Narratives in Noise: Refl exivity, Migration and Liminality in the Australian Psytrance Scene
The Australian psytrance scene shifts between two primary social “places”, bush parties known as “doofs” and online discussion forums. Online forums are used to sustain doof culture between doofs, which are by nature transitory and fl eeting events. In this chapter I discuss an online psytrance community called Oztrance1, which is concerned primarily with doofs in the state of Victoria. I discuss how online sociality articulates the cultural signifi cance of “doofi ng”. Here psytrancers, through processes of collective memory, form a localised narrative about doof culture. The forum connects psytrancers in novel ways and affords lengthy, critical and refl exive discussions. These discussions carry the trace of the doof, but also include refl ections on the broader psytrance scene, its music, rituals, politics and aesthetics. The forum is thus a threshold where localised narrative can enter a broader psytrance narrative. “Narrative” is a powerful way of understanding the scene; psytrancers tell stories and they engage with themes. The migration from the virtual world of discussion forums to the liminal world of doofs is like a formula or plot. However, the way in which actors communicate online has been characterised by contemporary scholarship, not so much as narrative, but as noise. “Noise” has been expressed in relation to individualism and the breakdown of social relations, the loss of a sense of communal belonging and the rupture of shared meaning systems and rituals. These themes arise, in general, as a critique of our contemporary information society and they crystallise around the Internet and new modes of social networking. Yet, I argue that the Australian psytrance scene uses the tools and techniques of our information society to create and sustain shared meaning systems as well as sense of community. The way in which it does this, however, changes the nature of the scene, making it in a very specifi c sense refl exive.