ALBERTA, Canada — Rave parties draw many youth to distant but affordable destinations all over the world. Certainly, this tourist money does allow “the locals” to earn some income. However, is the revenue these destinations earn from ravers worth the loss of other, more irreplaceable, things?
Raving, for those who might not be too familiar with the term, is—in a nutshell—the type of parties with electronic dance beats, partygoers with wristbands and possibly though not necessarily a plethora of fluorescent colored attire (and most probably EDM music)—to put it briefly.
Over the years, iconic parties with recognizable names have sprung up across the globe in the footsteps of their Summer of Love predecessor. Going to “exotic” and stereotypically “spiritual” locations also entail enjoying the paraphernalia of hallucinogenic narcotics, adventurous encounters and cheap alcohol. Unfortunately, these activities are about as spiritual as wearing a stripy shirt and a beret is chic in 2014 Paris haute couture scene.
Names of partying spots such as the trance capital Goa, Koh Phangan, Kuta and Boracay are common household words among seasoned ravers. Recently however, the rapport between the searchers of the Shangri-laic idyll and the local inhabitants of these destinations has taken a rather awkward turn.
In Goa, a former Portuguese colony with a history as rich as it is diverse, tourism has attracted drug dealers while many misdemeanors of certain visitors are also contrary to the cultural values of the locals. Not too long ago, a turf war between rival drug gangs saw a Nigerian national murdered and a violent confrontation between police officers and some 150 Nigerian nationals residing in the Indian city. This unrest gave rise to anti-Nigerian sentiments among locals. In one instance—with indiscretion and unrestrained racism—Goa’s minister likened Nigerians with “cancer.” Furthermore, bikinis in broad daylight and scantily-clad flesh, though becoming less and less of a rarity, are not very common and often frowned upon in Asian countries. Many residents are worried that their beloved maritime cities have been attracting the wrong crowd.
On the southern Thai island of Koh Phangan, famed for its monthly Full Moon Party, many people now feel that their home island has become trashy. Drug consumption, violent crimes, unconcealed fornications and other salacious activities are flagrantly explicit. These unrestrained acts of hedonism have already left their marks on the once pristine environment of the island. In addition, as Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist country and many Buddhist holidays fall on full moon nights—abstinence from alcohol is encouraged by tradition—the presence of these monthly parties was deemed inappropriate by many locals.
In Laos, the hitherto permitted tubing party could not be more of a juxtaposition to the way the locals of the tranquil and traditional village of Van Vieng live. After so many intoxication-induced drowning of tourists, authorities decided to take a drastic measure to summarily terminate the activity. However, until its ban, the village was teaming with joints geared towards Western tourists looking for—well—joints. Narcotic sales were conducted overtly and a pizza ai funghi often contained the type of mushrooms I promise you won’t find at Domino’s.
Are ravers—well-seasoned and rookies alike—worth the salt of these destination communities? Considering that their party locations are inhabited by real people with real families—children and the elderly included—does the presence of rave tourism even benefit anyone at all aside from perhaps the bar and restaurant owners who are rarely locals? Perhaps the obvious answer to this question is that these parties and the type of crowd they tend to attract, only serve to make locals uncomfortable and turn houses into guesthouses and mom and pop businesses into bars, the consequence of which is the rise in living cost and the exclusion of the preexisting community.
– Peewara Sapsuwan