Hello again everyone. I recently read the following regarding my post about the Schwarze Szene:
"One post actually managed to upset me and that was about the Schwarze Szene...apart from some shit she copied from the internet she got it all wrong much to my and my friends amusement. First we thought ok she is from England, maybe she's a bit uninformed...but at the end of the day it's just plain...stupid. Don't write about things you have no idea about...you want to go to the WGT, maybe someone will recognize you and shit you write and laugh at you (I'm referring to Schwarze Szene post)..that wouldn't be fun now, would it?"
Charming as this is (and FYI, 'shit I copied from the internet'? I'm assuming you're referring to the article I quoted with credits and links, since a large part of the rest of the post is personal opinion on self-identification as a Goth which it would make no sense to copy from somewhere else?), I will admit that since I am indeed English and did the post based on research rather than firsthand knowledge, there is every possibility that some of the information may be inaccurate.
Tangent: the usual manner, or so I would have assumed, of responding to an article which possibly contains incorrect information, would be to leave a comment saying something along the lines of, "Hi there, I noticed that your article on X said XYZ. As someone with personal knowledge of this subject I just wanted to let you know that I don't feel this is accurate, actually it's ABC. Would it be possible for you to change it?" But hey, perhaps not everyone was brought up with good manners.
Aaaanyway, whilst a comment on the original post was from a reader in Germany who does, in fact, self-identify with the Schwarze Szene and who, I would have assumed, would have pointed out any awful glaring mistakes at the time, I open the floor to German readers. If you could please let me know what it is that I have got 'all wrong' about the Schwarze Szene, so that I can edit the original post, that would be fantastic. Thank you very much. :-)
Sunday, 29 April 2012
Hello again everyone. I recently read the following regarding my post about the Schwarze Szene:
Friday, 27 April 2012
Today's email request comes from a reader living in Greece, who explains their dilemmas thusly, "I have some questions about where to find goth clothes. I live in a country where goth is not so well-known. I searched a million times all the shops at my town and there aren't any alternative shops nor thrift shops. As a result I buy clothes from mainstream shops and try to put my own spin on these but many times they don't seem Gothic at all. Could you please write a post about where to find cheap goth clothing in a situation like this? I would really appreciate it. Furthermore in my country (Greece) it gets really hot at summer. How can I dress in order to dress goth?"
1. Sourcing clothing
I'm sure this is a problem that many people have; some of us in the UK and USA may complain about the proliferation of cheap Gawth-branded clothes and accessories popping up in clothes stores catering predominantly to alterna-teens and rebellious spooky kids, but at the other end of the spectrum there are countries where a single Hot Topic would be a welcome Mecca for those starved of dark finery.
There is, of course, always the internet, but this isn't always an affordable or viable option. However, it is one that may be of help to some people. If large clothing items are beyond your budget, do remember that accessories are cheaper and can be used to give a basic black outfit a whole new look; badges, belts, scarves, gloves, brooches and jewellery are all small and generally affordable items that can change a pair of jeans and a black T-shirt into an ensemble that is perfectly suitable.
Are there any shops in your town that sell fabric pens/paint, trims, ribbons etc.? I know I've said this before, but adding stencils or paint designs, a few rips and safety pins or a hint of lace trim can turn pretty much any mainstream store item into something gorgeous. Ditto black fabric dye! Perfect for all those pretty shirts and blouses that would be just right if only they weren't lemon yellow. ;-)
As well as accessories, hair and make-up can make all the difference to an outfit so don't neglect these.
I know that in Greece Halloween is not celebrated as enthusiastically as it is in places like America, but if you should see any stores near you selling Halloween-y items in October, don't be afraid to step in and stock up on tights, jewellery, and cheap costume pieces that you can destroy and use to make something else; for example you could use all the spiderweb lace to add trains and trims to other items. (I did a little research and apparently the chain Epilegin offers Halloween items at that time of year; if you are close to Athens I am told they have several outlets there.)
Honestly, I do feel that simple basics in black - T-shirts, vests, jeans and skirts - can look perfectly 'Goth'. There's nothing wrong with having a simple, casual wardrobe if that's what's available to you or simply your preference. Black basics are available anywhere, can be mixed, matched and customised to your heart's content, and are really all you need for a suitably dark look. Everything else is just trimmings!
I don't suppose I have any other Grecian readers who can offer further advice?
2. Spooky clothing in summer heat
You probably know that I live in England, where when we say summer what we really mean is 'not frosty', so extreme heat is something dark culture enthusiasts in the UK rarely if ever have to contend with. However I can offer some advice I've picked up from around the interwebs.
- Sandals ARE allowed. I know I've made the occasional joke about flip-flops, but seriously, showing some toe won't get you banned from the local Goth club.
- If you are a lady, remember skirts and dresses in lightweight fabrics are obviously cooler than trousers.
- Speaking of lightweight fabrics! Look out for them!
- White and grey are attractively ghostly and will be cooler than heavy black clothing.
- Be careful with patterned tights unless you want weird tan lines.
- If you can get hold of a parasol or elegant fan, these are not only interesting accessories but can be invaluable.
Thursday, 26 April 2012
Hello everyone! Following some recent controversies and drama, I thought I would try to explain myself a little for everyone's benefit and hopefully avoid repeating a few mistakes. I am re-capping a bit of this from a conversation that was had last night on EpagomenalMotif's blog which some of you may already have seen, so I apologise for repeating myself but would like to make sure that a few points are clarified.
1. The 'G' word.
No, I'm not going to stop using the word 'Goth' just because EM and others would prefer it if I did. I am, however, going to attempt to use it more accurately. A lot of what I blog about would not be considered Goth under the strict definition of the term (such as offshoots of Goth culture, modern derivatives, etc.) and I am not unaware of that; I also understand that some feel that the term shouldn't be applied to anything outside of that definition, which I suppose for me is where the whole 'dark alternative' bit comes in.
I am informed that in Germany the word 'goth' may be used as a general catch-all term for most things covered by the Schwarze Szene, dark alternative, etc., and, as some of you may already be aware from the direction of previous posts, have been using it more in that sense than referring specifically to the Goth rock music scene. This is, obviously, causing some communication problems, so I will endeavour to be more accurate when using the term.
2. Then why don't you make a new name for it?
"I just don't see why it's necessary to call these things 'goth' when you yourself admit that they don't fall under that definition. why don't you make a new word for it?"
As much as I admit it would be handier to have a catch-all term that is less vague than 'dark alternative', 'dark culture' or even plain 'spooky', I don't think that EM's helpful suggestion of 'Kugelblossom-Bruchenfraulisch' quite rolls off the tongue.
Somehow I also don't think that it would go down very well if some random blogger (that's me) decides to spontaneously rename a large portion of dark culture. I have a feeling that if I piped up with, "Well, a few of these interests and bands are specifically Goth but a lot of them are neoclassical, metal, Industrial, dark cabaret, punk, darkwave, etc., so let's just call the lot *insert name here*," a whole lot of people would start giving it the "WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS" routine.
As stated above, my concession to those who would like to keep the term Goth strictly reserved for things which are Goth precisely, not offshoots, derivatives or vague relatives, is to try to be more precise when using the term. As outlined by an anonymous commentor: "My biggest issues are with those who are adamant about making goth a hodgepodge of genres and still calling it goth. The idea of Schwartze Szene sounds awesome, and I take no issue with goth being included under the same umbrella as other genres; however, I just don't like the idea of other/new genres being referred to as goth."
OK. In my opinion this is fair enough. I'm interested in the things I'm interested in; I don't really mind what we all agree to call it.
3. Being a 'real Goth'.
At the end of the day, I can spend as many hours as I please writing blog posts about what does and does not constitute 'real Gothdom', but it can never be any more than subjective. Any two people who call themselves Goth will have different reasons for doing so and different criteria for the label. As such, I personally tend not to worry overmuch nowadays about whether the Goth label is one that applies to me or not, let alone trying to live up to someone else's criteria of being a 'real Goth'.
There are aspects of Goth music, fashion and culture that I enjoy and so I focus on enjoying them; I also enjoy other, related genres and some that aren't even vaguely close to the notion of Goth. Again, I have been using 'Goth' as a useful piece of shorthand to cover a few of these interests but don't really mind whether others agree or disgree with my doing so.
Once more, as above, I'm happy to be more precise with the use of the 'G' word (at least publically) to avoid causing any offense or aggravation. I really don't feel the need to argue about what is or isn't Goth; I'd like to just enjoy the aspects of the subculture that I have an interest in. I'll stick with 'dark culture' or 'dark alternative' as opposed to specifically 'Goth' for the time being to avoid further confusion.
|Just happy being spooky ;-D|
Lastly, thanks to everyone concerned for the help, support and advice. Comment moderation is turned on for the time being, because while I don't mind receiving constructive criticism I have no wish for flame wars all over the place. All comments will still be posted unless they are obviously offensive or inflammatory.
- The blogging community. I know I go on about this all the time but the friends I've made here are so awesome, they are really lovely people and I wish we could all get together for a big crazy tea party. I love that I have finally been getting to meet some of you; you are all amazing and I adore you. I've shared support, secrets, and really inappropriate conversations with you guys and some of you I've known for, wow, the better part of a decade now. Thank you for always being there, you are wonderful. <3
- Luck! OK, I'm not sure if I actually believe in the concept of luck, but henceforth April 2012 shall be known as Lucky April. I went to see Emilie Autumn with some lovely friends and stayed in a stunning hotel. I scored tickets to see The Cure at Reading Festival and then found a stash of leftover birthday money that allowed me to actually pay for them. I got a pay rise too! Sure, there have been a few downsides this month, but on the whole it's been pretty great. Weirdly great, actually.
- Zombies. I don't know how it came about this month, but suddenly there are zombie-themed things all over the place. I'm really not complaining about this. In fact, this week I'm settling in to watch some truly awful zombie movies and have scheduled in a zombie-killing session on the PS3 with my good chum Bronners on Friday.
- Tea. Perhaps I am too English for my own good? I don't know. But I really love tea. (Just FYI: I take mine milky and with at least two sugars.) There is hardly any situation I have ever found myself in that cannot be improved with a cup of tea. Plus, I am that terrible stereotype, who, whenever faced with the distress of others, goes to put the kettle on.
- Clearing out. I never, ever thought I would enjoy tidying, but apparently there actually comes a stage when you have just. so. much. stuff that you can't function properly. Being in my own room was borderline uncomfortable because there was just physically so much stuff everywhere. And forget being able to get dressed in the morning. So far I have cleared out a good half of my clothes, and am intending now to redecorate completely (as I mentioned last week) since my walls are grubby and have holes in where I pulled posters down. It feels great to have room to breathe again!
Wednesday, 25 April 2012
Hey look, it's one of these again! I actually still have a list of these posts to crack on with, but this is the one that has received several requests now, so here we go. Remember, guys, please don't take these posts too seriously - they serve only to illustrate some of the vagiaries of fashion within the scene and are not intended to function as fashion or lifestyle templates. ;-)
Gore Goth, or horror Goth, is less of an established style (at least that I am aware of) and more a tendency towards costuming and accessories often inspired by an interest in horror movies (especially of the gore genre, unsurprisingly), literature, music and artwork.
It's rare that the word 'costume' is used to describe an element of Goth style, but many of the outfits Goths put together in this style could possibly be described as such, due to the use of props like face paint which are not an element usually seen in Goth fashion.
However, not all of these outfits are 'costumes'; some horror aficionados simply use bigger events like the Wave Gotik Treffen (where most of the images linked in this post were taken) to push the boundaries of their style (most commonly seen in deathrock and Industrial fans) and/or emulate the stage attire of favourite bands by decking themselves out in fake blood, torn clothing, straitjackets and surgical masks.
Such outfits run the gamut from the simple (but time-consuming; note the safety pins!) to the theatrical and can clearly be considered one of the most shocking and potentially offensive ways to dress within Goth style - which is probably why such gory get-ups are rarely seen outside of large Goth events or themed gatherings, except, of course, at Halloween. The outfits and accessories are often tongue in cheek or darkly humorous (e.g. Kreepsville666's 'cleaver' clutch bag); even the more provocative costuming is generally intended for a bit of fun and to turn heads amongst other Goths (not always easy at larger events when everyone has pulled out all the stops!).
Horror themes have been an underlying current throughout Goth culture since the opening bars (I just typed 'bats'... heheheh) of Bela Lugosi's Dead, although it should be noted that not all Goths have an interest in the genre, and this style takes these influences a step further, invoking imagery from B-movies and 'splatter' films rather than the frills and jabots of, say, Interview With The Vampire.
As previously noted, whilst you may see the occasional romantic Goth giving a nod to the vampire genre with a bloodstained blouse, this look is most commonly seen amongst Industrial and deathrock enthusiasts, whose bands of choice are the most likely to go about clad in similar styles and whose lyrics often feature horror themes.
Today's reader question comes from a gentleman who asks, "When I first seen goth, I did not understand it. I have come to see my misperception of goth. The more I understand of it the more it appeals to me. I still don't completely understand gothic style. I want to implement gothic style into my daily life, but I'm 37 years old and I don't want to look like an old man trying to look young. I want to look natural. I'm hoping you will advise me."
I previously did a brief post, Grown-Up Goth Style Resources, in response to this email, but thought I would return to the query with a more in-depth reply.
There are many pitfalls for anyone wanting to dip their toe into the dark-hued waters of Goth fashion for the first time, and it's rare that anyone ever gets by without making a few mistakes they look back and cringe at in later life. The gentlemen among us do suffer from a lack of resources available to help guide them past such sartorial errors, but I shall do the best I can. ;-)
My first piece of advice for you would be to avoid like the plague certain stereotypical staples of beginner-Goth fashion - whilst bondage pants, cheap skull-patterned gloves and besmeared black lipstick are forgiveable and possibly even fetching in a slightly clueless way on the younger Gothling, on a grown man the overall effect would likely be somewhat startling.
Instead, ease into the style through simple pieces like black and jewel-toned dress shirts and elegant, but adult, accessories such as a smart jabot, darkly patterned tie, black fedora or even skull or coffin cufflinks. A well-cut black suit may feel dressy, depending on your job and lifestyle, but is a far better asset than a baggy Slipknot hoodie.
Goth fashion is quite unique in that you don't have to be in your teens and twenties to look stunning and decadent; it is adaptable for any age group with just a little forethought. Victorian and historically-inspired styles have plenty to offer the male Gothling in search of a more 'adult' look. I personally am a sucker for any ensemble featuring a waistcoat and pocket watch, but that's just me. This said, if your tastes lie more with the hard-edged sub-styles such as Industrial, fear not. Sites like The Morbid Fashion showcase plenty of outfits and garments with a sleeker, more futuristic feel.
In fact, Zellain at The Morbid Fashion has a new project! You may have already heard about Subtle Goth TV (hint: the clue is in the name), which provides advice for those among you who prefer their dark style to be elegant, minimalist and, well, subtle. Here below is episode one; you can catch up with all the episodes so far at this link.
Luckily, the resources for gentlemen's Goth style finally seem to be on the increase, so I can cheerfully point you in the direction of well-dressed dandy The Sinister Sartorialist, and yes, this provided a good excuse for me to spend an hour or so this morning on Tumblr finding some suitably spooky outfits for the grown-up Goth gentleman. Here are my favourites:
- Simple styling and sombre hues
- A charming suit
- Much less subtle is this silver ensemble, photographed at Whitby Goth Weekend. Subtle style is a great way to break into Goth fashion but don't ever think you can't dress it up if you want to!
- Not one but two very dapper gents in this photo from the Wave Gotik Treffen (and a mini-gent too, d'aww!).
- You can't go wrong with a beautiful jacket.
Tuesday, 24 April 2012
Another email response; I am trying really hard not to make all my February email-ees wait absolutely forever for responses and I am thrilled that everyone is chipping in with some advice.
The query I am addressing this evening comes from another young lady, who says, "I go to a public school and have noticed a few things from my peers... Like for instance I only get compliments on the days I wear color (it is quite different than my usual almost all black attire) .. And one day I decided to try teasing my hair..one kid flat out told me it was hideous and then went on to bug me about my mismatched socks as if they were a crime... But I was just wondering do you ever have people tell you, you would look better.. How do i say this "normal".. I mean I'm just wondering why people can't see goth as beautiful... I'm sorry for the half rant, lol, but I would really love to hear your response to this.. Thank you."
I've got to admit this made me feel pretty sad. I know that when you dress differently it's fairly daft to complain about receiving attention - whilst you might not be seeking it, you should be aware that you'll receive it - but nevertheless, there are times when I get tired, and bored, and frustrated, with some people's seeming inability to live and let live. You don't like backcombed hair? Well, your hair sucks too. Go away.
Moans aside, it's irritating but true that such remarks very quickly become part of life for those of us who choose to express ourselves a little differently. After a while you get used to people who have very few pleasant things to say about big hair, mismatched socks, clompy boots or purple lipstick, and furthermore, you may also learn to love the positive responses - and you will receive them, honestly - from strangers who are pleased, nay, delighted, to see someone who looks quirkier and more interesting than everyone else on the street.
|Except maybe this street.|
Source: Goth Beauty
However. Let's be honest here, even the most superconfident amongst us might have off days, and on those off days (or headachey days, or long days, or sleep-deprived days, or really-just-not-feeling-my-best-today days), what feels like constant staring, teasing and needling can become very difficult to deal with. I have days (or weeks sometimes) when I really am not up to handling prolonged attention, and so I have dress-down days, where I slope about in jeans and a beanie hat. It may not be sartorially the most elegant, but taking a breather from garnering attention helps me prop my self-confidence back up ready for the next round.
Do I ever have people tell me I would look better if I ditched the black clothes and piercings? Certainly. I've been told that I've 'ruined my looks' by having lip and nose rings and I find it half-amusing and half-tedious that acquaintances get very excited should I wear something that isn't black - "You've changed your image! I see you're growing out of your phase! It's nice to see you wearing something with a bit more colour!". I think we all hear it from time to time; at the end of the day I just try to remember that everyone has a different idea of beauty, and mine is a little more morbidly cute than your average peach twinset and pearls. ;-)
I was reminded of a conversation that Kitty Lovett and I had on Facebook today regarding my upcoming plans to get the side of my head shaved. When I excitedly mentioned my plans to several people that I know, a few responses that I got were, "But why would you shave your head?" and "Girls should be pretty." At first I was a little taken aback by the assumptions, firstly that 1) I should feel the need to present myself as 'pretty' because I am female - as it happens I do like to feel pretty, it just might not necessarily match up with anyone else's idea of what 'pretty' is, and it's because it's what I like not because of my gender - and 2) (in Kitty's words) shaving one's head/part of one's head doesn't make someone un-pretty.
Why doesn't everybody see Goth as beautiful? I guess for the same reason that we don't all think it's beautiful to dress like Tulisa from N-Dubz or Katy Perry or an Olsen twin. Different people are drawn to appreciate different things, which is understandable, and pretty nice if you come to think about it, since it adds spice and variety to what could be a mass of beige and grey fashion. It would help if people were just a bit more accepting of the fact that what is 'beauty' to them is not necessarily 'beauty' to others.
It can be disheartening if you only get compliments from others when you tone down the Gothier aspects of your style. I also find that some of my friends who prefer mainstream fashion have more nice things to say when I dress more casually (even when it is in various shades of black). I'm sure that sooner or later, especially as you get older, meet new people and travel further afield, you will meet others who are more likely to be appreciative of an alternative style and then you will start to notice more compliments and pleasant comments.
But you have to remember, you didn't start dressing this way to get compliments. You did it because YOU like it. As long as YOU look in the mirror and feel great, that's what's important.
Before I begin this post proper, I'd just like to share the news that I just spent a ridiculous amount of money on day tickets for Reading Festival in August because the headlining band on the Friday is... THE CURE. (!!!!!) The line-up also includes a couple of other bands I like (Crystal Castles, Coheed & Cambria) and a few that I don't... but yeah. I just got tickets to see The Cure. (And now my friends know that the reason why I never have any money to do anything ever is because I blow my cash willy-nilly to go see spooky bands from the 80s. It's an investment...)
Firstly, I'd just like to note that I am not a professional blogger; this is something I do for fun in my spare time, I earn maybe a little pocket money but mostly it's something I do for enjoyment. Those of you who have queries regarding ads, money-making, or things like HTML or web design are best advised to look elsewhere as I know very little about such things.
That being said, I've been writing this blog in its various incarnations for, ooh, a good five years now (does anyone still remember the Very Serious Babygoff days on Piczo? D'aww...), so hopefully I have picked up a few pieces of helpful advice along the way that I can share with those of you who would like to join our spooky wee blogging community.
- Notebooks! Carry them. (Especially if, like my Dear Reader, you are not sure yet what precisely you would like to hold forth about - making notes on things you observe, things that amuse you, products you'd like to review or even daily occurences or parts of your life that are interesting can help you create a few starter topics to talk about.) I am forever forgetting post ideas because I never remember to write them down. Don't be like me, darklings!
- Honest enthusiasm can work wonders. Good days, bad days, opinions and vagiaries; whilst not everyone likes to bare all on the internet, readers can tell whether or not a writer is genuinely passionate about their chosen subject. If you write on a topic that you think will get hits or be saleable, that's all very well and good, but if you lack enthusiasm, people will pick up on it and will respond with equal apathy.
- Talk to people! I am very shy and get all squirmy and shuffly when talking to new people, even online, but following blogs that interest you, posting comments, and responding to comments from readers can help promote your blog and can create new friendships both on and offline.
- Sort out your profile page. Heaven knows talking about yourself is awkward, but here on Blogger you can helpfully find others with the 'interest' tags. I used to spend HOURS going through the 'goth' tag and leaving comments on people's blogs.
- On the subject of networking, Facebook, Twitter, Last.fm, Scoop.It and Tumblr have all been useful tools for further connecting with readers and those with shared interests, as well as providing endless inspiration and topics to blog about. Let's face it, at the moment there are a LOT of bloggers talking about assorted Goth and alternative things, which is great to read but not so great when you're aiming for a different take on the whole thing. It helps to keep your eye out for news and gossip that people aren't talking about yet; I tend to trawl mainstream media like the Daily Fail for interesting tidbits too.
- "I don't think that a lot of people would be interested in what a young gothling has to provide to the subculture and general life." - why not? If you doubt yourself before you start, you'll never try. Whether witty observations on the Goth scene from a newbie's perspective or wide-eyed delight at new discoveries, I can think of plenty of things I'd enjoy reading from a young Goth's point of view. :-) At the end of the day, a lot of people are basically interested in other people, so if all you can think of to write is showing other people what it's like to be you, then do that. I mean, why the hell not, right?
- Watch out for copyright. I have occasionally been caught out by copyright on images that I have used; it does help to check sources, credit as much as humanly possible and ALWAYS include a disclaimer. Sharing other people's delightful creations is one thing, but never, ever, ever, ever claim someone else's work as your own.
- Really obvious stuff: please make sure your font isn't too difficult to read or your background too garish (I know, I know, I'm a fine one to talk...). A simple, basic layout and clean font are the best way to start.
- Begin at the beginning, of course! If you draft an intro post in your notebook or on your computer, you might find that doing so will help you cultivate more ideas for what you would actually like to blog about. It seems you already have a few ideas... all you have to do is write them down and post them up!
Sunday, 22 April 2012
Responses to emails! The sharp-eyed among you may have noticed that I've taken down my email address from the sidebar - this is because I was getting deluged with so many emails that it was taking me literally months to reply to them. >.< So, huge apologies to those of you who sent me emails back in February and are still awaiting replies.
Today I thought I would begin taking a few of the queries sent to me and pop them up here (anonymously, of course!) so that other readers can share their thoughts and advice. After all, I am not an oracle, and there is usually somebody lurking around on this blog who has better advice than me. ;-)
I received an email entitled 'Brotherly Woes' back in February, in which a young lady asked, "I have a serious problem. I just happen to live with a passive anti-goth kid. As in he hates me being goth but is too lazy to do anything serious about it... yet. Due to the fact that my Dad snores and my mum's driven into another room leaves me sleeping in a bunk bed with my little brother. I'm so desperate to turn that room into a goths dream bedroom but I have no idea how to go about it as I have no idea what he might do, or what mum might too. :("
I don't have any brothers or sisters so I can't entirely relate to this dilemma, but I do know that many siblings are known to roll their eyes and make mocking comments about a brother or sister's interest in Goth. However, I wonder what sort of 'serious' action Little Bro could possibly take? A slightly younger friend of mine once had her Gothy skirts cut to ribbons by a sibling, and responded in kind by taking the scissors to her sister's pyjamas, so I DO understand the concern. But short of paying to get you lobotomised, I'm not sure that a sibling can actually stop one from being Goth.
|Source: Let the Angels Commit|
Hopefully if your parents understand your desire to have a little bit of spookiness in your surroundings they will give you permission to do what you can to your own area as long as you don't encroach on your brother's own space. (Also, having discussions with the parental units provides protection from siblings liable to 'accidentally' damage your Gothier pieces of decor in a fit of pique.)
Speaking to your parents might also help give you peace of mind about your brother's 'anti-Goth' tendencies. Depending on your brother's age, could it be worth having a conversation with him also about what it is he has a problem with about you being Goth? Is it really Goth he has a problem with, or does he just like having something to needle you about - in which case, feel free to ignore him. If, however, he has genuine concern or distaste regarding your appreciation for Goth, it might help to talk it through with him.
But, if he is the kind of little brother who likes to be aggravating, he may try to provoke you and cause an argument - don't let any provocative or unpleasant comments regarding Goth get to you. Just change the subject or walk away. Don't be drawn into any arguments with your brother on the subject as this will help keep your parents on-side - you don't want them to end up disapproving of your Goth-ness as well. Keep your cool and refuse to rise to the bait. With time, it's likely he'll get bored of trying to irritate you on that particular subject or simply come to accept it.
Best of luck!
Friday, 20 April 2012
I have recently been asked how somebody can tell if they are a 'repressed Goth'. Frankly, I'd say that if you're starting to wonder whether or not you have some Gothy tendencies you probably do, otherwise why would you be so intrigued by the entire notion of this spooky subculture? ;-) But *places tongue firmly in cheek* I was pondering today about how somebody might tell if they had repressed Gothiness, so I came up with the following 'symptoms':
- A preference for black or dark clothing; you cringe at the sight of yellow skinny jeans and wouldn't be caught dead in pink Uggs.
- People constantly ask you if you're Goth, emo, or if you worship the devil.
- You strive, consciously or unconsciously, for elegance, and as such can often be caught frowning at people who don't understand that jogging bottoms are for jogging and that the point of trousers is to cover one's underwear.
- Rather than allowing yourself to be spoonfed top-forty hits out of convenience, you actively seek out new and interesting musicians, whereever they may lurk.
- (OK, so most of those bands feature thought-provoking, insightful lyrics, music in a minor key or with an otherwise dark or melancholy air, but what's your point?)
- Halloween is every day. No, seriously.
- The Addams Family, The Munsters, Elvira.
- Your bedroom looks like a small library.
- You can't leave the house without being handed religious pamphlets.
- In school you got excited when you had to read Poe for your homework. (And didn't bother, because you'd already got The Raven memorised anyway.)
- "Cheer up."
- Children (and their parents) eye you with suspicion.
- Secretly, your dream car is a hearse.
- You find ruined castles, desolate buildings, old churches and crumbling gravestones hauntingly beautiful.
- If you wear something that isn't black, everyone around you seems to feel an irrepressible urge to tell you about it.
- You like to surround yourself with interesting, intelligent people - it may not be a huge group, but you'd rather have a good conversation than look popular.
- Sunshine? Blech. On the beach you wear jeans and huddle under an umbrella.
- You have written poetry involving the words 'blood', 'death' and 'mourn'.
- You operate on a semi-nocturnal, caffeine-fuelled schedule.
- You haven't owned a pair of flip-flops since you were nine.
Thursday, 19 April 2012
- Confidence. You guys probably noticed, what with my faffing around with blog titles and a sudden personal style crisis, that my self-confidence took a couple of hits earlier this year. I don't know what changed, but recently I felt as though something in my head 'clicked' back to where it should be, and suddenly I felt like myself again. :-) It was such a relief. I'd gone through a few weeks of keeping my head down and trying to blend in; I'm sure my non-Goth friends enjoyed the novelty of spending time with an Amy who didn't feel the need to wear silly hats and bloomers to the pub, but dressing a different way because you choose to is one thing, and doing it because you feel too low-self-esteem-y to have people staring at you for how you dress is something else entirely. Part of the problem was an attack of the body image blues, which led to all sorts of experiments with fake tan, natural make-up and even buying books by Gok Wan. I don't regret these experiments because playing with make-up is never the end of the world and it was interesting to be reminded what I look like under all the dark eyeshadow, but I feel kind of sad that I let myself feel pressured and get down on myself. Memo to self: other people will get down on you enough. Don't do it to yourself. Plus, life is really, really, too short to fuss about the size of your behind when you're a healthy weight. And too short to let other people's stupid opinions have any effect on how you dress, act or live your life.
- Having Gothy friends to do things with. I love my non-Goth friends to death (and beyond), but I also like spending time with people who don't blink and edge away when you mention your long-held desire to purchase a coffin. I appreciate my non-Goth friends' willingness, however reluctant, to sit through Nightmare Before Christmas with me EVERY Christmas Eve and not chastising me for inappropriately frilly outfits or impractical shoes, BUT it's also nice to have someone else who actually wants to picnic in the cemetery rather than requiring puppy dog eyes and a chocolate bribe.
- Impractical nails. My job involves much sticker-scraping, breaking down of boxes and other little chores that don't do much for the state of my fingernails. I am finally, finally managing to get them to grow to a decent length (with a little help from Sally Hansen's nail strengthener) and am looking forward to getting them long enough to file into pointy little claws. (Yes, I really am that cliched. Didn't the above paragraph give it away?) I also love all the hugely over-decorated false nails you can get on Etsy. Subtle? Me? I don't think so...
- Decorating! My room clearance is beginning to get somewhere - at last! Over the next couple weeks I intend to begin buying pretty things like bat wall decals and purple paint. <3
- Hilarious co-workers. Nothing makes a day go faster than the work experience kid's side-splitting stories. (I know you're reading this, Zac...) The phrase 'I'll be in the friend zone forever!!!' had me doubling up with laughter today, but you probably had to be there...
|Have a random picture I just found on my phone.|
Wednesday, 18 April 2012
32-year-old Gena Willenburg has dyed black hair and piercings, but does not identify as Goth. Mother to a six-year-old boy, she moved to Edinburgh, Scotland from her native Texas last year. Recently she and a friend, who had dyed blue hair but also was not a Goth, had gone to visit her sister-in-law in Viewcraig Gardens, Dumbiedykes, when they were set upon by a group in their mid-to-late teens.
The gang - mostly boys and one girl - began hurling abuse at the two women, calling them 'fucking Goths' and threatening to 'kick their heads in'. Understandably the pair felt intimidated but felt their best option was to put their heads down and keep walking.
The group of yobs then set upon the young women, hitting Gena in the back of the head with a bottle and punching and kicking her to the ground. The girl in the group pulled Gena's head back by the hair so that the boys could kick her in the face. Gena's friend bravely stepped in to stop the thugs stamping on the young mother, and the teens turned on her too.
Luckily, Gena's sister-in-law came out of her house and began shouting at the gang - the police were called, and Gena and her friend were taken to hospital for treatment. The friend needed stitches for a split lip, and Gena had to have her nose reset and stitches in her eye.
|Gena Willenberg after the attack|
Police are appealing for witnesses.
It is perfectly true that to a large proportion of the Goth population, individuality is important. There are, of course, plenty of alterna-teens and babygoths who set themselves apart from the mainstream because it's what all their friends are doing, but most Goths and other alternatives, if pressed, would tell you that they prefer to identify with a culture that allows them freedom of expression, creativity in both thought and fashion, and celebrates the odd little quirks (an obsession with reading, a preference for dark or morbid art) that those in mainstream society would turn up their noses at.
Within most alternative subcultures, whilst there may be basic guidelines for dress and music (usually to give visual signifiers to other members of the scene that you are 'one of them', and to give the group common ground), it is usually highly encouraged to think outside the box, fashion-wise; taking the basic, obvious style signifiers of your chosen scene and creating from it something new, inventive and daring.
However these basic similarities in dress (e.g. black clothing) and shared music tastes have often led 'outsiders' to think that Goths, who both infamously and stereotypically like to consider themselves non-conformists, really all look the same.
When Goths talk about being 'individualists' or 'non-conformists', they probably aren't trying to convince you that each and every black-clad person is a unique dark snowflake who is soooo more original than the next stompy-boot-wearing, clove-smoking kid holding an Anne Rice novel. I would hope that most of us are self-aware enough to realise that choosing to become part of a subculture with a strong sense of shared visual aesthetics and an associated genre of music - essentially, working from the same basic template as every other Goth - means you can't really claim to be one hundred per cent original.
Goths don't generally dress in black and congregate together to show how different they are than everybody else. Rather, they may do so to celebrate the things they have in common with other members of the group.
When Goths refer to themselves as non-conformists, it's quite likely that, rather than trying to earnestly show that they are sooo unique despite belonging to a large group of people with essentially the same interests, they are instead referencing how different the worldview and values within that group can be from those commonly held by mainstream society.
- Followers of mainstream fashion like to follow trends and be seen wearing styles or garments that are currently popular. Goths prefer to source things that are rare, vintage or custom-made and with strong emphasis on personal preferences rather than following the whims of the fashion industry or what is currently 'acceptable'.
- In mainstream society, pasttimes such as reading, sewing and writing are often considered 'nerdy'. Amongst Goths, such things are not only the norm but are celebrated and encouraged.
- Goths have a tendency to enjoy and actively seek out things which are considered odd, dark, disturbing or even taboo amongst mainstream society; funereal clothing, the occult, melancholic music and even fetishes are all things which are openly explored and discussed in Goth subculture.
A reader here recently described the music as the 'backbone' of Goth culture (and added, very accurately, "Mindset & interests are a given, as why would anyone not interested in goth be drawn to it?"). Whilst the myriad arguments on what music is and isn't Goth, etc., might give some the impression that there is a 'to be a non-conformist you must listen to exactly the same music we do' attitude within the community, I'd like to refer to my above point that a subculture cannot form around nothing. Goth music is a 'rallying point' and shared interest for those in the community, less obvious than the fashion style and therefore less easily co-opted by mainstreamers jumping on the latest black-tinged bandwagon.
An oft-quoted definition of Goths is that they seek beauty in dark places or where others would shun it. This is, by and large, the main basis on which Goths declare their community to be non-conformist - their worldview chooses to explore and embrace the dark and the unknown, which the majority of mainstream society would write off as simply 'weird'. Thereby they set themselves apart from mainstream society and its values, and celebrate instead the interests and aesthetics they have in common with those who share the same outlook.
Being a Goth means - to a certain extent - unity, with those who proudly share a similar outlook and common tastes; and non-conformity, through choosing to reject the popular or prevailing tastes and values of a society that prefers not to explore what it does not understand.
Tuesday, 17 April 2012
I was very intrigued recently to read about a lady called Suelynn Gustafson, mainly because this woman brings an entirely new slant to some of what we think we know about our beloved Goth culture. The oft-repeated 'history of Goth' tells us that whilst versions of the Goth 'worldview' and aesthetic have been around in many different incarnations for centuries, Goth as we know it today wouldn't really exist if it hadn't been for the development of post-punk and Goth rock in the 70s and 80s.
But roughly fifty years before Goth culture was 'invented', Ms. Gustafson was already, well, pretty damn Goth.
Suelynn is well-known in her hometown of Denver as the owner of Flossy McGrew's, a creepy shop stocking vintage clothing, costumes and assorted oddities (described in online reviews as 'the store to hit up if you need to wear something awful, something ugly or something awfully ugly', and unsurprisingly very popular in the month of October) and recogniseable by the entrance alone, which is adorned with skulls and spiderwebs 365 days a year.
Her fascination and delight with all things spooky and macabre began in her childhood; she began collecting funeral cards at the age of ten, and now at the age of seventy (or sixty-four, depending on your source!) sports a predominantly black wardrobe and a tumbling mass of pink curls.
She has recently been the subject of a documentary by Deborah Heistand entitled Grandma Goth, which screened on 9th April at Denver's Oriental Theater.
|Image: Christopher Lloyd|
Her starring role in the documentary led to another collaboration with Heistand, this time in a film entitled Flowers for a Funeral, in which she plays a mother figure to a suicidal young Goth girl.
Reading about this godmother of Goth culture, I was reminded of the first fictional work penned by infamous Goth writer Mick Mercer (author of such invaluable references as 21st Century Goth and Music To Die For). The Old Lady Who Invented Goth is a self-published novel about a woman named Hermione, who, 100 years ago, took it upon herself to begin diligently crafting the foundations of what, through the years, became Goth culture as we know it today.Her creativity came to fruition in the 1980s, the pinnacle of Goth, when Hermione herself was an old lady.
I was also interested in this living proof that the worldview of Goth - a taste for morbidity, darkness, and finding beauty in the odd and the macabre - would, and did, exist regardless of the music that today gives Goth culture a common thread and a name for its community. Of course, music does play a large part in our subculture, but I found it intriguing and not a little inspiring that perhaps there really is more to Goth than a shared love of a particular music genre.
What are your thoughts on this?
Alysin on Twitter sent me a tweet asking for help with a rather unusual situation - she's been grounded from being a Goth, permanently.
|The Birthday Massacre|
Which is why I always advise that you compromise, compromise, compromise, and talk about it with your parents. In this particular instance I would advise Alysin to raise the subject with her parents at every opportunity. In the car. Over dinner. Watching TV. Whenever you get a moment with your parents, start the conversation that goes, "About me being Goth... it is really important to me and it's not as bad as you think it is..." Yes, of course they will roll their eyes and ask you to change the subject. But each and every time the opportunity arises, persist, and whilst it probably won't magically make them change their minds, it will show them that your interest in 'this goth thing' isn't just going to go away if they ignore it.
Ask them if you can be Goth if you don't dye your hair or wear heavy make-up. Ask them if you can be Goth if you don't wear any sexualised or offensive clothing - even if this limits your wardrobe to black T-shirts, blouses and jeans. It shows them that you're serious and that you can agree to sensible compromises. Ask, ask, and keep asking.
What are their reasons for this decision? Is it a (very creative) punishment for an unrelated misdemeanour (in which case I'd guess they'd give in sooner or later, when they feel you have been appropriately punished)? Do they disapprove of Goth in general (in which case, make sure you have The Talk, and keep on trying)? Or did you do something specific and Goth-related that they really didn't like, e.g. getting a piercing when they had forbidden you to do so (in which case undo the damage as much as you can, apologise, and, yup, keep trying to talk to them about it)?
In the meantime! Whilst wearing them down with pester power, what are your remaining options? I'll admit, I'm not entirely sure how you could ground someone from being a Goth. Have they banned black clothing? The cream, brown and sepia tones of steampunk are still available to you, as are the pale shades of 'ice Goth'. Could you get away with a black T-shirt if you wore blue jeans? Try working around the basic definition of Goth clothing and see how much you can get away with. If they're on the lookout for Tripp pants and heavy eyeliner, they may not realise that the purple T-shirt (or nice white blouse) with a nice black skirt and subtle bat jewellery is equally 'Goth'.
Have they banned Goth music? If so, find out as much as you can about what they think Goth music entails. I'll wager it won't involve Classical music, anything that sounds upbeat or bouncy, or many of the ethereal/ambient artists e.g. Dead Can Dance. What if the band members don't look ooky-spooky? Again, try working around the basic and obvious signifiers of Goth and explore what has been left available to you.
Lastly, make-up! Heavy black or other dark colours are obviously out, so again, try thinking outside the box. Silver eyeliner? Vintage or retro-inspired styles, e.g. winged eyeliner and red lips? A plum-coloured gloss and a flick of mascara? Don't make it too heavy or extravagant and don't draw attention to it, and see what will pass without notice or comment.
However, it's best to bear in mind that at the end of the day whilst you are under their roof you need to abide by their rules. The above advice will hopefully help you keep a smidgen of your spookiness, but remember that they are your parents and you do need to respect them! It won't last forever; when you are eighteen you will be an adult and can do as you please! Bear that in mind when you feel frustrated, and start daydreaming about the uber-Goth outfits you can wear when you leave home.
Best of luck, hope this helps! Readers, any further advice?
Challenge 6: Try a New Vegetable or New Vegetable Preparation
"Bat Fit Challenge #6, if you chose to accept it, is to try a new vegetable or a new, HEALTHY cooking method for a current favorite vegetable (NOTE: deep frying DOES NOT count). "
I don't have any pictures for this challenge, but I can tell you that my vegetable of choice was beetroot. It's been a favourite of mine for snacking, soup and salads for many a year, but by chance not long after this challenge was posted, my mum dug up a recipe that we both felt was intriguing - sweet potato with liver, watercress, horseradish sauce and mashed beetroot. Perhaps not to everyone's taste but I have to say it was delicious!
Challenge 7: Conquer Your Fear
"This Challenge, if you chose to accept it, is to do that one thing (or two or three) that scares the crap out of you. We all have fear, it's part of the human makeup. Real courage is to face that fear even though you're terrified. What is it that you are afraid to do? Are you afraid to quit your job to start your own business? Perhaps you're afraid to enroll in college? Or maybe it's a fear of spiders or snakes? Perhaps you're afraid to start something new and foreign to you? Or maybe you have a fear of trying new things?"
I was quite pleased when I saw this challenge because in a way I have already been doing this - you all saw the make-up free snaps recently I assume! Other things that scare me have been a little harder to find; however you may remember from my original BatFit post that I have times when I eat very little. To be entirely honest with you, a few years ago such habits ended up with me being referred to an eating disorders specialist and I have struggled on and off with disordered eating since I was about twelve.
When I say 'on and off' I mean that there are times when I feel more confident and 'in control' of myself and my life and feel comfortable eating more normally, and there are times when I project stress and worry from other areas of my life onto my relationship with food and eat very badly. One of the biggest challenges of BatFit for me has been trying to normalise my relationship with food; accepting that it is simply fuel (although it can be pleasurable) - eating when I am hungry and stopping when I am full.
Previously, my times of eating 'normally' have also been somewhat unhealthy, such as eating out of boredom and choosing sweets and chocolates over fruit and veg (resulting in my 'skinny-fat' dilemma as noted in my first BatFit post).
So for 'something that scares me' I chose to try and break some of the bad habits that have become ingrained in me over eight years of poor eating, such as ordering what I actually WANT when eating in a restaurant rather than making sure it's in the 750-cals or less section of the menu. It's a small step, but for the girl who once snapped at a waiter for suggesting the cauliflower cheese (it was a reflex and afterwards I felt awful; I haven't been to that pub since), it's the start of a huge improvement.
Challenge 8: Get Outside
"This week's challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to get your butts OUTSIDE!!! Here in the Northern Hemisphere the weather is finally warming up and in the Southern Hemisphere your summer heat is finally starting to break. It's the perfect time to move your workouts outside or do something fun that will get some fresh air into your bodies. Perhaps go for a long walk or run; maybe a bike ride ... hiking anyone? And of course, let's not forget about gardening! Just don't forget to apply the sunscreen my pale beauties!"
Yesterday, Dan and I arranged to meet after work and walk home together (it's about a forty-minute walk; 2.5 miles approximately). Dan usually rides his bike to work so he still had it with him. I haven't ridden a bike since I was about thirteen; I tend to avoid any physical movement that feels like hard work. But when we got to the village green I couldn't resist having a go. My thighs were killing me after about ten minutes but it was good fun!
Monday, 16 April 2012
Just a quick question for you: lots of you both here on Blogger and on Tumblr seem to be attending November's Whitby Goth Weekend - do you think it would be a good idea for us to arrange some sort of get-together, perhaps on the Saturday afternoon or something? We could all have a spot of tea together ;-D
Please do drop me a comment if you think this would be a good plan and we can work out how to proceed! <3
(This is a very teeny post and I do apologise for that, but I wanted to make sure that this question would be seen so I thought I'd give it its own post rather than making it into an easily-missed postscript.)
|GPOY (looking VERY serious about all of this...)|
Sunday, 15 April 2012
Phew! As you can tell I went slightly overboard with the taking of the photos... I just couldn't get enough of the sparkly costumes and Emilie's gorgeous new hair (which I'm presuming is a hairpiece). Although Emilie's next outfit was not half as glamorous:
Anyway, the young lady invited on the stage to get a kiss from Veronica was named Wolfie, and I have to say she was oddly familiar. Wolfie, have we met? I have to say, it looked like one hell of a kiss. *fans self furiously*
Following the Rat Game, EA stormed through the rest of the set list. There was much fist-pumping and marching and also a few more melancholic moments during the slower, sadder songs like Gaslight.
As predicted, after the foursome trooped off stage, the screams of the audience brought Emilie back for another song or two (we had Mad Girl and Thank God I'm Pretty); but first she perched herself elegantly on the bars and did a little speech about how her fans, the Plague Rats, are the closest thing she has to a family; how individuality of thought and expression can make us dangerous as the Asylum Army, and how if you put the 'rat claw' hands together, it makes a little heart. Aw. :-)
|Emily, aka x-akurei, and moi|
|Us at the venue|
|Bonus Courtney! (and Adam in the background there I think!)|
We then had The Art of Suicide, which was one of very few songs from the Opheliac album that Emilie performed (none at all from first album Enchant which wasn't a huge surprise). As a live song it is still beautifully haunting, although personally I wasn't one hundred per cent keen on the theatrics that went with it; the Crumpets swaying about with blossoms on branches and stars on a string. For me it distracted from a poignant, melancholic yet cynical song. But perhaps I'm just being fussy.
A highlight of the performance for fans of the estimable Veronica Varlow is her solo fan dance to one of the instrumental tracks.
(to be continued... again!)