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A Look Inside India's Booming EDM Scene

From Goa Trance to Sunburn Music Festival, EDM is thriving in India

Dance music and its culture have grown exponentially in the last few years - there’s no denying that. Our beloved scene has reached more places and touched more people in recent years than in the past thirty since disco exploded. As dance music and its culture continues to expand into the far reaches of the globe, we seek to identify up-and-coming EDM hotspots and open our world to them.

One of these hotspots is India – arguably the world’s most booming up-and-coming electronic scenes. Spend a weekend in a city like Mumbai or Delhi and you can hear the thumping sounds of dance music coming from the a handful of clubs teeming with people. Travel to Goa in December and attend the legendary dance music festival, Sunburn. Snoop around a bit and find underground raves in city alleys where DJs blast dubstep and hardstyle alike – or if that’s not your scene, see any number of famous DJs like Tiesto and Armin Van Buuren at sold-out shows across the country.

So when did this all start? Dance music in India dates back to the 1980s with the advent of “Goa Trance” in the heart of Goa. The music began to take shape after India’s hippie era started to taper off, leaving behind a core group of native music lovers who created the new genre, influenced mainly by EBM (electronic body music) groups like Front Line Assembly and by their love of yoga and spiritual drug use. A high-energy blend of electronic genres, namely techno and acid-house, Goa Trance remained underground for a long time, free from major labels and traded on CDs and cassettes. The music took off outside of the underground Goa scene in the early 1990’s with artists like Electric Universe and Filteria, and as it became popular, so did the culture that came with it. “Goa parties” – basically underground raves with religious and spiritual imagery, psychedelic art, and shrines in front of the DJs – began to pop up throughout Europe and Israel.

Despite the mainstreaming of Goa Trance and its parties, you can still find underground Goa parties on the streets and beaches of India. The promoters pay local police to turn a blind eye to the parties, giving Goa DJs and ravers places to enjoy the music and the culture like they have since the 1980’s. The scene in Goa prompted India to embrace dance music culture, and created a great environment for modern EDM to invade the country.

Today, the Goa scene isn’t the only prominent dance music culture in India – world-famous DJs like Swedish House Mafia traveled to the country frequently, selling out shows in cities like Mumbai and Delhi. With its numerous “brands” like "Submerge Deep" and "Submerge Campus Jam," Indian dance music promoter Submerge brings artists like Seven Lions, Dada Life, and Mat Zo to cities and campuses across the country, putting on DJ competitions and throwing parties for every event imaginable.

And then there is Sunburn. The largest music festival in Asia, Sunburn is a massive dance music fest that takes over Vagator, Goa for three days in December. Rated the ninth best festival in the world by CNN, Sunburn combines music, food, superb entertainment, and unbelievable festival décor to create an otherworldly environment for festivalgoers, and has brought acts like Above & Beyond, Pete Tong, Fedde le Grande, and Avicii. This December, attendees from every corner of the world will see Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Knife Party, Krewella, MAKJ and many more on the beaches of Goa. Check out this video of 2013’s Sunburn Festival to understand just how huge of an event this is.

Clearly India loves its dance music; it’s taking over the country, from the underground scene to the huge, mainstream festival culture. With EDM frontrunners like Pasquale Rotella talking about expanding into the country and rumors about a Tomorrowland India swirling within the dance music community, nobody really knows where electronic music in India will go from here – but we can only guess that the booming EDM scene will only continue to expand in India and the rest of Southeast Asia, and we can’t wait to see where it goes.

Written by Rowan Epstein

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Tags editorial EDM goa trance india sunburn festival

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