Strobe lights and trance music; Vampires and Laughing Buddhas — from midnight to dawn.
A small section of the Calcutta youth has suddenly found something to ‘rave’ about — heady nights of drug-fuelled revelry. A surge in demand for tickets to such ‘undercover’ parties is an indication of the psychedelic rave culture born on the beaches of Goa a decade ago, starting to invade pockets of the city — from a school complex in Tangra to a club in Howrah.
Thousands have flocked to the series of secret events, where organisers charge around Rs 200 as entrance fee. Attendance is by word of mouth, with party-goers arriving after midnight, and seldom leaving before dawn. Large quantities of hashish, ecstasy pills, LSD and other chemicals, believed to be from Mumbai and Goa, do the revelry rounds.
“Ecstasy pills, known as ‘Vampires’, ‘Echoes’ and ‘Smileys’ were being sold for up to Rs 1,500, and LSD tabs, called ‘Laughing Buddhas’, were on offer for Rs 700,” said a law student who attended one of the parties.
Former Tantra DJ Sanjay Dutta told Metro: “We have had at least five or six raves in the city so far. They tend to be informal events. People come by word of mouth, and it’s very hush-hush.” Dutta, now a freelance melody-mixer on the circuit, added: “The rave scene in Calcutta is still very much in its early stages. Youngsters are beginning to overcome their inhibitions and apprehensions, and discover what a rave is all about.”
The biggest bash to date was, apparently, “the first of its kind” — a ‘Sunrise party’ held in a school building in Tangra to mark the Chinese New Year on the night of February 1, where a dragon dance was a prime attraction.
Festivities continued well into the day after. “The party was organised by seven or eight local Chinese guys, who were able to raise the funds for the décor, sound, lights and other equipment. It was very psychedelic,” said Datta, who attended the event but did not perform.
Archana Vijaya and Anisa Mukherjee, two documentary film-makers shooting footage of the history, culture and traditions of Calcutta’s Chinese community, found themselves in the midst of the whirling melee. “There were strobe lights and trance music. People’s heads were rolling. It was very much an underground event. The late-night after-parties were rampant.”
One party-goer, on condition of anonymity, recalled a “considerable police presence” outside one of the venues for a rare rave. When contacted, an officer at Tangra police station said on Friday: “We do keep a special vigil on the area, but we have not heard of any such parties. Immediate action will be taken if we come across such things.”