My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

The Gothic subculture is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, and looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Tim Burton, Siouxsie Sioux and Anne Rice et al.) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. Goth should not be limited by what is considered "goth", inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Traditional Goth, Modern Goth and Scene Snobbery

Goth was a very different thing in the '80s. I wasn't a goth back then, and I wasn't even born yet for a lot of the '80s. What I can remember is vague - some things are clear, like footage on television of the Berlin Wall coming down and this being somehow Very Important even if I didn't understand why at the time - but most of what memories I do have are very vague.  I have been interested in the early days of the subculture for a long while, and from what I've learnt, it was a very different beast. Two things stand out: it was called Goth by outsiders, the media, etc. not necessarily by the people within, and it was primarily about the music. 

The fashion was rather different too, partly because Goth-specific off-the-rack clothes didn't exist and partly because a lot of inspiration came from what the bands wore, and what the bands wore was sometimes stuff that wouldn't be called 'Goth' at all today (and if it was worn today would seem decidedly and deliberately retro '80s and might get the person accusations of "hipster"!). Patterned shirts were more common, and there was a lot of adaptation of mainstream clothes. There was less inspiration from Medieval or other anachronistic styles, and it was often more a layering of black street-wear customised with studs or band logos in the manner of punk. Despite Goth being associated with all black now, where it crossed over with Punk colours were certainly involved. Trousers were tight and preferably leather, boots were pointy. 

The hair was different; the sleeked back look had not really come in, nor red curls, and certainly not things like cyber dreads and the predominant style was to either bleach or dye black, then crimp and back-comb. Some rather creative styles were done via backcombing, including death-hawks (fluffy mohawks), Jareth-esque styles (see 'Labyrinth' staring David Bowie to see what I mean) and big fluffy Siouxsie Sioux styles or more deliberately unkempt Robert Smith styles. The makeup for women was heavily influenced by the likes of Siouxsie, with an ancient Egyptian element and straight eyebrows and lots of heavy black, sometimes accented with colours.  

Me with a Romantic Goth skirt and black foofy hair.

I identify as a Romantic Goth. I know and acknowledge the '80s Goth and it is my musical preference (and does impact on my fashion as I have foofy hair on some occasions, and Siouxsie make-up on regular occasions) but that is not personally how I like to dress. I prefer the lace and funereal elegance, the anachronism and the decadence of the Romantic Goth style. However much I adore female Goth icons like Siouxsie Sioux or Patricia Morrison, I would rather dress in a way that pleases me than emulate their style. That said, I adore pointy boots and want some rather nice ones from Pennangalan that come with very pointy toes and pentacle buckles. Pointy boots have a definite place in Romantic Goth fashion. 

Goth now is a much broader thing, part art movement, part subculture. I don't like those who try and put "rules" on Goth, trying to keep it like the Goth of the teenagers and young adults of the early '80s experienced it at that time.  Goth has always been a place for individualists, after all, and self-expression has always been one of the few tenets that binds this amorphic group of black-clad people. That said, there is still certainly a place for the fashion of the '80s goths, and '80s Goth music is certainly not dead (maybe it is undead?) and I hear at least some Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, Joy Division and (yes, I'm mentioning her again...) Siouxsie at every Goth night I go to, even if there's EBM & Industrial or even Marilyn Manson being played too. 

The new influences do not dilute the subculture, they prevent ideological inbreeding - imagine Goth like a group of wild animal; if it stayed within its own gene-pool it would become inbred and sickly rather than reinforced, but if it mingles and breeds with compatible groups, it grows stronger. It is like that with the creative influences of Goth - Goth is not a purebred show-dog which inherits genetic weaknesses along with its genetic 'purity', it is a mongrel from the city, bred to survive and feed off the dark parts of the world. Members of the Goth subculture overlap with other subcultures, especially other ones with a musical core, as few people like only one single genre of music, for example, my love of Celtic and folk music does not cancel out my adoration of Andrew Eldritch's dark crooning and or the bilingual madness of Asylum Party. 

Goth has also grown out from its musical roots, but those roots run deep and keep the many more modern branches aloft (more nature metaphors...) Even manifestations such as Cyber, that cross with Industrial and seem to hold little relation to the original Goth subculture of the '80s do look back to their roots - for example French Synthpop/EBM/Bodypop band Celluloide did a cover of the Dead Can Dance song "In The Power We Trust The Love Advocated" and it was actually quite danceable. The new variations do not exist at the exclusion of the older ones, and it is possible for them to peaceably co-exist. 

I really do not like the inter-scene snobbery - people looking down on Metal, Lolita, Industrial, etc. on the grounds that it is not Goth - they're separate subcultures, even if they have strong links with the Goth subculture now, so what is there to be snobby about? It is just a difference, it is not an inferiority, and just because one person does not like it does not mean that there is nothing inherently worthwhile about it for the people who do like it. I also do not like the snobbery towards people who have a strong interest in two or more subcultures or are from a hybrid subculture - for example Cybergoths, the subcultural inspiration for whom is part Goth, part fetish, part Cyber and part Rave - or for people who predominantly have an interest in one particular subculture, but also a partial interest in another - for example someone who is mostly interested in Goth but also likes Metal on occasions. 

While it is perfectly acceptable to be of the opinion that not all changes in the Goth subculture are to your taste, and to believe that it has changed nearly beyond recognition (it has certainly changed a lot over the decades) it is not acceptable to ridicule others, in person or on the internet, for not seeing Goth the same way you do. Goth has no doctrine, no rules and no ideology. While there are those who appear to be fruits that fell far from the tree and do all sorts of things with little relation to original subculture and call it Goth, and those who simply misapply the term in ignorance (especially in terms of music genre), and these people can be annoying, treating others with cruelty and mockery does nothing to remedy the problem. Living your own Goth life to the fullest and living as an example of what you think Goth should be at least may have a positive influence, and if you feel compelled to "correct" or "educate" people, at least do so in a polite, positive and encouraging manner - those lessons are more likely to stay learnt, anyway. 

It is cliched advice, but be the change you want to see in the world. If you think there needs to be more Batcave-era music at your local Goth club, request songs you like instead of bitching about the fact that the things you like are never played, but be aware that other patrons will have other tastes, and that the music is ultimately up to the DJ. If you think too few people go out with backcombed hair, wear yours up backcombed at the weekend with pride or post about how to back-comb on your blog so that newbies can be educated. It is important the roots of the subculture are not forgotten, but is also important to allow others to make their own corner within - and outside - the subculture without mockery and snobbery. 

27 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, I got some flack, for the first time ever, personally, for being "not goth". It didn't bother me as a Goth because I know who I am and what I like and I don't need external validation on that one; the actual "Goth" word isn't that precious to me, and even if one or two people don't consider me Goth, the term still serves a valid indicator of my interests and musical tastes to most, but suddenly I started spotting how much of this elitism there was everywhere else. I'd seen strains of it, but I think it opened my eyes to just how much is out there, and I felt that I had to say something about this. I've read a few articles about being nice to Babybats, and a few articles about what to do when on the receiving end of this behaviour, but I hadn't seen any articles on why it was a bad idea in the first place. The Eldergoths that behave like this are a minority, and most older Goths I've met are lovely people, but the minority are becoming more vocal on the internet, at least (that or I'm just noticing them more often). I'm probably a good ten to fifteen years younger than some of the people who act like this, but if they're behaving in this sort of manner, they're not acting their age.

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  2. You wrote a very nice article. This is so very true.

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    1. Thankyou. As I said to Mel, I hadn't come across an article dealing with the problem itself, more in terms of what to do when you come across the receiving end of the elitism, so I thought I'd write about why it's not a good way of dealing with change in the scene.

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  3. lovely words as always, love the idea of comparing us to wild animals *giggles*

    my clothes and stuff range from everything 80's/diy over romantic up to fetish/military just because i've spent my last 13 years and have changed over the time. so it all depends on my mood what people hate me when go clubbing XD i dont care, it should be fun for all of us :-D (ok, i have to admit to do some bitching sometimes too but i always try to stay on the nicer side)

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    1. I think all the time I spend as a conservation volunteer has given me a taste for nature metaphors!

      I'm a Romantic Goth most of the time, but I have an interest in the Industrial/Rivethead scene too, and have a few outfits that are a bit of both worlds, as well as a few very '80s styled bits and a love for wearing ripped tights as sleeves and re-working my stripy socks once the feet wear through to be arm-warmers. I have a thing for stripes, always have, since long before my Goth days. I've fluctuated between subcultures, and might be a bit more Gothic than Goth (I was into the architecture, art and literature long before I'd heard of Babybat bands like Evanescence, let alone heard of The Sisters of Mercy or anyone like that), and I don't want to be completely bound by the subculture. I put being myself above being 'a Goth' - I call myself a Goth because it makes for useful short-hand in terms of interests and music. You're right - the scene should be fun!

      I think everyone who has been in the scene a while gets a giggle or from the more incompetent Babybats, or has a moment of slight cattiness when high fashion or hipster pseudo-rebellion decides to latch onto Goth for a season (that's not to bash Nu-Goths who genuinely feel a connection to the '80s scene and to the newer musicians like Zola Jesus) but I think there is a fine line between acceptable levels of eye-rolling and suchlike and things that might be hurtful, so it is best to err on the side of good natured teasing even in the cases of the worst Juggalo-Babybat crossbreed fashion fails I tend to go with "Oh dear" rather than be catty.

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  4. I don't really have a specific Goth style -- this used to annoy me, but it really shouldn't (and doesn't anymore). I lean more towards to Deathrock (Goth + Punk) and "casual Goth" if there is a way to stick a subcategory on me. The diversity of the subculture is what really pleases me. No room for elitists!

    Nice article, by the way.

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    1. Thankyou :) It's the diversity of the subculture is one of my favourite things about it too.

      I tend to go down one form of Romantic Goth or the other. I openly admit to borrowing fashion ideas from the Visual Kei, Aristo and Lolita fashion, and some of the ideas about trying to lead a polite and refined existence (although this might have something to do with being sent to an English all-girls church boarding school or two) but the music from the Visual Kei scene has never appealed to me. I also like Rivethead/Industrial /Cyber music (and will openly admit that it is a separate genre to Goth). Basically, while my interests are mostly Goth-centered, they are a bit of a nebulous cloud around Goth meandering into neighbouring subculture. I do sometimes revert to type and appear in a more spiky and back-combed sort of way. I like to put backcombing and spikes with Romantic stuff too.

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  5. I completely agree! Well said! I have a theory that anyone who aggressively pushes their opinions regarding "true goth" is either VERY new or very elitist. Sadly I've met both. Usually the majority perpetrating this sort of behaviour comes from fifteen year olds who are still unsure about themselves and are trying to find their way. They'll either cringe about their behavior later on down the road. Or blindly feel smug about it later on and grow into a more concretized elitist mindset.

    I've found that the main problem is rooted in people wanting to be exclusive. Otherwise, something as simple as someone thinking industrial is another facet of goth wouldn't be an issue. Really, someone else's views on Goth doesn't change your own. It's just that some want to keep the "G" word exclusive to those they feel are "fit" to use it. It's like the Sneetches in Dr. Seuss.

    These days I'm liking the term "dark alternative" even more and more for myself. As I like a mixture of bands that are liked within that scene (if one could call it that). :3

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    1. When young Goths start pushing their theory of "troo goff" aggressively they're also usually miles out - like the teenage person who told me I wasn't Goth because I didn't own every Marilyn Manson CD ever and was wearing (may the Gods forgive me!) a very dark green velvet skirt... Green happens to be my favourite colour, and I was wearing it with a black corset, black boots and black shirt under the corset, dyed black hair and black make-up with a touch of dark green above the eyes. I was even wearing black lipstick and black nail-polish. Apparently, to be a true Goth to them, you had to wear all black every single day of your life and worship at the feet of Marilyn Manson...

      I think your right about the exclusivity thing to a point - they feel that something precious to them is being diluted or changed, and they want to fence off that precious thing. I've not read Dr. Seuss. Probably something to do with a French childhood. What's a Sneetch?

      I call myself a Romantic Goth - I'm a Romantic that's also a Goth, and by Romantic I mean the capital R version of the word.

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  6. Very good article and follow up comments from yourself and the other commenters as usual.
    (I've been reading your blog for a few days now and have the newsfeed in my bookmarks toolbar, but this is the first time I've commented).

    I first heard about Goth in 1986 when attending my first lecture at University, I happened to sit next to a very pleasant Goth guy from Leeds. By then, the whole Goth thing had peaked in his hometown, with the Sisters of Mercy having gone from being just a local band to international success. There had been a time when he might have gone for a drink at The Faversham and run into Craig Adams, but those days were over.

    To pin down exactly "the day the music died" (*rolls-eyes*), I read Pete Scathe's History of Goth but concluded that in fact Goth is just continually evolving.

    I don't think it makes much sense to argue with someone who says "Goth today is not proper Goth". I'm sure it will look rather different to what they remember, however, certain traits seem pretty much the same: cynicism, seriousness, thoughtfulness, unconventionality, a sensitive nature, an interest in the alternative/bizarre, a liberal/libertarian attitude - I've never met a homophobic, racist, belong-to-this-religion-or-go-to-hell, political extremist Goth.

    I've always avoided arguments about this subject although I know plenty of it has gone on over the years at various newsgroups, forums and social networks. For some people their belief (opinion) of what 'Goth' means is similar to fundamentalist religious zealotry. I find this very hard to understand as it is not a Goth trait I recognise. I thought we were basically a tolerant people!

    So, what do I remember of the Goth world from 1986 on...

    Fashion was black.
    (I went to a Mission concert and there was practically no other colour).
    There was Goth clothing available - there was a big alternative clothing market in Leeds.
    But my friend was as likely to have bought a black blouse from Chelsea Girl as he was to have bought a shirt from there. Clothing could come from any source provided it was suitable.

    Hair was BIG - mucho back-combing and hairspray.
    Tatoos were uncommon. Piercings were few.

    There were Goths around from other cultures - at the Mission concert, for example, I was standing next to a Goth girl from my course who was of Indian Jain ethnic origin.

    Music was rock as played by the likes of Bauhaus, The Fields of the Nephilim and The Sisters of Mercy, The Cult etc. Perhaps surprisingly, Siouxsie and The Cure were never given as examples of Gothic music by the Goths I knew then, and the most I ever heard said of the Cocteau Twins was "It's alternative 'falling-asleep' music". Goths certainly listened to all these bands and many others of course, but if asked, the same few 'safe-examples' came up again and again.

    Orlando.

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    1. Thankyou :)

      And thankyou MORE for all the interesting stuff about latter '80s Goth :D

      I've read Scathe's pages before - ages and ages ago when I was doing research at college for some essays... My music tutor was a spiky-haired sort (and apparently friends with Nigel Kennedy) and was having none of me being an ignorant Babybat who hadn't heard of any of the original Goth bands so had me write an essay on the origins of Goth... I read that article, a few other articles, and listened to SO MUCH music in that week. I went from Babybat to adoring '80s goth music.

      I have no intentions on arguing with people about whether Goth today is 'Proper Goth" or not - and while I wasn't part of the early scene, and wasn't even alive then, you can hear it in the difference in music and see it in the old photographs that Goth has changed.

      My belief in there being more colour stemed from pictures on stuff like ThisIsGothic http://nowthisisgothic.tumblr.com and the excerpts of old documentaries on Youtube where I'd see mostly black, but a lot more flashes of denim and bright colours and punky bits (and the colour being on the people who seemed to have a broad punk streak in their Goth) than I see now. This is possibly because these are casual snapshots or footage from clubs, etc. and most of what I look at from the present are carefully prepared photo-shoots where people are wearing their absolute finery and sometimes trying to be deliberately Very Very Gothic. I also looked at pictures of Siouxsie, The Cure, etc. wearing colours (inc Siouxsie wearing a yellow gypsy outfit in the video to 'Spellbound' :P).

      I didn't know Leeds had an alternative market, and the only sign of clothes made for the Goth market from the decade that I'd seen were black-and-white pamphlets/catalogues advertising pointy boots and biker-goggles. I also hear lots of railing about "in my day you had to make your own". (I still make my own - I like DIY fashion).

      Oh yes, certainly lots of big hair and back-combing. While I can't settle on one hair-style for longer than a couple of days (and sometimes a few hours - how I love my wigs) I do like the big hair thing, and I like how it works with a variety of dark fashion choices.

      It's interesting that you mentioned that there were Goths from other cultural backgrounds - I saw a few coloured people while looking through old photographs but by the early '90s they seem to have vanished, and while I see a few around now, they seem to have to struggle against a perception that Goths can only be really, really pale. Personally, I see absolutely no problem with goths not being sheet-white, as a lot of European goths can't achieve that without whiteface that's thick and often unsightly. I'm naturally very pale and still don't go for the ultra-white makeup.

      Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance etc. were more their own thing and are definitely stylistically different. Yes, they were all 4AD Records types, but they never sounded like Bauhaus or the like (not even the first tracks on DCD's self-titled album which were more like Goth rock than anything else they produced) but U have always thought of them as being Goth, but maybe it would have been better to think of them as Gothic - it's an eerie, Pagan, ancient, architectural sort of world they inhabit, more ghosts in the monastery, fallen civilisations and midnight at Stonehenge than big hair and leather trousers.

      It really does surprise me that Siouxsie wasn't referred to as Goth... she seemed to have been the visual inspiration for all the Goth girls that didn't emulate Patricia Morrison! The Banshees started out as Punk, so maybe that was the reason. I always assumed that The Cure had started off Goth and then went pop, maybe because someone at the record company thought they were heading in commercially poor directions.


      My other half has this whole Fields of the Nephellim look, complete with hat, but listens to Industrial... O.o

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    2. *AND a lot of Europeans, not AS

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  7. Well I used the word 'cynicism'...
    Perhaps I should have said 'skepticism'.
    Read about the origin of the word (Wikipedia) and decide for yourself.

    "...None of this meant that the Cynic would retreat from society. Cynics would in fact live in the full glare of the public's gaze and would be quite indifferent in the face of any insults which might result from their unconventional behaviour."

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    1. Well, I think it's a modern cynicism, a touch of jaded contempt for establishments corporate, governmental, religious and social inherited from Punk and the fact that most establishments have a lot of things wrong with them... That said the Classical Cynics public defiance of convention and the way they turned a term originally used as an insult to mean something they saw as a positive thing, and how they eschewed a societal focus on the acquisition of wealth, fame and power and were seen as lewd and shameless for their behaviour does indeed remind me of a subculture - Punk!

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  8. Yes, I think you're right about Siouxsie Sioux - as well as a musician she has been a very important alternative fashion inspiration for women. In the 80s, she would have been remembered for her punk origin and the tag just carried over. Maybe that's the reason she hates being labelled as anything. Siouxsie has always been well dressed. Check out this old BBC show: Rock Goes to College (1981) - great taste in cloths!

    The Goth world I remember from the 80s is obviously from an individual perspective rather than representing the full state of things as they were. Even so, I am surprised how little I agree with much of what is written down about Goth of that period. I wonder if this is because most of what is said was written much later. I just don't know. The best I can do is to try and accurately describe my personal experience on the understanding that it was one person, in one place, at one time.

    Apart from the trad gothic rock bands, other music I remember 80s Goths listening to was: The The, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and The Velvet Underground.

    No one seemed to refer to themselves as a Goth - they adopted the style and black clothing but simply professed a liking for Gothic Rock and other alternative music.

    I think most of what we refer to today as 'The Goth subculture' actually came somewhat later. The same thing has happened in a greatly accelerated way (now that we have the internet) with Steampunk. And one of two of those who were into it before it was 'a thing', are highly vocal critics of what it has become, and to what the term is used to refer to today.

    Returning to memories of 1986... I became friends with that first Goth I met at University and went to visit him in Leeds over the next summer vacation. I told him I wanted to learn more about Goth and he said we should talk to a friend of his, know as 'B', who was "well into the whole thing". The friend was a tall thin guy with Robert Smith hair, an art student. Although I rarely find other men handsome, I have to say that I was strangely attracted to this chap. (I found out years later that when I'd met him was just before a very brief period he declared himself bisexual. Hmm... Do you think that *means* anything? lol).
    After a few drinks at a pub we returned to B's parent's house. His folks were away and had left him in charge of a nice suburban house. I don't think I saw very much of it as about six of us including B's girlfriend went straight up to his small bedroom. That was the first time I'd ever been in a room that was painted totally matt black. I found it very cosy and relaxing, nothing like I'd imagined it would be. There was a couple of animal skulls on the wall, his mom's favourite doll from her childhood sitting on a shelf and a desk covered in all the paraphernalia artists and graphic design students have lying around. A perfect host, he made us all tea/coffee, put some music on (Cocteau Twins, I think), fired up some incense from that legendary Leeds emporium, The Sorcerer's Apprentice
    and started rolling the first of several spliffs. Although I'm sure a good time was enjoyed by all, the sad fact is that little else has managed to make its way into long term memory. Anyone wishing to wag a finger and say "That's why they call it 'dope'!", may now do so.

    Orlando.

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    1. Thankyou for sharing your experiences. Heh, I don't think art-student bedrooms now are any less full of paraphernalia - there's a drawing table and several portfolio carriers, a selection of over-sized paintings I did for college and a large collection of art materials at my Dad's house that has of yet not migrated to my apartment because I simply don't live somewhere large enough to store all that.

      I have a long-held desire to have a room with either black damask wall paper or deep purple, but I don't think Raven would like that - he likes his decor a bit more airy. If we ever live in a property where I can have a room just for my crafts and relaxation, I will have my dark wallpaper and display my skull collection properly.

      I was doing Steampunk as a thing before I knew Steampuk was a thing :P I went through a phase of wanting to look like my late 18thC and early 19thC literary, musical and artistic heroes... combined with my love of all things science fiction and fantasy. I then found out about Steampunk as a subculture, and for a while had an interest in it, but as my tastes were generally darker, I ended up more of a Romantic and anachronistic Goth.

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  9. Thank you for this very well-written and well thought out post. I couldn't agree with you more. Everything changes and evolves, as has the Goth subculture.

    In your response to the first comment you said, "I know who I am and what I like and I don't need external validation on that one..." I feel the same way.

    We're all individuals and I believe that we all express our likes, dislikes and gothiness differently. The adherence to strict interpretations of what the subculture is can only lead to stagnation, which in my opinion, is counter-productive.

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    1. I agree with what you say. We ARE all individuals, even if we do fit under the umbrella of what is Goth, and if we weren't all a bit different it would be quite stagnant and it would have passed away like so many of the transient youth cultures that have been and gone. Goth became more than a few young fans of non-mainstream bands, and blossomed.

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  10. Just in case you didn't know already,
    Carrie has featured your blog...
    Dark Side of the Net: 6 Really Cool Goth Blogs

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  11. This is a interesting post and I love it! I must say I like the diversity in the scene as well, there's room for individualists like us and no elitists who try limit others and be snobby of others as the be and end all of 'Goth'. As a goth myself I tend to be a mix of things that I cannot be put in one subgenre. Trad, deathrock, victorian, romantic and casual with geeky, creative and gamer tendencies. About the Trad Goths back in the 80's, the principle they upholded was 'being yourself'. They least didn't have the 'gother than thou' attitude like you get nowadays and were more laid back.

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    1. It always seems ironic when Goths who have been doing this since before I was born start saying "you're doing it wrong" because they're the ones old enough to remember how Goth was born of Post-Punk and Punk - not exactly the subcultural lineage for rule-following. Yes, there has to be some vague edge where stuff isn't Goth any more, but it doesn't have to be starkly delineated and it doesn't have to be rigidly enforced. You can politely debate whether something is goth or not, you can think things aren't goth, you can point out that opinion politely, but to just mock and say something is not goth without further explanation is plain rude and goes against the spirit of the subculture. People don't have to agree over what is Goth, but they ought to be polite about their disagreements, especially those who are old enough to know better.

      When I posted about The Cure, one of my posters debated and I debated whether they were Goth or not, and how I feel that, until they became very pop, that they were, but she worded it so that it was not an attack, debated very politely, and I at least thought it was a productive and interesting discussion.

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  12. I'm gearing up to workshopping a new vampire rock opera - and wonder how you might define a modern look for say - a trendy vampire dance club? I want to have a cross-section of ages and genres - any specific pieces that would scream older or more modern?? Would there be a way to have costumes read as authentic to a goth audience? A particular piece that if a goth was viewing the show their mind might be blown because it's known to them, but not to your average viewer? Suggestions?? Thanks!

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    1. Well, I'm not sure how a /vampire/ would dress, but I can help with the what's authentic Goth. Be careful not to give the impression that real Goths are vampires or think they are vampires. It's fine in a fantasy setting, don't worry, but one of the questions I endlessly end up fielding from people who think they are being funny is "DO you think you are a vampire" and the second being "So, do you drink blood?"

      I can say how a trendy Goth night-club might look (think Slimelight, for example). I'd say to concentrate on making sure everyone looks very "put-together" as we tend to put a lot of time and effort into our appearances for clubbing. Your best bet is to look at Tumblr for examples of real Goths' outfit posts. Modern goths tend to dress in clothes from all parts of the history of the Goth subculture, but Trad Goth, its earliest incarnations are more distinct. Think Patricia Morrison or Siouxsie for female identifying people - very dramatic, almost angular heavy makeup, dyed-black back-combed hair, ripped fishnets, fishnet gloves, statement-piece jewellery, customised leather jackets, lots of black, pointy winkle-picker boots. Actually, customised leather jackets and winkle-picker boots are pretty non-gendered. I'd also suggest band t-shirts from the period (Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, Siouxsie, etc.). Pennangalan winkle-pickers!

      The really ostentatious Victorian and Romantic goth styles are usually reserved for balls and more sedentary occasions because they're often a bit impractical for clubbing. Underbust corsets (slightly less restrictive than over-bust corsets) are frequently seen, as are elaborate dresses that are short enough not to risk entanglement or being a trip hazard. Look through brands like Lip Service, Banned Clothing, Jaw-Breaker and suchlike.

      Avoid white-face makeup - pallor is one thing, but there is a big difference between Goth makeup and corpse-paint. Makeup is not only for women in the Goth subculture. Most Goths are very careful in their makeup application - check out other blogs.

      Remember, not all real Goths have the same level of fashion skill, sewing skill, or make-up skill, so cross-reference tutorials, guides and fashion posts because someone else might be able to do the same thing better or give clearer instructions or a more applicable method.

      Avoid dressing characters as "babybat" Goths unless they are intended to be new to the subculture (i.e meant to be babybats) - stay clear of cheap lace, unmatching blacks, badly mixed subgenres, and an overload of accessories (especially in checkered and horizontal striped patterns - these aren't bad in and of themselves, just not in overdose quantities).

      Plenty of ankh necklaces, studded collars (make sure they are wide or narrow enough to suit the neck they are on) and plenty of layering are all good for all Goth sorts. Trenchcoats are a cliche for a reason, but most of us put them in the coat store/cloakroom when we arrive because they are hot and impractical for in the club... that said I know a guy who'd turn up to the sweatiest, warmest club I used to frequent in a full length fur coat!

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  13. I really enjoyed this article, but I would like to mention that Victorian styles also entered into it, sort of a cross polination of vampire, victorian and the whole goth thing. Me personally, I love the clubs and I totally love the victorian era clothes. I love antiques, candles, all that stuff. I see goths posing in old house, castles and cemeteries all the time, all things rich in history and character, that have time and beauty in them. Me personally, I really go for the music of Nightwish, Midnight Syndicate and old shows such as Munster, Addams Family and Dark Sahdows. Those were the days of style, class, and elegance, much different from the plane Jane society we have now. I dont take ridicule or negativity toward Goth well.

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    1. Oh, I am well aware of the Victorian influences - I'm a Romantic Goth with a taste for corsets, parasols and general anachronism! My taste in decor involves lots of candles, lots of fancy fabrics and detail, detail, detail! What I'm not entirely sure of is exactly when this started becoming a strong theme. While I was alive for part of the '80s, I was a rather little child, and unaware of the Goth subculture and its nuances. I have seen pictures of Dave Vanian rocking the vampire look from back in the '80s and one of Patricia Morrison looking gorgeous, hugging her bass while dressed in black lace, long nails and lots of rings, which apparently dates from 1987, and there's also that ghostly white dress she wore on Top of The Pops, but I'm not sure when the whole vampires and horror movies aesthetic took hold in the fans. When I look through old photographs of Goths (if you're interested, there's a few dedicated tumblrs) I don't see the Victorian, Medieval-inspired and other Romantic styles appearing until around 1993-ish. If any of the older Goths actually know more about when Romantic Goth became more of a thing (and grouped with All About Eve, Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, etc.) , I would love to know.

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