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Night Markets in Goa

INDIA | Sunday, 20 April 2014 | Views [212]

"..tonight let us send a message to that army! Let us shake this cave! Tonight let us tremble these walls of earth, steel and stone! Let us be heard from red core to black sky!”

Goa has all of the characteristics of any given island in Thailand. Bars pumping dance music, restaurants that serve every possible style of food but specialise in none, shops with hawkers begging for the possibility that you will “just come in inside for a moment..” and cheap but highly procedural massages (but that is a story for later).

We were ready to settle into an all too comfortable and familiar dance of repeating “No thanks” “A Long Island Iced Tea please” and “Can we please have another a cup of ice” when we decided to head to the Saturday Night Markets.

In the final Matrix film, the prophetic Morpheus, larger than life, stands atop a towering rock in Zion, the final underground bastion of mankind, and delivers his sermon about the future of the human race. At the close of his speech the enormous cave which is by accounts accommodating 250,000 people breaks into a spontaneous rave.

What the film doesn't show, but if you think about it what must be there just outside of the shot, are all of the people selling drinks and food and possibly some craft markets because, you know, the impending end to civilisation cries out for some retail therapy and those mesh body suits and leather armbands don’t make themselves. Also not everyone likes to dance and those guys need something to do as well - so maybe a sports bar or something.

THAT, is what the Saturday Night Market in Goa is like.

This is where retail and the apocalypse meet to party. Covering a sprawling hill away from the gaudy strips of North Goa, a huge brightly lit shanty town is built each week. Without any semblance of coordinated organisation major throughfairs mix with alleys and cul-de-sacs formed by stall after stall selling every time of homespun, handmade, garment, artefact, tool and trinket known to man. From throws to fur coats, drums to mouth harps, momos and shwarma to hotdogs and popcorn. When finished they create a maze that needs its own AtoZ.

The people who gather in their thousands were even more diverse than the fare. Hippies, some left from the original exodus which for many created Goa in the 60s. Punks, ravers, “Eat, Pray Love” acolytes, half the cast of Thunderdome, families, backpackers, Russian body builders, Bombay sophisticates and every stripe in between.

The lights that flickered and sparkled hung from trees, stalls and some on people themselves. They were every colour wrapped in cloth and paper with shapes of animals and stars cut into their coverings, giving the whole village a golden shimmer.

In the centre of the madness a band drove the pulse of the entire experience with music that threaded into it beautifully. Wailing rock that didn't seem to have any discernible form and continued to rise in crescendo anytime you actually paid it any attention.

The stage was barely above the ground which made sense too. No one is separated from anyone else here and the people writhing in front of the speakers where part of the feeling that made the music so involving, you could <i>feel</i> the affect of their dancing even if you couldn't see them.

The bars that filled the in-between spaces felt like the Cantina in , everyone busy meeting new people and making plans in a thousand different languages. It was late and so children were scarce, giving the whole place a lawless excitement that the booze and music encouraged.

Across from the front of the band there was a huge tower with three levels joined by stairs that wove around the outside. No one was on the structure but you could tell it is where the mayhem kicked off. We may have missed Morpheus’ speech, but we made it in time for the party.

Tags: goa, india, matrix, morpheus, night markets


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