The Real Night Life of Goa: Wild-On Goa

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The party never ends discovers Jude Cardozo as he checks out the hottest night spots around town during the peak season and winds his way through a veritable treasure trove of entertainment options

Come December and the ‘susegad’ land of ‘choris pav’ and ‘feni’ (local specialities) undergoes a startling transformation to become a ‘hot-n-happening’ destination and quite literally one big party zone. When asked to pen a piece on the party scene in Goa I was more than willing to do so. For the past five years the festive season to me, had just been a stressed out blur of nights merging into days as the leisure activity manager of Taj Exotica. Here was my chance not only to reacquaint myself but also indulge in some ‘wild-on’ partying while previewing what one can expect from Goa this December.

All roads seem to lead to Goa and almost every chartered flight too. While flight tickets are on everyone’s wish list, these are among the most elusive to obtain during this period next only to train tickets, which once again are next to impossible to come by. This leaves party animals the only other option of driving down to Goa from different parts of India. And if you haven’t booked your hotel rooms in advance at least you’ll have a roof to sleep under… the roof of your car that is. That’s right! I am talking about the frenzied period from December 20th to January 5th, which is at the absolute peak of the party season, when every one from heavy weight industrialists to models, filmstars, corporate head honchos and the likes head on to Goa for their annual binge of hard core partying. Add to this who’s who list some thousands of ‘average Joe’s’ peppered with the usual smattering of ever present foreign tourists and what you’ve got is a huge cauldron of hearty revelers. Goa’s party scene caters to a plethora of interest’s right from the psychedelic rave parties to the traditional ballroom dos.

Pit Stop At Nine Bar

I start off with getting on my bike and heading over to Nine Bar. This place is great for a healthy dose of early evening parties and is located at Vagator Beach in north Goa. It is open between 5 pm and 10 pm and is packed to the tee during this time. Situated atop the hill overlooking the beach it is the ideal location to watch a sunset and dancing the night away underneath the open heavens. Sipping on a cocktail I watch, as the place is heaving with people of all sizes, shapes and colours gyrating to popular trance music. Sensing that I had, had my fill I moved out.

A Little Bit O Heaven On Earth

My next stop was Paradiso located at Anjuna Beach. Described as the arguably the biggest nightclub in India by the Lonely Planet, the entire place is sculpted out of clay, set in a natural cave with special florescent tribal art highlighted by strategically placed UV Lights. The clay also provides the most effective acoustics and absorbs sound ensuring that the village is not disturbed by the music that normally lasts all through the night. According to Nandan Kudchadkar, the young suave and debonair owner of Paradiso, “Paradiso is a meeting ground for crossing cultures and is a hot favourite hangout on full moon nights where the reflection of the moon creates an illusion of it being a pathway to the heavens” Paradiso is situated on a cliff at Land’s End at Anjuna Beach and comprises of three levels. The uppermost level is the viewing gallery to the Arabian Sea, while the level below it houses the club with the DJ console and dance floor. The third level accommodates a rustic Goan market recreating the ambience of the typical Goan villages that existed 40 years ago, when the hippy movement first started in Goa.

Nandan took over the nightclub in 2001 and has been managing it ever since. DJs from all over the world perform here with the most recent being star performers from countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, Slovenia and even Greece. Nandan explains, “Paradiso has also become common ground to exchange music and experiment with unreleased sounds and variations of music which is then released in the international market the next year” Paradiso is planning a party on 30th December which will be essentially be a preview to the main event the following day. On the 31st December, Scandinavian dancers, Caribbean concert crew and cage dancers are some of the acts planned along with a host of international DJs. “We are also going to have one of the top DJ’s in the world who we have managed to rope in, but cannot reveal his name right now and will only do that by the 28th December,” states Nandan. DJ Terra Nostra from Davos, Switzerland is tremendously excited to play here at the Paradiso and cannot contain his enthusiasm with the prospect of having over one million Indian youth exposed to his music besides youth from all over the world who will be visiting Goa during this period.

While at Paradiso, I bump into the sculptor of the entire place who goes by the name of ‘Jungle’. Jungle, who is an Italian has been coming to Goa for the last 25 years and his most well known work is the Shiva head carved out of the rock at Anjuna Beach. If you visit Anjuna Beach you can’t miss it. According to him, Goa opened up the world of Yoga, meditation and Indian classical music to the West. For him coming to Goa is a rejuvenating experience each time and in his own words “creates the feeling of being forever young.” You can say that again!

Ladies Night At Club Cubana

From Paradiso, I zip along back to Arpora to Club Cubana, situated on top of a hill in the village of Arpora, with laser lights that split the night sky wide open. Here again nestled in a this part of town lies another one of Goa’s hot spots, owned and managed by Rahul and Daniel Shah this club pioneered the concept of having a ladies night in Goa. Wednesday nights are ladies nights and the best night to go to this place with the pretty maidens of the night outnumbering the men 3 to 1. What’s more a lady has it made with free entry and free drinks. Gentlemen who wish to share the company of these belles have to shell out a cool Rs. 500, but the unlimited drinks all night make it a definite value for money proposition. This is the only nightclub with a swimming pool and soon enough I encounter the enchanting sight of three sexy sirens peeling off their clothes and diving into the pool to cool off from the exhaustive dancing. On certain nights, a free massage and use of the jacuzzi is available. According to Rahul Shah, Club Cubana has unwittingly become the favourite haunt of many celebrities from Hollywood and Bollywood alike. Matt Dillon, Kate Moss, Salman Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Hritik Roshan, Sushmita Sen have all partied hard here. “On a regular basis, Club Cubana has fire dancers, belly dancers and international DJs performing and we also have special plans for December and January. On 30th December, a Bollywood Night is planned and top Bollywood stars will be flying down for the event, while on 31st night, special dance acts along with rap artists and international DJs are scheduled at the party which will start at 5 pm and go on till 10 am the next morning,” informs Daniel. Adds an enthused Rahul, “Club Cubana is also planning a Samba Festival where Brazilian dancers will be flown in for a month in January.”

Sweating It Out

It’s now getting close to midnight and off I go once again on my bike. This time it’s over to heady Baga Beach with every party animal’s top of the list hot spot. Its Tito’s, which is owned and run by Ricky and David. This nightclub with an unassuming name, along with Mambo’s hosts the wildest parties this side of town. A narrow road jammed with people and traffic takes me to the entrance of Titos and Ricky himself is waiting at the entrance. As I enter the nightclub, (small compared to Club Cubana and Paradiso) the place has people in there packed like sardines in a can, grooving to the music oblivious to everything else. I try to navigate myself through the frenzied dancers, and find myself quite lost at the bar.

Luck Be A Lady Tonight

From Titos, a 25 minute ride takes me to Panjim city, more precisely the jetty and on board Caravela, Goa’s only floating casino that offers an unmatched experience of an entirely different repertoire. Here I am ferried to the casino by a smaller 10 seater speedboat and welcomed by Narinder Punj and Tony Pereira who run the entire operations of this floating beauty. A mini tour of the three decks, the restaurant and of course the heart of the gambling section proves that it is truly exotic.

Besides cruising up and down the Mandovi River, the main attraction is of course the gambling tables. From poker to black jack to the roulette, die hard gamblers love to come to this place and burn up their money. For those not wanting to fly to Las Vegas, or even to Nepal, Caravela is a viable option for a night out on the town with Lady Luck. I decide to keep my money within close range and leave the adventures with Lady Luck to the brave at heart. The time is now nearing three a.m. and I decided to call it a day.

Goans Make Merry

While the nightclubs and discotheques are swinging during the festive season in Goa, the local Goans are making merry themselves at traditional Christmas and New Year Balls organised in almost every town and village of Goa. Every village dance is a compulsory social event for the entire family to attend. So besides the teeny boppers and mum and dad you may find even the odd grandma sitting in one corner and peering at young Romeos wanting to waltz along with sweet sixteen grand daughter.

Most of the events are strictly formal and the men are dressed to the nines in their best Tuxedos all the more comfortable since the temperature for once drops to 18 degrees. The belles of the ball are suitably attired with splashes of colour infused into their evening gowns sometimes aptly complimented with modern Indian fashions that combine with the more dare to bare off shouldered blouses and mini skirts. The bands too reserve their best for this big day with popular Goan bands like the Forefront, Pure Magic, Alcatraz, Heaven 7, Bandwagon etc being much sought after bands for a New Years dance.

In Panjim city the Club National traditional New Years Eve gala is well attended as it is one of the more prestigious dances to attend. On Christmas Eve, the traditional Christmas gala dance at Betalbatim is one of the most popular dances in South Goa.

All dances in Goa, start off at 10 pm and go on till 7 am the next morning. The rates of the dances vary from Rs.. 250 to Rs.. 500 per person.

As you see my little party excursion ended on a heady note, but as I mentioned earlier Goa has more to it than pristine beaches and party spots. Some of the other interesting activities one can find and are a must see are Ingo’s Saturday Nite Bazaar, Anjuna flea market and a unique laser clay pigeon shooting.

To Market…To Market

Where can you find a place that sells everything under the sun from Porcelain, candle work, Turkish hookahs, mojris, ancient artefacts, religious deities, Pashmina shawls, G strings, trance compact disc’s, Mesopotamian and Sumerian beads, Quartz and Calcite crystals, uncut gems, Sitars, Guitars, African Calimbas and the list continues… You could also have a dreadlock haircut or learn some magic tricks. How about a quick course in juggling or clay pigeon shooting? For the more adventurous there is always the good ole art of body piercing, tattooing or maybe even a foot massage.

If this is making you wonder if all of this is too good to be true then think again. A place like this does exist. Known to most locals as the flea market and probably one of the best in Goa is ‘Ingo’s Saturday Nite Bazaar’. Those holidaying in Goa and not making the trip to this market in the village of Arpora in North Goa are missing out on an experience of a lifetime.

With almost everything under the sun on sale and the excitement of frenetic bargaining, one can really work up an appetite. So if you’re feeling hungry let the traveller in you explore the myriad options at Ingo’s. On offer is a wide range of international cuisine from Greek sovlaki to British pie, German goulash with noodles and authentic Italian pasta and pizzas. Try out the Tibetan Momos or savour the best Japanese Sushi in India. A must try is the delectable varieties of kebabs, tandoori chicken and the good old Goan xacutti and cafreal.

When Ingo Came To Town

So when did it all begin? I decide to glean that privileged information straight from the horse’s mouth, Ingo himself. After a gruelling two days of trying to track Ingo down I finally manage to corner him at the Kerkar Art Gallery at the Saturday bazaar an irony in itself. “Lots of people tried to stop us at the time, we had a lot of unnecessary tension and it cost us a significant amount of money but finally we managed to get the show on the road,” he says with a glint of excitement in his eyes. As the storyteller in him awakens we settle down in one corner and Ingo opens up spontaneously. Curious to know as much as I could, I asked impatiently, “So what gave you inspiration to start a flea market of this magnitude in Goa?” “Well, way back in the 1970’s we used to come to Goa by land, with at least 200 vans with trailers and we would drive across from Europe to Asia. We actually stopped on the way at every exotic destination and savoured what each place had to offer before moving on. The flea market in Ibiza is a precursor to the flea market at Anjuna and the same people from the Ibiza flea market started the flea market here,” he explains. The market is huge and has 510 stalls out of which 72 per cent comprise of stalls from Indian states and cities like Hyderabad, Bihar, Delhi, Mumbai etc while the remaining 28 per cent is taken up by foreigners from all over the world. Between 10,000 and 20,000 people visit the Saturday Nite Bazaar right from November to April and one of the best attractions is in the market centre where a performance stage is set up along with a seating area for the audience and you have international music acts from Mexico to Slovakia and from Sweden to the Caribbean performing there night after night to a full house so to speak.

Show Me The Money

I wondered ‘Does he make a lot of money out of it?’ “Not really, I spent about Rs.. 20 lakh to set up the entire thing and spend Rs. 32,000 every day only on electricity and sometimes barely break even. However, back home in the Netherlands I make enough money as director of documentary and industrial films so I don’t really bother about the financial aspects,” reveals Ingo. “What then is your motivating factor?” I ask confused. “Putting up the flea market gives people a chance to meet other people and a fruitful social encounter develops,” he says. Ingo started the Saturday Nite Bazaar seven years ago and has been at the existing village for four years now.

What next? I asked. Almost like he was expecting me to pop this question long ago he says, “I want to create the biggest Saturday bazaar in South East Asia for which I am trying to acquire land of 200,000 sq mts and I’m determined to achieve my goal.” And what about other bazaars that have tried to duplicate his success down to copying his nomenclature, “I am not really worried about them as my sellers will remain with me wherever I move,” Ingo retorts.

Pot Shot

Yet another interesting feature of this fascinating market is Clay pigeon shooting. It takes place every night close to the venue of the Saturday market where shots can be heard at one side of the venue. On venturing closer one sees the intriguing sight of a fluorescent skeet flying through the air with five shooters literally taking pot shots at it. But no real bullets are fired and the entire system is built in such a way that real shotguns are modified to shoot out laser lights with a hit being recorded on the electrical scored board with the sound of shattering glass for pure effect on the speakers. Welcome to the world of laser clay pigeon shooting, managed by Peter Wadhwani who quit his job and the rat race in London in the IT industry and invested his life’s savings in laser equipment needed to start his own company called PJ Leisure Enterprises. Besides the Saturday market, PJ Leisure has tied up with Satyakam, a Goa based agency which conducts team building activity for corporate houses during their conferences in Goa. According to Peter, this is the only system of its kind in India and its great fun with all the thrill of real clay pigeon shooting.

I must add here that while Anjuna flea market is a day market with a long reputation and has a larger number of stalls with throngs of jostling tourists it still falls short on quaint quotient of Ingo’s Saturday Nite Bazaar. At some point in time I remember reading the book ‘See Naples & Die’ and for those coming to Goa I have a similar diktat, ‘See Ingo’s Market and Leave Goa.’

Top Night Clubs of Goa
Paradiso Nandan Kudchadkar Between Rs 300/ – to 500/- Not yet finalised 9823081810
Titos Agustino Between Rs 300/- & 500/- 2275028
Rs 2000/- a couple
Club Cubana Rahul Shah Rs 500/- per person 9823232910
Rs 3,000/- per couple
including breakfast
Nine Bar No entry fee
All nightclubs generally allow free entry for ladies. Stags are not allowed.

Courtesy: Businesstravellerindia.com

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  4. I want to spent some days with Goa beauties. Tell me the suitable place

    4. Nikhil on December 24th, 2010 at 10:23 am
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