Sunburn and VH1 Supersonic, two of the world’s leading EDM festivals give the beach state of India a genuine claim to the throne.
What makes an EDM capital? It can’t be one thing. You can’t have international headliners and be stuck with a single beer in your hand. You can’t afford to run out of gas on the dance floor because you couldn’t find anything to suit your palate or your wallet. And sometimes, if you need a break from EDM, you need good options musically as well. That’s what edges Goa to the top of the music destinations list from across India to make it the top of ours. And if you want us to elaborate, here’s why…
The world’s top DJs are in Goa. Make no mistake about it. For proof, this year’s Sunburn and Supersonic line-ups have five of the top ten DJs in the world on their line-ups. And if you extend that list to the remainder of British magazine DJ Mag’s Top 100 list, then you’re likely to find several other chart toppers. It’s the equivalent of featuring Salman, Shah Rukh and Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan into one film.
The good news is that the line-ups are equally distributed across genres. So if David Guetta or Martin Garrix are at the main stage, bass innovator Mala and Indian techno pioneer Arjun Vagale are at the bass and techno stages. Grammy-winning electro DJ Zedd is balanced out by British sibling Disclosure. The beauty of Indian festivals, like the country itself is its diversity. And to top it all, Sunburn has even dedicated a stage to that most counterculture of genres: psy trance.
Over half a million fans will converge on the beaches of Goa this December for Sunburn and VH1 Supersonic. If you include all the fringe festivals like Krank and audiences who throng Nikhil Chinapa, Pearl and Hermit Sethi’s Zanzibar parties, the number spills over to a million. Goa attracts a clientele that’s regular and loyal. And it’s not a fad. Back in 2008, in the second year of the festival, when the American sub-prime crisis affected a global financial downturn and the Mumbai terror attacks weighed heavy on everyone’s minds, Sunburn still attracted fans to its festival in spite of everything. If that isn’t loyalty, we’re not sure what is.
The beach state is a gig magnet. From the early days of Electronic Body Music, hippie-mania, to the early days of the psy trance movement, there have always been gigs in Goa. Whether this is your neighbourhood juice bar distributing flyers or a live band getting together at a shack by the beach, there’s always a gig around. If nothing else, you can end up at everyone’s favourite shack Curlies to find out exactly where and when the next rave comes around.
Goa’s history is stepped in all kinds of folk traditions, notwithstanding the influence of the Portuguese. That triggered an exodus of exceptional musicians, many of who went on to feature in Bollywood during the heyday of the orchestras and during the Golden Age of Jazz in Mumbai. With such a rich musical history, it’s no surprise that locals are open all kinds of genres from Goa trance to house and techno to EDM.
Music is soul food but it also helps when the actual tasty stuff is available in plenty and at affordable prices. From the neighbourhood Roce Pao (chicken gravy smeared with chunky bits in bread) to the breakfast staple of Puri Bhaji to more exotic fare like Greek food or the readily available Konkan coastal cuisine, Goa is a food haven unlike any other.
Imagine Burning Man being held anywhere else but the desert of Nevada. Or Coachella taken out of its valley in the Colorado desert? Goa’s charm lies in its kilometres of beaches - some over commercialised, others hidden from civilisation, some kept aside for turtles, other awash with dolphins. It’s a setting that makes for a picture-perfect moment at any of day. And lingers on in the memory longer after your favourite DJ has finished her set.
What’s a trip to your favourite festival without some shopping to brag with alongside those photo bombs? Thankfully, Goa has that in spades. There are flea markets across the State. You’ll find an awesome bargain or a quirky artefact if you look hard enough. And if you bargain equally well, you’ll end up with a souvenir that will be a tangible accessory to remind yourself what an awesome trip you had with your friends.
If you’re going to boast about being a party capital, you better have some social lubricants handy. And Goa’s relatively less than rigid approach to selling and drinking alcohol is a big factor that draws millions of tourist to the state. And of course the flat-bottom prices that allows partying without a hole in your wallet definitely helps.