Angie from Circus Variety Act and Charlie from Space Carbonara

‘We Used to Dance’

Monster Contributator Dougal Gorman has made a photo book and he wants you to come to the launch.

I’ve seen the book and it’s good. Unsurprising, really, as Dougal is a very good photographer, and his new book, We Used to Dance, is all the testimony he’ll ever need in a court case about whether he’s a good photographer or not. I caught up with Dougal just yesterday, at his home here in Sydney. We sat on his veranda and he poured tea. Biscuits? Well, yes, I suppose we did have some biscuits—if by ‘biscuits’ you mean macaroons. Read my interview with Dougal Gorman right now, please.

Buzz and Grace from R.M.F.C.

Who are you and what’s your star sign and how old are you and do you like chocolate?

I’m Dougal Gorman. My real name is Douglas Gorman, which is the same name as my dad. I’m a Sagittarius. I was born in 1996. I like chocolate, but I’m more of a baked goods guys: cookies, muffins, all that jazz.

What is this book We Used to Dance all about?

We Used to Dance is an intimate portrait series that explores the personal lives of Sydney musicians during their time in isolation. Thanks to fucking Covid, around March last year venues all across Sydney closed indefinitely, which not only affected the musicians but the live music community as a whole. The idea of We Used to Dance is to take people away from the chaos of the stage and offer an insight into the surprisingly calm lives of the musicians they normally see as these wild animals at live shows.

How long did it take to piece together?

The whole project has taken me just over a year. I started brainstorming a list of bands I wanted to shoot around the end of March (2020) then took it all from there. It’s been really rewarding to allow the project to develop over time rather than rushing shit.


I shot the bands over a few months or so, then the rest was all editing and piecing the book itself together. Making a book takes a lot of time and patience, one day you’re on a roll the next day you want to set yourself and the book on fire. It’s crazy, almost exactly one year later after making the book all of the shitty covid rules are no longer. Hopefully, this project can act as a reflection of the past year we’ve experienced.

How many bands are featured in the book?

There are around thirteen Sydney bands that feature.

Zoe from The Buoys

And who is they, these bands?

They are Space Carbonara, Circus Variety Act, Flight to Dubai, Pist Idiots, Bleeding Knees Club, Andy Golledge, C.O.F.F.I.N, Lincolns Gold, Johnny Hunter, Dog Dick Pink, Concrete Lawn, R.M.F.C and The Buoys. Mostly featuring one or two members from each band. It was hard to stop at just these bands because Sydney has so many more incredibly talented bands.

Cool, and there’s also an interview component, right?

There is! Every house I would visit I’d ask the same set of questions to each band. The questions are centred around reflecting on how isolation has affected their creative processes, what they miss the most and so on. It’s interesting to compare the responses on how each person was handling being isolated from live music and how it affected their mental health. All answers were handwritten so I could then scan them into the book.

As I understand it, the book features an afterword by the former Rolling Stone photo editor and stone fox, Rachel Knepfer. What’s she like and how do you say her last name?

Oh, man, Rachel is the best. She was so helpful and supportive with the project. Once I had my first dummy book ready—which was literally just A4 sheets of paper held together with a fat bulldog clip—I began reaching out to people to get their thoughts and feedback on the book to see where it was going. I have so many people to thank for helping me during this process, but Rachel really went above and beyond; she is such a wealth of knowledge when it comes to imagery and photo books. And I’m very jealous of her book collection. A few months after we met up, I reached out again to see if she would do a small afterword for me because I thought she was the one who understood my book and ideas the most.

Madi from Concrete Lawn

Good afterword?

Yeah! The afterword is beautiful and exactly what the book needed.

Did you figure out how to say her last name?

I have no idea how to say her last name; I think there’s some silent letters in there…

How many pages is this bastard book? Or, rather, how many pages is this book, bastard?

116 pages. Not too big not too small.

Jack from Pist Idiots

Why is a thriving music scene important? That’s a dumb question.

That’s a deep question, man.

Say word.

Thanks to covid, people have realised how shitty the world is without a live music scene—among other things. There’s been no real opportunity to dance, scream and get sweaty at a proper gig in over a year. So now that things are getting back to normal, people are more eager than ever to get out and support their local music scene, which is sick and super-exciting! Not only is it super-important for bands, but it’s also critical for the venues, bar staff, sound and lighting crews, all that jazz. At the end of the day, it’s all about the community that the music scene creates.

On a scale of one to ten, how stoked are you that things are getting back to normal in Australia?

11.5 out of 10.

Atlas from Flight to Dubai

Okay, let’s wrap this up. What are all the details we need to know for the launch?

The show goes down on April the 9th at Monster Children Gallery, 6-9 pm. On the night there will be a few things to purchase, including the 116-page hardcover book…

Called We Used to Dance.

Yeah, that and a variety of prints, t-shirts and tote bags. Hopefully, something for everyone. For all you pissheads, the event is sponsored by Grifter, Jameson and Doom Juice. I’d also like to say a major thanks to Carbon 8 in Marrickville for everything to do with printing this thing.

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