Video: Living the doof life

The term “bush doof” conjures up connotations of a field of drug-induced hippies dancing for days to throbbing music. But those on the inside tell a different story.

According to bush doof enthusiasts, like Ed Phillips, the festivals are more holistic than hallucinogenic. Mind-altering, but in a positive, pure way.

Bush doofs, or just “doofs” originated in Australia and New Zealand in the 1990s, coming out of the post-punk electronic scene. Held in rural areas around Australia and the rest of the world, often over several days, these outdoor dance parties have gained a cult-like following and, in recent times, been the subject of much negative media; stories of drug use and deaths outnumber the small number of positive pieces.  

Ed, 22, of Sydney, has been attending doofs for the past 12 months.

Initially curious to see what all the fuss was about, he immediately embraced them, and hasn’t looked back.

“It changed my life for the better I think,” he told Hatch. “It brought me out of my shell a lot and I could be myself a bit more and I met a lot of people with a lot of similar interests.”

After travelling long distances to get to doofs, Ed has decided to circumnavigate the continent in his van for six months, chasing the doof life.

“I’ve never travelled for an extended period by myself before, so six months will be a challenge, but I’m very excited,” he said.

Although he does not take drugs, Ed recognises there are people who do take them at the festivals he attends.

“There’s a big misconception about drugs at doofs,” he says.

“I believe there is a similar drug problem in clubs. I just think the difference is that doofs are generally more psychedelic, which is not the norm in today’s society, so it gets a bit of a stigma about it. But there’s not many people who just go out and do MD, or anything like that, all day. Generally everyone just drinks and some people have sober parties and connect with people.”

In June 2017, it was announced the Victorian government and stakeholders were in discussion about broadening the powers the police have under the Major Sporting Events Act. If granted, the police would have the power to search festival patrons, without reason. Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville said bush doofs would be targeted.

Earlier this year, a man died at one of Australia’s more well-known doofs, Rainbow Serpent, which is held in Lexton, Victoria. Following the incident, there were new calls for drug reform in Victoria. The 22-year-old’s death was the second to happen at the festival in five years. A Nimbin man died from a overdose at YewbuNYE bush doof in January this year.

At Rainbow Serpent Festival this year, one in three drivers failed a drug test leaving the festival. On the festival’s website, it reads: “People getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle when impaired by alcohol, drugs or prescription medication is a real concern we feel needs addressing.” The annual festival, which attracts crowds of 10,000, now offers drug tests for patrons leaving the festival for $20.

Mushroom Valley will also be offering drug tests this year. On their website, the festival doesn’t ban drugs per se, however they specifically ban methamphetamines: “NO ICE…….We understand that everyone partys (sic) differently however smoking ice lowers your vibration and we do not want it at our festivals.” – Ash Cant

Ash Cant

Ash Cant

Tags assigned to this article:
Bush DoofDance partiesDoof