Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Looking For Goa Magic.


I've been going to Goa for the New years' techno raves for the last 9 years and I've noticed every year the magic has been wearing thinner and thinner. Last New Years', 2005/2006, it was as flat as a steam-rollered cat, all of which I'd predicted for some time as the local Pollies don't want backpackers anymore, too much trouble, only 2 star tourists and up, thank you very much. The cops had hassled charas-smokers more and more, asking for huge bribes, shipping many off to the medieval gaol at Panjim as warning threats to all the other tokers, no more chillum smoking in circles and shouting "Bam Shankar!". And so the international freak set has stayed away, more and more. Goa was where trance dancing really took off in the late '80s, and was reaching its zenith in 1997 when I arrived. Seven thousand freaks would jump and hump, stomp and romp, shimmy and shake ecstatically to a tribal techno beat, a many headed/legged monster dancing as one, dreadlocks swaying, tatoos displaying, the maddest of jungle-bunnie scenes, at disco valley on the beach, in the bamboo forest or the compound of the Hilltop Hotel.

But over the years amoral thugs were attracted to the scene for money, drugs and sex, and horny Indians by the crore rushed in, drunkenly grabbing at the white titties, raping and plundering, so that it got less and less fun. And last year it hit rock-bottom, all maybe due to yours truly. The year before I had had the best New Years ever, a peak it would be hard to climb again, with great friends, hot highs and the coolest marathon of trance music spread over three days by a competitive crew of DJs from all around the world.

But on the 2nd day, on a bit of a come-down, after the high of ecstasy must come the crash of reality, I was more grumpy than I realised. When I tried to get back into the Hilltop venue with my cool Indian mates, the burly bouncers let me, the great white sahib, thru the gates but refused entry to my friends, they had to pay again for the privilege. This infuriated me as we'd already paid their entry price for the 3 day slog-fest. I argued with the bouncers but they were adamant, they wanted as much money as they could squeeze from whoever. I kept up the onslaught of demanding entry for my mates as I'd been a good patron for the last 8 years. The giant doormen got uptight and pushed me on my arse, I jumped up and got pushed on my arse again, 3 times it happened, till I was spitting chips. They were twice my size and half my age, really brave guys, and me the hip Baba who was so cool, setting the pace for the wild dancing at the gig like I was the head shaman, now getting shoved about like a piece of zero-class shit.

So I flipped and threw a curse upon the Hilltop, declaring it was finished, the money-grubbers could forget about their cash-cow, no one would go there any more, it was now to be called "the Hole-top", the party was over!!! I screamed my dumb-arse curse over and over like Prospero whipping up a tempest till the bouncers slunk back into their Hole-top totally weirded-out and crestfallen by this Aussie nutter.

One should always be careful of what one curses because it may come true. The following year, last New Years, when I thought I'd give Goa another go, I arrived to find the Pollies and cops had got sick of the noise, the rapes, the deaths, the robberies, the mess, and closed down the whole party scene of the Goan beaches, except for the 5 star hotels of course. (Each year a horrible murder has erupted, last year a British girl had GBH slipped into her drink by an Indian goonda and she died in the room where he was trying to rape her.) No more fun for the freaky backpackers, we drove around the back roads endlessly on our putzy motorbikes looking for "the party", and there was none to be had. Just a feeble one day event at the Hilltop, after paying a huge bribe to the cops and passing on the cost to us, the die-hard punters, and it was over too quickly.

Back to wandering the beaches like ghosts. The real freak-set seemed to now pass Goa by, the trance scene there is over, all things have their season and then the 'magic' moves on. Where oh where has it gone to? The Goan people are still the gorgeous, hospitable, all suffering folk they've ever been, and the beaches are nice to lie upon, and the seafood's cheap and fresh, and the Indian trinket market at Anjuna Beach is more packed and costly as ever, but the parties are flat, banal, pedestrian. Trance has had it's time in the limelight, maybe gone back to the secret enclaves, hidden oasis, mystique lagoons, primeval jungles and transcendent caves of old pagan times in some arcane far-off lands, not available for the masses, just the cognoscenti few.

(Most likely the far-flung beaches of Thailand where it's cheaper and no cops to bust or bribe, apparently the parties there are out of control but for me Thailand is like Bali, Australia's backyard, which I want to escape from.) (Or maybe rock'n'roll with electric guitars is having a comeback?) Where has the '"trance magic" gone? Maybe somewhere here in the deep bush of Auz, for we are young and free, and still fucking wild when the beat gets thumping. But then there's no traveling involved and I love travel. Goa will always be cool, the magic's gone from me.