Goa dance and LSD craze sweeps clubs

ECSTASY, the rave drug of the Eighties, is out. Goa Trance, the latest dance-music craze to sweep the club world, a hypnotic blend of hard electronic rhythms and Eastern ideals, is fuelled by the archetypal Sixties hallucinogen,LSD.

British clubbers have flown to the Indian resort of Goa for sun and open-air dance parties for the past five winters. Now the music they sway to on Goan beaches is being recorded in London and filling dance- floors across Europe.

New records released in the next month are expected to take it out of the underground dance scene and into mainstream pop culture - with the same huge cultural impact that Acid House had in the late Eighties.

For those who cannot afford a pounds 300 flight, the atmosphere of a Goan beach party is being recreated in warehouses and clubs across the country, with ultra-violet light projected on to fluorescent paintings of ancient Eastern images, and shamans blessing the dance-floor. Clothes are loose and baggy. But while Acid House ravers preferred to get high on Ecstasy, the new drug of choice is old-fashioned acid itself, LSD.

"When you take acid and you dance to this music you become part of the mechanics," says Ian St Paul, director of TIP Records, one of a handful of labels releasing Goa Trance music. "The DJ is linked to the speakers and your movement is linked to that. The whole place becomes one. And you're all on acid. If you're all on Ecstasy, or mixed, it's not quite the same. When you go to a good party you know everyone's tripping."

He first came across the music on holiday in Goa three years ago. "It took me ages to get into it. I just sat there ... it was too electronic, a bit weird. It wasn't until I dropped my first acid and went to a party that I started feeling the grooves and the rhythm and the bass lines."

The records are mainly instrumental, with clean but complex electronic textures. DJs use tape machines (vinyl melts in the Goan heat, apparently) to blend a seamless flow of music that rises and falls in intensity for up to 12 hours at a time. You don't need LSD to enjoy individual tracks, says Ian St Paul - "But to be at a party, when everybody's there, get in a state of trance and have a mega-night? Sure."

Figures from the National Criminal Intelligence Service back up this anecdotal evidence: seizures of LSD in Britain last year were 45 per cent up on 1993. "Because of the dubious quality of much of the Ecstasy now being sold, the price is dropping and the evidence is that people are turning to other substances, or mixing them up," a spokeswoman said.

Goa Trance can be heard at clubs such as Return to the Source at the Brixton Academy in London, Herbal Tea Party in Manchester, and Spacehopper in Birmingham. The small community of people recording and distributing the music is based in west London. Its members tend to be well-educated and well-off.

Some have been into psychedelia for a long time: "My partner, Raja Ram, was the flute player in a band called Quintessence in the Seventies," says Ian St Paul. "The guy that used to have the UFO Club [famous London home of Sixties psychedelia], he's at the parties. My lighting guy did Pink Floyd parties." Youth, a record producer whose label Dragonfly has been responsible for some of the scene's best music, says that to understand Goa Trance, you have to imagine hearing it in context. "Maybe in a 2,000- year-old temple that's been painted up in fluorescent colours, with a 20K sound system set up."

Acid House made stars of DJs such as Paul Oakenfold, who went on to remix singles for stadium acts such as U2 and Simply Red. Goa Trance DJs tend to be anonymous, but Oakenfold has launched a label of his own for the music. He believes Goa will become a place of pilgrimage for large numbers of clubbers, in the same way that the Spanish island of Ibiza has been over the past eight years.

Goa Trance borrows more than ethnic imagery from its birthplace: Eastern spirituality is also being imported, as it was during LSD's heyday in the Sixties. "You can find Buddhism, Hinduism, and hundreds of ancient wisdoms and faiths which are thousands of years old there," says Youth in this month's edition of the style magazine i-D. These beliefs attract British young people who are disillusioned by mainstream religion.

"In Western culture, we can only guess what Celtic religions like Druidism and Paganism were like. In India, ancient religions are also contemporary culture and are very alive. People go out there and identify with that culture and find truths about themselves reflected in it."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea