Now in its third year, World Goth Day — the brainchild of UK-based DJ Cruel Brittania and DJ martin oldgoth — seeks to celebrate the dark subculture that refuses to die yet continues to evolve and change. The Goth world first came to prominence in the late Eighties through a mixture of fashion and music, then went back underground in the Nineties, almost resurfacing to the mainstream just prior to the Columbine shootings in 1999. But since then it has stayed in the darker corners of urban and suburban landscapes, at least here in America, its denizens perfectly happy to revel in a lifestyle that the mainstream shuns. And for many, that suits them just fine. But the U.S. is not the only place that Goths dwell. It’s a global phenomenon.
The idea of a World Goth Day has actually appealed to many Goths over the previous two years. “Last year was unbelievable,” enthuses oldgoth. “When we started this and decided to take it up a step, I don’t think either of us expected so many people to run with the idea. We had a fantastic response from people all over the world, with events planned across the globe, from coffee shop meet ups to picnics and full on club and live gig events. The World Goth Day Awards were really popular, and a CD released on the day to raise fund for the Sophie Lancaster Foundation is still selling today.” Brittania is pleased that more events have been announced for 2011, including a couple in the Middle East (Beirut City) and Asia (Singapore, where Brittania has family).
World Goth Day can be looked at as “coming out” event of sorts for some, such as being to tell coworkers or other associates of one’s Goth lifestyle and perhaps encouraging them to listen to music or get a better sense of what the scene is about. But as Brittania and oldgoth attest, it is not about conversion. “The principle concept behind World Goth Day was for goths around the world to celebrate what it means to their lives, be it musical, aesthetic, literary, whatever,” explains Brittania. “It’s not a ‘recruitment drive’ as it might be misconstrued to be. ‘The Normals’ can follow our lead if they choose, enjoy the moment and maybe learn a little about us that may not have realized before. I know that some Goths find it a little insulting when ‘The Normals’ dress in black for the day, but I personally have no issues with it. Hell, if they immerse themselves in a small portion of WGD 2011, it may even consequently lead to a more tolerant outlook towards Goths, and that can never be a bad thing!”
Adding to the fun this year are the World Goth Day Awards, which are generating more buzz on Twitter this time around. There are seventeen categories, including Best Group or Artist, Best Club Night, Best Gothic/Alternative Model and Best Online Shop/Seller. Many of the names are quite familiar to the scene, others are newer. (And the voting ends soon!) The Goth community has always had a strong online presence, and that has certainly been helpful in spreading the word about World Goth Day, which even got written up by the L.A. Weekly yesterday.
“The WGD Awards were something we dreamt up last year for a bit of fun,” declares Brittania. “Martin organized the questions and collected all the data and did it over two rounds of nominations and final votes. The winners were sent these WGD Award banners that they could mount on their websites, which both acts as a bit like a virtual trophy and also as a way of spreading the word about World Goth Day. There were a lot more criteria than last year, I think; I know that we were asked to add Favorite Author as one of the nominations last year, so that was done.” Oldgoth adds that this year the awards have really taken off, with thousands of people voting for their favorites.Of course an important part of the Goth underworld is the music itself. While musically Goth may not return to the mainstream prominence it had in the late Eighties with artists like the Sisters Of Mercy and Siouxsie and the Banshees, there are promising acts that Brittania and oldgoth point to as potential musical emissaries for the genre. “The potential is there for some of the more post-punk styled bands to become ‘big’,” notes oldgoth. “Bands like Editors have already seen success with what to me has definite dark influences, and in their wake are bands like O Children, Ulterior and Exploding Boy. All have that post-punk feel to them that helps cross over to a wider audience.” He sees The Eden House having wider potential appeal. “Their stuff is so polished and all-encompassing, I’d find it hard to accept that it wouldn’t appeal to the slightly older music lover who may occasionally dip into Pink Floyd now and then.”
“In the UK we’ve seen a return to the classic Gothic rock sound in recent years in the shape of bands like Rhombus, Grooving In Green, Adoration and The Eden House,” says Brittania. “There’s a very promising crop of post-punk bands which for the most part are capturing the guitar sound of the early/mid Eighties from both the UK and Europe, such as White Lies, O Children and a band from Italy who I just discovered called Christine Plays Viola. It’s also been good to see the return to the scene of bands like Vendemmian and March Violets. We’re in a good place to be right now, I’m excited to hear what will develop from it all. Personally speaking I really like the sound of the U.S. goth bands, and I’m particularly anxious for The Last Dance to hurry up and release their new album, six years after their last one. That’s a helluva wait!”
Even though Goth’s presence in America has receded a bit in the past decade, it still says strong in Europe. “London has actually reached saturation point,” declares oldgoth, who is based there. “There are probably too many clubs now and new ones spring up as fast as older ones close due to not being able to get enough of a crowd. The limited numbers of people available to go to nights are spread too thin. Eventually I think this will calm down, but it’s sad to see long running nights close or move to every other month just to stay a part of the scene. New clubs are starting all over the UK though, and I think we’re seeing a new level of interest in the scene again. Europe is also going through a renewed interest. This makes me happy.”