“Are you coming down to the beach for sunset?”, I asked a friend at the Wednesday Flea market, “Nooo, I’ve spent all night at the beach, I’m sick of the beach”, she promptly replied while twirling around to show me her new dress from the stall across. Another Tuesday night that had turned into morning for many at Shiva Valley, I thought. It was no surprise to me as I had fallen asleep the previous night to the light thumping bass that the wind had carried across the beach into my bedroom. Damn it! Should have had that next drink, I thought to myself. The regret of having gone home earlier the previous night grew stronger by the time I found my way out of the market. DJ Tristan got the party started, I heard and DJ Nigel had the people marching to the moon and back. Surprise Surprise! This was perhaps my 50th party at Shiva Valley and yet I was dejected to know that I had missed the chance to dance at the Temple of Trance (no more cheeky rhymes, capiche!). But this story has a happy ending, as a week later there I was once again outside the Temple, grooving to the upbeat sunset tunes of Digital Hippie.
Tuesday nights at Shiva Valley are a ritual, not just for me, but for many, an almost holy indulgence that has lasted over 10 years. As the sun sets on the razor sharp horizon of Anjuna beach, the music turns up and the people turn on. Trance devotees from across the world (and not to forget the bus from Arambol) make the pilgrimage to Shiva Valley to be part of a reality that one only manages to glimpse into at the European summer festivals.
Biggest names in the Global trance scene, like Earthling, Avalon, Tristan, Nigel, Ajja, Raja Ram, not only bless the dance floor with their mind warping genius from across the turn table, but also penetrate the crowd as it pumps with a unified frequency that’s hard to describe. The Gods are as divine as the devotees who worship them at the temple that is Shiva Valley. On the dance floor, surrounded by the sublime murals of Hindu gods and neon lights that make each pair of eyes shine and teeth glow (as the smiles get wider), the people follow the music and the music follows them right back! If Shiva Valley is a Temple, one can meet Rabbis, Buddhist Monks, Hindu Sadhus and Persian Sufis all meditating while medicating.
And if you are lucky enough to realise that you have now turned a shade of blue from dancing and decide to take a walk outside, sit down with some tea and crispy cheese omlette with our beloved Chai Mamas. There is nothing better than a hot cup of tea in your hands, a beat in your feet and the sound of pure Goa trance meshing with the sound of the crashing waves.
And yes, that is exactly what you will hear at Shiva Valley - good old Goa trance. Not jungle - forest - pixie - twilight zone - high tech, but Goa Trance. A sound that journeyed through Europe and found it’s ground at South Anjuna beach, nurtured at the Full Moon parties of the Hippie generation towards the end of the 80’s, a sound now carried forward by many who came and stayed. “We all come from there”, said an excited friend from the Acid House generation while looking up from his Back Gammon board, “they called it Elektronische Tanz Musik! That was Kraftwerk in the 70’s. Music was made by machines arranged by humans... We were all hooked on that 4x4 beat and the Dj’s played music that was made for dancing, there the rave culture started, the never ending basslines and the never ending mixes! The Age of the DJ, they played this music because we wanted to dance”, and in that moment he looked at me and continued, “ in your culture you would call it Puja.”
Sanjay, the unpretentious owner of Shiva Valley, has fought against every odd for years to establish an institution for trance lovers to gather and celebrate life and music together, free of cost. On interacting with a couple of the old timers at the scene, I understood that what we have left here on this part of the beach are the last shreds of the spirit of the flower children (some of whom are still vivaciously participating in the sunrise - sunset ritual every Tuesday). Every now and then, one can grow a head with wings at Shiva Valley and go down a passage in time. “You just have to be there, not see a picture or watch a video, but BE there, feel the sweat and the dust, feel the bassline!”
You might find a better sound, a better ambience or even better Dj’s at other venues across Goa, but what one cannot find is the spirit. The collective energy that has been passed back and forth between generations who danced and partied at this very spot - from dancing to the psychedelic guitar riffs to the sophisticated sequences of Acid House to what now remains as heavy bass lines of Goa Trance. A regular at every party, my boyfriend and an old school raver himself, in a heated debate about the psy trance scene said, “They used different sounds - gongs, cymbals, here they Indianised it! They used Mantras, why? Because the people would understand it! They had Natraja everywhere, it was the idea of dance and to open up to music, to say nothing and feel - ecstatic dancing and to expereince the trance state. This many people never understood! Dance, dance, dance, oh, it’s 5 o’ clock, doesn’t matter.” At a continous party., that goes past sunset and beyond sunrise, we’re all too busy to be depressed!
A Hindu temple as per the Vastu Shastra is a place that is driven by it’s open symmetry and rhythm which in turn creates a sense of harmony within those in it’s presence. The believer’s faith is externalised through a ‘Yantra’, a manifestation of the immanent spirit of the temple, that cannot be seen with the naked eye. At Shiva Valley, this conviction is defined through the people and the music. However, every religion is plagued by those who don’t understand it’s heart and deeper meaning. “The energies get mixed up”, said a regular party goer from Anjuna, “We who live here party and have a flow of energy that we give and receive from the place, the problem is when the people come unconsciously and try to break this flow by bringing in their own when they could be a part of what’s already going on!”. Another female friend and an avid dancer joked, “This guy, he came up to me drunk out of his mind and he says will you dance with me and I just looked at him with a big smile and said to him I am dancing with you, I’m dancing with everyone, we’re all dancing together!” So there you have it- next time you come (or go), come for dance and come for the love.
Words by: Afreen GK