Thursday, 31 March 2011

Convergence - the annual net.Goth party

Convergence is an annual Gothy get-together run by and for net.Goths, namely members of the alt.gothic and newsgroups (and other related Usenet groups). The event has been held since 1995, and was originally intended as a chance for Goths who usually only met on the Internet to spend some time catching up in real life.

Source: Google Images
The event was originally devised by two Chicago members of the alt.gothic newsgroup; attendance has previously ranged from under 400 to just over 1,500. There has been much debate about whether Convergence attendance should be opened up to members of other on-line Goth communities and/or members of non-Internet-based Goth communities. Planning committees have at times made effort to broaden the scope of the event, but there have also been those who have attempted to restrict advertising to the founding net.Goth communities.

Convergence is a 'floating' event - this means that the location is not fixed; instead, the event is held at a different venue each year. The location is decided by a vote by the net.Goth communities, in response to proposals from volunteer committees. All Convergences have so far been held in North America, although 2011's event looks set to take place in Mexico.

There is no formal Convergence organisation - instead the planning, scheduling, voting and events are taken care of by a reasonably consistent group of volunteers nicknamed 'the Cabal' (an inside joke about what Gothic Charm School refers to as the Goth Cabal, one wonders?). The Cabal are some of the longest-standing members of aforementioned newsgroups and are also responsible for maintaining the Convergence webpage and providing assistance to host committees.

These host committees are ad hoc groups living in that year's host city, who take responsibility for 'looking after' Convergence whilst it is in their area and ensuring that things run smoothly. A large percentage of these volunteers are expected to be members of the alt.gothic newsgroups.

In 2007 a panel made the decision to begin shrinking the size of the event after record numbers attended that year's Convergence. Before 2007, Convergence was rapidly becoming a full-scale Goth fest, including live bands, fashion and art shows, bazaars, club nights, panels and tours of Goth-themed locales in the host city. Since then, the event has been stripped-down to simply a get-together for said net.Goths, losing most of the additional trappings. Numbers have waned to under 200 attendees each year.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Dark and Goth-friendly music, part 8: post-Industrial

For all the trad Goths out there getting sick of these electro and Industrial posts, I do apologise, but I am just being thorough.

The following genres, in company with ambient Industrial, electro-Industrial, Industrial rock and EBM, as well as less Goth-friendly genres such as Japanoise and Industrial hip-hop, come under the umbrella term 'post-Industrial'. Post-Industrial refers to a variety of musical styles that blend elements of Industrial music with the sounds of other genres.

Source: Tumblr
Power electronics
Power electronics was a term coined by William Bennett of the band Whitehouse - it's related to the early Industrial scene but has come to be identified more with noise music. It is atonal with no conventional melodies or rhythms, and may use screeching feedback, high-frequency squealing sounds, and screamed or heavily distorted lyrics that are often offensive. Nice.

Power electronics musicians include: Sutcliffe Jugend, Genocide Organ, Philip Best.

Death Industrial
Death Industrial is a fusion genre of power electronics, albeit with a catchier name. It has a deeper and more atmospheric sound, and thankfully is less abrasive.

The term has been used to describe bands including: The Grey Wolves, Brighter Death Now, Con-Dom, Atrax Morgue, Azoikum, Aelia Capitolina, Stratvm Terror, Heironymus Bosch.

Powernoise, aka rhythmic noise, noize, and distorted beat music (DBM), is a fusion genre of noise and electronic dance music.

Powernoise bands include: Feindflug, Synapscape, Hypnoskull, Ah Cama-Sotz, Morgenstern, Black Lung, Mono No Aware, Antigen Shift, Imminent, Contagious Orgasm.

Witch house
Witch house, aka drag, is a recently-emerged genre which, despite being viewed as highly Goth by the media, is viewed by the Goth scene with little interest and mild suspicion. However, I couldn't quite resist featuring it here. Witch house combines Industrial influences with hip-hop, shoegaze and noise music to create a creepy, sinister atmosphere with dark, synthpop-influenced melodies. If it wasn't such a media darling, it might have stood a better chance within the subculture...

Incidentally, 'Witch House' is the name of my favourite song by my beloved Goth rock band Pretentious, Moi?. Oh, how I love Pretentious, Moi?.

Witch house bands include: Pictureplane, Esben and the Witch, oOoOO, Planningtorock, DJ WhITCH, Salem.

Neofolk fuses experimental and Industrial sounds with folk and folk-inspired elements, and is closely related to other genres including neoclassical and martial Industrial (you can see why this music guide is divided into so many segments...).

Wikipedia says, "The term 'neofolk' originates from esoteric music circles who started using the term to describe music influenced by musicians such as Douglas Pearce (Death In June), Tony Wakeford (Sol Invictus) and David Tibet (Current 93). These musicians were part of a post-industrial music circle who later on incorporated folk music based upon traditional and European elements into their sound. Folk musicians such as Vulcan's Hammer, Changes, Leonard Cohen, and Comus had created music with similar sounds and themes to neofolk as far back as the 1960s. These musicians could be considered harbingers of the sound that later influenced the neofolk artists. However, the distinction must be made that it was the aforementioned artists who were involved in the dark music scene throughout the 1980s and 1990s that contributed specifically to the emergence of neofolk." In short, the Goths did it.

The music of Current 93 is also described as 'apocalyptic folk', and Sol Invictus's sound termed 'folk noir'. Just to make things even more convoluted.

Neofolk bands include: Faun, Ataraxia, Darkwood, Empyrium, Forseti, Love Is Colder Than Death, Mizar, The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud, Qntal, Narsilion.

P.S. I have a list of reader requests for posts upcoming that I need to research and think about - if you've asked for a particular post, please don't worry, you have not been forgotten! I'm just trying to answer your request in a non-half-assed way!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Goth sports

OMG, this is my 200th post. Already. Are you people not sick of me yet? Also, why have my hits almost doubled in the last couple of days? On Sunday, I was thrilled because I'd had over 1,000 hits for the first time. But on Monday, I had over 2,000! Did I say something REALLY interesting, or did you guys just have a lot of free time? (Not that I'm complaining!)

Source: Google Images
So, today's topic is Goth sports, and no, I'm not talking about the manga (Gothic Sports). Although, if anyone has read it, is it worth taking a look for someone with no interest in sports whatsoever?

Sports and Goth culture are generally two things that don't mix. Goth clothing is not made for running around a football field, and Goths are usually stereotyped as shy, bookish creatures who would rather stay in their rooms and read than attempt double P.E.. (The plus side of this is that whilst your Goth boyfriend may not be built like Vin Diesel, he probably won't want to slob on the sofa and watch football all the time either.)

However, those in the know will be aware that Goths have a tendency to defy stereotyping. When my partner was at college, he was friends with a very nice Goth chappie who was taking a course in Sport - and of course, there is the Real Gothic football team in the UK.

Think I'm joking? Oh, no. Real Gothic F.C. is a team comprised entirely of Goths, which plays two charity matches a year during Whitby Gothic Weekend against Whitby locals and staff from the Whitby Gazette, and is the brainchild of Mike Uwins (from the band Manuskript) and Jon Stokoe of the Gazette. Their kit is all in black - of course - and their logo is a mock-up of the Sisters of Mercy's logo, with the words 'Boots On - Kick Off - Shoot Out - Real Gothic'.

As far as I know, though, Real Gothic F.C. has never actually won a match... Nevertheless, you can show your support by purchasing a Real Gothic replica footie kit from Angel Clothing.

Football aside, the typical way for a Gothling to stay fit and avoid piling on the pounds is to spend time at the spooky club dancing like there's no tomorrow. This is an especially strenuous workout if one happens to be wearing very heavy boots and skintight leather. Goth and Industrial dance techniques involve either a lot of swirly arms or a lot of stomping; all that flailing about must surely count as exercise...

Other Goth-friendly exercise options may include archery (OK, it's not that much of a workout but it's great for your arms, shoulders and posture - Su from Cauda Pavonis is reportedly a fan); bellydance (more for the ladies, I would have thought...); fencing; burlesque classes; poi; and even LARP-ing (running around with a heavy sword MUST be good for you). Spooky types looking to lose a few pounds or tone up before Summer Darkness might also like to check out The Gothic Workout (yes, really).

Of course, we darklings are generally well-rounded human beings, and as such might actually *gasp* enjoy activities and pasttimes not beloved by the Gothy hivemind as a whole. If one of your guilty pleasures happens to be a sport or other form of cardio, you don't have to turn in your Goth card each time you enter the gym. What's wrong with, for example, my badminton 'uniform' of band tee, black trackies, and black and pink trainers? Or better still, SiouxsieLaw's epically awesome bat yoga bag?

In short, whilst one doesn't need to be waifish and weedy to be a Goth, and Goth and sports aren't always such a great combination, if you're a Goth who enjoys jogging, basketball, rugby or even *gasp* cheerleading, you're probably not actually alone...

P.S. Here's an outfit I wore recently to see my boyfriend:
I wish you could see my boots better in this photo... also the skirt is a blue/purple dip-dyed spiderweb lace. Kudos to my boyfriend for not complaining when I turn up dressed as Mortica Addams's teenage niece.

My Daily Echo with the article about EGL and RazorBladeKisses arrived. I ended up e-mailing the publishers and begging them to send me a copy, and lo and behold, they actually did! It has much more pics than the online version and is very pretty. It also gave me this little snippet...

Goth gossip: Layla of RazorBladeKisses tells Vogue darling Alexa Chung to have some respect for alternative fashion and lifestyles… at least that's how the Daily Echo makes it sound. The article says, "Layla was invited to be filmed for a TV show with presenter Alexa Chung, although the show didn’t air after a fall out – Layla didn’t feel Alexa was wearing the Lolita clothes with the right attitude and told her so.." Heheh... I so wish they had gone ahead with it anyway. I would have loved to see that...

Monday, 28 March 2011

Styles of Goth fashion: medieval Goth

Many periods of history have proven inspirational to Goth fashion; medieval Goth is one such derivative. Unlike Victorian Goth, medieval Goth outfits are not often historically accurate - they are usually created to reflect the pageantry, superstition and romanticised aspects of the era.

Source: Tumblr
Of course, most Goths are aware that the Dark Ages were named so for a reason. Plagues, witch hunts, barbarian invasions and probably worse took place during the Middle Ages. Medieval Goth generally represents a much more romanticised version of the period, possibly incorporating elements of the fantastical such as dragons and wizardry.

The style of architecture referred to as 'Gothic' (which played its part in naming the Goth scene) developed during this period, and is held as an example of beauty by possibly the majority of lovers of Goth culture. Medieval Goths may hold other historical and Medieval-based interests such as Renaissance Faires, historical re-enactments, visiting ruins or museums and - particularly common amongst the guys - medieval weaponry.

Again the fantastical element is brought into play - medieval Goths may also enjoy fantasy novels, especially those set in a medieval-esque world, LARP-ing (Live Action Role Play), the legends of King Arthur (Merlin being an exceptionally popular film), and often wear jewellery incorporating mythical creatures like dragons and unicorns.

Medieval Goth fashion is usually very loosely based on the styles of this era - lace-up bodices, pointed sleeves, off-the-shoulder blouses and long skirts for the women, possibly accessorised with chainmaille jewellery. Men may wear 'pirate' or ruffled shirts with simple trousers or breeches. The fashion may also blend with Celtic elements; knotwork tattoos and jewellery are very popular.

Common accessories include chain belts, gauntlets and pendants (often cross pendants). Make-up is usually simple but dark, or swirly and elaborate in a 'dark fairy' manner. Medieval Goth guys often have beards. Piercings are reasonably uncommon; for both men and women, hair is usually long. Women's hair is often styled in loose waves and topped with a circlet. Colours such as blonde, brown, black and dark red are the most common.
Music associated with this style may be folk-based, ethereal, or Neo-Classical, e.g. Blackmore's Night, Rising Shadows, Mediaeval Baebes, Faun, Dandelion Wine and Faith and the Muse. Gregorian chants and classical music are also popular.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Stake That!

Parajunkee's View Vampire Reading Challenge Review #5 - Stake That! by Mari Mancusi

Warning: contains spoilers

Stake That! is the second book in the Blood Coven series; but it was actually the first one I bought. I came across it on Amazon during my overeager babybat phase and bought it because of the slightly cheesy, Gothtastic front cover.

Goth girl Rayne has every reason to get her mopey on. She's been on the waiting list to become a vampire and member of the prestigious Blood Coven for years - best of all, her DNA-compatible blood mate would have been none other than the Blood Coven leader, drop-dead gorgeous vamp Magnus. But on the night she was due to be bitten and changed, Magnus bit her twin sister Sunshine (hippie parents...) instead.

Now goody-two-shoes golden girl Sunny, whilst thankfully not a vampire, is dating Magnus and enjoying the spookiest perks of the vampire lifestyle (and finances) whilst Rayne is back at the bottom of the waiting list, without a blood mate. Suck much?

To make things worse, Rayne has just been informed by a representative of Slayer Inc, the organisation keeping the bad-guy vamps in line, that she's next on the list to fulfil her duties as slayer. The next Buffy. And really, killing vampires is not going to do much to bump her back up the waiting list. Or so Rayne thinks.

However, her target is a particularly badly-dressed but evil vamp named Maverick, who has created a bloodborne virus to take down the leaders of the Blood Coven. And Rayne finds herself working undercover with Jareth, Magnus's sexy second-in-command, who just happens to be gorgeous, Gothed-up, and one hundred per cent blood-mate-free.

Told first in blog and then in diary format, and occasionally IM transcripts, the story is littered with 'OMG's and 'FYI's, which could become a little wearing for older readers. Sixteen-year-old Rayne often comes across as a little immature (referring to herself as 'Raynie', for starters), but on the other hand her behaviour is a little too stereotypical-teenage-Goth-bad-girl for my tastes - she drinks, smokes, ditches class and sleeps around, which I don't feel is necessarily an accurate representation of how all teen Goths behave...

A lot of the problem-solving is done by Jareth, which in another book would irk me (the heroine is supposed to be able to figure things out for herself), but here it works, mainly because the slightly-airheaded Rayne is not really an intellectual match for a very old vampire.

However, I found Rayne quite a likeable character - she's feisty, mouthy, and not afraid of trouble. Not to mention she has excellent dress sense and taste in music.

Vamp antagonist Maverick, is a convincingly ruthless bad guy - Blood Coven human donors are dying from his virus - but a bit of a plonker. After injecting a captured Rayne with the virus, leaving her with three days to live, he immediately frees her from her bindings. Raynie the vampire slayer, not being an idiot, promptly stakes him with a chair leg.

I'm sure you won't be surprised to learn that this Goth froth comes with a happy ending; and an obvious set-up for a sequel. Good fun for younger readers, but there are no real surprises and the OTT teen-speak can become annoying. Personally, I do like the Blood Coven books, and I find they make perfect summer reading - cheerful vampire fluff with little thought required.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Goth bands and the mainstream

This is not what I was intending to post today at all; it's another re-post from the old site, but frankly, I'm so tired I can't think straight and have just spent ten minutes staring at a blank screen before giving up and finding something to copy and paste.

EDIT: Can you believe it? I posted two versions of this same post, one in March and one in November! I have deleted the November post as it had no comments. Sorry about that!

With Goth’s natural aversion to most things that the mainstream loves, it’s no wonder the subculture thrives firmly underground. But, every now and again, little things from the Gothic world find their way to the surface…

Source: Tumblr
The first Goth band to really explode into the mainstream was The Cure - some Goths, in fact, are adamant that they ‘sold out’, whilst some argue that it’s not the band’s fault that they proved to be popular - although Robert Smith did make an active choice to begin releasing 'throwaway' cheerful pop tunes such as Let's Go To Bed and The Lovecats (is there a better song to sing in the shower?) to break away from the band's moody, gloomy image.

Due to the cheeky, irreverent cheerfulness in these and many of The Cure's later songs, many people nowadays do not connect the upbeat, pop-based sounds of the band's later career with the Goth subculture. Unfortunately, they’re much more likely to cite bands such as Evanescence or Cradle of Filth.

Of course, back in the 80s, it was fairly commonplace to see the new post-punk bands (you know these names by now - Bauhaus, Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure) and other similarly Goth-beloved musicians (Adam and the Ants, David Bowie) on Top of the Pops in all their glory. All of the ‘Big Four’ (the first four Goth bands) were at one time media darlings, but after a while, all except The Cure themselves seemingly retreated out of the spotlight and into the shadows as much as they could.

Bands that are wrongly considered Goth are a whole different matter. Examples are Evanescence, Cradle of Filth, Marilyn Manson, Type O Negative, HIM, Within Temptation, Lacuna Coil, Linkin Park, Slipknot, Korn… and let’s just say I could go on. And on. And on. (I love all of the above bands, by the way. But, Goth? Nooo...)

Whilst these bands are not necessarily 'mainstream' and in fact are enjoyed by many in the Goth scene, they are a world apart from the obscure bands associated with the Goth scene proper - how many times have you named your favourite Goth band only to receive "Huh?" or "Never heard of them..." as a response?

Big-name metal, rock and alternative bands like those named above are generally cited by the mainstream as examples of Gothdom, whereas 'real' Goth music rarely if ever finds its way onto MTV, mainstream radio, and into the public eye. 'Goth rock' is not really recognised as a genre; and I would suspect that if you were to ask Average Joe to name a Goth rock band, they'd say "Marilyn Manson".

In this day and age it is rare for a Goth band to make the mainstream, although some contemporary acts such as Zola Jesus and Fever Ray seem to be successfully genre-crossing and drawing attention from Goths and the mainstream media alike. (Speaking of Zola Jesus, here's a free download for you - my favourite Zola song, Devil Take You.)
I also have a sneaking suspicion that even when alternative and Goth bands prove popular, they do not recieve the airplay and prestige that a mainstream act would enjoy. As an example, The Cruxshadows have beaten Beyonce to the top of America's Billboard Dance Charts and previously had two singles in the top ten (at #1 and #3 respectively) at the same time. The Cruxshadows were also the first Goth band ever to play at a festival in China. Yet a few months ago, I met a woman from CXS's native state of Florida, and she had never even heard the band's name.

The Goth world seems to be in two minds about this. On the one hand, it would be nice for our music to get the recognition we feel it deserves - after all, following the success of shows such as The X Factor and acts such as Girls Aloud, whose stars neither write their own songs or music or play their own instruments, musicians with real talent are slowly fading into the background - not least because then perhaps we would stop being mislabelled ‘emos’ and ‘Mansonites’, but on the other hand part of the allure of alternative culture is that it is not understood by or largely involved with the mainstream. The less the mainstream understands us, the less likely it is to be able to consume our scene, turning it into nothing more than a consumer market - as has increasingly happened to other alternative scenes such as punk.
In places with a thriving Goth scene, however, for example Camden, London, people are more likely to recognise Goth bands or music. And some countries have it better than others. Germany is host to several of the largest Goth festivals in the world, and the Industrial and cybergoth scenes in particular are thriving. Japan may only have a small Goth scene, but loosely related scenes with a similar striking, decadent appearance such as Gothic Lolita and Visual Kei are widely known, with bands such as Moi Dix Mois gaining worldwide fame. And in England in the 1980s (back when Goth or punk was the thing to be), especially in London, you’d hardly be able to take a step without hearing someone mentioning Siouxsie Sioux, Joy Division, Bauhaus or The Cure (yes, them again).

Nowadays, noise pop and lo-fi bands (like Zola Jesus and Fever Ray) are being hailed by the media as 'the second coming of Goth'... so the journalists are getting it right for once (I will never forget reading a Kerrang! article describing Manson as 'the King of Goth'... aren't music journalists meant to know their stuff?).

Who knows, perhaps these new Gothy media darlings signify that our time is coming again. But if it does, will we reach out for the spotlight, or will we retreat deeper into the shadows?

Friday, 25 March 2011

Self-defence tips and techniques, courtesy of the GLF

I would hate to think that any of my readers would feel themselves in danger of physical violence because of the way they choose to dress; but we all know that such attacks have taken place before and it's far better to be safe than sorry.

Source: Tumblr
I'm making this post so that if someone is violent towards you, you can defend yourself. I don't want to find out that one of my charming, delightful readers (yes, you) has become another Sophie Lancaster. Some of the self defence techniques listed below were sent to me in an e-mail from the UK branch of the GLF (Gothic Liberation Front); some are just common sense.

Your Auntie A is feeling just a little bit like an overprotective mother hen today.

Really Obvious Disclaimer: I am not a martial arts teacher; I cannot turn you into Xena: Warrior Princess or male equivalent. These are basic tips which I hope might help you in extreme situations. Please do not go around breaking the fingers of anyone who looks at you funny. Neither I nor the person who sent me these tips can be held responsible if you damage someone or are damaged. Violence is never the answer; avoid situations of physical violence if AT ALL possible.

If someone is being abusive towards you:
  • First and foremost, IGNORE THEM. They want you to retaliate so that they have an excuse to take further action. If you don't give them such an excuse, they shouldn't persist.
  • Walk away. Run if you have to. Avoiding a fight is always the best option.
  • As we all know, sometimes people don't need a reaction to carry on with the abuse. If you are threatened in any way - including verbally - shout for help. That way you raise alarm and people may come to your aid. If that fails at least some witnesses can be obtained. Remember - by calling for help you are not being a coward. You are taking action to defend yourself.
  • If the attacker persists then take off any jewellery and/or accessories you have on, i.e chains, belts, possibly even boots, ANYTHING like that, especially if it's heavy, metal, sharp or spiky. (This is because if there is a physical fight and you accidentally injure them with these items, this will be considered assault with a weapon and if you end up in court, you are likely to be the one getting in trouble. Remember, people often like an excuse to blame things on the 'freaky' one.) Also, if you are wearing long necklaces or chains, these can be used against you. Get them out of the picture.
  • Prepare to defend yourself.
If you are attacked physically:
  • If you can, run to a populated area. Shout for help. Always run to a place where there will be more people. Hiding from your attacker in an isolated area may seem like a good idea, but it really isn't. There will be no witnesses and no one who could step in and defend you.
  • Defend yourself and fight back - but always avoid the other person's face. If you give them any head injuries they can press charges whether they started the fight or not.
  • DO NOT START the fight. Avoid the altercation if at all possible; defend yourself, do not attack.
  • Aim below the waist (especially if your attacker is male). You need to inhibit the person and/or distract them from hurting you, so for example if you were to hurt their leg you can get away.
  • If someone grabs you, break their little finger. This is actually taught as a self defence technique in some workplaces, because the little finger is a useless part of the body. It serves practically no purpose, and breaking it causes no lasting damage to the other person. Not to mention it bloody hurts and so is very likely to prevent them from attacking you further!
Bear in mind; I have warned against head injuries, attacking with weapons etc. - but again, you do not want to be the next Sophie Lancaster. If it comes down to it, defend yourself at all costs.

Apologies for this very serious post. Normal service will be resumed tomorrow; same bat time, same bat channel.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Weekenders and tourists

The question I have been asked most frequently by both readers of this site and people I meet in everyday life is, "Do you dress like this all the time?"

The short answer is, well, yes I do. Not always in the same style or subset, and yes, I have days when all I can be bothered to do is pull on jeans and a band tee, but Goth fashion is a part of my life 24/7. Yes, even my PJs (I have many pairs of Gothy PJs. In fact, I am typing this whilst wearing a black PJ top with leopard print bottoms, and my black fluffy dressing gown). Obviously the dressier outfits that I am fond of don't lend themselves well to every occasion - when I play badminton at the gym on Mondays, I wear loose black tracksuit bottoms and a T-shirt (usually black).

When one has body mods, permanent hair dye, and has spent a lot of time and money amassing a spooky wardrobe, Goth tends not to be something you can wash off when you get back from the party.

For many darklings, Goth is not just a music genre and their personal aesthetic, but something bordering on a lifestyle. Some enjoy finding ways to apply their preferred dark aesthetic to as many areas of their life as possible - for example decorating their desk, office or locker; home decor; their car (many Goths aspire to drive a hearse or PT Cruiser - personally I want a little purple car with black fluffy seat covers and skull'n'crossbone decals in black. I can't drive yet, but I've already bought a 'powered by fairy dust' steering wheel cover...); their garden... some may even buy toiletries with spooky-sounding fragrances like 'night violet' and 'midnight blossom'. 

Source: Tumblr
Of course, even if you are one of these types who likes to involve Goth in as much of their life as they can (and certainly not ALL Goths do; for some, the music and fashion is enough), not everyone is uber-dark and uber-spooky all of the time. Everyone has something a little bit un-Goth about them. For example, my guilty music pleasures include *deep breath* Ashlee Simpson and Katy Perry. There, I said it...

At the other end of the spectrum, we have those known as 'weekenders' and those we call 'tourists'. I have spoken before about scene tourists and their potential to drive a Goth night into the ground (click here if you missed it). A Goth club tourist, basically, is a non-Goth - furthermore, someone who has no interest in Goth music, fashion or culture and would die laughing if you ever suggested they actually 'became' Goth - who frequents Goth nights and other Goth events.

Why would someone with no interest in Goth attend a Goth club? To admire or to mock the attire of the patrons; to experience something 'different' and 'edgy'; to feel as though they are dark and dangerous by attending a club filled with potential kinky devil-worshippers; or, most often, to get laid. Because, as everyone knows, people who like to wear fishnets and PVC must be easy. *rolls eyes*

Opinions amongst Goths regarding scene tourists are greatly varied; their club attendance brings the money in, which is likely to mean more events and club nights. Then again, tripping over Miss All-America and her clones out hunting for sexy Goth guys with tattoos in 'interesting places', wearing pastel-coloured T-shirts and flip-flops (if you can't see through the smoke machine, listen out for that crunching sound when your New Rocks connect with bare toes), every time you turn round doesn't do much for the ambience.

Plus, no Gothy girl or guy greatly enjoys being bothered by the drunken mundie slurring, "Nice costume! Your coffin or mine?" in their ear whilst pawing indelicately at an antique lace sleeve. When the club is the place you go to get away from the people incessantly asking, "So, do you drink blood/sacrifice chickens/worship the devil?" then the last thing you want is those people on the inside.

(If you are a non-Goth who has trawled this far through my ramblings, then fear not - there ARE good reasons why a friendly non-Goth such as yourself might attend a Goth event.
  • Keeping a friend company
  • Taking one's Gothy other half on a night out
  • Because you think you might like to take part in the Goth scene
  • Because you like the music
Any reason involving the words 'handcuffs' or 'vampire chicks' is NOT a good reason. And please, please try to blend in - for the love of God, wear something black.)

How about weekenders? Well, weekenders fall into two categories - the first kind of weekender is basically a scene tourist clad in black. They're not Goth; they don't want to be Goth; they just want to dress up like vampires and try to pull some freaks at the freak club. These kinds are generally NOT welcomed; Goths do not appreciate having their beloved scene used as 'edgy' entertainment by people who think they're kinky weirdos.

Then, there are those who are Goth or would like to be Goth, but are unable or uninclined to indulge their love of dark fashion in everyday life (usually due to work, school or a disapproving family) and so only dress in Gothwear for Goth events, or on weekends (hence name). This type of weekender is usually welcomed, but may be greeted with mild disdain from the occasional ubergoth; Glass from AstroVamps says, "Incorporate your style into everything you do. Even if you work at Ralph's, be sure to get away with as much as you can during the week. I can spot a weekend warrior out at a club with my back turned. Live the life, everyday."

EDIT: Dressing casually during the week is, obviously, sometimes a necessity. Someone who usually dresses in simple Goth fashions (e.g. black jeans, band T-shirts, boots and a blazer or leather jacket) as opposed to petticoats, corsets, miles of bustle and a top hat is not a weekender as not everyone has the kind of lifestyle where they can be All Gothic All The Time. "Incorporating your style into everything you do" does not mean that you need to wear six-inch platforms and a cape 24/7. Dressing in CASUAL Goth or alternative fashion from day-to-day does not make you a weekender, poseur or wannabe.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Goth footwear

Today, I am wearing my new hat, which makes me full of teh happy. =D Also, an acquaintance of mine was on TV! Check out this clip from Whitby Gothic Weekend on The One Show - the rainbow faerie lady at 0:45 and 2:17 is named Izzy, and I met her at DV8 Fest. ^^

My topic for today is Goth footwear, which really I should have talked about long ago when I first started waffling on about Goth fashion basics and how to begin creating your own Goth look. As you've probably noticed from a) the pics on this site, b) pics on the rest of the internets and c) your friendly neighbourhood Gothlings, it's rare to see a Goth without a ridiculously cool pair of boots.

Source: We Heart It
However, whilst boots are the standard footwear for Gothy types, there is a huge variety of styles available to suit the discerning darkling. Platforms; stilettos; chunky heels; thigh-high; ankle boots; pointy toes; skull buckles; bat buckles; lace-up; velvet; leather; PVC... the options are endless. But boots are not the only footwear that can be used for your darkly decadent ensembles - Mary-Janes, courts, creepers, ballet flats, shoe boots, Converse-style sneakers and even *gasp* sandals (Adora Batbrat seems fond of sandals) can be teamed with many of the outfits in a Goth's wardrobe to finish off the look.

Gothy boots don't have to be black; but if you're just starting out in the world of dark fashion it may be wise to invest in a black pair so you know you will have something to go with everything.

There are dozens of brands providing ubercool stompy footwear to the black-clad masses. Some of the most famous and most commonly seen include Demonia (and its sister brand Pleaser), who produce the sexiest footwear around in a variety of colours, ranging from black to white to hot pink. Demonia's platform boots are infamous; certain styles have detachable parts and accessories that can be swapped and mix-and-matched to change the appearance of the boots from day to day. Demonia and Pleaser also create a wide variety of fetish-inspired styles - if you want it in PVC, with spikes, or just a wickedly high heel, this is the brand for you.

New Rocks are currently enjoying great popularity amongst alternative subcultures - the prices are high but the footwear is very hard-wearing as well as being utterly gorgeous. They are definitely an investment. New Rocks are have some of the most 'macho' styles available, with flames, chains, skulls and spikes. They are also famous for producing some of the most RIDICULOUSLY high platforms you will ever see.

Underground England produce a fabulous range of baseball boots and creepers - ideal for casual wear. Their canvas boots are very comfortable and could be described as 'Converse for non-conformists'. Patterns such as spiderwebs, skulls and tartan are incorporated into many of their designs.

Mad Fish supply vegan Goth and punk footwear and are one of the most affordable ranges. A lot of their boots are similar in style and appearance to New Rocks, perhaps a cheaper alternative for the Goth on a budget.

Websites stocking the above brands and many more can always be found with a quick Google search.

One of the common fears of a newbie Goth is shelling out hundreds of pounds to get a decent pair of boots; but look, we can't all afford spiffy New Rocks or the latest Demonia Transmuters, and it's not too difficult to put together a perfectly nice Goth look with footwear from the high street. A pair of basic (or not so basic) black boots can be found in shops like ShoeZone, Peacocks (I have two or three pairs from Peacocks and at least one from ShoeZone), or your local army surplus. For courts, heels, and other varieties of shoe New Look is often a fairly safe bet, and reasonably cheap.

Charity shops can often be very helpful - I have two pairs of second-hand New Rocks, and a pair of velvet pointy-toed pixie boots that I found in a charity shop. Just make sure to try them on and inspect them thoroughly first - they may need re-heeling, re-soling or a thorough clean to make them look as good as new.

If you're a picky darkling who doesn't fancy high street OR brand name footwear, try eBay and Etsy to track down little-known alternative brands and independent sellers - just be sure to check sizes carefully and make sure you buy from reputable traders.

Remember, pumps, flats and plain boots can always be jazzed up to suit your personal aesthetic with a little DIY. Change the shoelaces; add spikes; paint designs onto them; even spray with glitter (I have a pair of steel-toed combats that I am going to cover with rainbow glitter and give pink shoelaces ^^). You don't have to spend a fortune to have a perfect pair of Gothtastic footwear... ;-)
Me today - Veil of Vision shades and latest charity shop find (my hat)
Listening to: Spectra Murder Show (embryo version) - Spectra*Paris (click here for free download!)

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Springtime-inspired Goth fashion

Springtime. One moment it's raining, the next you're blinded by the sun and running for cover before you *shudder* tan. The wind is cold, the flowers are blooming, and everything seems unusually colouful and bright after a dull winter. Spring may not be the most Goth-friendly season, but here are my top tips and suggestions for putting a little spring in your step (arf arf) when the sun begins to shine...

Source: Tumblr
Wait, come back! Of course I'm not suggesting you head out in blue jeans, flip flops and a pink T-shirt - I am not entirely insane you know. But all the flowers and blue skies and pretty green grass seems to have invaded my brain and I have definitely added some hues other than black to my wardrobe over the last few weeks.

My personal favourite way to add colour to a springtime Gothy wardrobe is to add a touch of Lolita sweetness with a poofy skirt or frilly headdress, or ice Goth drama with a white dress paired with your favourite stompy boots. Pink, white and baby blue are definitely my colours this season.

The trick to pulling off a pastel colour with a Goth ensemble is to not overdo it - a lot of white-and-black contrast heads into zebra territory, for example. A pink T-shirt with a black skirt and black accessories gives an unusual and ironic twist for your springtime daywear without making you look somewhat subculturally confused.

Tights, long socks and stockings!
If you are a sensible Gothling, you have no doubt been layering your long skirts over leggings and long socks all winter. At last; Spring has sprung and it is now safe to show a bit more leg. Patterned tights or thigh-high socks or stockings will look awesome with at least 97% of the black skirts in your wardrobe. As you probably know, my favourite pattern for tights is candy stripes; channel Adora BatBrat with bows, hearts or polka dots; or add a dash of colour with red, purple or green tights.

Shades and parasols!
Yes darklings, there is the teeniest hint of sunshine in the sky, which means you may receive offical permission from the Gothic Hivemind to break out your sunglasses and grab for those parasols! (In keeping with my cuteness-overload mood at the moment I even treated myself to some new heart-shaped sunglasses and a bat-topped parasol from Posiez on Etsy. My usual ubergoth shades are from Veil of Visions and have the most awesome dangly crosses).

Pretty pretty!
Spring is definitely the season to go all girly, what with all those flowers (yes, I'm still harping on about the flowers) and lambs bouncing around in their cute adorable fashion. Bows, ruffles, lace, ribbons and a touch of pink blush accessorising your usual badass Gothy ensembles equals maximum cuteness in the spookiest possible way.

Tiny top hats and mini crowns add sweetness; lace or crochet gloves are very apropos for both spring and autumn, adding a delicate and elegant touch. A string of pearls or cameo brooch hints at Neo-Victorian eccentricity. If you were walking through a woodland cemetery and stumbled across a very strange tea party indeed, you shouldn't look at all out of place...

I have a great fondness for bloomers - short poofy creations in summer and longer lengths in spring. A pair of ruffled bloomers look great beneath a knee-length skirt or can be worn alone; unusual touches such as a bustle add extra interest.

Keeping warm. Or cold. Depending on what the weather happens to be doing at this precise moment.
Swap your heavy winter coat for a lighter jacket; or try a shawl or cape. Tops with patterned sleeves (e.g. fishnet, lace or mesh) can be layered underneath T-shirts and tank tops for extra warmth and a more exciting look.

To fend off those April showers AND keep you out of the sun, see if you can find a pretty umbrella that will double up as a parasol, or vice versa of course.
Source: Tumblr
Goth gossip: this is old news by now, but when I stumbled across it on Siouxsie Law I couldn't resist serving it up for my readers... HorrorPops singer and Gothabilly style icon Patricia Day sues Barbie makers Mattel - for ripping off her look with their Hard Rock Barbie! Check out Siouxsie Law's post here for all the juicy details on this craziness...

Monday, 21 March 2011

Dark and Goth-friendly music part 7: more Industrial and electronic subgenres

Music post the seventh... we could be here for a while, chaps. I'm going to continue where we left off, with the sounds of dark and Goth-friendly electronic, cyber-tastic and Industrial-based music.

Source: Photobucket
"Noise music," sayeth Wikipedia, Font of All Knowledge (some of which is even true!), "is a term used to describe varieties of avant-garde music and sound art that may use elements such as cacophony, dissonance, atonality, noise, indeterminancy and repetition in their realisation." Which, roughly translated, means that we're not talking about easy listening here...

Noise music developed from a whole bunch of art movements, such as Futurism, Dada, Surrealist and Fluxus and often incorporates heavy distortion, extreme volume, non-traditional instruments, manipulated recordings and sound effects such as feedback and static. In case you haven't guessed, it is a close relative of Industrial music.

There are other various genres associated with noise such as post-Industrial, dark noise, Industrial noise, noise rock, drone, rhythmic noise, Japanoise, and many more.

Bands from this selection of genres and related genres include: NON, Sonic Youth, Cabaret Voltaire, Nocturnal Emissions, Merzbow, Masonna, The Haters, Smegma, Steven Stapleton, Wolf Eyes, SPK.

Experimental music
Experimental music, on the whole, is just that - music that pushes the boundaries of its defined genre, or is a hybrid of disparate, mismatched styles, or incorporates unorthodox methods, instruments or sounds. Its relatives include glitch, noise, no wave and Industrial; like glitch and noise it is generally well-regarded (even if not enjoyed) by those in the Goth and Industrial scenes for its avant-garde, boundary-pushing style. declares, "The term experimental music refers to the creative process that the artist goes through to create a variety of unique sounds that when mixed together create a whole new experience in music. The process of “experimentation” is just as important as the outcome. “Experimental” music could be called more of an experience as it is not made to be distributed in the main stream but rather to give you an insight of the artists’ complex minds."

Goth-friendly bands that are considered 'experimental' include: Aphex Twin, Lydia Lunch, Diamanda Galas, Coil, Skinny Puppy, Swans, Crystal Castles, Throbbing Gristle.

Electro-Industrial is a genre combining elements of EBM and Industrial, although unlike the minimalist sounds associated with EBM it has a complex, multi-layered sound. Harsher beats and distorted or digitalised vocals are common. Guitars are rarely, if ever, in use. Some groups, e.g. Haujobb, have incorporated elements of drum and bass and Intelligent Dance Music.

Like Industrial music, lyrical themes generally include dystopia, horror and science-fiction.

Electro-Industrial bands include: Aslan Faction, Leaether Strip, Velvet Acid Christ, Noisuf-X, Psyborg Corp, Glis, Neikka RPM, Nitzer Ebb, Rotersand, Zombie Girl.

Dark electro
Dark electro derived from electro-Industrial in the mid-90s and is similar in style, incorporating horror soundscapes and grunting or distorted vocals.

Dark electro bands include: yelworC, Placebo Effect, Evil's Toy, Dark Ages, The Electric Hellfire Club, Android Lust, Heimataerde, Amduscia, Wynardtage, [:SITD:].

Aggrotech is also known as Hellektro (also spelt Hellectro), harsh EBM, terror EBM or hard EBM and is another derivative genre of electro-Industrial with strong influences from hardcore techno and (believe it or not) the rave scene. It is characterised by harsh structures, aggressive beats, and explicit, pessimistic, militant lyrics. The vocals are synthesized to sound harsh (much like the vocals used in metal bands like Cradle of Filth, except synthesized rather than natural).

Aggrotech bands include: Aesthetic Perfection, Combichrist, Suicide Commando, Psyclon Nine, Agonoize, Unter Null, God Module, Grendel, Alien Vampires, Detroit Diesel.

Psst, look! I finally got around to adding a blogroll! Check out this lovely list of clicky-links in the sidebar to explore the wonderful world of Gothy blogs that I completely adore... I can't keep the spooky awesomeness to myself any longer... you're welcome.

Oh, and here are some pics of my outfit from yesterday:
Note to self: clean mirror
This is the basic outfit (above); and some details (teacup necklace, bows, and ruffles - below).
And here are some pics that Dan took of me in the wild!
Amy in Wonderland (looking rather awkward)
In the cemetery!

Styles of Goth fashion: tribal Goth

Before Gothic and Tribal Fusion bellydance experienced a surge of popularity within the Goth subculture, the term 'tribal Goth' was used to refer to Goths who incorporated an ethnic and/or primitive feel into their fashions - e.g. dreadlocks, wooden or bone jewellery, and extensive body modifications. This style is still the most common form of 'tribal Goth' amongst Gothy gentlemen.

Source: Google
Nowadays the term usually refers to a Gothic or Tribal bellydancing enthusiast within the subculture, as many of these Goths have found ways to work the stylings of their dance costumes into their festival wear and even everyday attire. Of course the two 'forms' of tribal Goth fashion combine quite well - dread falls, tattoos and jewellery made from bone, shells, or wood are common amongst Gothic bellydance performers.

Tribal Goth is in some aspects similar to hippie Goth. For both men and women hair is usually long, often braided or dreaded, and predominantly natural or henna-dyed colours such as red, blonde, dark brown or black. It is often highly decorated with ribbons, beads, flowers, headdresses and other jewellery. For women, clothing is usually loose and flowing on the bottom (e.g. gypsy skirts, ruffled trousers) and tight or cropped on top for the traditional bellydance-esque look. Accessories include bellydance hip belts, slave bracelets and belly chains.

This look is typified perfectly by the fashions created by designers like Dark Fusion Boutique; darkly decadent and highly accessorised tribal-themed fashions that have either a slightly rough-around-the-edges, dystopian feel or the look and feel of ethnic clothing.
Source: Etsy
The music beloved by these Goths covers a great many genres; tribal Goths may enjoy world music from artists such as Dead Can Dance, Oceania (a Maori music project aided by one of the guys from Killing Joke), Ashkelon Sain, and Soriah. Bellydance music artists such as Beats Antique and Jehan are also popular; other likely suspects include Collide, Knossus, Corvus Corax, Jarboe and Diamanda Galas.

Goth gossip: Infamous Goth model and Gothic Beauty contributor Acid PopTart is writing, directing and starring in her own horror movie, Kiss Me Dark, and hosting events such as a Bloody Prom to fundraise. The movie, due to be released November 2011, is described as 'a love story of a haunted serial killer who tries to regain the love he once lost', features songs from Anders Manga, and will have a 'heavy Goth feel' visually. Check out Kiss Me Dark on Facebook for more - I for one can't wait to get my hands on this! <3

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Infest UK - Britain's ultimate cybergoth gathering

I have had such a lovely day - cemetery picnics in the spring sunshine are ALWAYS a good thing, even better when one is parading a new Alice-in-Wonderland-themed ensemble, and close to perfect when one's boyfriend then insists on buying you a stack of new books and movies. I am a happy perkygoth. ^^

Now, at the very opposite end of the Goth spectrum than the last event I posted on, Drop Dead Fest, is Infest UK, aka 'the UK's premier festival of alternative electronic music'. It is held at Bradford University Student Union in Yorkshire, England - and as such, rather unusually for a dark fest, offers on-site accomodation - you can book a room on-site where you will have access to communal facilities; you can ask for a room close to friends, or if you know you will be desperate for a good night's sleep can ask to be located near like-minded, quieter people. Quite a nice touch, I feel.

Infest takes place annually during the summer over a three-day weekend, usually the August bank holiday. The acts featured are described as 'alternative' electronic - this includes genres such as EBM, Industrial, futurepop, powernoise, rhythmic noise, darkwave and synthpop. A quick scan down the list of this year's artists throws up a few of my favourite bands - VNV Nation, Mind.In.A.Box, Tactical Sekt and Analog Angel, just for starters.

In 1998 three students at Bradford wanted to hold a single-day event for Yorkshire Goths - and the Student Union agreed to fund the booking of several big-name acts, such as Alien Sex Fiend. The following year the festival began to dwell more on the electronic side of the Goth scene, booking Apoptygma Berserk as their headliner.

After 2000 the Students Union felt it was no longer viable for them to sustain the cost of an ever-growing dark music festival, so independent Goth and Industrial promoter Mark 'Gus' Guy (formerly a drummer in an Indie band, FYI) of Terminal Productions took over the show.

There is of course a full festival programme boasting clubnights, traders, DJ wars and other typical Goth-fest craziness, bringing cybergoths and other oontz-oontz loving spooky types from as far away as Canada and Australia. By all accounts there is a very relaxed atmosphere at Infest, and it is also one of the smaller festivals (averaging less than 1000 attendees) so it's a great place to meet musicians and fellow Gothlings alike.

Click here to check out pics from previous Infests at the Flickr photo pool.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Goth cliches (and why they aren't *always* a bad thing...)

Goths, on the whole, dislike being referred to or having their outfits, hobbies or behaviour referenced as 'cliched'. But we've already touched on plenty of celebrated Gothy cliches in previous posts, such as absinthe, snakebite and black, vampires, red wine, smoke machines, poetry, classic literature and of course black clothing and heavy boots - not to mention things with bats, skulls or spiders on them. And frankly, I suspect that most Goths looking at the above list will find at least one thing that they enjoy or have an interest in.

Source: Photobucket
So liking something that's cliche or having an aspect of your attire, interests or behaviour represent a spooky cliche isn't necessarily a bad thing. But obviously there are negative cliches hovering about the Goth scene, like bad whiteface, Crow make-up and teenage angst (which reminds me, I saw my first actual mallgoth today - awful make-up, red and black hair, baggy T-shirt, baggy jeans with a gazillion pockets! It was some how "awww" and "God help us" at the same time...) .

What's the difference between a good cliche and a bad one? As far as I can tell (and please throw your own theories into the mix) it comes down to two things - style and attitude.

Style - OK, so dyeing your hair black and wearing a skull T-shirt and a pair of bondage pants could be considered cliche. But do you look good? Do your make-up and accessories compliment the look - and are they unusual (balancing out the more stereotypical items in an ensemble with unusual and avant-garde pieces can often rescue you from a trite Goth-in-a-box look)? Have you put some thought into your overall appearance? In short, do you look like a Mansonite, or do you look great?

If you look downright awesome or are having a good time - who cares if it's cliched or not?

Attitude -  are you drinking that absinthe to impress your equally scary friends with your uber-Gothness, or are you enjoying a tasty drink whilst giggling to yourself about the spooky cliched-ness of it?

A lot of the greatest aspects of Goth culture could be considered extremely cliched, such as (again) the black clothes, gloomy night clubs filled with fog, and pointy shoes. Recognising the cliche and seeing the humour in it draws the line between fun and hackneyed, and explains why a lot of Goth culture is deliberately tongue-in-cheek (says I, whilst wearing sparkly pink fuzzy bat hairclips... ;-) ). A lot of Goth comics and subcultural in-jokes (for example, the lyrics of some Voltaire songs) revolve around poking affectionate fun at such cliches whilst knowing that 95% of the darkly-clad audience (and the originator of the joke, probably) greatly enjoys indulging in them.

In fact, the Lady of the Manners of Gothic Charm School explains that when she finds herself doing something cliched (e.g. collecting a vast amount of vampire novels) it amuses her to refine her behaviour into an even more perfect example of that cliche (reading said vampire novels by candlelight whilst sipping red wine).

In short - if you're enjoying it, why the hell not? If you're trying to convince your parents or peers that you're a totally scary, freaky Goff person, you're doing it wrong.

Cliches are also a useful way for newbies to feel their way into the Goth scene - using basic archetypes of Goth culture as a starting point when developing one's style can be a great help (e.g. Siouxsie Sioux make-up. Robert Smith hair. Wednesday Addams outfit. Ta-da - one Goth).

The great and the good (Goth cliches we all love to love):
  • Ridiculously tall platform shoes
  • Picnics in the cemetary
  • Reading Edgar Allan Poe by candlelight
  • Spending our teen years (and beyond) writing howlingly awful gloomy poetry
  • Hair so big it needs its own postcode
  • Sunglasses at the merest hint of sunshine
  • Stumbling home from the library with armfuls of vampire fiction
  • Loving Halloween more than Christmas
  • Spending an evening with a bottle of red wine and a stack of black and white Hammer Horror movies
  • Signing e-mails to other spooky types with a phrase such as 'eternally yours in darkness', and (in my case, ahem) 'darkest wishes'
  • Spending hours online or at the club debating whether this or that band is a 'real' Goth band
  • Swooning - if you haven't put the back of your hand to your forehead in a sarcastically overdramatic swooning fashion at least once in your life, I am shocked and stunned
  • Eating Count Chocula (come on American Goths, I know you do...) or drinking TruBlood
  • Hands up ANY Gothling reading this who can't recite at least a large chunk of Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven
Just to round off the cliche parade nicely, this is what I wore for my study date on Thursday:

Yes, teary-eyed make-up and 'stitches' in my eyebrows... but I loved it. ;-)

Goth gossip: Whitby Gothic Weekend is getting political… after the cancellation of this year's live music at the Pavilion, Sam Hoyle of organisers Dark Daisy Promotions blames festival founder Jo Hampshire's decision to host different WGW events on different dates, saying, "We feel Ms. Hampshire's decision to split events has had a negative impact upon the scene." Ms. Hampshire recently released a statement saying that the split dates fiasco will not happen again.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Shop review: Vamps, York, Yorkshire

I absolutely no can brain today, after I was up yabbering on the phone to my other half until one in the morning and then spent a day working in the shop... so I'm afraid that instead of my planned post about enjoying one's Gothy cliches, I'm going to have to make do with a shop review. I so need a back rub right now...

'Alternative boutique' Vamps of York is a gorgeous and well-stocked shop boasting everything from full-length PVC dresses to cute tattoo-print cardigans. They have a range of utterly beautiful (but wicked expensive) jewellery featuring the usual suspects - bats, spiders and skulls - and stock accessories created by local designers as well as from big brand names like Kreepsville 666, which I felt was a really nice touch. I hope more alt shops will take the opportunity to promote local creepy craftspeople. Oh, and check out the one-of-a-kind decoupage cards (again, handmade by a local crafty type) in a myriad of darkly delightful designs, I bought one for a friend's birthday. They're so pretty!

There are several alt shops in York (and apparently one or two more that I didn't manage to track down) but I think it's safe to say that this is the best of them due to its diverse range and the fact that it doesn't necessarily cater to whatever's currently popular with the alternateen crowd. In fact, I'm not sure I spotted any brightly-coloured emo tees or stupid-looking scene sunglasses whatsoever, although there were the ubiquitous neon-and-black zebra print hoodies.

My favourite thing about Vamps is that the stock wasn't immediately identical to pieces I'd seen in other Goth shops all around the country, other than the aforementioned zebra hoodies and the usual array of bondage pants jingling with hardware. I'm sure that brand names such as Hell Bunny were featured, but I didn't see the exact same garments in other shops during the time I spent in York. In places like Southampton and Salisbury, the shops are so overrun with Dead Threads, Spiral and Hell Bunny that you can walk from one shop to the next and compare prices on the same item.

One of Vamps's assistants does tend to take the 'hard sell' approach which I found wearying after a while, but most of the shop assistants are lovely, very friendly and helpful. Plus, they have a Cruxshadows poster in the changing room. XD

Their website seems to be pretty well maintained and up to date (so many Goth shops seem to let their websites slide...) and also has a great range of coloured contacts that last for a year - I can't pick which ones I want!

Goth gossip: Heard of 'bubblegoth'? Pop-rock musician Kerli, whose contribution to the Goth scene consists primarily of a couple of songs on the soundtrack of a Tim Burton movie, modelling for alt make-up brand Sugarpill Cosmetics, and a very pretty music video, has coined this term to describe her musical style. Sure, her outfits are fantastic and would possibly fit the term 'bubblegoth', but her music? Hmm. Read more about this (and check out some gorgeous pics) over at Boots's blog.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Doctor, Doctor... I'm not a junkie!

Further to my previous post about my experiences with my family doctor, when I was about sixteen, I went to the local surgery with my mum to see whichever doctor was available. It wasn't my usual GP, but my migraines were getting severe enough that I wasn't about to be picky; I was also suffering hypnagogic hallucinations and was having difficulty sleeping.

I had seen this doctor before (we'll call him 'Doctor J'), and after initially seeming surprised at my appearance he had actually taken it in his stride and had a good laugh with me - we talked about Siouxsie and the Banshees and Bauhaus, and he made a joke of weighing me with and without my favourite New Rocks (the difference was 4 kilos, which explains my Serena-Williams-esque leg muscles).

This time things were different. He barely listened to my description of what was wrong with me, as soon as the word 'hallucinations' had left my lips he rolled his eyes and said, "So what drugs are you taking?"

At first I thought he was joking or I hadn't heard him right. After we sat a moment in stunned silence, he repeated himself, and I spluttered, "None!" which was one hundred per cent true, I am extremely anti-drugs. In my personal opinion, even so-called 'soft' drugs like cannabis can really change a person - drugs are admittedly rife in my area, so I have seen several friends' personalities degrade under the influence of 'just' weed. A relative of mine also once dated a heroin addict and I would spend time at their house on weekends; I have seen both ends of the spectrum and how it can destroy a person. That's not something I would do to myself, thanks.

The embarrassment was double, as there was also a student doctor in the room. My mum immediately leapt to my defense, explaining that I would never do drugs, that I wasn't into that sort of stuff, but Doctor J dismissed her with a remark along the lines of, "The parent is always the last to know."

Mum then asked if the hallucinations or migraines could be a result of the temporary blindness I suffered in my earlier teens (burned retinas; note to kids, the sun is bad). Without looking at my medical records, the doc looked me up and down and said, "Temporary blindness is usually caused by hysteria." Hysteria?! Dude. My eyes. Were burned.

The doc asked if I would feel more comfortable talking to him if my mum waited outside. I said yes, because I was by this point squirming with embarrassment. As soon as the door closed behind her, Doctor J leaned forward and asked me again what drugs I was taking. I couldn't believe we were still on this subject and gave him the same response, "I'm not taking any drugs!"

He glared at me, and with his face about a foot away from mine, shouted, "FOR GOD'S SAKE AMY, I CAN'T HELP YOU IF YOU DON'T TELL ME WHAT DRUGS YOU'RE TAKING!"

I shouted back, "For the last time, I'm not taking any drugs!"

Finally he gave up, and as I left, I snapped, "By the way, Doctor, I'm not an idiot and I'm not fond of wasting people's time. If I was doing drugs and started having hallucinations, it would probably have occured to me that the hallucinations were the product of all the weed I was smoking." Or words to that effect. The student doctor looked somewhat amused.

The upshot of this trip to the doctors was that I ended up being referred to - get this - the mental health department. I did go back a couple of weeks later to see my usual GP, who listened calmly to my symptoms and gave me a prescription to help me sleep, which got rid of the hallucinations and did wonders for my migraines, without once mentioning drugs or making abstract guesses about the state of my mental health.

At the time I was horrified that a doctor could behave in such a ridiculous manner, but now I look back and laugh. However last night I stopped finding it funny abruptly when I came across an article in the Daily Mail that read: "A musician with a punk haircut died from swine flu after medics assumed he was a drug addict and ignored his pleas for help, his distraught mother claims. Peter Williamson, who sported a mohican and facial piercings, was turned away from a hospital and health centre, as well as by an ambulance crew.

"One nurse sent him home saying, 'Do you realise we have sick people in this hospital?'"

Peter, a musician and band promoter, became progressively weaker, to the point that he had to use a mobility scooter to go shopping with his mother. He was found dead at his home a week after first seeking help. The family's lawyers are intending to sue health bosses for negiligence.

Peter Williamson
Source: Daily Mail
Peter's mother told the Daily Mail, "We did everything possible to get Peter help, but we think because of the way he looked they just wouldn't listen to us. Presumably because he had a punk hairstyle and facial piercings they dismissed him as a junkie. But nothing could be further from the truth. My Peter never touched drugs and lived a healthy lifestyle.

"He loved punk music, it was his life but having a spikey haircut doesn't make you a drug abuser. I will always hold the doctors and nurses responsible for Peter's death.

"It's just the disgusting way they treated my son. I think the attitude of the hospital staff is appalling, they just looked at Peter and just judged him for the way he looked."

These assumptions and judgements based on someone's appearance are not only ignorant and offensive - they can kill.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Goths on Goth

Squeeeeee! A local paper yesterday printed a four-page spread on Elegant Gothic Lolita and one of my fave (and also local-ish) bands RazorBladeKisses! I have sent a desperate text message to friends and family begging them to somehow hunt me down a copy. <3

Ever wondered what your fellow Goths, as well as musicians, designers, and models, have to say about the scene? Well, no, you possibly haven't. But browsing through back issues of my fave dark alternative zines threw up a whole collection of interesting opinions, viewpoints, and descriptions of this spooky scene of ours. So I have put much time and effort (ahem) into compiling these quotes from famous Gothtastic lovelies, as well as various 'normal' Goths (is there such a thing?) from all around the world. Enjoy...

"Gothic culture is creativity unleashed. It is defining yourself using a dark sensibility. Being Goth is celebrating life in new and unexpected ways. It is a way of dressing, an art form, and it is a musical style. As Goths we hug the monster under the bed and say to it 'I love you! You rock!' rather than 'I fear you... I think I wet my PJs.' We celebrate Halloween like it was Xmas, we love loud, dark moody music and we just enjoy the balance between the light and the dark.” - Lauren Jones, from the letters page in Gothic Beauty Magazine.

"I'm intrigued by the freedom and pure creativity designing for Goths comes with. Goths have an eye and appreciation for detail that set a custom item apart from something off the rack.” - Dianna DiNoble, fashion designer, Starkers!.

"There are plenty of Goth bands that are funny... I'm just the only one that is intentionally so...." - Voltaire.

"I get horrified when I hear the term 'classic Goth'. I think you've got to allow people to express themselves in whatever way they want. Some will do this in an exciting and original way and some won't, but it's their choice. The most exciting thing about the Goth scene is the way that it continually re-invents itself and appeals to such a wide spectrum of people.” - Paul Steventon-Marks, The Beautiful Deadly Children.

“Most of the people who call themselves Goth today do not really know where this term comes from and what it stands for.” - Deacon Syth, DJ.

Source: Etsy
"People are ignorant and narrow-minded to other people's preferred way of dressing. I've had negative comments made so many times by people of all ages. But you do get those who admire the way we dress too. Many ladies, usually mature, have said how if they were young again, they would have dressed like it because it's what they wanted, but they didn't have the guts for fear of what? Abuse, discrimination, isolation etc. It's very sad to think people assume Goths are bad people. What you will ALWAYS find in city centres is the police are never called to a Goth pub/club due to Goths fighting or causing trouble... on the rare occasion police are called it will be due to 'chavs' or 'townies' causing trouble." - Beautiful Lunatic, artist.

“We were really excited that the show (The Amazing Race) did want to refer to us as 'the Goth team'. We knew the word 'Goth' would be broadcast on TV screens in millions of homes all over America, and felt that this would be really positive.” - Vyxsin.

"I think the Goth community has lost sight of what makes it great. You go to a club and you hear synth pop music. Most of the clothes have become so uniform and off-the-rack boring. The scene as a whole seems to be just a watered-down, middle-ground version of what it could be.” - Matt Riser, publisher, Newgrave magazine.

"Goth is a label, I prefer not to be restricted to labels. However most people who are attracted to this label are looking for a way out of the social norms of society, the hypocrisy, the corruption, the lies, the failure. I am one of them." - Valor, Christian Death.

“Goth is a way of making the fact that you will never fit in work for you.” - 50 ft Queenie, The Goth Bible's Cross Section.

"Goth fashion has become more street-friendly over the years but it would be nice if more people went all out when it came to clothing. I hope Goth fashion becomes more extreme and incorporates more of a dress-up attitude.” - Jenny Wong, fashion designer, Deadly Dichotomy Designs.

"Through the years, the scene has grown and morphed to the point that the term 'Goth' means something different to pretty much anyone you ask. To some it is a style of music and to others a way of dress. Many people who don't consider themselves Goth are a little bit Goth by other people's standards, while others see being Goth as a way of life and proudly celebrate their morbid tendencies.” - Jonathan Williams.

"What makes a Goth in my opinion, is attitude. State of mind. Either you relate to it or not. Trends come and go, but Goth has been there for a while. I know some people despise all newcomers to the scene, calling them poseurs etc, but I'm kind of glad to see young people discover themselves through Goth rather than hip-hop, for example. Even if it's just a phase in their life that lasts for just a few years, I'm sure they'll learn a lot more through Goth than they would through a lot of other subcultures.... Overall I think Goth is not music-centred, that is why Goth is Goth and Gothic music is Gothic music. Goth in its essence is so much more than just music." - Evestus (musician).

"I don't like the misrepresentation of Goth, by that I mean when you go to a supposedly Goth event and all there is on the play list is CHART based music. I don't call that Goth in any way, shape or form; yes there are electronic based Goth bands (Cruxshadows, Scarlet Soho etc.) who do the job properly but there are many acts played in clubs that are not. They aren't even bands, just somebody with a computer churning this stuff out with no knowledge of their craft and, more importantly, with no understanding to the roots of the scene of music that they are involved in.” - Matthew North, All Living Fear.

"Goth has turned into many different fragments and I say fragments because I believe it to be broken but not unfixable. It is very different from how it started out. I really do think it is good to have the heart and roots of Goth alive (although there are many out there who have no idea what this is and where Goth came from, which I do think it would be worth their while finding out) but I also think some people in the scene find it hard to accept that change needs to happen for the scene to grow and expand. Change does not mean a loss of the heart and soul; it simply means refreshment, a breath of life." - Toxic Candy, model.

"To me I think Goth is intelligence; the intelligence to embrace the light and the dark. Although we can be ironically stylish, the heart of Gothic culture is to see beauty in everything no matter how unattractive, horrific or how angelic. When I was a teen, instead of black, I used to dress like a powder blue fairy, even down to my lipstick. I didn't do it for attention but to see others' reactions, the good and the bad. It was fascinating." - Victoria Mazze, The Divine Madness.

“Goth is not the same as it once used to be, but still in places like Whitby and London you can still see it in its full glory. Generally I think the Goth scene is evolving, and that's a positive thing as evolution is necessary for survival.” - Azadeh, RazorBladeKisses.

"Is that still going on? I don't know, I suppose I find it very odd..." - Siouxsie Sioux, when asked about Goth.

“It still amazes me that people don't get it: that Goth is unique. It remains the only musical form that articulates many different areas of your life, of things that interest you, affect you and shape you. And as your interests change there are then new areas of Goth which can also become naturally relevant to that. It is for life, because it always adapts.” - Mick Mercer, author.

Red-Headed Stepchild

Parajunkee's View Vampire Reading Challenge #4 - Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells

I knew from the first sentence of this book that Sabina Kane was my kind of heroine. Tough, sarcastic, with a taste for black nail polish (and a ridiculous 'I'm so badass even my name is badass' name, but for me that's one of the perks of urban fantasy...). According to Sabina, digging graves plays hell with a manicure. Unfortunately, when you're a vampire assassin, it kind of fits with the job description.

Sabina doesn't have much of a good time during this novel; she is regarded as an outcast by the Lilim (vampires) as she is a mixed-blood - her father was a mage - but does the dirty work for the Dominae, leaders of the Lilim, striving for their approval and acceptance, as well as the vaguest signs of warmth from her grandmother, one of the three Dominae.

Sabina has been trained to follow orders like the most loyal soldier, and does so, even when she is ordered to execute a friend for his treachery. This leads to her being coerced into infiltrating a growing rival vampire cult to spy on behalf of the Dominae - a complex and dangerous mission, more so when the supernatural communities are already teetering on the brink of war.

The undercover mission pulls Sabina into a tangled web of politics, intrigue, and deceit, until she is no longer sure who she can trust and where her loyalties lie.

Worse still, she has accidentally trapped her unwanted, shopping-channel-addict demon flatmate (they met when he appeared in her living room and tried to kill her) in the form of a hairless cat; and an annoying but hot mage called Adam Lazarus alternates between stalking her, seducing her, attempting to convince her to learn how to use her magic, oh yeah, and dropping huge life-changing family secrets into the mix.

At times the plot becomes a tiny bit convoluted - remembering who is betraying who - and Sabina is often a little slow to catch on, surprising for such a battle-hardened, ass-kicking assassin - but overall this was a great read with a charming cast. The romance aspect is light and doesn't take up too many pages; although there is the usual sexual tension and sexy scenes, the book is neither heavily erotic nor too lovey-dovey. The story is fast-paced and energetic so despite all the political intrigue does not get bogged down at any point. For a debut novel, it's fantastic.

Another different take on vampire myth - in Sabina's world, vampires are not undead, simply supernatural, and they are marked by their red hair, ranging from strawberry blonde for the young vamps to deep mahogany for the oldest beings. (Due to her mixed heritage, Sabina's is bright red streaked with black.) When I picked up the book, the title made me expect faeries rather than vampires, so this was an interesting twist.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Goth Vampire Nation

I just realised that I've been completely neglecting you guys on the free downloads front; grab the track Uletaju from Russian Goth/darkwave band Roman Rain here. (Remember, links die and downloads get removed, at the time of posting this link is correct!)

Speaking of things that die, videos! Some of the videos I posted over the last couple of months have bitten the dust - I think I'm going to have to let things lie as I can't go round replacing them all the time, so if you come across a dead video, my sincerest apologies...

So, in the spirit of catching videos while they are fresh, before YouTube users remove them, mark them as private, delete their accounts or have their audio stripped, I found the full-length version of infamous Gothy record label Cleopatra Records's gothumentary Goth Vampire Nation! I posted a clip from this before, but now you lucky people can watch the whole thing (should you happen to have an hour and forty minutes to spare, that is...).

This documentary was five years in the making and delves deep into the macabre spirit of Goth with its tongue wedged firmly in its cheek, exploring everything from fashion to music to events and interviews with Voltaire, Siouxsie Sioux and other stars of the dark scenes. The soundtrack features gods of Goth like Christian Death, Switchblade Symphony, Voltaire and Razed in Black.

Highlights for me include Voltaire getting riled up about the rise of cybergoth, the interview segments with shop owner Veronika Sorrow (she's adorable), the biggest big hair ever (you'll know it when you see it), and the interviews with Gretchen BonaDuce, a successful corpgoth entrepreneur. Fun fact: I have my very own customised version of the shirt with the evil fairy on it that interviewee Sage is wearing (I found it in a charity shop and took the scissors to it!).

I got a bit tired of the horror movie clips and am not sure what all the pictures of the Angel of the North sculpture were about, but on the whole this is a great gothumentary, exploring, as the blurb on YouTube says, "the history and the future of Goth thru interviews of the Genres biggest stars, complete with a Goth Music soundtrack to literally die for! Its all here - the music, the artists, the culture, the sex, the debauchery, the fashion and lifestyle of the Goth Universe!"

Warning: contains some nudity and possibly offensive material.

Listening to: Cannibal's Hymn - Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

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