Goth. A label you’ve surely heard before. in modern times Goth is seen as a subculture of fashion, art and music, and to some people it’s a lifestyle. You may have seen it, Goth is featured in The Crow horror movies (1994, 1996). Other Gothic movies are the original Nosferatu, the color remake Nosferatu the Vampyre, and the Cabinet of Doctor Caligari. Originally a Backlash from the ‘bright colours of the disco era’, their black, almost morbid clothes represent far more then just morbidity.
Picture this, ‘Dragons Blood’ incense mists the room as The Sisters Of Mercy’s ’80s classic Walk Away plays from a CD player. You sit on your bed at 2am reading Edgar Allan Poe with the lights dimmed. It’s also 2016. It wasn’t a phase, much like my short-lived emo style in the mid 2000’s. For many goth is a way of life, much like people who eat carrot sticks and go to the gym every day. That is their lifestyle. For a goth person, it happens to be wearing black.
‘Goth, like metal, has evolved over the years. As a youth subculture, it originally emerged from the punk movement in the late 1970s, via Siouxsie And The Banshees and spooky art rockers Bauhaus. It travelled along The Sisters Of Mercy and Fields Of The Nephilim’s darkened paths of gothic rock in the ’80s, and has even flirted with styles as diverse as industrial, folk and even country. There are festivals all over the world that celebrate different aspects of goth, from Germany’s massive Wave Gotik Treffen to the UK’s dark electronic music event, Infest. More recently, the likes of Grave Pleasures, New Years Day, Motionless In White and Kontinuum have brought new flavours of gothic to the masses. Their music is a far cry from the bands who helped define the early goth sound but their message is the same; life sucks so we’re going to make some dark, cathartic songs about it. Misery loves company, and all that.’ (2016)
So what happens when Goths grow up? Do they substitute metal tees for Ralph Lauren Polo shirts? Scharf states “There’s far more to goth than wearing black and looking a bit depressed, which is probably why it’s not only lasted so long but continues to grow.” And she’s right.
Dr Paul Hodkinson; a goth and Reader in Sociology at the University of Surrey states: “’Youth’ is not so clearly defined as it used to be, people tend to get married and have kids later than they used to and, likewise, things like home ownership and stable careers tend to emerge later – if at all – which means that a lot of the traditional markers of ‘adulthood’ are less clear-cut than they used to be. My theory is that these changes… make it much easier for goths to carry on right through their 20s and that, crucially, once they have been involved in the scene for a decade or so, it has already become way more than an adolescent phase, which means, in turn, that they have greater motivation to stay involved even after they do get married, have kids and all the rest.” (2016)
Goth as a culture of fashion seems to be gaining more ground in the mainstream. Plaid patterns, bat decal, moons and gothic imagery such as skulls and curios are becoming more and more popular. It’s almost as if we are plunging back into traditional Gothic imagery. Death was such a prominent part of traditional Gothic life. This is a time where we would see the ever popular ‘moment mori’ rise. Macabre death rings in brilliant gold, hair preserved in glass lockets and even bodily remains. Now the rise in similar jewellery art and fashion seems to be dominating the scene. A particular Jewellery artist Julia Deville is one to mention. With her use of taxidermy amongst expertly cast silver.
So what happens to Goths when they grow up? well, the same thing that happens to anyone else. Except with more bats and bigger boots.
Institutional Identity: ICA Off-Site Projects. 2013. ICA Off-site: a Journey Through London Subculture: 1980s to Now. ICA. http://www.ica.org.uk/whats-on/ica-site-journey-through-london-subculture-1980s-now
Scharf, Natasha. 2015. What Happens when Goths Grow up? http://teamrock.com/feature/2015-10-29/what-happens-when-goths-grow-up
Religious Tolerance. 2016. The Goth Culture: Quotations; why discuss Goth culture here? Description. History. http://www.religioustolerance.org/goth.htm