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Goth
Goth

The goth subculture is a contemporary subculture found in many countries. It began in the United Kingdom during the early 1980s in the gothic rock scene, an offshoot of the post-punk genre. The goth subculture has survived much longer than others of the same era, and has continued to diversify.

The goth subculture has associated tastes in music, aesthetics, and fashion, whether or not all individuals who share those tastes are in fact members of the goth subculture.


It is important to mote that there are many sub types of goth, therefore this page deals only with the most common type found, the classic goth, the archetype of gothic-ness, the...you get the picture.

By the late 1970s, there were a few post-punk bands labeled "gothic." However, it was not until the early 1980s that gothic rock became its own subgenre within post-punk, and that followers of these bands started to come together as a distinctly recognizable movement. The scene appears to have taken its name from an article published in UK rock weekly Sounds: "The face of Punk Gothique", written by Steve Keaton and published on February 21, 1981. The opening of the Batcave in London's Soho in July 1982 provided a prominent meeting point for the emerging scene, which had briefly been labeled positive punk by the New Musical Express. The term "Batcaver" was later used to describe old-school goths.

Independent from the British scene, the late 1970s and early 1980s saw death rock branch off from American punk. In 1980s and early 1990s, members of an emerging subculture in Germany were called Grufti[e]s (English "vault creatures" or "tomb creatures"); they generally followed a fusion of the gothic and new wave with an influence of new romantic, and formed the early stages of the "dark culture" (formerly called "dark wave culture"). Brian Lauzon of Acton, Massachusetts was an early American adopter of the movement.

After the waning in popularity of post-punk, the subculture diversified both musically and visually. This caused variations in the "types" of goth. Local scenes also contributed to this variation. By the 1990s, Victorian fashion saw a renewed popularity in the goth scene, drawing on the mid-19th century gothic revival and the more morbid aspects of Victorian culture.

By the 1990s, the term "goth" and the boundaries of the associated subculture had become more contentious. New subcultures emerged, or became more popular, some of them being conflated with the goth subculture by the general public and the popular media. This conflation was primarily owing to similarities of appearance, social customs, and the fashions of the subcultures, rather than the musical genres of the bands associated with them. As time went on, the term was extended further in popular usage, sometimes to define groups that had neither musical nor fashion similarities to the original gothic subculture. This has led to the introduction of goth slang terms that some goths and others use to sort and label members of loosely related or at times unrelated subcultures.

The response of these pseudo-groups to the older subculture varies. Some, being secure in a separate subcultural identity, express offence at being called "goth" in the first place, while others choose to join the existing subculture on its own terms. Still others have simply ignored its existence, and decided to appropriate the term "goth" themselves, and redefine the idea in their own image. Even within the original subculture, changing trends have added to the complexity of attempting to define precise boundaries.

The bands that began the gothic rock and deathrock scene were limited in number, and included Bauhaus, Specimen, Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Damned, Southern Death Cult, Ausgang, Sex Gang Children, 45 Grave, UK Decay, The Virgin Prunes, Kommunity FK, Alien Sex Fiend and Christian Death. Gloria Mundi, Joy Division, The Cure, This Mortal Coil, Dead Can Dance, mittageisen, early Adam and the Ants and Killing Joke have also been associated.

By the mid-eighties, the number of bands began proliferating and became increasingly popular, including The Sisters of Mercy, The Mission (known as The Mission UK in the US), Xmal Deutschland, The Bolshoi and Fields of the Nephilim. The nineties saw the further growth of eighties bands and emergence of many new bands. Factory Records, 4AD Records, and Beggars Banquet Records released much of this music in Europe, while Cleopatra Records among others released much of this music in the United States, where the subculture grew especially in New York, Los Angeles, and Orange County, California, with many nightclubs featuring "gothic/industrial" nights. The popularity of 4AD bands resulted in the creation of a similar US label called Projekt Records. This produces what is colloquially termed ethereal wave, a subgenre of dark wave music.

By the mid-1990s, styles of music that were heard in venues that goths attended ranged from gothic rock, deathrock, industrial music, Gothabilly, EBM, ambient, experimental, synthpop, shoegazing, punk rock, to 1970s glam rock. Most goths listen to all of these, but often with a preference for gothic rock, ambient, and darkwave.

Today, the goth music scene thrives in Western Europe - especially in Germany, with large festivals such as Wave-Gotik-Treffen, M'era Luna and others drawing tens of thousands of fans from all over the world. However, North America still sees large scale events, most recently, Chamber's Dark Art & Music Festival.

Defining an explicit ideology for the gothic subculture is difficult for several reasons. First is the overwhelming importance of mood and aesthetic for those involved. This is, in part, inspired by romanticism and neoromanticism. The allure for goths of dark, mysterious, and morbid imagery and mood lies in the same tradition of Romanticism's gothic novel. During the late 18th and 19th century, feelings of horror, and supernatural dread were widespread motifs in popular literature; The process continues in the modern horror film. Balancing this emphasis on mood and aesthetics, another central element of the gothic is a deliberate sense of camp theatricality and self-dramatization; present both in gothic literature as well as in the gothic subculture itself.

Goth fashion is stereotyped as a dark, sometimes morbid, eroticized fashion and style of dress. Typical gothic fashion includes dyed black hair, fishnet, dark eyeliner, black fingernails, Corsets, Combat boots, trench coats and black period-styled clothing; goths may or may not have piercings. Girls normally wear lacy black skirts and guys black pants, often with chain pockets. Styles are often borrowed from the Elizabethan, Victorian or medieval periods and often express Catholic or other religious imagery such as crucifixes or ankhs. The extent to which goths hold to this style varies amongst individuals as well as geographical locality, though virtually all Goths wear some of these elements. Fashion designers, such as Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, have also been described as practicing "Haute Goth". Goth fashion is often confused with heavy metal fashion: outsiders often mistake fans of heavy metal for goth, particularly those who wear black trench coats or wear "corpse paint" (a term associated with the black metal music scene).


Goths, in terms of their membership in the subculture, are usually not supportive of violence, but rather tolerant. Many in the media have incorrectly associated the Goth subculture with violence, hatred of minorities, white supremacy, and other acts of hate. However, violence and hate do not form elements of goth ideology; rather, the ideology is formed in part by recognition, identification, and grief over societal and personal evils that the mainstream culture wishes to ignore or forget. These are the prevalent themes in goth music.


The second impediment to explicitly defining a gothic ideology is goth's generally apolitical nature. While individual defiance of social norms was a very risky business in the nineteenth century, today it is far less socially radical. Thus, the significance of goth's subcultural rebellion is limited, and it draws on imagery at the heart of Western culture. Unlike the hippie or punk movements, the goth subculture has no pronounced political messages or cries for social activism. The subculture is marked by its emphasis on individualism, tolerance for diversity, a strong emphasis on creativity, tendency toward intellectualism, a dislike of social conservatism, and a mild tendency towards cynicism, but even these ideas are not universal to all goths (see perkygoff). Goth ideology is based far more on aesthetics and simplified ethics than politics.


Goths may, indeed, have political leanings ranging from left-wing to right-wing, but they do not express them specifically as part of a cultural identity. Instead, political affiliation, like religion, is seen as a matter of personal conscience. Unlike punk, there are few clashes between political affiliation and being "goth". Similarly, there is no common religious tie that binds together the goth movement, though spiritual, supernatural and religious imagery has played a part in gothic fashion, song lyrics and visual art. In particular, aesthetic elements from Catholicism often appear in goth culture. Reasons for donning such imagery range from expression of religious affiliation to satire or simply decorative effect.

While involvement with the subculture can be fulfilling, it also can be risky, especially for the young, because of the negative attention it can attract due to public misconceptions of goth subculture. The value that young people find in the movement is evidenced by its continuing existence after other subcultures of the eighties (such as the New Romantics) have died out.

There are many sub types in the gothic subculture, such as Perkygoff, Mopeygoth, Romantigoth, Tradgoth, Hippy-goth, Cybergoth, CorpGoth, Vampire goth, J-goth, Baby Bat, GlitterGoth, Carabet Goth, Victorian Goth, GeekGoth, Gothabilly, and, of course, regular old everyday goth, which this page describes. Other associated labels include Steampunk, Gothic Lolita, Visual kei fan, Deathrocker, Metalhead, Rivethead, Alternative kid, Vampire lifestyler and neoPagan.

Image from Deviantart, information mostly from wikipedia, edited by me. This page is very long and this disclaimer is making it even longer.

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