‘We wanted a mix of rich, poor, gay, straight, old and young … somebody topless could dance with a woman in ballgown and tiara’
New York was on the verge of bankruptcy in the mid-1970s. Danger was in the air, people were getting mugged, but it was also a creative, bohemian time. You could really feel the energy in the gay clubs: there were frantic, intense, sweating bodies everywhere. Straight people hadn’t yet learned to let it all hang out.
Magnetic Fields, a three-day festival in the Rajasthan desert, saw the country’s burgeoning dance scene go overground. But there are concerns that clubbing is a corporatised ‘rich person’s game’
‘Before this, there was Bollywood, and everything else was deep underground.” These are the words of producer Karsh Kale, describing India’s music scene as recently as 10 years ago. It is telling of just how much has changed that Kale is saying this by a fireplace in the middle of a desert in Rajasthan, where an electronic music festival is taking place.
Now in its fifth year, with a capacity of more than 3,000 (having started at less than 500), Magnetic Fields is one of many events catering to a burgeoning underground music scene in India. Sets from Four Tet and Ben UFO that go on until 8am in the grounds of a magical 17th-century palace are remarkable in themselves (as are surreal moments such as a local hip-hop DJ dropping Big Shaq’s Man’s Not Hot under the stars), but what is especially noteworthy is the number of Indian acts and attendees.