Here’s the true story behind the word “doof”

“Doof”: it’s an outstanding Aussie pejorative for dance music; it’s been co-opted into dance culture for the colloquialism “bush doof” (a term which made it into the Macquarie Dictionary a couple of years ago); and it’s having a worldwide moment right now thanks to Coma the Doof Warrior, the axe-shredding freak in Mad Max: Fury Road. It seems like we’ve been using the word “doof” forever, but as our friends at Junkee pointed out today, the word actually has a bona fide (appropriately insalubrious) origin story.

According to an upcoming documentary film called Do It Ourselves Culture being made by former techno/activist/punk producer (and member of activist party crew Ohms Not Bombs) Peter Strong, the term “doof” was coined in 1993 by an irate German resident of Newtown, upset by her next door neighbours’ late-night-partying habits.

As old school Sydney rave producer Kol Dimond tells it, “The birth of doof was at 600 King St on a balmy evening.” Local dance act Non Bossy Posse were jamming late into the night when their next door neighbour Helga took umbrage at the loud music. “What is this ‘doof’ ‘doof’ ‘doof’? This is not music,” angry Helga reportedly said. John Jacobs, another member of Non Bossy Posse, told the ABC recently that the band picked up on the term, using it for everything from the sound of a drum machine to the parties they threw, and thus Helga unwittingly coined a term that would become the quintessential Aussie name for anything with a beat.

Click play below to watch the documentary clip, including a ‘dramatic reconstruction’ of the historic event. The full documentary – featuring this tale of the birth of doof and accounts of the history of Sydney’s activist party scene in the ‘90s and ‘00s – is due sometime this winter: you can keep up to date via the documentary’s Facebook page.

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