Frederick Noronha (FN) on Wed, 30 Mar 2005 15:57:32 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Goanet Reader -- Acid parties,

Looking back at history from North Goa, one of the last hippy havens

By Joseph Zuzarte

If it were not for the Acid Parties in Anjuna and the hippies who started
them, Goa might never have become the tourist haven that it is today. After
the Portuguese were booted out in 1961, came the hippies in 1968. The term
'hippie', of course, is a very ambiguous one; even today all White
foreigners are called 'hippies' in Anjuna. But back then, hippies meant
White American tourists. America had been rocked by Ken Kesey and his 'Acid
Tests' in the early mid-1960's. L.S.D. (a legal drug then) was the wonder
drug of the 1950's and 1960's, and the U.S. government was conducting tests
on the effects of LSD on people. It was felt by many researchers that LSD
could produce the divine spark of creativity. The most famous of these
'advocates' was the literary writer Aldous Huxley who famously wrote about a
mescalin experience in Doors of Perception.

Kesey was the author of 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest', and with the
royalty money, decided to conduct his own experiments in acid. He summed up
what he called the Neon Renaissance in an early 1960's interview: "It's a
need to find a new way to look at the world, an attempt to locate a better
reality, now that the old reality is riddled with radioactive poison. I
think a lot of people are working in a lot of different ways to locate this
reality -- Ornette Coleman in in jazz, Ann Halprin in dance, the New Wave in
movies, Lenny Bruce in comedy, Wally Hendrix in art, Heller, Burroughs,
Rechy and Gunter Grass in writing, an those thousands of others whose names
would be meaningless either because they haven't made it yet, or aren't
working in a medium that has an it to make. But these people are trying to
find out what is happening, why and what can be done with it."

Kesey decided to bring together the best creative talents in California
together, gave them LSD, and told them to do whatever they wanted. The
driving slogan was 'Further'. This meant that people would mill about
freely, walk up to microphones and talk or sing if they felt like it. Those
gatherings were known as 'Acid Tests' and were probably the first Acid
Parties in the world.

Soon psychedelia had exploded into a vast movement, and is today considered
the biggest cultural and creative upheaval of the last century. The music
for the parties was provided by a band of musicians led by Jerry Garcia,
which later became the Grateful Dead, the most famous of all hippie bands.

Their drummer was Mickey Hart who was taking tabla lessons under Ustad Ala
Rakha Khan and others in California. Thus it was that Indian strands were
woven into the hippie tapestry and many of the hippies decided to come down
to India -- besides music and spirituality, it was also a storehouse of some
of the best cannabis, marijuana and opium. Also, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
had also happened to the Beatles.

 	On their peregrinations through India, the hippies discovered Goa, a
 	region with a overtly Catholic image, with great beaches and a
 	hospitable people. The hippies scattered around in various ashrams
 	and music gharanas all over India, would meet for Christmas in Goa.
 	Somehow Calangute and Anjuna were the chosen beaches. And, well,
 	their Christmas parties were just like the Acid Tests in California.
 	There was no electricity in Anjuna then, so an American called
 	Eight-Finger Eddie brought down a generator, speakers, amplifiers,
 	etc., and the first real Acid Party happened in Goa.

Goa has not been the same ever since. Besides which, the world has also
changed. If the Woodstock concert of 1969 was the height of the hippie dream
(remember love, peace, happiness?), the Altamount concert that same year was
its nadir and was the official end of the hippie revolution in the U.S.
Because of the crack-down on the hippies there, they moved out all over the
world. North Goa, in way, is one of the last hippie havens.

Just like with the Anjuna Flea Market, the Acid Parties there have also gone
through many phases. In the late 1960's and the 1970's, they mostly happened
on Full Moon days; apart from the mystical aspects (Isis unveiled, and all
that), it was too dark to move around at night in the villages on non-Full
Moon days.

Since the early Full Moon parties were mostly gatherings of American and
other foreign musicians who were studying in various parts of India, they
were 'live' music parties. Sitars would jam with electric guitars; out would
come the tables and other instruments.

 	Goa was also a refuge from the vigorous discipline of Indian music
 	and spiritual gurus who did not like the foreigners taking drugs.
 	But the primary creative fuel -- as demonstrated in the Kesey Acid
 	Tests -- was LSD. Along with other drugs. So everybody would take
 	LSD -- or acid -- at the Goa Full Moon live music parties and let
 	their creativities soar wherever. Most of it was probably great fun,
 	though a lot of it must also have been rubbish.

Goa's Full Moon Acid Parties fame soon spread all over the world.

All those curious about the hippies and their psychedelia and the stories of
instant nirvana via LSD started coming down to Goa from all over Europe and
other places. They brought their own psychedelic music (LSD had also become
globally famous and everybody was trying out their own Acid Tests).

The parties in Goa went from American rock, and reflecting trends in the
West, to Punk Rock, Disco and by the early 1980's had gone almost fully New
Wave. The first time I'd been to a party was in the early 1980's. At that
time there were two types of parties: the 'Slive' music parties and the
'recorded' music parties. The first one I'd been to was a live music party;
it was so boring, with the guitar player tripping so far out, I went to
sleep. The second one was a 'recorded' music party on south Anjuna beach and
it was more my kind of scene. I remember a lot of disco music, even Boney M
and Abba from that party.

By the mid-1980's, the Goa party scene had become almost totally European
and the New Wave of electronic psychedelia, Electro Funk and Euro Dance were
mixed into a uniquely distinct Goan mix by acid DJs. This sound soon became
everybody's preferred listening and is today known everywhere as Goa Trance.

 	Also, by the mid and late 1980's, LSD and the whole Woodstock
 	generation were a distant memory with the mostly European crowd
 	coming for the parties in Anjuna. There was the rise of the new
 	designer drugs like Ecstasy in Europe. That scene was reflected in
 	Goa. Where earlier taking LSD and participating in a party was about
 	creative expression, the new parties were about taking Ecstasy and
 	simply dancing.

Then came the House music revolution in the UK and Europe and Acid House
became hugely popular by the late 1980's. What apparently happened was that
some of the leading House music DJs from Europe came down to Goa to check
out the parties here, took 'acid' and created 'Acid House'. When the Acid
House music became big in Europe, the fame of Goa as the birth place of Acid
House sky-rocketed. Acid House parties were distinctly different from earlier
Acid Parties and were more about dancing than anything else; they were known
as raves. Which is how the parties in Goa also came to be known as raves,
though the locals still only call them 'parties'.

Today's parties are of course a lot different from the earlier parties.
First of all, the party crowd and the parties have become the lifeline of
Anjuna and surrounding villages. Although there was a lot of idealism in the
early parties, and there still seems to be a lot of idealism amongst the new
crowd, the parties are today more a commercial enterprise with a lot of
money at stake for the organizers.

It's also a peculiar mixture of repression-hypocrisy-greed-corruption
-and-naivete which makes the Goa government repeatedly proclaim a
'crack-down' on the parties, even though they only do so to extort money. In
comparison, for example, the Berlin 'Love Parade', Germany's version of our
parties here, held in the third week of July every year to commemorate the
fall of the Wall, attracted two million ravers last year. We Indians have
still not learnt to have a good time, except on the sly.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Zuzart is a Goan journalist who worked for a number of
years in Mumbai, and is now back in his home state, writing and describing
little-noticed nuances of this small but colourful part of the planet.

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