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Psychedelic Trance Culture - Encyclopedia

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Psychedelic Trance Culture


The Psychedelic Trance Culture is a modern manifestation of the counterculture that evolved in the sixties (first with the beatniks and then with the hippies).


In the late sixties and early seventies, many young hippies travelled to India, and many ended up staying there for years. Some joined religious movements (like the Hare Krishna movement) or started practising meditation (for example Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation, or the more experimental methods of Bhagwan Sree Rajneesh). Eventually, a group of hippies, not affiliated with any religion or meditation technique, settled in a beach town called Goa, where they developed a thriving commune. The hippies regularly organized parties, initially with regular instruments, later with electronic equipment, eventually (in the late eighties) giving birth to "Goa Trance", a music style that then hit the party scene at Ibiza and then spread to underground dance parties all over the world.

Goa Trance branched off into numerous sub-genres, for example, Full On, Progressive, Dark Psy, and so on, all very suitable for dancing. Other styles that branched off are Psychill and Ambient, which have a more meditative character. Psychill is often played in a separate area, for those who want to take a break from dancing or are so spaced out that they feel like sitting or lying down.

Modern Festivals

Currently, there are a couple of yearly festivals that attract large numbers of visitors. Especially popular are Burning Man in the United States, Boom! in Portugal, Ozora in Hungary, and the Rainbow Festivals. These festivals do not simply revolve around the dance floor. Art, spirituality and sustainability are also prominent themes of all these gatherings.

A major difference with other festivals is that corporate sponsors do not dominate the atmosphere and the organization involves many volunteers. Whereas beer is the main drug of most festivals, alcohol plays an insignificant role at Psy festivals (and parties). Instead there are Chai shops where herbal tea, fruit juice and other healthy products are served. As the name suggests, the Psychedelic Trance Culture revolves around trance states generated by the combination of "trippy music" and altered states induced by psychedelics (mainly cannabis, shrooms, LSD and MDMA, sometimes mescaline and other exotic plants and chemicals). It should be noted, however, that not all visitors use psychedelics, and those who do certainly don't use them continuously.


There's no fixed lifestyle connected to Psy Culture, but some things are quite common. Many visitors design and create their own clothes, often made of natural fibres (cotton, hemp etc.). Many have tattoos, piercings or other types of body modification, and many have their hair in dreadlocks.

Similarly, there are quite a lot of vegetarians and vegans related to Psy Culture, and many are squatters who travel around quite a bit. Some live in communes or "hippie havens".

Practically all visitors favour "hippie ideals" such as no discrimination, no sexism, equal rights, gay rights, freedom of expression and so on. Visitors favour "Gaia consciousness" and therefore support recycling and clean, renewable energy sources. Many are familiar with the books and lectures of Terence McKenna, Timothy Leary, Alan Watts and Robert Anton Wilson (sound bites of whom feature in many psytrance and psychill tracks). Many are interested in sacred geometry, gnosticism and yoga. Many are activists campaigning against the "War on Drugs". Many shop at Azarius.

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