There have always been people in society who don't really fit in; who are attracted to things of a dark or melancholy nature, be it art, music or literature. Those who strive to stand out. Those who... well, wear a lot of black.
Such individuals have long been known by the term 'Goth', a label for a shared culture and community which began, officially, in the late 1970s as an offshoot of the punk music scene, spearheaded by four new bands Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, Joy Division and The Cure - who gave punk a darker edge, and post-punk, or positive punk, was born.
There is uncertainty over which of the following incidents caused this new music genre to be renamed Goth, or Gothic Rock. The first possibility is that of a journalist referring to one of the four bands as 'Gothic' in reference to their spooky, theatrical stage make-up, reminiscent of the black-and-white Gothic horror movies of past decades. The second is that of Joy Division's manager, quoted in interview as describing the band as 'Gothic dance music'. And so, 'Goth' was created.
However, the term 'Goth' is often misused (guilty) as a catch-all term for those of a dark nature; fans of the macabre; those who dress in black clothes and listen to melancholy music of many genres, but really only specifically refers to fans of Goth rock music and their subculture.
The music played in Goth clubs has changed with the passing of the decades. The original post-punk is still popular, and new styles associated with Goth include new wave, darkwave, ambient gothic, neoclassical, industrial, deathrock, gothic electro, EBM, synthpop and futurepop. Goths today are in two minds about the current scene. Some hold that these changes are good for the subculture, whilst others feel that it is 'diluting' the scene and allowing it to start becoming part of the mainstream as opposed to remaining underground.
Whilst the term 'Goth' is still most often used (in America and the UK at least) to refer to those who are fans, followers and performers of traditional Goth music and Gothic rock, I am informed that in other countries such as Germany it is often used as a synonym for those who are members of a wider movement known as the Schwarze Szene, which translates roughly to 'dark culture' or 'black scene' and encompasses many of the genres of music listed above, as well as Goth itself.
This blog is not a Goth blog. It was originally intended to be a guide to all things Goth, hence the URL, but many of the things which nowadays are referred to with the 'Goth' label, and which I enjoy posting about, are in actuality not specifically Goth. It could be more accurately described as a blog for fans of the macabre, of dark alternative culture (a group of subcultures and individuals who prefer 'dark' music or fashion, including Goth itself), or who are just a little bit different and prefer to have everything painted black whenever possible.
Goth is often the topic up for discussion here, but I post on a variety of topics that come under the wide umbrella of 'dark culture', such as metal, punk, Industrial, steampunk, Lolita and more. The Schwarze Szene and the many subgenres within are unified by an appreciation for dark, alternative culture, which is what this blog seeks to represent, rather than quibbling about what does and does not fit into the 'Goth' label.
The state of mind that for some plays a part in personifying dark culture has been around for centuries. It consists of a strong appreciation for beauty, a love of creating things (e.g. stories, art or poems), a tendency towards deep thought and daydreams, an inquiring, philosophical mind, and an interest in the unknown. (Tangent: some people have debated the fact that dark culture can be partly defined by a state of mind, and I don't necessarily argue. But I do believe that hardly anyone who considers themself affiliated with the assorted dark subcultures will look at the above list of traits and feel that none of them apply.)
Most people fear that which they don't understand. will go out of their way to find and explore it, even if it is something that non-Goths would consider morbid, scary or shocking. Most adore the idea of courtly love and the concept of romanticised death (although the media 'Goth = suicide' hype is greatly exaggerated - Goths are not suicidal by default).
Small note: a few people 'in the know' have stated that Goth actually developed from the New Romantic scene, when basically a bunch of people got bored of the 'New Romantic' tag and re-named themselves Goth, en masse. This seems less likely and is certainly a less well-circulated version, but never say I don't give you ALL the facts at my disposal.
If you're new to the world of Goth and dark culture, I highly recommend that you check out the following links:
Goth Myths (because a preference for black clothing is not about being depressed, evil, or Marilyn Manson)
Goth vs. Emo (no, they are not the same thing)
A Guide For Goth Newbies (does what it says on the tin, really)