Long ago a bunch of traveling Bohemians gave rise to a great culture. A culture that enkindled a piece of new dance music form, engraved as the history of Goa trance. They created something so big it’s not just music or intensified parties; it’s a way of life. It’s a choice you make when you truly understand the very essence of the Goa trance culture.

Understanding Psytrance and Goa trance

For those of you unfamiliar with this genre, it’s got high tempo and layered melodies that are electronically merged to create a beautiful mind-numbing experience. Numbing down the rampant trains of thoughts letting you listen to the rhythm of everything else around you and within you. An exciting element of psytrance is the use of samples, often from science fiction movies or the works by great thinkers. Those samples mostly contain references to OBEs & dreams, time travel, spirituality, and similar mysterious topics. The receptive audiences are generally Lovers of nature, explorers, and folks who have experienced full-circle life.

“Trance denotes any state of awareness or consciousness other than normal waking consciousness. It is an elevated state of conscience induced by meditation or by stimulation of our senses.”

A popular debate on the relation between Goa Trance and Psytrance, formally known as Psychedelic Trance is a never-ending episode even today. Although Psy Trance is a broad term; the dance music community-associated Goa with the Psy community and used the terms interchangeably. Goa trance back then was referred to as ‘Goa’ or by the number ‘604’. The essence of this sub-genre is found in the melodies mixed with trippy organic sounds, often influenced by sounds of the East. The creation of this music stemmed from the ‘want’ to assist the dancers in experiencing a collective state of bodily transcendence. It can be perceived as the musical version of LSD.

Unraveling the history of Goa trance

Backtracking the history of Goa trance, we find that it flowered in Anjuna. In the early ’60s a small state in India, Goa was the most popular host for hippies and backpackers. It was the Indian spiritual practices, friendly locals, beaches, and most of all the legally available hashish that served as one of the best affordable retreats for almost half of the 20th century.

Eight Finger Eddie

During the mid-’60s Eight Finger Eddie, an American hippie of Armenian descent rediscovered Anjuna for the better. Officially known as Yertward Mazamanian aka ‘Eight Finger Eddie’ aka ‘Father of the Hippie Tribe in Goa’, he was amongst the first modern settlers on these beaches. He used to feel a sense of absolute freedom and happiness as he discovered more of Goa and would celebrate with some insane trips. As far as one knows Eddie and his friends started the first ‘Goa parties’. At the time celebrations were a group of friends jamming around a beach campfire on hallucinogens and sharing travel stories. The music was more related to bands like Grateful Dead, The Doors, The Eagles, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd.

Anjuna Flea Market 1977

It was during the ’70s when having little to no choice of complying with the “single convention on narcotic drugs” treaty; the Indian Government banned the recreational use of hashish. Later on, in the year ’75 Anjuna hosted its first flea market, initiated by Eddie as a place to barter goods and party. It was a platform for the hippies to share experiences and sell used or handmade items that would help with their travel funds. The free spirits came together and traded their belongings, whatever they had back then for a new life; nowadays the Saturday Night Marker or SNM is far more established with merchandise coming in from all over the world.

Full Moon Party, Goa 1997
Full Moon Party Morning, Goa 1977
Late Full Moon Party Morning 1977

Backpackers all over India favored Goa for freedom and peace. During those time periods, the hippies would indulge in many mind-altering options, one of which was the full moon parties. Full-blown parties would take place every full moon an initiation by Goa Gil and the rest of the community. The décor was mostly illustrations of cultural elements from Hinduism, Buddhism, and Shamanism symbolizing Trance: India. In ’79 the beginnings of electro music could occasionally be heard in the form of tracks by Kraftwerk on decks owned by traveling funk heads. Fred Disco and DJ Laurent are one of the initial players too; they sorta gave trance its shape.

More DJs started spinning special mixes which were edits of various versions of a track to make it longer and nonlyrical. This was a game-changer for stretch music concepts, a trip to space and back. DJs playing in Goa during this period included Fred Disko, Dr. Bobby, Stephano, Laurent, Ray, Fred, Antaro, Gil, and oh so many more.

Hippie Parties in 1983

By the mid 80’s it became a sport for the traveling hippies of Goa, to collect special music. LSD became a symbol of Goa parties because of the inspiring effects after consumption. Also, it was easy to get, and mostly free of charge. As per Goa trance history, it was popularly known as “free acid punch” back then (this is why I should’ve been an 80’s child). So drinking punch and mixing tracks wasn’t all, they were also trying to get hold of rare music as much as they could.

Goa Gil and DJ Laurent, Anjuna 1991
Anjuna Beach, Goa 1991

At the onset of the ’90s, the effects of acid music kept growing, creating a new style, 604 emerging baby! Goa continued rising as a trippy destination, back then to look for a party you’d have to follow the enchanting sound along winding roads till you run into the rest of the freaks. Goa Gil was one of the first to play this music and is considered the father of Goa-Trance. BY this period the tracks became longer, pulling the average track at length to 8.30 minutes. According to Goa trance history, the music in this period was characterized as psychedelic trance-dance. An assortment of international labels dedicated themselves to promoting the Goa style. Soon Goa-style parties spread like a diaspora all over the world. In 1993 Project 2 Trance was released, the first-ever Goa trance album, featuring tracks by Man With No Name, Simon Posford, and more.

Bamboo Forest, Goa 1993
Disco Valley, Goa 1993

In the history of Goa trance, the mid-’90s was the successful peak of Goa Trance. As the scene was booming, tourists visiting Goa started to outnumber the Goans. Towards the end of this decade, Goa trance witnessed a decline. A ‘commercial death’ with the newly formed psytrance sound. This new sound was rather minimalistic once the multi-layered melodies of Goa trance were stripped away. Many of the original Goa projects started to fade, while others adapted within the psytrance genre. Many publishers also followed the change, and one of the biggest trance labels, TIP records was renamed TIP World.

This phase was devoted to the reincarnation of Goa trance that had emerged after the crash of the last decade. The new sound was called Neogoa, it’s mostly an abbreviation of a popular phrase ‘New School Goa’. In 2003 a label from Finland, Tranceform Records released the first Neogoa album called Anima Mundi, written by Ethereal. Soon melodies became popular again, heralding the beginning of full-on psytrance. Also at the beginning of this decade “Last Hippie Standing“, a documentary by Marcus Robbin was released projecting that Goa is not a place — Goa is a state of mind.

Towards the end of this decade, the industry was revolutionized. 604 was now available to everyone across the globe, with the publishing of cheap mp3 and popularization of the Internet. This led to the breaking numbers of albums and compilations being released ever. In the history of Goa trance new labels and new artists have never before emerged as quickly. The end of the year was full of great releases Shivlink Records published V/A — Goa Times: Now And Then (which featured some of the old goa trance classics together with neogoa tracks) and Suntrip Records prepared two sister-compilations: V/A — Energy Waves & V/A — Temple Of Chaos (presenting a difference between the light and dark atmospheres in the neogoa sound).

The massive Influence;

Goa had traveling artists all the time and was the child of intriguing community culture. Goa trance evolved out of an atmosphere of harmony and understanding. One of the most popular forms of gatherings was festivals and parties. Except for in India, Goa trance parties started to occur around the world too. The innovative underground club, Megatripolis was a great influence in popularizing the sound in London. The club combined New Age ideology with Rave culture presenting a wide variety of cross-cultural ideas and experiences, trippy for the ’90s. While one of the first Goa parties ever in Germany was the (still running) VuuV Festival in 1993, in France it was the Gaia festival. The Boom Festival in Portugal is considered the ‘holy grail’ of psychedelic trance parties since 1997 and still booming.

Boom Festival 1997

Psy-Trance celebrations are not only about music and dance. It’s also about the sensational and cultural feeling present at each location, passed down generations through celebrations. Thereof reaching a shared understanding that this sort of event is like a ceremony or ritual where the primary element represents the harmony between the people involved. This helps in transmitting higher vibration energies or good vibes leading to a higher state of consciousness. Most times it would be the same people traveling across to witness the same parties; it was just a matter of season where the caravan would be settled.

Bamboo forest and Disco Valley have played part in the history of Goa trance, being a constant and regular feature party spot in Goa. Goa parties have a definitive visual aspect — the use of fluorescent paint is common clothing and on decorations. The graphics on these decorations are a continuation of the décor from earlier. Shrines in front of the DJ stand with the trippiest of artwork are some common themes too. The Goa trance style spread to the UK, Israel, Mexico, Germany, Japan, Australia, Brazil, South Africa, Serbia, and the Netherlands and kept spreading. Goa still has its share of Psy, and will always be the birthplace of 604. This style of music has spawned a variety of subgenres from the Full On sound to the Dark styles, none the less still excites the soul.

Honoring the Free Punch;

Not forgetting this genre was inspired by many older genres such as psy rock, Industrial music/EBM leading to a whole lot of in-between discoveries and traveling DJ's added to the experimental sound engineering leaving us with some of the best psytrance albums today. TIP Records, Flying Rhino Records, Dragonfly Records, Suntrip records, Transient Records, Phantasm Records, Symbiosis Records, Blue Room Released, and more were all key players on the beach and in the scene. Many of the original Goa Trance artists are still making music but refer to their style of music simply as “PSY”. And for the first time in the history of Goa trance, the old crew will be reunited after 3 decades, far out man! The creators of mind-altering music the ones who went down in the history of Goa trance as the original freaks will soon mash up old beats at Goa Cream and it will be like traveling back in time to the ’80s.