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A look at how the party has developed
The Full Moon Party has changed a lot since its humble beginning back in 1988 or 1989. The first party is shrouded in mystery. We have only claims and counter claims as to whose idea it was.
One thing we do know is that the party started out as a few hippies having a dance and sing along around a fire on the beach. Back then house music was just in its infancy and not the global phenomenon it is now, even less so trance.
The Nineties saw the infamous cat and mouse battle between the party goers and the authorities. The British newspaper called the Sun published pictures of Westerners getting stoned on the beach. This outraged the right in the UK and it is rumoured British bobbies took holidays to Koh Phangan just to lend a hand in busting the peace loving hippies and their diabolical weed smoking.
In the Noughties the party went legitimate, or rather it went commercial. The dance age had arrived and so had the reputation of the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan. The party became an attraction in itself, indeed it became the attraction for many visitors to Thailand. While you no longer saw hippies smoking joints openly you did see the pill generation move in. No law was being openly flouted but actually the amount and variety of illegal substances being taken vastly multiplied.
They also adapted the traditional Thai drink of a bucket of ice with a small bottle of samsong and coke into the ‘bucket’. A drink with a ridiculous amount of alcohol, sugar and odd other ‘red bull’ chemicals. A drink designed to get you drunk quickly and often in a very messy fashion.
The party grew and grew until in 2011 Haad Rin decided it had to do something about the trash. As a result an entrance fee of 100 Thai Baht was introduced. Naturally local Thais don’t pay. The money has been used to hire a gang of cleaners to work for nearly 24 hours clearing up the beach and town after each bout of lunacy. Only $3 seems a bargain for entry into the biggest party in Thailand.
Has the behaviour of the party goers changed? Well not since the party changed into a ‘legit’ affair cleansed of hirsute bong smokers. As with elsewhere in the world, the dance scene had long been bought up from the underground into the daylight of commercial profitability and thus social respectability.
Since that point the young, bold, mad, impassioned, curious and naïve have been doing what young people do. Very much like a carnival where the social norms are turned upside down. From a certain point of view the party has become a degenerate affair. This is no doubt a perception fostered by the internet’s ability to dish up graphic ‘journalism’. It always went on; now you can see it on YouTube.
The names of the bars at the Full Moon Party have sometimes changed. The bars are rented and so competition between the bars is intense. Recently Paradise / Rock Bar bought the place next door.
Whereas the management changes and names change too, the styles of music played at each place stay the same. They each hoist their flag – trance, house, drum and bass, r ‘n’ b etc. and tend to stick with it.
In the last couple of years there seems to have been a renaissance of big name DJs visiting the island. The Full Moon Party and the Half Moon Party draw decent names as well as plenty of island talent. This is making the music better, more up-to-date rather than being Goa Trance offshoot.
Crime and Safety
The party is not more dangerous than it was before. The sheer numbers of people prohibit the police was spotting every infraction. Criminals have always attended the parties. And then there are opportunists. And then there is the smartphone.
However, through years of party guides and warnings, and people passing the word, the average Joe is much more beach party savvy. For example who now doesn’t know that lots of men in Thailand dress up as attractive women up for a good time?
The mass media coverage of the party has made everyone know about the FMP.