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, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. 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.

Goth 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, the expression of that in Goth rock. It 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 (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, 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. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Romanticism, Mysticism and Witchcraft

As I may have mentioned before, I am Neo-Pagan. For a while I was Wiccan, but these days I don't follow that path. I see my faith as more of a spiritual extension of my Romantic outlook than as religion, and the two are certainly intertwined in my thinking. First and foremost I am a pantheist with a strong regard for what I see as the intrinsic divinity of the Universe. I am not the sort to anthropomorphise my view of the divine - I don't believe in the personifications of the divine as various Gods and Goddesses, nor as a humanoid single God. To me the Earth, the sky, the sun, the moon the vastness of space - the universe, really - ARE God. To me the Divine is intrinsic, immanent, omnipresent in a literal way, not some transcendental being. 

The rocks providing a natural wall. Craig Phadrig, Inverness
I am not entirely sure on the consciousness of the Divine - the idea of one set of monolithic governing thought seems strange to me. I prefer the idea of the Universe being conscious of itself through its denizens rather than having its own separate consciousness. I think this belief in a sanctity of everything rather than a 'spirit' of everything is what differentiates me from an animist. 

Looking ponderous in the late evening.
These days I do still celebrate the eight major Neo-Pagan holidays, but I don't do so as a group. Sometimes I celebrate with a few friends, but I am not part of a Coven or anything similar. I go to the Pagan moots when I can though. To me, faith is mostly a private thing, which is why I am not really writing about it in any depth here. I have been asked before, so this post exists. I have never really felt the inclination to join a 'working group' or any Pagan equivalent to a Church. I'd much rather commune quietly in the forest. 

Lurking amongst the ferns.
I am not really into mythologising the world around me, hence my rejection of God and Goddess characters, and this extends into mythological creatures. While I do believe in the existence of beings that people might consider 'supernatural' and have encountered things that would commonly be termed ghosts, I don't like categorising any such encounters and experiences into the usual mythological taxonomy of angels, fae, demons and suchlike. Partly this is because I like to keep an open mind about what happened, and while I like the 'supernatural' explanations, I know I have no definitive proof of that or any other explanation, and not categorising what happened is part of how I try not pigeon-hole and look upon these experiences narrowly. 

Hiding behind a tree.
I get categorised as a Witch, but I don't like the word - it has too many fantasy-world connotations of flying brooms and turning people into frogs and talking animals and suchlike. I also don't like being called a psychic, as I am no good at 'seeing' the future or any form of pre-cognition, and am also no medium. I do practice what gets termed 'magic' or 'magick' but it is more like a prayer to the universe or or a very exacting wishing than pointing a wand and expecting pyrotechnics and miraculous instantaneous change. I have no idea how magick works, but in my experience I consistently get what I try for, so I will continue to believe in its existence. Don't try requesting spells from me - I won't do them. I know I might be wrong about the existence of magick and that a lot of people think it's hooey, but really, if it doesn't exist all I've done is waste a few moments of time and the cost of a few coloured candles that I'd have probably bought anyway because I like decorating with candles. 

Watching birds above.
The only thing that bugs me is people who assume I am a Witch because as a Romantic Goth I look a LOT like a stereotypical witch, just minus the pointy hat. I even have a lot of silver 'occult' jewellery and a black cat, and I am a walking cliche, but there are a lot of other Goths who look a lot like me who are Christians, Atheists, Agnostics, Jews, Muslims, etc. etc. and while that assumption might be right with me, the version of 'Witch' they are assuming is going to have a lot more to do with Harry Potter or Charmed than Wicca or Neo-Paganism. 

The photographs have nothing to do with me being Neo-Pagan or witchy other than I'm wandering around a forest and wearing a zodiac necklace and pentagram rings; I just wanted an excuse to use them for something. I guess in some ways they reinforce that stereotypical image of the witch - and yes, they were inspired by Morgan La Fey - but this is also a lot of just how I am and how I look like on a day-to-day basis; I wear that medieval-fantasy dress as a summer dress, that is my favourite wig and I love wearing lots of jewellery. Yes, I do like the aesthetic of the stereotypical witches and sorceresses, that fantasy archetype that gets oft recycled, but that's more part of me being Goth than of me being a Witch. I know more earthy nature-loving Hippy Witches than Goth ones, and I know as many male Witches as female, too. 

All photographs are by Raven, although he doesn't think they are his best. The low light levels were tricky, but trying to do this shoot was an educational experience. Spooky colour-changes and other such post-production was done by me as an exercise in being more artistic with Photoshop. 

Friday, 29 March 2013

Inverness Castle

Another architectural instalment for Photographic Friday!

Inverness Castle from across the river.
As far as castles go, Inverness Castle building is quite young. It's 19thC, built just before Queen Victoria ascended to the throne. There has been a castle on that site for centuries, though. The current castle was built as a police-station, prison and court, and to this day it is the Sherif's Court. I actually got summoned for jury duty to the Castle, and while it has been decorated with the plainness of most municipal buildings for the most part, the courtrooms themselves do have a level of Gothic grandeur. The castle is built in the Scottish Baronial style, and has quite a few pointless turrets, towers and suchlike. It was never built defensively, as the false arrow-slits and large windows attest. It's weird to think of a castle as a functional building rather than as a relic from a former age or a ruin, because virtually every castle I have visited has been either used as a museum or been ruined. 

Another of the photographs from across the River Ness
I have tried photographing the Castle on numerous occasions since I moved to Scotland, but Inverness Castle is strangely resistant to photography. Part of it is because it is only really visible in full from the opposite bank of the river, and many photographs of the castle end up being taken from the same few vantage points on that bank, and thus seem practically identical except for the weather conditions, lighting and cropping. I have, actually, taken two full views of the castle from the North bank of the Ness, but I have also tried to photograph the castle from a wider variety of angles. 

From the car-park up the brae.
For the photograph above I walked up above the castle, higher up the hill, and took a photograph of the most prominent towers against the hills behind. The light was perfect to separate it from the surrounding landscape, and I think this is one of the best photographs of the Castle that I have taken so far. The last thing I want is to be derivative, but there are a finite number of good vantage points from which to photograph the castle. This picture appears to be from a new one, because so far I have not seen one quite like it. Perhaps some people think that the ducts and pipes on the roof ruin it somewhat, but to me, at least, seeing how things work is interesting. My only wish is that there had been a few more clouds in the sky that day, rather than just the hazy gradient that is almost invisible once the image was turned from colour to shades of grey.

A sense of verticality. 
This photograph was taken from Castle Wynd, up behind Inverness Museum, on the steps that head down to the riverside behind the shops and offices. The composition is a bit unorthodox, and it was an attempt to emphasise the sense of height and massiveness in a building that is spread over quite a horizontal space and can therefore seem smaller in height than it actually is. I also wanted to focus on the unusual and irregular roofline. I debated having all the 'vertical' lines converge centrally, but then went for everything being at a slant - this may not have been as good a compositional idea as I thought it was.

Finally, the standard touristic image of the castle, in full colour. I figured that with the black and white images it seems that the castle is grey, but in fact it is a sandy reddish-brown colour. Also, I wanted to prove that Inverness does indeed get blue skies once in a while! This late afternoon image may seem warm, but it was actually one of those cold but clear Scottish days that is deceptively bright, and actually quite chilly. 

I hope you enjoyed this blog instalment. I am quite the fan of castles in various styles of architecture (although I prefer the older ones actually built as fortifications) and so trying to take good photographs of the castle in Inverness is an enjoyable ongoing challenge for me. At some point in the future I will probably post about the castle again, hopefully with better photographs as I learn to improve my architectural photography skills. 

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Clubbing Etiquette

Hints and Tips To Make Clubbing More Enjoyable For Everyone

I was re-reading old Gothic Charm school posts, and this is inspired by a couple of posts by The Lady of The Manners (The wonderful Jillian Venters) which can be read ::here:: (contains swears), ::here:: and ::here::. I've taken my own spin on this, and decided to mention a few other points based on my own experience of life in Goth club-land.

Photograph from Alternative X in the Karma Lounge, Inverness.
Raven and I. I think him being a cyber/industrial type has been mentioned.
Photograph by Sammi from Karma Lounge in Inverness. 
Do not bitch about how club nights never play music you like, instead do something positive about it and make requests, or politely enter the music discussions that often exist on the web pages for club nights. If they play things you do like, mention it, and if they play something you like and you don't know what it was, check the playlist afterwards - you can find some interesting bands that way. When making requests, remember that you are supposed to request and not demand, and do be polite to the DJ. Also, keep a note of what has already been played and remember the musical theme of the night. E.g Goth night is not metal night, and Goth night is also not back-to-back Bauhaus night. (yes, I am on something of a Bauhaus kick at the moment.). It is often easier to make a written request than to try and shout over the music and noise of the club, and sometimes there are request lists on a clipboard or similar. 

If you want to request things at the DJ booth, first of all plan a route to it that is not
a) directly across the dance floor, especially if there's lots of dry-ice and/or strobing as people dancing may not be able to see or hear where you are and you could get accidentally hit or bumped into  (also, remember to either finish your drink or leave it guarded if you want to venture anywhere near the dance-floor)
b) stumbling through cabling, speakers, or anything else to do with the sound system. Accidentally unplug things, or dare I say, it spill drinks on electrical things at your own peril. I will not save you if the DJ or club-owner feeds you to the Rivetheads for breaking their things through your carelessness.

Tip the bar staff, be polite to them, and order clearly. Remember that clubs are loud places and that getting your drink right involves them having to understand what you ordered - there is a difference between "an Amaretto, and a coke" and "an Amaretto & coke", something I did not enunciate clearly enough in a club once - I will not blame the bar staff for what was me not being clear enough in a crowded and loud environment. If it is an honest mistake, do not get shirty with the staff, although I admit I have only seen already-drunk 'tourists' do this, not the alternative regulars of any Goth night I have attended. 

In the Karma Lounge with fan after much dancing.
Alternative X club night.
Photograph by Sammi from Karma Lounge

Try and keep an eye on where other dancers are. I admit I have terrible spacial awareness and have flailed into other club patrons before, and therefore try to keep to the fringes of the dance floor or open spaces where there is less chance of me hitting someone. Alcohol impairs co-ordination, so try to take this into account as the night progresses and give yourself extra room as you go on. I know that's not easy because alcohol also impairs good sense! 

If people are buying you drinks, do buy them drinks in return. Do not raise the hopes of people looking to chat you up just to get free drinks - it is generally unkind, and also can be potentially dangerous as there are incidents of dosed drinks (thankfully not at any club I've been to) and of people reacting nastily to being 'led on' (also not something I have personally encountered). Make it clear you are not interested in sex or romance if you are not, and remember there is nothing wrong with making new friends instead of finding a new partner (romantic, sexual, or otherwise), and nothing wrong with turning people away. If people keep trying to chat you up despite you making it clear that you do not want to be chatted up, or even in their company, tell them directly, and then leave the situation and tell someone (e.g club security). It is not 'causing a scene' to do so.

Do not monopolise the bathrooms. If your makeup, hair, outfit or wig needs adjusting, stand out of the way of people using the sinks to wash their hands after using the toilets. Queue politely. It does not take four people for one person to use the facilities - socialise on the club floor, not in the bathroom. If you need space outside of the club for a bit, consider standing outside for a bit (factoring in weather, concentration of smokers, etc.) rather than standing in the bathroom. A lot of clubs have quite small bathrooms and they can get very crowded very quickly. 

Read what the Lady of the Manners had to say about it over 10 years ago, and remember that it still applies now. Think about how your behaviour at the club impacts on others' enjoyment of the evening. Generally, be considerate.

Photographs by Sammi from the Karma Lounge, used with permission. 

Monday, 11 March 2013

Snow, Executions, Graveyards and Cats

Well isn't that a strange list of things!

Firstly, it snowed. I know it is mid-March, and theoretically Spring began on March 1st (for those places that use other dates than the equinoxes and solstices as seasonal starts) but it is once again terribly cold and snowy. We have had patches of warmer, brighter weather, but it seems to have plunged once again into winter. 

Snow and trees. Photograph by me.

This is a photo I took in local woodland. It was around 09:20 (I wasn't working at that point, my shift was later) in the morning, and the sun was quite low in the sky soon. Snow had blanketed everything in powdery whiteness, and the branches glittered brightly in the sun. The sky was blue, with more snow-clouds blowing in. I spent some time walking around the woods with the camera, and took a few other pictures, but this one was the best.

I caught a bus shortly after this and went into the city. I was surprised that it was so snowy in the city itself, as it is usually slightly warmer than the surrounding countryside, and often if it is snowing out on the hills, it is only raining in the city. Instead, I found great swirling flurries of snow. I wandered into the graveyard on Church St. to take photos, as I know it to always be very pretty, and the church beside it is a lovely Gothic Revival example (the church in it being much older).

Old High Church Graveyard
The sky, as you can see, had begun to cloud over once again, as more snow was falling and even more snow heading our way. I try not to photograph individual graves too legibly, but some were included as I tried to get a photograph of the overall scene. I will remember to photograph from the opposite angle in future, where I only get the backs of the stones. They are not (by any means) recent graves, and I hope I cause no offence to the families of those interred there. I tried very hard to photograph a rather fluffed-up crow that was scooting between the stones, and at one point perched on top of an urn-shaped grave stone, but he was too flighty (probably a result of the cold). 

Graveyard in the snow.

While I was there, I noticed that the visitor's board - the educational one with a brief history of the church and grounds - was buried under snow, so I cleared it off. Having cleared it off, I glanced over it, thinking I had read it all before, but then realised I hadn't, and that the parts missed included a rather gruesome episode in the Church's history. After the Battle of Culloden, Jacobite prisoners were kept there temporarily, and executed in the graveyard. There were, and are, two stones in the graveyard, one with a groove in the top that was used as a musket rest, and one 9 yards directly in front of it, facing the river, where the prisoner to be executed was placed. I think quite a few died there. Apparently the executioner missed once, and there is dent in the wall of the house opposite. Reading about it sent chills down my spine, and it seemed quite eerie that the churchyard that is now peaceful and pretty and full of wildlife and nice statuary was once witness to such bloodshed. While graveyards are often associated with death, it is rare for people to have actually died in them. 

I had to go home at this point, as I had to get ready for my shift at work, but the weather started improving again. A lot of the snow melted in the afternoon. 

There's a cat perched on me. 

On a lighter note, on the way home to change for work, this friendly cat from a neighbour's house came over to see me. She likes clambering on me, and as you can see in the photograph, especially likes sitting on my shoulders. She's a very, very cute little kitty. And yes, I am terrible at taking selfies. I often get to play with her on my way too and from the bus, and once she refused to get off my shoulders, and I wondered if she was hoping to sneak onto the bus with me... Eventually she climbed onto a fence next me and was content to be petted while sitting up there. 

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Yesterday Was Wonderful

And by 'Yesterday', I mean Saturday, 9th of March, not the past.

The past certainly had wonders, but wonderful is not how I would describe a lot of it.

Yesterday afternoon Raven and I went off to Inverness to meet up with a mutual friend from the Goth community who is involved with the starting of a Pagan moot in Inverness. He happens to know another person whom I know from another Pagan moot, which I didn't know - I am continually surprised at how interconnected the local alternative scene is! I am not going to reveal the location of the moot or identities of its members, because Paganism is still a religion that can get you all sorts of hassle for. There are actually quite a few Pagans in the Highlands, something I presume may come from both a connection to the area's pre-Christian past and the presence of groups like the Findhorn Foundation that are decidedly alternative. Before I came her I was warned that it was a place characterised by less-than-tolerant forms of Christianity, but I have not come across this. 

Wandering through snow.
Photograph by Chance Photography
Anyway, Raven and I went to the moot, which was very interesting in terms of discussion. Various topics were raised, including how we felt in urban vs. rural environments, including my exercises in connecting with cities, with their geography as I would with a forest or rocky place. We talked about foraging and local wild food, especially mushrooms. A Polish attendee talked about mushroom-gathering in Poland, where it is more common in than in Scotland. I talked about how my grandmother foraged during Rationing for things like blackberries and crab-apples and about her recipes for various preserves passed to me via my father. We discussed Romanticism and the birth of Neo-Paganism. We got onto our personal experiences with birds. It was all very interesting, and I'm glad to have the time for informal and social discussion amongst the local Neo-Pagan community, not necessarily on strictly Pagan topics. 

After that Raven and I went wandering around second-hand shops, and then went to the Victorian market, where I bumped into two people I know. One was another mutual friend of Raven and I - and of the previous mutual friend we'd met before - and the other was Goth woman I had enthusiastically met by chance in the mall a long time before, exchanged contact details, and then lost touch with entirely. It is nice to have met her again, as we have a lot of commonalities. I had no idea that this second mutual friend knew her! It was also another example of how inter-connected the local alternative community is. Once you get into it, you find that everyone knows everyone else. 

Raven and I then went to a coffee shop for a chat and a warm drink and some quality time as the two of us. It is nice being broadly social, but it is very very nice to have time between the two of us.

I was cold and tetchy.
Photograph by Chance Photography
After that we went home and got changed as we had a party to attend in the evening. I had worn my red wig during the day partly out of self-consciousness about how much my black dye had faded and my roots were showing. I re-dyed it black, and put it in my hair for the recommended 45 minutes, but the roots, while a bit darker, are still visibly brown in relation to the rest, which is even blacker than before. All I did to my outfit was add a lace cloak and choker, and put my dragon ear-cuff on. I love how it looks like a dragon is whispering in my ear. Raven got his frills on for a change, and looked decidedly sexy in them. 

The party was good fun, and we met some new friends, and had a good laugh with existing friends, and generally a good time was had by all. I finally crawled into bed around 3am, and woke up with smudged make-up over my face because I forgot to take my eye-makeup off before going to bed. 

The photographs were taken today, in the snow in the meadow. It is nearing mid-march and it has been snowing again here! Many thanks to Raven for taking them. 

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Subcultural Appropriation

When Goth Gets Appropriated

Cultural appropriation is usually talked about in the context of mainstream Western culture appropriating elements of other cultures, and using them as shallow exoticism or as a commercialised trend with no reverence or respect to their original context, and I wrote about it here. Goth, while it certainly isn't liked by the mainstream, and does receive a lot of mistreatment, spanning things like the murder of Sophie Lancaster and the attribution of school shootings to a Goth influence, to the regular street harassment of those who dress differently in public and bullying of children and some employers not wanting to hire Goths, this is not on the same scale as racism nor homophobia (although I do think murdering someone on the basis of what subculture they belong to is equally evil to murdering someone on the basis of what culture they belong to). 

Goth is a subculture, and the prejudice against it is more similar to religious intolerance in so much that belonging to a subculture or a religion is choice, whereas what race or sexual orientation you are is an inherent trait. Goth, to many of us (but not all), is quite a central aspect of our life, and perhaps defines as much of our lives as our national culture might, or more, in the same way religion can. I certainly see parallels between how my religion and my subculture impact my life. 

Also, whereas cultural appropriation is linked to the colonial past of Western countries, and therefore to the atrocities committed, while most Goths will account to having been harassed, faced prejudice and possibly faced beatings and violence for their differences, most of us, as Goths (not as other facets of our identities, such as Goths of colour, or transgender Goths) are not, have not, and will not be the target of institutionalised attempts at eradication or enslavement (except perhaps in Russia, where the government HAS put in place sanctions against what has been perceived as dangerous youth movements). 

Anyway, every time Goth-influenced fashion becomes popular in the mainstream, there are cries of "hey, but that's OURS" and contradictory mixture of offence at the commercialisation and glee at the availability of Goth-suitable fashion. I felt like dissecting that a bit.

⚜ Four Reasons Goth-Influenced Style Becoming Trendy Bothers Me

Firstly when Goth influenced fashion becomes trendy, it can make it difficult to visually tell a Goth from someone trying to follow a tend. Of course, this can be clarified by talking to them. Goths  in areas where there are not many other Goths can feel a bit disappointed when in their search for kindred spirits with similar interests they encounter what looks like promising signs of a like-minded individual, only to find that this person has temporarily and shallowly co-opted the Goth aesthetic as part of an 'edgy' trend. It also  becomes annoying if the Goth-as-a-trend-types then behave in a way that isn't appropriate in public (as unfortunately some do) and then it reflects badly on the Goth community because it's not just Goths who can't tell them apart, but outsiders.

Secondly it is infuriating to see the very same people who have insulted you in public for your fashion choices suddenly appropriate your style choices, and they themselves receive little negative attention for it because they are not really associated with the Gothic subculture (and all the negative stereotypes associated with it), they are just following a trend, it's just fashion, nothing deeper. Now, I don't want to tar all hipsters and trendy people as mockers of Goths, because that just isn't the case (some of my friends are hipsters!); being mainstream, trendy or even a hipster does not make one automatically hate Goths or be rude to them, but I have seen literally the same people who once mocked me now wearing studded leather jackets, faux-Doc Marten's and unnatural hair-colours and leggings with inverted crosses on them because this is all trendy now. 

Thirdly people are wearing things that were dear to us without the same appreciation we hold for them. I have met teenagers wearing Bauhaus t-shirts who are barely aware that the band exists, but have never listened to the music (and probably have no idea that it is also an architectural style...) and probably never will (even though I did say they were good and that they should have a listen as they might like them; maybe I am being cynical and they went home and looked them up on iTunes or something.) - if I see someone wearing a band t-shirt, I'd like to think that they like the band, and aren't just wearing the t-shirt because it was black and they thought the design looked cool. 

Fourthly, the Goth aesthetic is often used as visual code for 'edgy' and 'transgressive' - we are certainly different, but I think this plays on some of the negative stereotypes of Goth - if Goths were seen as just other people with different tastes instead of rebellious, scary, potentially violent, obsessed with death, depressed, etc, would using the Goth aesthetic as a visual code for 'edgy' still work? Probably not. 

⚜ Four Good Things About Goth-Influenced Style Being Popular

Firstly, the availability of Goth-friendly items in mainstream stores suddenly sky-rockets. Yes, there will be a lot of cheap fake leather and poorly-attached studs in the shops at the moment, but the better shops will sell medium quality items at prices still less than those of big Goth brands like Raven, and while upmarket shops like Marks & Spencer will carry items that are at their usual upmarket price ranges, they are also likely to be rather nice. A good section of my wardrobe has come from Marks & Spencer via charity shops and eBay, from collections when black velvet, lace and Victoriana have all been fashionable. Everything that is in fashion right now will go out of fashion again soon, and will turn up in charity shops as their current owners change to the latest trend. 

Secondly, it allows those who want to experiment with the aesthetic, but are not ready to commit, to wear clothes they like with less likelihood of being taunted for it. Nobody need suspect that they are not just following the trends if they don't tell anyone and don't take it to the point where it is obvious that they are committed to the subculture. There will also be those who do take it up as part of the trend, but decide that when the trends change again that they will in fact stick with this one, and stumble across something they like via the trend. There will be those who actually look into what the real Goth subculture and aesthetic is about, and perhaps discover something they come to love. 

Thirdly, people may be less likely to judge someone based on their aesthetic choices, both in terms of fashion, and in terms of the music and the rest of the subculture, if they have dabbled on the fringes themselves and found that it did not drag them to Hell or turn them into psychopathic murderers, or make them all depressed - it may, for a few, grant them just enough insight to become more accepting people. Perhaps someone will mistake them for a Goth, and call them an insult in the street, and they will realise how much that insult hurt and never do that to someone themselves. Perhaps it may not change the minds of many, but even if a handful of people come to have a better opinion of Goth, then that is a good thing. 

Fourthly, every now and again mainstream fashion will come out with a Goth-inspired idea that is actually quite good and has not been done much within the subculture, or which has been done, but was not very popular, and which suddenly gets much more exposure. I have seen a lot of all-lace shirts within Goth, but shirts with lace backs and opaque fronts seem to have become quite popular with the Nu-Goth and Goth-inspired hipsters, and I had not seen many of them before, the same with collar-pins - I had seen them within Visual Kei and Rockabilly fashion, but not much amongst Goth, and now I see studs and spikes for collars with chains between them for sale in mainstream accessory shops. Another trend is detachable collars - originally in more 'hipster' styles such as beading, pastel sequins and suchlike, and are now available with things like faux-fur and studs. 

Obviously, not everyone who wears trendy clothes does so ONLY to be trendy, and it is unfair to judge someone on sight, and to infer from what they wear that they are wearing them for the wrong reasons. There will be quite a few people who are actually wearing trendy items because they actually genuinely like the item - they may be aesthetic butterflies who do not want to commit to one aesthetic, but they may still genuinely wearing a studded leather jacket because they like leather and studs, and think it looks good, and not to appear 'edgy' or shallowly follow a trend, and they may have never mocked a Goth person in their life and have an accepting and live-and-let-live attitude. Goth itself is about doing things because you genuinely like them, so there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with mainstream people wearing Goth-inspired or Goth items without fully committing to the subculture if they are wearing them out of an appreciation of the item. 

Also, in the end, it is but fashion, clothes, and yes, while our subculture means a lot to us, and the hypocrisy of those who would mock us with one hand and then take their styling tips from us with the other is galling, it does not do any material harm - it is not the same as say, throwing stones at someone or denying someone a job because of their subcultural affiliation. There needs to be some level of perspective. The mainstream fashion industry commercialising our fashion and aesthetic does not stop us from enjoying our own subculture, it does in no way prevent us from still seeing a Bauhaus t-shirt as a way to appreciate the band or from studding our leather jackets ourselves, it just blurs the significance of things to those on the outside. 

I would not judge someone else on what they are wearing, nor presume them to have any of the above motivations on the sole basis of their clothes. That is just as silly as assuming that all Goths look the way we do to actively rebel. I would also not tell anyone what they can and cannot wear. If you live in a country where there are no laws restricting your fashion choices, then you are free to wear what you like, and the same freedom that allows Goths to wear Goth clothes extends to non-Goths wearing Goth clothes. 

As always, I recommend never approaching others with pre-concieved notions of what they might be like before knowing them, and being polite even with those whom you disagree with, and that extends to people who are wearing your favourite band t-shirt but don't know who, say, Siouxsie and the Banshees, actually are.

⚜ Goth Hallowe'en 'Costumes'
We are a subculture, not a costume. It is not acceptable to dress up as a terrorist Muslim, it is not acceptable to dress up as a 'Squaw' (that word, by the way, is an insult to Native North American women) and it is not acceptable to dress up as a Chinese person with taped eyes and a coolie hat because these are all reducing groups of people to flat and sexualised or negative stereotypes and perpetuating those stereotypes. 'Goth' costumes often present a sexualised (sexy-fied) stereotype of Goth, and one that errs on the 'Goths are people who think they are vampires' and 'Goths are slutty and into kinky sex' stereotypes a bit too much for comfort. There are also those who, like those who wear the racial stereotype costumes, wear them to mock those stereotypes, people who wear Goth costumes in a way that deliberately mock what they think Goths are. THAT really annoys me. 

I live the Goth subculture 24 hours a day; even my dreams run to the same aesthetic as everything else I do, even my work clothes err on the Gothic. I have Joy Division and Dead Can Dance on my headphones when I sit on the bus. I have spider-web loo-roll and black plates. To say I am passionate about my subculture is a bit of an understatement, and to know people use Hallowe'en as an excuse to mock us is... well irritating to say the least. Especially when Hallowe'en is often quite dear to Goths. 

Now, wearing a Goth outfit at Halloween isn't inherently inappropriate. I've actually helped a friend put together a proper Goth outfit at Halloween, but it consisted of clothes that would actually be considered Goth (from her wardrobe and mine) rather than a tacky and cheaply-made, store-bought costume, and she wore Goth makeup rather than white and black face-paint. Her intention was not to mock Goths, her outfit was based on what is authentically Goth in consultation with a Goth, and she wore her outfit as an opportunity to explore a different way of looking for a night. Yes, the idea that it can still be considered a 'costume' could still be grating to some, as to her it was something different to wear for a night and not a form of expressing her permanent inner self and subcultural affiliation, but I don't think that this was not done in any  malevolence and what she wore was actually Goth and not a tawdry parody of Goth.

At some point I will write some musings about Goth and teenage rebellion, and where the lines between exploring identity and using Goth as a tool for shock value get blurred. 

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Purple Lipstick, Cyber-Goth Makeup and Goggles

I am terribly sorry for being late in participating in Sophistique Noir's Monthly Theme!
I had forgotten that this month's theme was purple. Well, when I first read it, I was going to showcase my lovely plum and black flocked bedding (as opposed to my black-on-black flocked bedding, or my charcoal and black 'damask' patterned bedding, or my piles of black cushions... I am one of those Goths whose preferred aesthetics are applied to most of what they own.) but then I forgot about it entirely and did not get around to photographing the bedroom. 


So, something else purple! Here is some Cyber-Goth style makeup I did last summer. I'm wearing my micro-braid wig, which has a few purple braids down one side, and my goggles have purple lenses (made from an old translucent document wallet that I cut up!). 

As you can see, terrible selfies taken on my onboard webcam, again. This is what happens when I want  pictures of me and Raven is out working! All selfies taken either in the mirror or with funny out-stretched arm movements look even worse, and as Raven is quite possessive of his photographic equipment, and I'm too polite to touch his tripod without asking, I haven't got around to just mounting a camera on a tripod, sticking a cushion where my head will be to focus on, and then running back around to where the cushion was with the camera set to take a picture via the timer. 

Anyway, the micro-braid wig is self made, and the makeup was done to match. The lipstick is a metallic purple that is almost iridescent made by Stargazer. The eyeshadow is actually black and silver, but with a touch of purple under my eyes. I don't have purple eye-liner, sadly, it just looks that way in the photograph.

I like drawing elongated corner on my inner eyes, but rarely do I get them as neatly done as here. I almost always get them wrong, however much I practise. I did decorative shapes around one eye in eye-liner, and as per usual I didn't do both. This is because a) it's really hard to get the symmetry exact, and b) I think that it becomes too much and looks cluttered if I do both sides. 

I am actually wearing a 'spaghetti straps' tank top! With my braids obscuring the straps, it looks like I'm not wearing a top, but I am. You can just about see a purple goggle-lense in this last picture, and it shows the dots and lines and suchlike around my right eyes. I'm so used to doing foliate designs and swirls; the angular design and dots were a bit different. I also like how this picture shows how the silver eye-shadow goes right up to my nose, but the eyeliner from the inner corner is brought upwards with a bit of black eye-shadow to the crease, to give a more distinct eyelid, and to make my nose look narrower.

I think this post also shows a little of how varied my style can be. One day I can be all black curls and lace and frills, and another day I am all spikes and goggles and purple lipstick! I wear things because I think they look nice, and I refuse to get pigeonholed into one specific style.