Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Gothic Subculture~ Beginnings

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. Its imagery and cultural proclivities indicate influences from nineteenth century Gothic literature along with horror movies and to a lesser extent the BDSM culture.

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. Gothic music encompasses a number of different styles. Common to all is a tendency towards a lugubrious, mystical sound and outlook. Styles of dress within the subculture range from deathrock, punk, androgynous, Victorian, Steampunk, some Renaissance and Medieval style attire, or combinations of the above, most often with black attire, makeup and hair.

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, death rock, industrial music, Gothabilly, EBM, ambient, experimental, synthpop, shoegazing, punk rock, 1970s glam rock, indie rock, to 1980s dance music. This variety was a result of the eclectic tastes of the members of the subculture.

Goth fashion is stereotyped as a dark, sometimes morbid, eroticized fashion and style of dress. Typical gothic fashion includes dyed black hair, dark eyeliner, black fingernails, black period-styled clothing; goths may or may not have piercings. Styles are often borrowed from the Elizabethan, Victorian or medieval period 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).

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