I wish I could say I loved Goa. It pains me to admit that maybe Goa cannot meet the standards of everyone’s absolute ideal of how a rockin’ NYE should pan out. True, maybe I did not put in as much effort to organize the festivities of an over the top year’s end, but there were some structural limitations to how far I could go with my planning. First off, internet at the hotel only worked in the lobby, and only about half the time. Vacationing on a budget has its multiple costs, and not just financial. After trying to gather information on what to do in all different types of information forums, blogs, and websites, nothing really pointed me in a stellar direction. Lack of solid and descriptive information in this part of the world begs for more and more people to document their experiences for
visitors after them.
Laziness became me and when it came down to it, it was decided that we’d (the boy and I) try this party sponsored by FTV (Fashion TV) in Candolim at midnight if all else failed. First, however, I sent a message to some friends who would also spend NYE in Goa, to make every attempt to meet up with their plans, or ours with theirs. No luck, as the internet stopped working, and I left the hotel without talking to said friends first. Driving at about 6PM toward Calangute beach then taking a rickshaw toward Anjuna beach area (where sources say the most authentic beach parties take place), the traffic was just unbelievable! Motorbikes, vans full of people, rickshaws zooming past, not unlike many Indian experiences, the scene spawned utter mayhem with the sheer number of people attempting to get from one place to another. After being dropped as close to Calangute beach as the shuttle bus could go due to police points blocking roads, we took a taxi, but only after walking for a while in the dark while cars and bikes rushed past on the narrow roads of this very small coastline. Finally arriving at Curly’s beach (the most famous strip of seaside on Anjuna’s seaside town) at about 7PM, the beach is guarded by bouncers and a metal detector, solicitors attempting to charge 300 Indian rupees (~6 USD) for access to the beach. Ticking the first ‘no way’ off my list for NYE night, I walked in the opposite direction. The fairly empty beach with the various shacks pounding out Goa trance, something that sounds to me like hard house, housed a majority of Indian men in groups. Accompanying this boom-tastic scene are strobe lights for days and a steady stream of crowds making their way around the beach, of which, as stated before, about 90% are crowds of men. The ladies, or would be friends were nowhere to be found.
I found myself wondering where all the hippies complete with lengthy dreadlocks, sexy piercings, psychedelic wardrobe and laidback charm, for which Goa is so well known played at on NYE? Apparently the party gods forgot to send me the memo that Goa’s social landscape has recently changed for who it attracts on NYE. I roamed from Anjuna town, to Vagator beach searching for its famed Hilltop party, finally deciding to make my way back to Curly’s beach as a last resort. After staring at the crowds of mostly men growing in size we began asking some people where the happening scenes were taking place that night. After a last minute decision at 11pm (the FTV party now a much too long and expensive taxi ride to be a viable option), we jumped on a motorbike taxi and decided for a lounge-esque quasi beach party just a couple kilometers away at UV bar. I walked into yet another head banging paradise with flashing strobe lights and truly hardcore Goa trance busy with people applying face paint for the trippy effect. Sighing out loud, I decide to cut my losses. Midnight would soon strike and slipping out of my sexy dress into my ali baba pants, I threw my hands up and joined the mostly Indian men crowd bouncing to the hypnotic tunes. At midnight some fireworks were fired, and after dancing until the sun came up, the beach slowly thinned out with only the true party people still jiving. After a trip to the bathroom, I hear a familiar voice and as I step out I bump into the friend I never got ahold of earlier! Meh! I exclaimed! What a thing to coincidentally bump into her at the same bar bathroom, on the same beach, having met her in London, but currently attending graduate school with her in Shanghai, she from Bulgaria and me from the States! International jet set indeed, I felt at that moment, and joining the other friend from London, we all beamed about the highly unlikely situation. At about 7am, the sun finally came out and looking around at how everyone looked after a night of non-stop dancing dripping in sweat, we took a seat with a nice couple from London and exchanged Goa stories before fighting sleep and deciding to finally make our way back toward the hotel. All’s well that ends well, I thought. All that ‘woah is me’ attitude throughout the night hindered my picture taking prowess nonetheless, and I didn’t manage to capture much of the night except for a few fireworks at midnight, and a scarecrow posted up for tips at almost every corner I turned.
Fortunately, Goa managed to redeem itself on the last night with its saving grace, ultra swanky Club Cubana on Arpor road. Not only did the crowd slowly flood the venue with super chic jetsetters from near and far, but conducive to enticing people from all walks of life, I met some really cool friends that I’ll definitely be reconnecting with later down the road. Swapping traveling stories with a super sweet chick from London who on the drop of the dime could hash up even funnier or more fascinating adventure stories than me, it ended giving me a different impression of Goa as a whole. Where you go, and end up, is always what you make of it. If you know that head banging till the sun comes up with fellow flower wearing and non-caring friends will make your evening complete, then head to the beach and join the swarming crowds rhythmically jolting like the hey days of Warhol’s factory scene. If you prefer the ultra posh comfort of a NYE where you play dress up and reenact Bond scenes with your significant other, then if you decide to go to Goa, do so with enough budget of time and money to pre-book a place like Club Cubana or FTV’s model clad bash. Here the more fabulous and less laid-back crowds like to strike a pose and make their mark in true high society fashion. With all that in mind; here’s to a prosperous new year full of abundant laughs, lessons, travel, and never tiring fun! With a sprinkle of that wild oontz, oontz, oontz now and again, just to keep us all sane of course.