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'.
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
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.