Free love under palm trees and long nights dancing in the sand.
Especially at Christmas, Goa was usually flooded by Western tourists.
This year, the government has enforced a ban. Goa parties were the
epitome of free love among palm trees, but no more..
CJ: Armstrong Vaz
"KILL THE police, f*** the police, we are the police…." Blame it on a
drunken stupor or an X'mas night beach party gone bust. The place
where our friend's voice reached the highest pitch was somewhere on
the Colva beach in south Goa. The occasion the X'mas night beachside
party bash. He was trying to ring order on the beach in his own way,
which was overcrowded with local Indian, Goan and foreign tourists.
His faint voice got drowned in the din.
Like many teenagers, his also was the first-ever Christmas night,
outside parental control; a free bird on the beach, a chance to sip
wine away from the prying eyes. That was the impromptu expression
which came out some two decades back.
A lot of changed over the years and in the last few months over the
partying scene in Goa. A blanket ban has been imposed on beachside
parties by the government this year. No beachside parties from
December 23 to January 5 during the night.
The impending terror threat from militants has played spoilsport on
the beachside celebrations. Over the years , Goa's Xmas season had
been characterised by hordes and hordes of 'desi' tourists descending
on Goan beaches in pursuit of cheap thrills -- liquor, sex and beach
parties. Along with the local Indian tourists, large numbers of
foreign tourists too celebrate the festival season in Goa.
The Israelites, fresh from the compulsory military duty party hard in
Goa, while the charter tourists flights, bring in their share of
English, Russians, Germans and also tourists from many other
nationalities. It is the Israelis and the other Western tourists that
the militants want to target through the terror network which has
sent shivers among the major players in Goa.
Beach parties organised by Goans take a different meaning compared to
those organised by the foreigners in connivance with local drug
dealers. At the Goan parties liquor flows freely, but rarely do
drugs. But the trance parties is where the drugs scene happens. The
death of French national possibly through drug overdose is a pointer
in a state where drugs are available cheaply and freely at the drop
of the hat, thanks to the well-oiled corruption which prevails. Fiona
MacKeown, the mother of the dead English girl, Scarlett Keeling will
agree with me.
The big trance party organisers try to hold their parties away from
the glare of the local tourists, as they want to keep them out for
their nuisance value. Wherever possible they tried to conduct them at
seclude spots or on island ferrying materials and equipments through
boats and employing text messages to get across the invitation. The
organisers, before the advent of SMS messages used different
innovative methods of communications, besides pamphlets to get the
crowd to the party venue.
For majority of Goans, the beach rave parties hold no attraction,
save for a few of them who want to make a fast buck. For Goan teenage
youths, X'mas is a liberating moment. For some it is their first
chance to have wine or beer; it was just a passing phase a glowing
But the mother of all parties has to be New Year after the Midnight Mass.
If you find it difficult to park your vehicle at Colva beach in the
early hours of the first day of New Year, then blame it on the locals
heading to beach from different villages in South Goa.
Attired in mostly black colored suits, the locals party hard on the
beach till daylight sets in and then eating the bakers 'Pau' (bread)
for breakfast to get rid of some of the night hangover.
But with the AK-47 yielding gunmen and sand bags lined up on the
beach in a bid to look out for the impending terror threat, will the
Goans able to enjoy the beach parties freely without any fear, they
have been known to enjoy over the years?
Certainly, the fag end of the year holds a challenge for the police
and the Goans in the larger context on the terror front. The police
image has been battered in Mumbai and it is no better in Goa,
ill-quipped, to fight terror. But a test by fire waits for entire
Goa. Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.