Australians call a rave in the wilderness a bush doof because the bass on the hypnotic beats goes doof-doof-doof all night long. And, well, it takes place in the bush. I drive nine hours south of Sydney for my first bush doof, all to two-step with friends and strangers.
Half-a-day in, stomach grumbling, I stop in a shell of a town that looks like the set of an old Western. I step into a stale-smelling bar whose patrons have few teeth between them and roots growing into their seats. I order the burger. The barkeep asks if I’d prefer kangaroo or venison. I choose venison.
Nearing the doof, I turn off the pavement and onto a dirt track. The sun is low now, barely still alive in the sky. I kissed cellphone reception goodbye a while ago and am left with the directions I scribbled onto a napkin — right at this tree, left at that fork. An hour-and-a-half into what should be a 30-minute final leg and surrounded by impassable darkness, I admit I’m lost. Panic seeps in. I consider all the venomous creatures stalking these woods. “That’s it,” I think. “This is how Cole dies.”
Speeding frantically now through the black woods, the car lurches to a stop. Missing a drop-off on the side of the road, I run my bumper straight into a tree. All I can do is smile. My smile turns to a giggle, giggle to a chuckle, until soon, tears stream down my face in an uncontrollable fit. What a shit show. “Here lies Cole, the first Black man to meet his end while searching for a rave in the Australian outback.” As I wipe the tears from my eyes, I glance a pair of headlights floating in the wooded distance. It’s the first car I’ve seen in hours and, this far off the main road, it can only be headed in one direction. I race after it.
Cutting through the forest in a plume of dust, I can’t yet see the tent city but can hear the subtle rumblings now. All at once, a clearing emerges, an oasis of neon lights, the crowd in a state of sedated bliss. Androgynous partygoers prance in metallic spandex and pointed fairy ears. My heart slows as the angst drains, then quickens to catch the vibrations.
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Cole Brown Writer
Cole Brown is a political commentator and author of the book “Greyboy: Finding Blackness in a White World.”
Joanna Neborsky Illustrator
Literary, frenetic, and bold, illustrator/animator Joanna Neborsky’s darkly humorous collage work has been featured in the New York Times, Travel + Leisure, and W magazine, and has attracted notice in Bookforum and the Paris Review. Her latest book, her own modern take on the Proust Questionnaire, was published in 2016. Neborsky lives in Los Angeles.