As head of the Gothic Council, a position I take as seriously as I take being known as an expert on video-game farts, one of my jobs is aiding those who seek the spooky side of life enable the transition. Now, goth is kind of like the Judaism of subcultures. We like to keep it members-only up in here, and we will definitely deny you three times via bitchy remarks before we let you in.
That being said, some of the more awesome people I run into have actually asked me what it takes to go goth, and so I gathered the Gothic Council to ask them the best way to get started.
Joining us this week is Age of Decay festival founder Alethea Carr, blogger at Night's Plutonian Shore Drusilla Grey, author of Psychonaut Carmilla Voiez, Niki Marshall of the Braggart Family Side Circus, DJ Martin Oldgoth, Hex of the deathrock band Culture Decayed, Jvstin Witney of the Church of Melkarth, and living historian Morrighanne Burns.
Alethea Carr: Music. It all starts with the music. Think of it as a building: While fashion is a load-bearing wall, the foundation is the music. I suggest anyone wanting to "get into" goth lock himself in a room, listen to goth-rock and post-punk and deathrock, and then make something. Write bad poetry, make up a song, safety-pin together a skirt out of whatever he can find in the room.
Read. Ruminate. Learn what a treasure isolation and melancholy are. Then listen to more music. I recommend stewing in this broth for a good couple of years before he makes his debut into the scene! Then he not only understands goth's roots but has something individual to offer the community.
Drusilla Grey: Yes, the music. And books. They must read. Read the classics like Poe, Wilde, Dickens... Read contemporary authors like Gaiman, Pratchett, Barker, Voiez... A good knowledge of classic monster movies helps. A dark and twisted sense of humor is a must. Then sit in a room playing goth music and reading and let it seep deep into your soul.
Jef With One F: How about starting to build a look? Where to start without going broke?
Carmilla Voiez: Music first. The look should just reflect how you feel. It should be individual to the person. Charity shops are great fun and a must for building a wardrobe from nothing, in my opinion. Save the real money for boots.
With regards to the look, my advice would be to have fun. Don't try to outdo others, just enjoy it and express something about yourself.
Drusilla Grey: Building a look... It isn't something you do from specific stores... You can get gothy clothes almost anywhere. It's how you put it all together so it reflects your inner goth that makes the look. Befriending artists helps. I love ally the unique, hand made accessories that I have. And the unique art in my home.
Niki Marshall: Ladies, have at least one amazing corset and a great pair of shoes. Everything else will fall into place.
Martin Oldgoth: I don't think you can consciously become a goth, goth becomes you, sneaks up on you and before you realise, you are one, try too hard and it shows. But, if I had to write a guide, it'd look like this...
1. Listen to the music. If you don't find a way to "go goth" after that forget it, you're not meant to be one. And I mean goth, post-punk, deathrock, none of this metal, industrial or dance music stuff..
2. Listen to more of the music.
3. Go to clubs and gigs, support the scene, and remember, listen to the music I'm sick to death of people claiming that all you need is a DVD collection of vampire movies, an idiot's guide to writing poetry, something made of velvet and a Nine Inch Nails album. Back in my day blah blah blah...
Hex: I pretty much agree with Martin, just go to gigs, talk to the bands, get to know promoters and fans involved with the goth and deathrock or post-punk scenes and everything more or less flows into each other from there, nothing magical about it, no different if you're involved in related scenes such as the various punk scenes.
Jvstin Whitney: I didn't get involved in the music until I was already immersed in everything else. Insofar as canonical goth music I should say, I got pulled in via cross genre metal, but I also grew up playing Vampire: The Masquerade and reading books and such.
Morrighanne Burns: Like Drusilla, I started on the journey before music came along. Watching Hammer horror films, being taken to Whitby year after year on the annual family holiday and having slightly spooky parents. By the time Siouxsie and The Damned started showing up on the TV, I was well on my way.
For someone starting out I would advise them to read, listen and watch for a while, see if it is for them. Goth isn't an overnight transformation. It seeps into your bones little by little until you evolve into a beautiful dark moth. Vintage clothing can be found on eBay, in charity shops and can be made if you have that gift.
Goth is something that will never leave you and you'll never want to leave it. It isn't a passing phase, you'll never grow out of it, and I can't wait to be a goth hell-granny.
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