We’ve all seen them, those strange characters that wander our city streets dressed as though they’re on their way to a funeral, or a punk rock show… Or quite possibly both. Their very presence exudes a sort of darkness, steeped in the love of all things morbid, and a seeming love affair with death. Their anthems come from the likes of Siouxsie and the Banshees, Type O Negative, and Bauhaus, bands who seem to be able to perfectly encompass all the things strange. World Goth Day encourages us to celebrate these fine fellows, and maybe take a dip into their world ourselves, after all, while the light is lovely, can it not also be blinding?
The History Behind Gothic Design
The very thought of gothic tradition may stir up some type of wonder about the exact origin, however the name goth is actually a subculture, which began in England in the 1980s, as did many things of course, such as Wham! And ET, but we’ll save those for another occasion. The goth subculture became famous through the development of gothic rock, a post-punk genre, and both came from the music scene. The aesthetic and excitement behind the goth was of course black clothing and hair, piercings and lots of black lipstick. Add this to a very pale face and you will be sure to look positively goth-like! Rock on!
As it progressed of course, the aesthetics became much more of a focus than the meaning behind it. Fashion designers jumped on the bandwagon and gothic fashion became a dark take on Victorian fashion. So why does it always have to be black? Black symbolises death and the deep dark night, however you will find in more modern gothic fashion, an incorporation of colour can be seen, particularly through women’s dresses and fashion. A little touch of blood red lace or deep purple will give a gothic allure and make the fashion piece even more exquisite.
The designs are relatively intricate and there are certainly some great fashion statements to be seen.
History of World Goth Day
The history of World Goth Day stretches back in odd and meandering paths to history. Musically it can be traced back to 1967 when someone referred to the music of the Doors as “Gothic Rock.” This term was soon being bandied about, used to describe music like Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties”, and Siouxsie and the Banshee’s described as one of “Goth Rocks Architects”.
But why “Gothic”? It’s an odd term considering that it originally referred to the Visigoths whose claim to fame was sacking Rome. So how did Goths become Goths? Well, we can trace the term back a bit further to 1764, where Horace Walpole wrote a story called “The Castle of Otranto”, granted the subtitled “A Gothic Story” during its second printing.
So what is Gothic in this context? It describes a “pleasing sort of horror”, and was seen to be a natural extension of Romantic literature. This, of course, implies a sort of romance with the darker side of life, something that can be said to describe the little blossoms of gloom described at the beginning. As time progressed, we saw that gothic terminology was being used throughout the growing music scenes. It began in the late 1960s and was first used to describe music, which was specifically seen with Jim Morrison’s band The Doors, known as the first modern goth, but other bands such as Black Sabbath and The Cure.
Gothic styles then further progressed and moved into the cinemas, with films such as Suspiria and Eraserhead in 1977 which gave a good introduction to gothic cinema, although it seemed to lose its lacklustre and today there are not many mainstream films that really highlight the gothic trend well. However, it does remain an established and well loved style. There are many events and opportunities in every city to really enjoy the splendour of gothic design, in parades and at conventions.
How to celebrate World Goth Day
World Goth Day is a great time to explore the question that plagues those who do not understand the Goth sub-culture. It can be a time for people to really get a grasp on its representations and why it is so well loved still, even to this day. Those who believe gothic culture is evil or has poor intentions, can be educated on its history and be allowed to feel the magic of this style. What are these souls searching for, what are their dreams, what do they want to tell us and most importantly, who are they and what beauty do they find in the dark? Take some time to explore it on your own, research the history of Goth Culture and the songs, music, movies, and literature that are its hallmarks. You won’t be disappointed, and maybe the next time you see these dark souls, you’ll understand just a little of what they see.
Wear a little black, add a touch of gothic make-up to your style for a day and appreciate the awesomeness of what is Goth subculture. You will find that gothic style music tells plenty of stories relating to its history and to the magic that fuels it. Today, we are seeing an evolution of the gothic culture, and we can see a bigger rise in new subcultures such as cybergoth, steampunk and trad goth.
World Goth Day celebrates all these souls, and the part of them that celebrates the darkness within us all through music, art, and media.