I just read the sort of naive and derogatory sub-cultural commentary one might have expected from a right-wing newspaper years ago, except written by a proponent of electronic music and one of Australia’s favourite underground crews – Pilerats. They’re actually a pretty cool crew who have broken a lot of ground for electronica, and have established a real emergence in niche beats in Western Australia.
You can read their article here to get up to steam.
Their article is quite hilarious. I quite liked it in a few respect, but generally I thought it a bit disrespectful to our history and culture, and didn’t pay heed to the bravery of movements years ago. To be fair, they didn’t actually know about their history, they just wanted to be hip to new movements and failed completely by “tracking” an old culture as something new. What from? A YouTube post. Kids these days, sheesh. Rabble rabble.
I responded to their Facebook post and told them it’s exactly the kind of thing I might have written ten years ago. They replied “But you didn’t” in typical fluoro yolo fashion, which was just the sort of cute cheeky kid thing I was expecting from someone in full teenage bloom.
But yeah, actually I did. I used to flame-war daily with faux hippies full of piss and vinegar on a now-defunct Australian outdoor music forum. Also – I might add – from a standpoint of being involved in the actual scene, rather than someone uninformed on the outside peering in. In 2005, things were actually at their peak in the Australian doof scene. When addressing “bush doofs”, you guys at Pilerats caught onto a movement that has been in its decline.
I mean, to be fair, the author said he (EDs note: it's a she, not a he) had actually never attended a doof before, but he is entitled to have an opinion that doofs are exactly the same as Future. I mean c’mon, people just love to party and these doof cunts quite clearly think they’re better than everyone else.
So anyway, I figured I’d get you kids started with some actual information about “bush doofs”.
Australian doof culture (arguably) started at some point in the early 90s. It was a movement exported from ex-pats, punkers and activists who were Goa trance enthusiasts, in a way of rebelling against the conventions of mainstream rave culture. These pioneers started putting on sound systems in city parks, as well as out in the bush. Many doofs were located hours away from the city, and the only way you could have known about them was to be on one of only a couple of internet billboard forums like Australiens or Oztrance, or you would have had to have been on the grape vine.
The more mainstream doofs were titles like Exodus, Every Picture Tells A Story, Earthdance and Beyond The Brain. There were crews like The Non-Bossy Posse, Sundance and Tribeadelic. Heard of Byron Bay’s doof scene? It was in supremacy at a former whale abbatoir called the Epicentre, that was open 7 days a week and populated by a tribes of hippies. Around northern NSW, you might have gotten a hand-drawn flyer at a cafe randomly saying “Full-Moon tonight, near the big tree, DJs Franny, Booth, Ray Castle, bring good vibez” or some such platitude. It was cute.
Doofs were amazing mind-bending experiments in lighting, sound and social perception distortion with only 100+ attendees, that were artfully and tastefully done to bring out the most in a raving experience. They weren’t always comfortable, but all the participants were amazingly switched on individuals who actually did dwell on the fringes of society and live their own way.
One of the primary differences was the socially active nature of doof culture. They didn’t just do this stuff to have a party and get munted. There were often strong political and environmental messages that connected the main body of participants, rather than drugs being the primary influence for the movement. Many doofs were organised primarily in assistance of protest directly outside uranium mines on solar power sound systems by troupes of nomads who didn’t take drugs from day to day.
They participated in social activism on the front lines. Ask Monkey Marc, Izzy Brown or DJ Wasabi aka The Combat Wombats, who were a part of the Earth Dreaming troupe. Ask Robyn of the Mutoid Waste Disposal group, who manufactured incredible metal structures in Max Max-style road trips all over Australia. They had no jobs and were fully dedicated to the doof lifestyle with no income. They still help refugees and environmental charities to this day, and would be appalled to be debased to the level that all they were doing it for was just to get munted.
Eventually in places like northern NSW, crews of street kids started invading and smashing up parties, attracted by the freedom of drugs and other liberties at doofs. Many country kids with bogan attitudes also latched onto these freedoms and used it as an excuse to sell LSD to their mates and drink heaps of piss, also attracting the thug element in the cross-over movement called “psy-boganism” in some circles. The “Faux hippy” generic conventions as discussed by Pilerats started taking place around the early 2000s with the rising popularity of festivals like Earthcore, and the psytrance hippy uniform was donned by many younger crew.
So there’s a bit more learn for you. If you’re into history of cultures and shit.
If you wish to learn more and you’re interested in the more intelligent approaches discussed above, an excellent place to start is Graham St.John, who is a PHD academic writing on the subject of Australian doof culture. You can access his material here. It may be good to do research on this subject rather than hitting YouTube for a recycled video clip.
Also, you might be interested to know that doofs weren’t founded on the genre known as psytrance, that came into supremacy later on in the late 90s as championed by guys like Simon Posford, GMS and Tip Records. Focus for psytrance came more from the more exciting experimental and industrial electronic form known as Goa trance, of which the Australian (and still occasionally active) Space Tribe originated in.
A great deal of what you listen to at Australian “bush doofs” is festival music, and about half the content is mostly progressive trance of which was more likely to have been heard at a mainstream rave back in the day. A great deal of psytrance out there would be considered too dark or “weird” for the majority of big psytrance festivals in Australia.
Perhaps doof culture is dead these days in light of Pilerats’ article. They pretty much hit it on the head when they comment that mainstream psytrance festivals are populated by people who just act switched on, but are quite clearly not and have hypocritical attitudes. Many Maitreya and Rainbow Serpent Festival participants don’t live by environmental and socially conscious ideology previously championed by earth-friendly ravers.
I don’t see the organisers of such festivals complaining now though. Their structure has become corporate and many doof tourists will pay hundreds of dollars to rave outside. If you times the ticket price of $330 by 10-20k, you have a figure in its millions. Of course this would be pretty lucrative to miss out on. To be fair, the originators of festivals like Earthcore, Rainbow, Maitreya and Earth Frequency have been at it for years and have gotten the formula down now. What else can they do? Where else can they go? They probably do love their work. But it’s spawned into something different and commercial that a lot of original doofers would not really be keen to call doof culture.
It may not be responsible to sell the culture any more at this point, and the ideology has been ground to dust by every tanned, dreadlocked and custom hippy clothed Adonis and Aphrodite’s. One would observe no overall social concept beyond your standard PLUR tenements that could be accessed at any city nightclub, and one would observe a lot of rubbish left behind. That’s not going to stop the parties going on from year to year, and yes they will eventually hold no more value than Future Music.
I’m 35 years old now. I was actually one of the younger doofers. Perhaps there are new social values now in electronic music. But.
It’s far more likely that there are less values now if younger crew think raves are for are conduits for getting wasted. I really would like to believe that intelligent culture can breed spiritual insight and social change WITHOUT drugs. But ay, maybe I should stop like thinking so much and get swaggy on some farkin’ pingers cunt! YOLO!
Note: We would like to thank Pilerats for their good humour, and hopefully you have learned something from us! Thank you for your contribution to Australian electronic music culture! :)
Pilerats note: We would like to thank Kristian Hatton and anyone else who engaged with us like human beings and actually state their cases without the use of the usual hateful/vitriolic comments we've come to expect from the internet. This has been heaps of fun.