Leo Full Moon Party

The Leo Full Moon Party is happening tomorrow (1st August,2015). Not only is Leo beer fairly awful, but this event represents a new low for Haad Rin. What was once a cool and underground party has become a huge and over-publicised event, and the final step to corporate whoredom has been completed. I haven’t been so upset since Michael Evis turned the travellers away from Glastonbury. Money really can ruin everything.

The Leo Full Moon is going to be held at Cactus Bar on Haad Rin Sunrise Beach. Apparently some famous DJs will be there. Leo beer will be sold for 80 Baht (still cheaper if you go to the 7-11). Also 350 Baht mojito buckets will be on sale.

If you turn up early and register you can do 60 minutes of beach cleaning from 5pm to 6pm. This will earn you 2 free Leo beers and a bunch of merchandising that you won’t use much but will apparently help the Leo brand.

Leo is from the same company that makes the best beer in Thailand (not saying much) Singha. It is undrinkable unless very cold. I think of it as the Bud of Thailand – light, tasteless and like making love in a canoe.

Whether all the 1st August Full Moon Party is going to be re-branded the Leo Full Moon is unclear.

While the junta makes noises in Bangkok about restricting alcohol sales around universities and proclaims their intention to host only nice, rich, short-stay, 5 star tourists, it seems that some Thai companies are not coy about associating themselves with the bibulous and class-a ridden beach party.

Also why is the beach cleaning before the party when there is little mess to clear up?

I do hope this corporate tie-in just dies on its arse.

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How Many People Go to the Full Moon Party?

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This is a question that can never be answered with any certainty. And this for the simple fact that statistics, if they exist, in Thailand are not reliable. The internet is awash with different figures for the size of the party. It is a point of pride for the party folk on the island and those that benefit from the party to ‘big up’ the popularity of the event.

No official figure exists for how many people go to the average Full Moon Party. The Wikipedia page cites the number of 5,000 to 30,000. This number is based on a news story in Time Magazine.

I have seen elsewhere the top figure put at 20,000 as well as 50,000. I imagine you could find sources that say 60,000.

The census of 2012 for Koh Phangan puts the population of Koh Phangan at 13,700. That figure probably doesn’t include the few hundred ex-pats living on Koh Phangan on and off for the last 20 years.

On the 23rd of January 2013 the Bangkok Post declared that 30,000 people had attended the Full Moon Party (http://www.blog.fullmoonpartythailand.info/attendancefigures.html). They based this fact on the assertion that 30,000 foreigners took ferries to the island a few days preceding the party. Two holes are quickly seen in this method of counting: you don’t need to show ID to buy a ferry ticket. Lots of Thais come to Koh Phangan as well for the party. And secondly, not everyone arriving on the island near the FMP will go to the party.

However, boat capacity is probably the best way to estimate party attendance numbers. The other possible source for data would be the entrance fee for the party: everyone going to the party has to pay 100 Thai Baht. To this number you could add the number of people already in Haad Rin who could get to the beach before the ticket barriers go up.

Somewhat not surprisingly, official figures aren’t available for how much money is raised by charging to enter the Full Moon Party. The money is divvied up between the headmen and the police with money put aside for beach cleaning. Tea anyone?

When you are at the party, bucket in hand, and you try to guess how many people are on the beach with you, you come to the unflinching conclusion that a ‘fuck of a lot’ is the answer.

Why settle for a figure used by a lazy journalist at Time Magazine with a middle age party pooping axe to grind? Why give Wikipedia any credence when they cite such weak sources?

I expect the low-point attendance of 5,000 could be about right. It could be lower. The monsoon season sees the island empty out. Lots of the locals go north rather than face the rains, power cuts, treacherous roads and deep puddles. Only dedicated kiteboarders would be drawn to Koh Phangan in October and November. (The worst of it usually lasts a month but when it starts varies from year to year.)

The top figure? Well New Year’s Eve is the biggest party in Haad Rin and maybe that is close to 30,000. I suspect the average party gets no more than 10,000. Haad Rin beach is less than a kilometre in length. There are about 10 main sound systems. Under such limitations the beach seems really crowded, as does Haad Rin which is no more than an overgrown village. 10,000 people would be enough to swamp the place.

I went every Monday for 18 months to the Jungle Bar party in Thong Nai Pan Noi. It always seemed full. At peak season in August and December it seemed really full. The German techno festival also swelled the party goer numbers. But otherwise it was always about the same amount of people. Less than 100. Less than 50. It just felt like lots of people. Only the owner who counted the cash take the next day held the answer.

Dancing Elephant Hostel

Above is a slightly sad or touching (depends on your outlook) video clip taken at Dancing Elephant Hostel in Haad Rin. It is a popular hostel that has been running since 2009. Like Same Same it copies the formula of dorm beds and parties to pull in the punters coming to Haad Rin looking for booze-fuelled memories.

Dancing Elephant Hostel is located in the centre of Haad Rin Village, just a few minutes’ walk from the best bars, clubs and party venues. It is far enough back from the beach to avoid the full brunt of the sound systems playing music to the max at the Full Moon Party. However, for those looking for early nights this is not the place to get a bed during the FMP week. Indeed, best to avoid Haad Rin altogether if you don’t want to party hard and late.

The hostel provides bunk beds in dorms. There is free wifi, air-con, a locker per person and a shared bathroom. Guests also have access to PS2 games and wii games. There is a restaurant and bar.

As you can see from the video the bar is concrete, colourful and designed to hold plenty of jumping bodies. Dancing Elephant is known to have one of the best warm up parties for the Full Moon bash. They often get one of the better full moon DJs to provide the music. The music is trance, techno, house, and not normally Mariah Carey.

Those staying at Dancing Elephant also get a discount card for the bar at the hostel as well as for a handful of bars and reAstaurants in Haad Rin. There is obviously a family connection going on between these different businesses.

Forgetting

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I found a blog called massivelysilly.wordpress.com. It wasn’t that massively silly really. The entries for Thailand and Koh Phangan actually detailed the writer’s journey quite well. It included prices, names of resorts, times of tours etc. and could help people looking to find out more about travelling in Thailand before they get to the Land of Smiles.

What did make me laugh were the posts written around the Full Moon Party time. Without realising, I suspect, the author has hit on a bit of a theme, and that is forgetting. If you don’t remember something important there are going to be consequences. Here is a brief list of the instances of forgetting found at https://massivelysilly.wordpress.com/tag/haad-rin/

  1. A humorous tale about a chap who seduced a lass and persuaded her to do the deed in a fisherman’s boat. He nips off quickly to the 7-11 for a condom and of course when he gets back to the beach he can’t remember which boat the girl is waiting for him in. In the end he gives up and goes back to his room.
  2. The writer and travel companion get so drunk in a bar that they are literally legless. They had forgotten that they still had to walk home.
  3. The intrepid duo meets 2 French men on a tour to Talu Island (near Phuket). They meet the same two men on their way to Koh Phangan. They meet the two French chaps the morning after the party. The two are wandering around aimlessly as they have forgotten where their bungalow is.
  4. The writer is catching a taxi to Thongsala 2 days after the FMP. They meet a group of lads who have done the pre-party, the FMP and the after party. One member of the group has seemingly forgotten how to do his normal UK accent.

Forgetting is funny, especially a few days after the event. However, at the time forgetting where you put your stuff or your flip flops or your passport can be distressing. Forgetting who you are is called amnesia and is certainly distressing. If possible try to remind yourself about stuff you shouldn’t forget. It might help.

How to Dance to Trance

The wonderful thing about things that we are forbidden to talk about is that they just make you dance; the beats invade your synapses and make your limbs move as if involuntarily. Perhaps you feel the music. Your inhibitions are blown away and you can just get into your own inner space and follow the journey that is trance music.

Trance is not everyone’s cup of tea. It is slower than drum and bass; it’s not gone that stripped down route of minimal nor the happy vocal route of summery house; the breaks seem all build and no blast off. But somehow Koh Phangan party people continue to love this old form of dance music. Even if it’s re-jigged in the hard and progressive Koh Phangan sound.

My silly conclusion is that trance’s popularity is all in the dance. Trance is perfect for sand dancing. It is also perfect for holding a beer or even a bucket. It is also a dance style that you can keep going (sort of) for hours at a time, with the right chemical inducements.

How to Dance to Trance?

Well as you like. In my humble opinion a default mode trance dance involves legs a few feet apart with the dancer facing the DJ. It is then a sway, possibly a side step and perhaps a gentle foot stamp. The upper body has minimal movement; perhaps a slow lunge when really excited; perhaps also a power salute to the DJ.

From looking at the video I have made below (2 spliced videos. One from the FMP and one at Shiva Moon) you can see what I mean.

The first chap is favouring the right foot tap. Note he holds his booze well. He mixes it up with a bit of shoulder movement, power saluting and head nodding.

The second clip shows the fag end of a Shiva Moon party. The survivors are clearly running on fumes and warm beer. They are also adopting the orthodox legs-apart stance. While the chap in grey shorts is employing a casual power salute and side to side step, we see a Thai chap putting on quite a show – he breaks the rules by doing some Cossack kicks (or is that Brazilian dance fighting) and psychedelic arm swinging. We also see a girl behind combining trance dancing with her morning calisthenics. Most New Age.

In this clip we also see a bald pony tail dude. Notice how he is paring down the style to its minimum by mostly just leaning back. The only impostor is the chubby chap at the end who is clearly being guided by mushrooms not trance.

Anyway try this at home. In no time you will have a passable trance dance that will get you accepted into any early morning trance circle, especially if you have a fresh packet of smokes.