Gili Air: Psytrance and Island Living

The afterparty for The Pirates Retreat was a mini psytrance festival on a popular island for tourism, Gili Air. At 5pm on the last day of The Pirates Retreat three quarters of the pirates took a boat, some cramped vans, another boat together, and arrived at 930pm on the island. There are no roads on Gili Air, so donkeys and carriages waited to carry our luggage to our accommodation. Finn and I only had small bags so we carried them ourselves.
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The retreat captain, Jay, booked bungalows for most of the pirates at Matahari, a small resort on the south side of the island. There was a day between the retreat ending and the psytrance party beginning, so most of the pirates relaxed for the day. Finn and I walked around the island and had ice cream. We didn’t do much except read and use the internet, which we hadn’t had access to during the retreat.

The perimeter of Gili Air, which can be walked in an hour, is dotted with restaurants, bungalows and dive shops. The inside of the island is filled with small farms, local homes and a mosque. The restaurants had the usual tourist menus of poorly executed western dishes and bland versions of local dishes. I liked one restaurant called Mowie’s because they made decent cappuccinos and healthy western style breakfasts, smoothies and salad. The island reminded me of Don Det in Laos, except much prettier because it’s on the ocean instead of a river.

Once the psytrance party started at sunset it kept going for three solid days. A colourful, psychedelic stage and dance floor were set up near the path on the ocean. Black lights and fluorescent colours decorated the area. Donkeys with carriages still used the path regularly and the ravers had to dance out of the way when they came through. Behind the main stage was a lovely ‘chill out’ area with a different DJ and dance floor, a trailer from which a local woman sold tasty Indonesian food in a paper cone and a tent with hippy clothes and jewellery for sale.

The party looked awesome, but the problem for Finn and I was that we don’t like psytrance music. At all. Its pounding bass is too quick for me, the only way to dance is to bounce on the knees. I prefer upbeat music that makes me want to throw my whole body into movement. Psytrance music all sounds similar to me. It’s like one long song being played for hours and days.

I like variety in music, ups and downs and moments to get excited. It’s too bad I don’t like the music because I like the people who go to psytrance parties, the psychedelic stage designs and the atmosphere. Especially during the day I want to be around more chill music, something that matches the beautiful sunshine. I danced and hula hooped with the music for a while though and it was fun, but I wasn’t passionate about it like some people who partied all night and were still at it the next morning. Even in the rain the party raged on. The pirates from the retreat set up fire spinning beside the party so I liked hanging over there, chatting with people and watching the show.

One afternoon Finn and I drank some mushroom shakes at our resort restaurant, rented snorkel gear and went looking for turtles in the water on the sunrise side of the island. We found lots of beautiful fish and coral and found a turtle. We started following the turtle and it led us through the underwater world. Turtles somehow look graceful and clumsy at the same time as they swim and scuttle on the rocks. We followed our turtle tour guide all around the shore and when we lost track of it we found a new one. The turtles looked huge underwater, but when they came up for air we could see that they were only about a foot and a half wide. I reached out and touched its shell and it felt hard, smooth and a bit slimy.

After having spent weeks at Sacred Circularities and then The Pirates Retreat it was nice to spend lots of time relaxing without worrying about missing activities. I liked running into friends from The Pirates Retreat around the island.

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