31 January 2009

Drugs, Terror and Noise: The New Regime of Rave Surveillance (in Goa)

Unusual things happened in the trance scene in Goa (India) this season. I start with an apparently trivial story. The police arrested a group of party promoters led by a German and a Russian DJ in the remote beach of Morjim this last January 11. Nothing special here, had they been caught selling drugs (which was not the case). Since the early 2000s, the government has largely eradicated the trance scene, but smaller secret parties still take place, under informal agreements among villagers, cops and expatriates. In any case, whenever the police raid these unauthorized events, the same outcome is expected: Western party promoters get away with a warning, perhaps losing the sound system, if not paying baksheesh (institutional bribe).

However, the recent arrest was different. To the best of my knowledge, this was the first time that Western party promoters have been arrested on charges of public disorder, as defined in the "Noise Pollution Rules" - a not-so-new law (year 2000) that bans unauthorized audio events from public spaces between 22:00 to 6:00. Ironical, as Goa police has only recently opened its very first anti-narcotics division...

As an additional twist, Goa authorities have been monitoring the trance scene within wider concerns about terrorism. Goa is a top tourist destination, in addition to boasting a significant Christian heritage. Considering the terrorist attacks in Bali, Egypt and Mumbai, it is somehow surprising that Goa has not been hit. Tight community oversight of their rural surroundings seems to be working as a strong deterrent. Nevertheless, authorities worry that free flows of party goers may serve as target (or conduit) for terrorist plots. Otherwise, how Techno freaks and Islamic terrorists are linked is still a matter for Bollywood imagination...

In sum, a new regime of global rave surveillance seems to be on the rise. From demonizing trance parties as drug havens, the State is now employing themes of "drugs", "terror" and "noise" within a single regime of surveillance/environment/development for regulating the local trance scene and tourism. This is not the result of any intentional orchestration, but rather, the expression of the messiness of global forces acting upon rave scenes and tourist resorts around the world.

Yet, where there is power, there is resistance...


  1. TT - congrats on your review of the trance scene, moving beyond phenomenologies of techno, in true Foucauldian archaeological fashion.

  2. nice article upon pollution issue..... i had found more information about basic of pollution issue but this is not sufficient. If you know more please explain.