Our dear Lady of the Manners at Gothic Charm School mentions in her wonderful book that, back in the day, if two Goths or other dark and unusual types encountered each other in the street, they would acknowledge each other with a nod. Maybe even - and, all right, we're talking about old-school Goths, so probably not - a small, friendly smile.
Source: Goth Underground
- It makes up, a little bit, for the moron a few blocks back who swore at you and made ghosty noises.
- It reminds both of you that Goth has become a 'community' by politely acknowledging someone who probably has at least some of the same interests as you.
- If you, or they, are the chatting-to-strangers type, you could find out about a new band or club, or simply have met someone new.
- It gives you a chance to check out their outfit.
In fact, what most often occurs nowadays is that two Goths passing in the street actually pretend not to see each other - it must appear extraordinarily odd to an onlooker as two similarly-dressed darklings turn their heads here, there and everywhere in an attempt to size up each other's appearance without catching each others' eye!
I can partially understand why this practise might have died out. There is, sadly, a certain level of elitism in Goth culture and many of us, even the more well-intentioned, are guilty of it, so perhaps older Goths stopped acknowledging younger Goths in case that person was not a 'real Goth' but a mallgoth, Mansonite or (more recently) someone jumping on the nu-Goth bandwagon. And younger Goths don't acknowledge older Goths because they are too shy, or because (to use a delightful phrase from the Lady of the Manners) they are spooky and NOT to be smiled at.
But seriously? If you offer a nod to your fellow black-clad traveller and then spot that they are wearing a Linkin Park T-shirt, what's the worst that could happen? They go away from the encounter feeling that their 'Gothness' has been validated; they may well then go on to explore the scene further, and voila, a babybat is born. That's my theory, anyway.
And younger Goths? So what if that eldergoth you just nodded at turns out to be a snooty so-and-so and ignores you? Most older Goths I have met are actually very friendly, but I'm sure there are a handful who still think smiling is illegal and anyone under the age of thirty is a poseur. If you meet one of these, well, you made the effort. You are the pride and joy of the Goth scene. They are an elitist old fart. Well done you.
I propose that Goth Guide readers bring back the mutual freak nod. I'm not asking you to have a conversation with every new, strange Goth that you meet... just nod! Acknowledge their presence! If you're really brave, smile, or say, "Nice outfit." It's probably a little sad that I feel disappointed if other Goths don't nod or smile, but hopefully I am not the only one.
Do you nod or smile at other Goths? What DO you do if you bump into another spooky type? Do you agree to bring the mutual freak nod into your life from this moment forward?