Updated: Dec 7, 2020
By Sapna Shahani
Pic credit The Live Music Project and Project Cafe Goa Note: Some of the venues listed below may not be operating or may have different music programming now. Please check their social media handles for more recent updates.
Just when you think Goa couldn’t get any more fun, another attractive taverna, beach club or indie bar opens up. Spread across the coastal state from Patnem to Arambol, there are many memorable experiences to be had. Whether you strike up a conversation with an international traveller or quietly sip on your craft beer (yes, you can get a variety of these now) while listening to live music, here are the top 10 places you should explore this season.
1. Eclectic | The Project Café, Assagao – A multi-dimensional, art-oriented lifestyle space, The Project Café curates electronic and live music gatherings that attract a mix of new and old residents of Goa to this chic villa in Assagao. Recent parties have included poolside sundowners with electro disco sounds of DJ act Glittermama inspired by Asha Puthli, DJ Mista Selecta of Baba au Rhum fame and a sufi gypsy band Sahaj. Or if you want a more involved experience, you can just move in!
2. Funk | Kopi Desa, Agonda – In the quiet beach village of Agonda in the deep southern stretch of Canacona, you might not expect to find a world class F&B experience. After spending all day on the beach, travellers stop by here for a sourdough pizza and an inventive cocktail, with a dash of funky live music on top. The name means Coffee Country in Indonesian so you can expect good brews in the day as well. Pro tip: stay at their luxury huts Indah Desa nearby, and meander back and forth to Kopi Desa for a perfectly lazy holiday plan.
3. Club Soho, Panjim – In a move that has gentrified a crumbling section of Panjim’s Latin Quarter, Soho sits atop a beautifully restored building on two levels. The interiors, which are a tasteful blend of classic Portuguese with contemporary industrial, are immensely popular with Panjim’s party population. Of course the best commercial and Bollywood DJs flown in from around the country, doesn’t hurt the cause either.
4. Techno | Rockwater, Morjim – For a banging beach party, keep your eyes peeled to their ‘Boombox’ nights where European and Indian underground DJs have a clear mission… To make you dance! Some of the DJs that play here frequently are Alexander Smith, Nelio One Eyed, Breger and Jewlung. If you get in before 10, it’s free and you can catch up with some of Goa’s most ardent party crowd for tips on other fun happenings that are going down.
5. Retro | Toro Toro, Baga River Road – The newest party spot on this upscale stretch of Baga is a ‘tropical caravan bar’ overlooking the cool waters of the creek that runs down to Baga Beach. Tapas flow fluidly here as does the foot-tapping live music and karaoke by local bands like Music Fever. And it’s not just an evening hangout. You can start at brunch on Saturdays or all through the weekend to get into the ‘island vibe’.
6. Goa Trance | Hilltop, Vagator – The legendary open-air venue of raves now remains one of the last bastions for those who need a good dose of psy trance. There are often festivals featuring the best DJs in the genre like XP Voodoo, Bobblehead and Boombaba, besides top dance music artists from around the globe you wouldn’t usually get to see in India. Even if you’re not a fan, the colourful décor and people would be reason enough to check out a party, and it is probably the most genuine Goa party experience that one can have.
7. Rock n Roll | Soro, Assagao – ‘A village pub’ that brings together locals and expats alike, Soro (meaning alcohol in Konkani) is as cheeky as its name. Step inside to the bar area if you can talk over the loud music or step out to the wraparound balcony spaces to chat with friends or play a game of pool. Soro caters to almost all tastes with techno, rock and salsa nights every week. You can also hop over to the newly opened Escobar just across the road.
8. World | House No 248, Sangolda – Warning… book your table in advance when you go here to listen to the best traveling bands from all over India on Tuesday nights. Whether it’s Janis Joplin-inspired ‘My Kind of Blue’ or the gypsy jazz sounds of the Banjara Quartet, this airy resto-bar gets packed. Although you can always stand by the bar and chat with the entertaining parters here, should you just roll up. Tierra Y Mar, the restaurant in the same space is also a great choice for a burger before the show.
9. Pop | Showbar Exchange, Candolim – If you want to groove to the top 40s, it’s a safe bet to hit up this theatre-styled bar that boasts of a bar stock exchange as well. Event organisers ‘Major Milkshake’ also host fun competitions like ‘The Royal Rumble’ where you can win merchandise and permanent invites to their hall of fame, based on your bar tab. The best local DJs spin RnB, Hip Hop and all the popular genres here including MacAttack, Ryan Nogar, Shania, Navin, Rinton and others.
10. Electronic | Sol de Goa, Nerul – Thursday nights at this classy boutique hotel have been reinstated with a twist. Instead of jazz and retro bands, they now feature house and techno DJs like Sashanti with live percussionists and fire dancers. The new menu cooked up by young chef Maia is a must-try along with a whisky cocktail of your choosing. The backdrop of a pool by endless fields also contributes to a fun night out. There are of course loads more venues to choose from, some of which did not make it to this list, since they are well known already such as Cohiba, Cavala, Cantare, Antares and others. Then there are other wonderful restaurants, which host fun evenings every week such as Mustard on Wednesdays, Peep Kitchen on Fridays, Habanero on Saturdays and so many more. This list also features venues that are mostly in north Goa since even those in south Goa frequently travel north to party. But if you would rather be able to crawl into bed nearby after a long night out, check out Southern Deck (Benaulim), Panino (Majorda) or Gigi’s (Cavelossim). For the latest party listings, check in with Goa’s Facebook groups or just chill ma-re and follow the music… The party is never too far away when you’re on holiday in Goa.