Ravers Fight Party Ban in Paradise
by The Guardian – Monday February 7, 2000
Copyright: The Guardian
For 25 years Goa has been the party and rave capital of India; the place to go if you want to hang out and dance until dawn. But for the thousands of British partygoers who flock to the beautiful coastal state their hedonistic nights may finally be coming to an end after a court ruling banning outdoor music over 45 decibels.
The decision has delighted environmental groups, who have long campaigned to stop the raves, which they claim are destroying the fragile eco-systems of Goa’s beaches and rainforests. But Paul Schwartz, a UK dance promoter involved with the Goa Trance scene for 10 years, told the Big Issue that the ruling was a “disaster” for ravers. “The criminal justice act put a stop to the outdoor scene in the UK, and so everyone went to Goa. Now Goa is gone where can we go?”
Matters came to a head in December when a group of environmental protesters, calling themselves the Goa Environment Federation, took the organisers of a huge rave planned for Christmas and new year to the high court in Bombay. The 11-day party, billed as the biggest rave of the millennium, was stopped after the court heard evidence that the organisers had violated coastal regulation zone laws by erecting buildings on the beachside plot.
The environmentalists moved swiftly to consolidate their victory, filing a detailed petition describing loud music put on for tourists as a “public menace”. They also complained about noise pollution caused by music blaring from loudspeakers on churches and temples. Last month the high court passed the order banning loud music between 10pm and 7am. According to Claude Alvares, from the environmental group the Goa Foundation, the ruling has crippled the rave party scene. One party organiser who tried to hold a rave last week was issued with a contempt notice as well as being charged with violation of noise pollution laws.
Sue Wheat, of Tourism Concern, a pressure group based in London which espouses responsible and sustainable tourism, said the ruling was a victory for local people. “It highlights the fact that people do actually live in these areas and their everyday lives are not always helped by round the clock partying throughout the year. This is another example of communities standing up and saying this is not how we want tourism to be run where we live.”
But not everybody is so convinced the move will benefit local people. David Abram, author of the Rough Guide to Goa, who has been a regular visitor to the coastal state for the past decade, said that rather than the big party organisers it would be the locals running small bars on the beaches and the stallholders who sell food and snacks to the ravers who would bear the brunt of the court order. According to reports, those who depend on the party scene for their living have formed a Goa Music Lovers Association to fight the court order and have been meeting local people to raise awareness of the ramifications of the music ban.
The association is expected to file an intervention application in the high court in Bombay today. Mr Abram said the extent of the rave scene in Goa has been consistently overhyped. “In people’s minds Goa has become synonymous with parties and hedonism, but it is far removed from that nowadays. It is much more middle aged, much more laid back.”
According to Mr Abram the main threat to the raves is not the courts in Bombay, but the local police. “The police have been demanding enormous bribes to let these parties go ahead, and the people organising them simply cannot get the money. “Things have been made illegal in Goa before, but it’s always the case that if you are willing to pay enough you can get round it. It will be no different this time.”