Goa - Tape DJing

That Alex F - Geronimo track got me thinking. I watched the doc about how the record was discovered and one thing that jumped out was this picture of a DJ playing the music from tape decks. I had vague memories of people talking about this, but no real details. I found this brilliant piece by Dave Mothersole (who I remember from the DJH days) who talks about the tape editing process, mixing and re-edits In Goa in the 80’s. Great stuff. Got me thinking, how about beat matching? Were the tapes BPM marked up? Wondered if there are any other good sources of info out there about the Late 80’s Goa Re-edits and technical side of how they put these 12 hour sets together on tapes.


I can tell you how a mate of mine used to approach playing in Goa. I’m sure everyone had a slightly different approach, but this is what I witnessed and once acted as his reel up guy at a party.

It would appear that by '90 a lot of people were playing on Sony WM-D6C professional walkman or variants of. I did see some people play on other field recording type players also(Sony TC-D5 etc.). The advantage of these players is that they were very portable, were decent quality and most importantly had speed controls. I did see one set up where the decks had been modified with potentiometers for pitch control

First he recorded his play list choices on his home studio set up. The bonus of recording in real time onto cassette is that he could re-edit some tunes by using two copies or two different mixes and mix live to get his “own” version of a tune. Also meant that he was able to slow down or speed up a track and EQ to some extent, so a basic re-edit/mastering process right from the start.

Some tunes that he thought that went together very well he would mix together as a single track. He often just started recording the track a few bars before the point where he would normally drop it in the mix. This gave him a little time to sinc the beats.

His set box was all generally arranged by beginning of night to end of night, and the cassette case inserts were fully track listed with bpm next to each track, colour coded by time in the night(blue for early to red peak and green morning etc)

He used a lot of short play cassettes so that he never was in a position where he had to fast forward or rewind a very long way to get to a track.

He also did some tapes where several tracks were already mixed together to ease things a little(also colour coded)

Since there was potentially a bit of time needed to set up/find the next track wanted, many parties seemed to have a reel up person in the booth. This person would locate the track desired on a bigger cassette player and hand it to, or load it up for the DJ and keep all the cassettes organised and filed. I did this at one party and it got a bit messy as you could imagine. Last minute requests are not really doable.

I didn’t realise how long this would end up, soz about that. This is what I experienced but I’m sure all those earlier guys came up with all sorts of ways to get around the cassette format DJing.


Fantastic post @MastaF thanks for sharing.


Great post, never knew anything about this type of DJing :+1:


Thanks so much @MastaF . You painted the picture perfectly. Sounds like the preparation was everything. Ha. Yes I can see pre-recording some short 2 or 3 track mixes would be handy especially if your playing for 12 hours. In a way it’s not a lot different to loading up your record box with pre planned tracks that you know work together.

I love the idea of having a cue up person to find the start of the track and pitches on the Walkmans! All tricky stuff especially with the amount of drugs being consumed :grinning:

This stuff needs a proper documentary made about it, talking to the originators about their techniques. Most of us know the Chicago, New York, Ibiza etc stories but the Goa DJs seem under the radar. Seems like they were creating a new sound with the pre and live editing in the same way as say Ron Hardy