My half-baked ideas for a painting the town red usually end up being memorable nights. The night of 30 July was no different: the first night of the Hikkaduwa Beach Festival. The past couple of years the Hikkaduwa Beach Festival had gained immense popularity although shrouded with some controversy. The 2010 Hikka Festival did not seem to garner the same crazed interest as the previous couple of years, but since I had no idea what the festival was all about I was determined to experience Hikka on this Friday night.
My friends from the Sun House – fondly known as the Galle Gang – were all in high spirits about the impending outing. So we set out for Hikkaduwa in four motorbikes after borrowing helmets from all and sundry in order to have a safe journey on roads overflowing with cops. I had not ridden pillion in over 20 years and the outing had the earmarks of a daring escapade.
We reached Hikkaduwa around 11.30pm with no clear plan how the night would unfold. The main street of Hikkaduwa was not dressed in its usual Beach Festival regalia except for the stretch near Amaya Reef where the festival was being held. But the festival mood was clearly visible with many people walking the streets and the overflowing eateries dotting the area. But we were disappointed when we heard that the entrance ticket to the Beach party would cost Rs.2,500 per person. None of my friends were ready to fork out that amount of cash on my harebrained scheme.
It did not take us long to settle on the next best option. We were going to experience the fringes of the Beach Festival by going to the popular night club Vibrations. The loud thump of the music beckoned us through the dimly lit lounge of Vibrations and we stepped in to a beach party in full swing. The atmosphere was wonderful and the house music was amazing. The dance floor was crowded with wreathing bodies undulating to the beat of the music.
We sat for a while and took in the scene before the irresistible beat drew us to the floor. What beach party in Sri Lanka is complete without getting in to fist cuffs? Not 10 minutes on the dance floor we see one of our friends being bashed by a complete stranger. We all gasped in horror and was about to intervene when the scuffle was broken up by what I now think was a Vibrations bouncer. We dragged our friend to safety and was curious to find out the reason for the altercation. No real reason except he bumped in to him on the dance floor!
The incident nearly put us off the whole outing and we were ready to go and chalk it up to experience. But the pulsating music and the smoky pungent atmosphere was too irresistible and we were back on the floor to have the most amazing night of pure uninhibited fun. The crowd at Vibration was a mixture of chilled-out tourists, lazy beach bums and visitors from Colombo who had come for the beach festival. Vibration was at its best that night with stints by a bongo band and fire dancers. I have no idea how the hours passed as I just let the music take over and it was 3am when we were finally ready to call it quits.
I am not sufficiently informed to talk about the Hikkaduwa Beach Festival as I did not make it to the actual beach party. But I would not have any hesitation in recommending a couple of nights stay in Hikkaduwa during the beach festival to imbibe in the wonderfully laid back party atmosphere.