It was a full moon on a Wednesday evening in Arambol, and the sun had just set on a scene quite reminiscent of a beach party in The Shire – fire dancers, magic crystal vendors, elven creatures bejeweled in macramé playing flutes, singing, and gathered around in a circle. This circle brings us to the first item of this list – dedicated to the top 5 must visit live music destinations off the beaten path in Goa.
1) The Famous Arambol Drum Circle
A pilgrimage site of sorts for the artistically inclined, the drum circle happens everyday at sunset – post 5:30pm – at the far end of Arambol beach. It features drummers of all colours and creeds coming together to play and dance, surrounded by a sea of vendors selling everything from sacred palo santo wood sculptures and hang drums to macramé jewellery, essential oils and cookies.
With the drum circle winding down and our Kings beers reaching their bittersweet end, my companions and I decide to meander down the beach in search of more music. If in Arambol, that’s really all you need to do to find all sorts of sounds emerging from the shacks on the beach – we passed a French cellist and guitarist weaving some Bossa Nova magic, a two piece grunge act belting out some soulful blues, before stumbling upon destination number two.
2) The Banyan Tree
No, not the Arambol Banyan Tree with the questionable baba sitting under it – this space is spread out under the protective cover of a beautiful old banyan tree, draped with pieces of angelic white cloth that hang from its branches down to the earth. We walked in to children swinging with unbridled joy on these makeshift cloth swings, their parents raging it on the dance floor, and a high energy set by Berlin based loop master Rico Loop.
Normalcy is what sticks out like a sore thumb in this space, giving way to a certain freedom of expression unlike anything I’ve experienced on any other dance floor in Goa. If that lady can crawl about on the floor like a dancing kitten, then surely my jumping about like a jelly bean will fly, right? If you’re looking to dance and sweat away your worries to an eclectically programmed music lineup – this is just the place. Must also try the incredible organic menu – all that freedom of expression will make you hungry.
This list is certainly rather Arambol centric – but that’s simply because some of the most interesting sounds and live music making come out of this part of Goa. Ash is a collaborative space that hosts renowned musicians from all around the world under a stunningly starry sky. The open air venue is large and spacious, and often has artisans, artists and vendors camped out to sell their wares.
Open all year round, Cantare is a little spot that’s hot with the locals. Set in a traditional Goan bungalow in Saligao, the venue has regular jazz/blues live music nights with some of Goa’s finest on performance duties. During season the space gets packed at night, so getting in early is highly recommended.
5) Twice In Nature
A bit of a hidden gem, Twice In Nature pops up like the light at the end of the tunnel after a walk through one of Arambol market’s (ask the locals to guide you) hidden gullies. Boasting a menu with a host of organic produce and vegan friendly delights, the space hosts offbeat, unique music performances in an intimate space with dim lights and loads of cozy cushions.
How to Get there:
Where: The Famous Arambol Drum Circle, The far end of Arambol beach.
Timings: Post 5:30pm
Where: The Banyan Tree, Girkarwadda Road, just before ASH, Arambol beach.
Timings: Post 5:30pm
Where: Ash, Arambol, Goa 403524
Contact: 099214 48772
Find them on Facebook here
Where: Twice in Nature, Arambol Market
Timings: Post 6:30pm
Where: Cantare, 7/73 B, Cruz Waddo, Near St. Cajetans Chappel, Saligao, North, Goa
Contact: +91 8322409461
Cost: 1000 for two people