May 22nd has been dubbed World Goth Day. So, turn on your favorite Dark Wave playlist and I’ll tell you the tale of how I came to embrace this dark culture.
But first, what is World Goth Day?
The Goth subculture was birthed in England during the 1980’s so, it’s no surprise that World Goth Day also originated in the UK. BBC Radio was rocking a special programming that focused on different subcultures of music in May of 2009. It was then that DJ Cruel Britannia and Martin old goth named May 22nd as World Goth Day. A public-holiday to celebrate Goths.
What does being a Goth even mean? Well, that depends. There’s many facets of the Goth Subculture. I had to Google this shit. And, this is what I came up with.
Bubble Goth… WTF
I proclaim myself as a traditional Goth with a dash of Hippie Goth. Because, ya know, I love nature and shit. For me, being Goth means to embrace your darkness within and without. Goths are known for their solemn demeanor and, are found heavily decorated in a variety of black apparel and the accessories to compliment it. It’s important to know there is no comparing a Goth to an Emo. Don’t even go there with me. Goths listen to all kinds of music but, traditional Goths are inspired by the post-punk and goth rock genre. Examples would include the Goth Pioneers, Bauhaus, Siouxsie Sioux and (even though Andrew Eldritch heavily denies this) Sisters of Mercy. Black hair, black clothes, pale skin and black lipstick was all there was to it.
But, you can imagine the shock modern society has when coming across the freaky night dwellers at the grocery store or biking to school. This is what attracted me to Goth culture.
I was sixteen when I was first introduced to the scene. I was finding my tribe at my new High School. I’ve mentioned in another blog how diverse it was. I ended up being embraced by my first Gay friend, Still-In-The-Closet Gay friend, another African-American newbie to the school and, two Goth Girls, Tawny and Amanda. At that point I had already known the basics as far as music went but, I never felt safe to share the fact I listened to Depeche Mode or Type O Negative. It was Amanda who deepened my love for Dark Wave. She introduced me to Siouxsie, SOM and, Bauhaus. Oh my Goth, Bauhaus! I would spend many nights being lured into the night sky to dance with Peter Murphy.
Amanda dressed Goth everyday. Her outfits were incredible. Mostly she just altered dresses and wore fish nets. She named the van she drove us all around in, Lucretia. She was a struggling artist before she even left High School and, damn, did we have some amazing times. Tawny, Amanda and I could talk so much shit about the normal kids and normal people in general. We were the ones laughing in the back of the theater when Casey Becker was disemboweled in Scream. Even more memorable was us laughing hysterically, in the theater, at the climax of Titanic. It was awesome to laugh at tragic demises! One of my absolute favorite memories with these Ghouls was going to Jr. Prom with Amanda and Tawny. My first threesome! Ha! I owe a lot of my Gothdom to those two. Thank You for showing me the way Amanda and Tawny!
In addition to these bad ass chics, my life long friend Ash-Leigh and, her older sister Bashara were also Goth babes. Bashara especially. She could well have been the first Goth I had ever encountered. Bashara was quiet, but, she would also shoot daggers to any hater. I recall long black dresses and her jet-black bob style hair cut. Her room was was littered with posters of NIN and other similar artists. I was always facinated with Bashara. I know Ash-Leigh was MY friend but, I wanted Bashara to be my Gothy, older sister. too. So, of corpse, I was always hanging around her and asking questions. My first time seeing THE CRAFT was with both Ghouls. We would later go onto concerts together and as our eyeliner wings got shorter and shorter throughout the years, I still think of Goth Queen Bashara. Luckily, we still keep in touch. I think we need a trip down memory lane Girl! Or relive some of the old days.
Finding Goth apparel was a task in 1996. Also, it was fucking expensive! Hot Topic was always a last resort because if you shopped there back in the late 90’s you were a poser. Looking back, Hot Topic was way more goth back then than it is now. So, only when I was desperate and couldn’t afford the Gothy punk stores on Hollywood Blvd, would I pick up black candles and make-up from Hot Topic. Ipso Facto in Fullerton, CA became my favorite place to browse and create wish lists of items. Once I was able to afford a spiked dog collar from Ipso Facto, much to my parents dismay, I rarely took it off. I was determined to have my look compliment my smile-less face. Oh, did my Dad hate that thing which, of corpse, only drove me to wear it even more.
Like many teens in the 90’s I was down with Marilyn Manson. His shock rock matched my rebellious nature. I know thats cliche but, it is what it is. I had his posters adorned on my bedroom walls and, was often found writing poetry and, illustrating while blaring his music. It was months and, months before my Dad actually realized what was being said in the lyrics. One day, he came stomping into my room and told me something to the effect of, “ I heard devil worshiping shit, NOT IN MY HOUSE!” To which my reply was, “as opposed to the Hip Hop I would listen to that boasted about fucking bitches and smacking hoes?” Ahhhh, my first Satanic debate. Imagine if he heard me listening to Christian Death… Love ya, Dad!
In my early 20’s I was a Mom of two but, still rocked my Goth style as best as I could. I worked in a corporate setting but, wearing all back is easy and casual. It was then that I dived deep into the LA Goth Club scene. Every weekend, thanks to Grannies who loved babysitting, I could be found at The Dungeon, Release the Bats and others I cannot name. But, it was @clubbarsinister that was my go-to. My favorite. I think my experiences there are worthy of a blog of their own. Bar Sin is held at the iconic @boardners. Bar Sin is where I felt at home every Saturday night. I hated leaving. Even when I was being thrown out, I begged to be let back in. It was Bar Sin where my Kiefer Sutherland story went down! I said goodnite to Bar Sin when I got pregnant with kid #3. I put a lot of my Gothy ways aside then. I was too tired for the make up and too hot for the black heavy clothes and, as we all know, I have other reasons. But, Goth Michelle had been making a come back. You can’t hide from your darkness so, I was slowly coming back to true nature. In the Fall of 2018 I returned to Boardner's. This time, it was for Perversion. My fellow Elder Goth friend, Marie, invited me out for a night of dancing. She also had to deliver a beef stew for her friend that has been DJ-ing in the scene since the 80’s. So, here we were, walking in with beef stew dressed in all black and ready to drink and dance.
As usual, when it comes to me and my drinking at Bar Sin, it didn’t take much to get tossed. But, I danced and danced and danced the fucking night away. I remember I really started swaying and flailing at the sound of Die Form and they played my favorite Sisters of Mercy rendition, Gimme Shelter. It felt so good to be back! I paid for it at 4am, when Marie dropped me off and…Ok, thats another story.
I wanted to ensure I got back to my all-time favorite release. I wanted more than to dance in my living room alone. The struggle of finding a matte, black lipstick that stayed on had been overcome. So, I made it a point to go back and bring my Husband with me. We made Bar Sinister nights date nights and even he, who lived in a redneck bubble his whole life till he met me, enjoyed the sounds, the feel and the friendliness of Hollywoods finest Goth’s. He was addicted instantly and was wearing black eyeliner and mesh shortly after. Behold, #chuckisgothAF
It seems the Goth movement isn’t going anywhere. I love when I meet baby Goths. I love introducing kids to it as a means to teach them self-expression. Another aspect I love is hearing new bands and groups bringing Dark Wave back with a new twist. Oh my fuck! Am I the only one addicted to Soft Moon, Drab Majesty Lebanon Hanover, Selofan, TR/ST, Boy Harsher? I will share my Spotify Playlist in honor of this lovey day.
The thing about Goth’s is most of us are outcasts and black sheep. We’re weird and we're dark. That smile-less Goth Michelle has grown into smiling Goth Michelle. I smile all the time now, because I am happy in my element. I am happy in all black, I am happy when I listen to The Cure (and when I am not happy). I am happy that I can afford to shop at Ipso Facto, I am happiest at night and, I am happy being weird. I am happy when I get dead roses. I am happy meditating to Dead Can Dance and I am happy amongst all Goths (except for those Bubble Ones cause, wtf). So, if there is a Smile Goth subculture, thats me!
Happy World Goth Day!
Thank you @batty_sith13 @mary_misery @missDeadlyD for lending me your pics!
And, if you are able, please give Boardner's a hand at helping them stay alive during the COVID pandemic. This Hollywood gem has survived 75 years and it would be nothing less than tragic to see them go under. Any little bit helps. Paypal.me/boardners