Underground Under Fire: Doofs in the Mainstream Media

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There’s dust beginning to circle around your feet. The bass from a set of bfg speakers is turning the dance-floor into an organic smoke machine. A stomping sound fills your ears, in time to the beat. Look up, you’re under the stars. There’s something tribal in the atmosphere, some vibration the bass is matching to the Earth. A kaleidoscope of red and green glitter with white pin-pricks blankets the stars. All around you are trees, and stomping hippies festooned in rainbow.

This is (almost) what you’ll experience if you venture out to a bush doof. Though it’s likely that you’ll also be overcome with happiness, visuals, artworks and see more costumes and circus tricks in one place than you ever thought possible. Doofs have been going on since the seventies, the technology has changed but the vibes are still the same: it’s a place for tranquillity to be found among layers of sound which mesh together to heighten the experience, and attune your ears to those miniscule leaks in ideas which tie everything and everyone together more strongly. Bush Doofs, at least in the Australian scene, are gaining fast popularity and it’s not hard to see why.

The idea of bush doofs becoming more mainstream is quite a contentious issue in the doofing scene. Many veteran partiers believe that mainstream media outlets will only serve to brand the bush doof and its subsequent community with a negative image. These fears aren’t unfounded, we’ve all seen the comments running rampant across the Sydney Morning Herald and that shining beacon of Rupert Murdoch’s sensationalist glory – The Australian. Mainstream media articles which describe doofs as, ‘breeding grounds for drug use and sexual assault’ are in no short supply.

These articles are running due to an increasing frequency in the number of doofs being held, and an increasing number of punters. The doofing sphere of influence is becoming wider and therefore more, ‘mainstream’. While there are the cons seen by those who do not wish to see the crowds and vibes change (though, the writer would like to point out here that the vibes shouldn’t change if we all continue to be welcoming to newcomers – a refreshingly comfortable aspect of the doof-scene for first-timers and ‘noobs’) there are myriad positives involved with the spread of the doof and this particular brand of the alternative scene.

With more coverage of the bush doof, open-minded coverage, it is possible alternative media outlets will show bush doofs are welcoming places where people who don’t enjoy the bitter hierarchy of veterans versus newcomers at other parties can congregate. These larger crowds can help bush doofs and smaller festivals develop, allowing them to draw new artists and performers and help create portfolios for those professionals who have the kind of skills that fit into very niche areas, this can help create jobs. Yes, that’s right, hippies with jobs. Jobs they enjoy. That’s everyone’s dream, right? Bush-doofs are literally the thing that could make both Tony Abbott and your local dreadlocked wizard who walks around town with a doob in hand happy. Imagine that.

This proliferation of jobs will give smaller artists more opportunities to gain exposure – more damn jobs. For some, bush doofs are the future of employment.

Another con, involved with media representation, is the particular kind of crowd doofs will attract. It’s likely that many of the pro’s won’t be able to come to fruition if crowds who have only ever heard that bush doofs are electro festivals made for drunks, stupid amounts of drugs and subsequent idiocy. When media representation is improperly aimed it becomes a problem.

Doofs all have their downsides of course, there can often be stupid behaviour. But the majority of festival goers manage to remain on their toes enough to stand several days of dancing, little sleep, less than satisfactory port-a-loos and loud music in the bush. Doofs are clearly do-able. Would they be if the downsides occurred as often as sensationalist media suggests? Probably not.

It’s kind of funny isn’t it? The same people reporting a possible economic venture and support for Australian youths as a bad thing seem to be in cahoots with the same people who want to structure more work for that particular demographic? Not exactly intelligent if you ask me. Not great planning.

Right now the benefits of bush doofs becoming more mainstream exist in probability, mainstream media attention has the potential to turn the bush doof into something even more excellent than it already is  – to provide better facilities, more organisation, safer places. The media needs to be open (and impartial, impartial to the idea of something new – remember when Elvis Presley was described as playing the ‘devils music’?) in its reporting so as not to turn something so far mostly positive into something not at all positive.

There is much to gain in providing a truthful account of the bush doof scene – the place those who may have tried their luck in other alternative scenes, or the mainstream, have turned to and graduated to graduating to ‘doofer’ status. And these gains aren’t limited only to a small percentage of people, but the positives have the ability to ripple throughout society.

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