took off in search of something new, first visiting Amsterdam and then moving on to India where he finally settled in ‘hippie central’, Goa, hence the name, Goa Gil!

It was whilst there that he first learned of the Sadhus, holy men who wandered the surrounding areas covered in ash, living off the forest and drinking the elixir of the Gods.

Gil was fascinated and enthralled by these incredible men and eventually became a Sadhu of the Juna Akhara order himself and was given the name of Baba Mangalanand.

At the beginning of the ‘80’s a great number of the Goa hippies were becoming increasingly interested with the new electronic music that was beginning to surface in the form of acts such as Kraftwerk. Soon afterwards Gil and some of his friends got hold of some djing equipment and began having all night music parties on the beaches of Goa. It was essentially this combination of Eastern mysticism, spirituality and outdoor electronic music parties that came to define the psytrance scene.

In ’85 Gil met Ariane MacAvoy who is now his wife. Ariane is particularly interested with traditional West African dance and African djembe drumming. As well as performing as Goa Gil, Gil and Ariane produce music together under the name ‘The Nommos’.

Gil looks upon dance as an active form of meditation and therapy, as it was in the ancient ‘trance dance’ rituals. In his own words he says:

“Since the beginning of time mankind has used music and dance to communicate with the Spirit of Nature and The Spirit of the universe. We are trying to use trance music and the trance dance experience to set off a chain reaction within consciousness. Through the trance dance experience we hope people will become more sensitive and aware of themselves, their surroundings, the crossroads of humanity and the needs of the planet. With this awareness comes understanding and compassion. That is the need of the hour and the true Goa state of mind.” Essentially his aim, again in his own words, is to “redefine the ancient tribal ritual for the 21st century”. Trying to use trance parties and the trance dance experience as a whole as a tool to uplift and expand the consciousnesses of the people involved.

These days Gil still has a home base in Goa and resides there for several months of each year. The remainder of his time is spent travelling the globe and hosting parties, more often than not in Northern California.

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