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Trance, dance and music

For Goa Gil, DJing is a spiritual experience

WHEN DJ Goa Gil shuffled into Pasha (at The Park) with a train of admirers following him and took his place behind the consoles, a few scribes were surprised to find an unusual looking disc jockey.

As DJs go, he is not young. And you see more of a mystic in his face than a jitterbug. To confirm your doubt, his matted hair falls down his shoulders.

To someone outside the DJing circle, Goa Gil will come across as an American who is on the tail of a spiritual dream. But to fellow DJs, he is something more. His music is the end of a quest. "He is God," as a Chennai-based DJ remarked. Hours before the show, Goa Gil conducted a two-hour workshop for youngsters, organised by Red Bull.

"My word to anyone who wants to DJ: try meditation. If you meditate, your energy gets focussed. A DJ has to take his listeners to a different plane of experience. A meditative mind can help you do that for your listeners."

He warned the young DJs against the temptation to fall into a rut. "I am not interested in the kind of music where you know what is going to happen next." Not one to piece together music from various sources, Goa Gil creates his own music and stores them in digital audio tapes (DATs). For this reason, he used his own equipment while playing at Pasha.

The hallmark of Goa Gil's music is the spiritual element therein. "How can a DJ make listeners experience the spiritual when he himself has not experienced it? I am tough on myself; I set high standards for myself. To be able to elevate my listeners to a spiritual plane, I offer `puja' to the cosmic spirit before I perform. I believe the cosmic spirit descends on the party and blesses it. Through my music, I communicate not just to the people, but also to the cosmic spirit."

Thirty-five years ago, Goa Gil, a music-maker based in San Francisco, decided "to sample the spiritual treasures that India was holding out to mankind." What followed were intense yogic practices with gurus in the Himalayas. In time, he united music with yoga and this blend was available for anyone who took the effort to go to Goa, where this American settled down. His "Goa Full Moon" parties became as much of a tourist attraction as the silver-white beaches there. He came to be identified so much with Goa that his name got the prefix.

For over 30 years now, Goa Gil has been trying to "use the party situation to lift people's consciousness." He calls it the "trance-dance experience." While defining it for us, he cautions against adding a word or removing one from what he says. "The meaning will be skewed and the whole thing could be misunderstood," he warns us, before going on to give his definition.

"Since the beginning of time, mankind has used music and dance to commune with the spirit of nature and the spirit of the universe. We are trying to use trance music and the trance dance experience to set off a chain reaction in consciousness. Through the trance dance experience, people will hopefully become more sensitive and aware of themselves and their surroundings. With this awareness comes understanding and compassion. That is the need of the hour and the true Goa state of mind."


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