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Gothic Houston

Nationwide goth music conference inspired by Houstonian

"We tried to explain things to him. 'Look, we got a lot of people coming,' " says Derrick. "Promoters weren't looking at goth as something that was very marketable."

Originally the committee had set upon Noir, a new venue, but Noir never got an occupancy license. The committee scrambled to find another club in one month's time and landed on a heavy-metal bar called Bedrocks. The place was set.

Hunt had gotten to know Derrick through his posts on the newsgroup and wanted to meet him, as well as other net.goths, so he, Govella and their friends made the 24-hour trek from Austin to Houston to Chicago.

Though he no longer looks the part, Christopher K. Derrick still follows goth culture and music.
Maike Overlack
Though he no longer looks the part, Christopher K. Derrick still follows goth culture and music.
A relic from the first Convergence.
A relic from the first Convergence.

"I was expecting to go and find people with whom I could relate to on the level of the soul," says Hunt. Besides, Govella says, "I wanted to see Mephisto Waltz, and Mephisto Waltz would never, ever, ever play Houston, Austin, Dallas or anywhere near."

He wasn't disappointed. Beyond the band nights and other events, such as the poetry reading and fashion show, the underlying purpose of Convergence was to promote social interaction. Many of the net.goths got along well, amazingly well for being only on-line acquaintances.

Hunt recalls: "You could bump into people in the hallways of the hotel and just strike up a conversation with no introduction whatsoever. You didn't have to explain anything [goth] to them because they already knew that."

To many, Convergence, as a celebration of the goth scene, was successful. Despite the fact that Bedrocks didn't allow minors, more than 700 people attended, and, as far as Derrick knows, the committee, while certainly not making any money, didn't lose any, either. Govella likens Convergence to a gothic Woodstock, and Hunt says it was like "stepping up on the Mount of Transfiguration." Talk on a.g. naturally turned to thoughts of a Convergence II.

Goth, it seemed, was an untapped, viable market. The networking established at Convergence led to more shows, more gothic music labels, such as Projekt, Cleopatra, Seraph, Hyperium and Tess, and more possibilities.

As a direct result of their experiences at Convergence, Govella and Hunt set up Oblivion, a booking company based in Austin. The first Oblivion show, which turned a profit, featured the Dallas band Seraphim Gothique and Falling Janus from New Orleans. Both were bands Govella had gotten to know at Convergence.

At the same time, Hunt and another Austin net.goth envisioned broadening the small e-mail list of friends into something grander, a Texas net.goth mailing list that would effectively draw goths into an active, cohesive community. The two would stop people on the street if the person looked interesting. That was their main recruiting technique when not on-line.

"We tried to make this group a circle of friends," says Hunt. "We tried to identify on a personal level rather than just some aesthetic appearance or worldview."

Already the Austin net.goths were visiting the Dallas net.goths on alternate weekends, and vice versa. With the expansion of the tex.goth list, the interaction between formerly isolated scenes in major Texas cities grew friendlier. Austin net.goths went to shows and clubs in Houston. Anyone could post a note about visiting another city and find goths to be tour guides. At one point members of the list converged upon a summer home on Galveston Bay for a weekend together.

In September 1995 the e-mail list became a majordomo list, and the name changed to SWGoths, which was one of the first and largest net.goth regional mailing lists. It eventually would cover Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico and Louisiana. There are now about 150 subscribers to SWGoths.

Govella remains active in the Houston goth scene. He and his wife run Object A mail order, which specializes in gothic music. They self-publish the gothic music 'zine Object A and a calendar guide to gothic Houston, Mode News. Houston has three goth club nights -- gothic belly dancing at the Mausoleum on Tuesdays, goth/industrial night at Spy on Wednesdays and gothic/darkwave/deathrock DJ music at Slider's on Mondays -- and three local 'zines. Such an outpouring of gothic activity would have been unimaginable five years ago.

Govella says: "That's just people doing what they love, and that's the only thing that's ever going on in Houston. A certain set of people keep on doing stuff."

Hunt continues to embrace the Convergence spirit by announcing invites on SWGoths and opening his house to parties. He conscientiously tries to create an environment that recalls the first Convergence. Just last month Derrick attended one to meet more of the Austin goths.

Derrick continues to support the Houston goth scene while waiting for his assignment from the State Department. He tries to meet with goths from all over. He's an unassuming soon-to-be-diplomat who tends to downplay his deeds. Yet Convergence and its offspring have become big events. And he's partly to thank.

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