Dance For Peace : Psytrance in Indonesia
, / 13 November 2014

The first caravan of hippies arrived in Colva-Anjuna beach in Goa, West India, in the 1960s, unleashing waves of psychedelic rock music like the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Ravi Shankar, and The 13th Floor Elevators onto the continent. As time rolled by, Electronic Dance Music entered the scene while the multi-colored crowds still tranquilly burned charas, played fire hoops, yet slowly the crowd began to split. Some followed the route to Pune where Osho’s ashram was, some went to Rishikesh where The Beatles went to meditate with the Maharishi, others trailed up to Kathmandu and filled up the famous Freak Street with poetry and hashish. But some remained in Goa, spreading over emerald beach villages, like Arambol, Chapora and Vagator. Here the psychedelic trance culture grew.


The psychedelic trance scene didn’t take long to explode internationally, busting into Sweden, Germany, Israel, Japan, England and USA. Mind-thumping festivals soon caught up with the acidic rainbow train of psychedelic trance and it rapidly spread with Ozora in Hungary, BOOM in Portugal, Rainbow Serpent in Australia – even one of the main juggernauts of open-air festivals, the Burning Man, has had a romantic love affair with psychedelia. These types of events always offer numerous ecological and environmental messages, introducing mind-challenging and experimental sustainable living alternatives to the greater public. Often you will find talks and educational activities regarding the issues of racism, sexism, ageism and promoting care and equality for Mother Earth – some drops of cold blotter amidst the plutomania of our dear industrial century.

Dance For Peace was one of the first psychedelic trance festivals in Indonesia, acting as a shelter for the intergalactic travellers that are the psychedelic trance tribe. According to their manifesto: “Peace building begins with ourselves. Dance is our communion with the universe. We are a movement towards a culture of peace and non-violence. We are the architects of our future, we build it piece by peace, person to person, people to people.” First held on November 2002 in response to the Bali Bomb incident, now it is being held yearly in Bali and Japan. September this year, it took place in Gili Nanggu, a small island south-west of Lombok’s main harbor, Lembar. This gili (island) has a typical white sandy beach with turquoise water and waving coconut trees – the inland festival was divided into three zones.


Facing sunrise, the main stage was just by the beach, decorated with Lycra fly-tents, pink alien blow-up dolls, and dragon kites – enriched with a white backdrop, visualizing a constant pulsation of psychedelic art, light, geodesic shapes and subliminal messages of peace. The DJ lineups covered the deep ancient heart of mother trance of Goa, Siberia, all the way to Gili Air. As night crept in, under the bright full moon, a parade of fire dancers appeared – some with the Māori‘s Poi, hula-hoop with fire spikes, sword and some with glow-poi – heating the night with fire and the tub-thumping bass.

Inside the island between giant 15-20 meters trees, was the chill-out area – designated to be shanti shanti and to release a relaxing vibration. A giant hammock for eight people was hung, RGB-lasers shot to the canopy of trees, ultra-violet lights illuminated the fluorescent paintings of Lord Shiva, Buddha and the goddess Kali. Bean bags and fluffy pillows were scattered all over bamboo tatamis, and incense sticks purified the place with their aroma – while the DJ in his ninja-shack bamboo booth smoothly played out his best musical mantras to lull us.


Marked with a big Sanskrit sign of Sarva Mangalam (peace for all living beings) and situated facing the sunset was the camping ground and kids zone. This zone was packed with activities, Mandala yoga workshop by the beach, Dance of Shiva or Nataraj in the evening and groups practicing chants and mantras. The camp area was also heavily decorated by all the connoisseurs and artisans who happened to be in the crowd.  Juggling, acroyoga training, poi practicing and slack-lining were also welcomed at the event.


But more fascinating than the decoration, music and bliss-inducing nature were the crowds who came to the festival – from all walks of life, they merged into the one same roar. From vagabonds, globetrotting buskers, geodesic dome builders, raw food chefs, an orgonite maker to digital shamans. I met an animal activist who turned her house into a sanctuary for stray dogs and cats, a jewelry-maker specialized in the form of hedron and Melchizedek’s flower of life as his devotion to sacred geometry and a young philosopher of Nusantara’s pre-religion wisdom – I was bedazzled.


As Gerry, one of the vocalizers for Dance For Peace said, “Famine, terrorism, war, deforestation still happens all over the world. Many suffer either directly or indirectly from conflicts around the world. Though our hopes for a peaceful world remain a dream, we invite you to join us in the realization of that dream. A beautiful party happens when all our positive energies converge and are woven into a fabric of peace and love. Bring on your good vibes; there are no strangers here. Dance for love, dance for peace!”

For Psytrance Festivals around the world: https://www.goabase.net/

Photos courtesy of Tom Heine: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tom-Heine/217377124942618?ref=ts&fref=ts

Words by Max Geraldi

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