From the 70s until his passing away, August Braganza was the brand of good times in Goa. The good times turned to exhilarating Saturdays, fuelled first by German Ingo, and then carried forward by August’s son Clive, till COVID-19 pulled the plug on everything.
August gave nightlife in Goa a quaint quality when he started Haystack in the early 80s. Until it closed in 1997, that was the only place to be in Goa on a Friday.
“Haystack was ahead of its time. It was the best entertainment envisaged by the most creative guy of those days. August was a creative genius who could turn wonders out of the simple,” recollects Alu Gomes Pereira, the father of tourism in his heyday.
“My father was a gentleman who lived multiple lifetimes in the period he lived. He started by making and selling bags for Rs 10 in the market when I was born. I am an apple that has fallen far from the tree,” says son Clive when asked to roll back to the life of his father.
August was the sort of individual who could laugh with anyone and who managed to get the best or worst out of others. He succeeded in whatever he tried and left behind a legacy of striving for the best.
After Haystack, the scene moved to the Saturday Night Market – the same place with a bit of a difference, but with the buzz of a good evening, which was started by Ingo from Germany in 2000 and taken over by Clive in 2008.
“The Saturday Night Market in Arpora was an extension of Haystack. Though started by a German, its roots flowed from memories of good times of Haystack, and what the father could not complete, his son did, until it shut shop,” is Lumen Soares’ perception of his weekends in Arpora with the Braganzas.
The Saturday Night Market has not yet hit the road after the pandemic, and as per indications from Clive, “It is too early to jump in because the season needed to start a good market is yet to take off.”
Three night hotspots began at the end of the pandemic – all trying to emulate the magic of the Saturday Night Market, and all are way off the mark.
The Saturday Night Market started by Ingo and carried forward by Clive, circled the needs of foreigners arriving by chartered flights. These are tourists who wanted to observe the culture of Goa while indulging in the spice of India.
“Taking the road back home through Arpora was a nightmare on Saturdays because of the mayhem on the road. Just imagine thousands of people enjoying the weekend,” recollects Clyde, who claims to have been a regular.
“The charter business was at its peak till 2016. It crashed when Thomas Cook went bust in 2019 and the charter business is not the same with tourists from Russia. We are still to get back to good days,” says a charter operator on the condition of anonymity.
“I do intend to start the market at some stage but definitely not to pick up crumbs. Our market has its own signature, and when I think it is the right time, I will go and fetch the ink. Let the charter business pick up properly,” shoots Clive.
The 2023-24 foreign tourist season is months away from take-off, and despite the number of Indian tourists in Goa, too many in the trade, the charm begins when the charter flights or international flights start landing.