Travel

Dancing in the moonlight

Over the past fifty years, full moon parties have gone from closed gatherings on secret beaches to cosmopolitan party hubs

The full moon shines bright, but its light — which was once enough to bathe the entire beach — is now a speck, its impact having paled in comparison to the lights, flames and blasting music on the sands. Ironically, this night is dedicated to the moon; after all, it is the full moon party. Revellers have covered themselves in neon paint, and look like human beacons as they go about dancing and drinking. Cocktails flow as freely as trance music, and a sudden spell of rain adds to the mood. The DJs on the multi-levelled stage play on, undeterred. The Haad Rin beach in Koh Phangan, Thailand, where the full moon parties are said to have originated, in the 1980s, is a picture of pure party heaven. The tradition continues.

And now, Koh Phangan isn’t alone: from Zanzibar in Tanzania to Miami Beach in the US, certain beaches and resorts have built a reputation around their full moon parties, with revellers across the globe coinciding their overseas travel plans with these events.

Guapaloca in Paradise Beach, Mykonos, Greece, found its raison d’etre in this very culture. Explains Paschalis Vlahos, PR Manager of the club, “Paradise Beach was founded in 1969 when hippies introduced nudism to the island, and from there, many beach parties started. Later on, once a month on a full moon, the parties got bigger with many international DJs coming in and playing to an ever-growing crowd.” He adds, “Full moon parties began at Paradise Beach since the 1980s and became the most famous full moon party in Greece.”

Today, the beach sees anywhere between 500 to 3,000 revellers in each party, depending on the season. “July and August are our busiest months,” says Vlahos, “Around 90% of our visitors are foreigners.”

On the other hand, the Indonesian archipelago of Gili is fairly new to the party. It began as recently as November 2016, says Gege Witak, who handles e-commerce for Pandawa Beach Villas and Resort in the Gili Trawangan island. According to Witak, Pandawa hosts about 300 to 400 people per party, “most of them from Europe, Australia and ASEAN countries.”

Matter of mood

It’s not always about ear-splitting music and dancing your heart out — though that is the case more often than not. The music played at Mykonos today is very different from what the hippies might have preferred. “Every year, international DJs such as Armin van Buuren, Tiesto, Martin Garrix play music that ranges from house to techno and EDM.”

At Gili Trawangan, on the other hand, it’s more about atmosphere and setting. There are themes such as White Party and Island Burning, and these change every month,” says Witak, “The music is a mix of rave, techno, progressive, acid house, dub-step and more.” Professional performances of Balinese barong dance and fire dance also add to the revelry, he adds. And, of course, there’s a plentiful buffet on the side.

Some, however, feel that the current party atmosphere takes away from the peaceful magic of the original full moon parties, and many are concerned about its environmental impact. Having said that, many travellers have gone on record to say how clean beaches like Koh Phangan are throughout the year, despite hosting tens of thousands of people every fortnight.

Vlahos says that as many people make their way over to experience the natural beauty of the full moon, as do partygoers. “It is a mixture of music, DJ, the crowd... and of course Paradise Beach is beautiful and many people come to experience this open air clubbing experience inside our stone-built beach club,” he says.

Closer home

Some of the earliest full moon parties in India were held at Goa’s Anjuna Beach. The parties were all about becoming one with Nature: speakers and DJ consoles were nowhere to be seen, and the brightest sources of light were the moon itself and the glowing phosphorescence that lined the edge of the shore. The music would only be as loud as collective singing voices could make it.

Today, the peaceful celebrations have evolved into something else entirely. The beach is one of Goa’s première party destinations, and trance and techno music parties are a dime a dozen in the multitude of shacks lining Anjuna. Full moon parties, as well, are par for the course, though newer and newer restrictions have shrunk these parties both in terms of numbers and scale. These humble events aren’t as gigantic as the extravaganzas in Greece and Indonesia, but they’re yet another reason to party.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 2:13:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/full-moon-parties/article23671521.ece

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