Goa might be India’s party capital, but it wasn’t always so. The nightlife scene here has had a lot of TLC over the years, stemming from the hippies that caught wind of the destination’s gorgeous beaches and laid-back lifestyle. Cue the waterfront parties and the birth of a new music style called Goa trance, which continues to leave its mark on modern electronic music to this day.
While Goa might not be as hippie-centric as it once was, it’s still a top place for beach parties and trance music. Here are some insider tips on where to party, plus a full breakdown of how Goa rose to nightlife fame.
Goa’s popularity among hippies began in the 60s and 70s, as it was sometimes seen as the end of the line on the beaten path known as the ‘hippie trail’, a journey that saw participants typically snaking from west to east, beginning in the UK.
Northern Goa was seen as a hippie hotspot, along the beach where free-spirited parties went long into the night. Young people were attracted to this western slice of India because of the laid-back lifestyle, the coasts and religious practices, not to mention the cultural experiences. The hippies brought with them the demand for what we’d now consider classic rock music, though over time, Goa DJs gradually transitioned to electronic music starting in the 80s.
The all-night party scene in Goa began to develop its own unique style of music known as Goa trance, which eventually put the community on the map for its parties. Once the 1990s rolled around, Goa was officially no longer a hidden party gem but a full-blown phenomenon.
Curlie's, Anjuna Beach
Curlie’s is one of the most renowned beach spots in Goa, located just north of Baga Beach and Calangute along Anjuna Beach. It’s a bar-restaurant-club combo boasting gorgeous views from the second storey that look straight out to sea. It’s worth checking in advance what beach parties Curlie’s has got going on, as DJs, neon gear and dancing until sunrise are not all that uncommon here.
Cocktails and Dreams, Baga Beach
Yes, there are cocktails, and yes, they are the stuff of dreams. Cocktails and Dreams is a neon-lit beach bar where the drinks are the show stoppers, which is probably why it’s named after the bar Tom Cruise works at in the film Cocktail. Night-time brings music and dancing late into the evening, plus a huge array of cocktails that range from classic favourites to all-out unusual.
UV Bar, Anjuna Beach
The UV Bar – also just north of Baga Beach – is one that hasn’t lost that trance vibe that once permeated Goa so strongly. As the name suggests, its interiors are decked out in UV lights and funky patterns that sprawl over the club’s two dancefloors. It regularly hosts visiting DJs that specialise in trance and house music, so if you’re looking for Goa’s original hippie vibes, you’ve come to the right place.