Where's the Goth?

This time I am going to talk about an issue that has been a problem in the goth subculture for many years. I can recall it appearing on and off for most of my nearly 20 years in the subculture, though it seems nowadays its happening a lot more than it used to.

A particular flyer for an event caught my attention and inspired this article. I have deliberately held off writing about this until after the event has happened as I didn't want any negativity towards the event. I sincerely hope the event went well as I don't like to see events fail, even if they are doing something I don't necessarily like.

This is the flyer in question :

Now lets focus in on the thing that sticks in my craw :

Its the dreaded G word. Such cool, much edgy, 100% black, the epic darkness, wow.

On seeing the event being advertised on Reddit this was my response :

(You can see the Reddit thread here)

What makes me such an expert on such events and why the dreaded Goth word doesn't belong in their advertising? Allow me to enlighten you.

I have two DJing personas. Like calling something goth or not goth (even not using the goth word at all) they are in a similar vein.

Aytakk is for goth/industrial/80s/alt stuff. Aytakk DJs at goth, industrial and dark alternative events. People know when they see Aytakk and the type of event goth/industrial is what to expect. For the most part Aytakk is pretty serious and a bit of a genre snob. But that's fine it suits what he does.

Jelly is my other DJ persona. He does non goth events that have elements of gaming, anime, internet pop culture and generally nerdy stuff. Again, when people see Jelly and the type of event they know what to expect. Jelly is the opposite as there are no rules, only lulz. Jelly even has a catch phrase - U MAD? ME JELLY!

The only exception to Jelly appearing at a "goth" event (goth by reputation but it was really dark alternative) is this

So lets begin the analysis

It is worth looking at how goth is presented in the line "A Goth Cyberpunk Sub-Culture Party". I don't know about those of you reading this but I can't say I have ever heard of anything called the "goth cyberpunk subculture".

Goth certainly is a subculture. Cyberpunk is certainly an artistic form or style, though I think its a stretch to call it an actual subculture.

So lets break down the flyer by the main points on the music and aesthetics.

For aesthetics the things that jump out are

  1. Goth

  2. Cyberpunk

  3. Anime

  4. Video Games

  5. Death

Ok, they are trying to reach as far an audience as possible. That said not a lot here is really all that directly relatable to the others. You could argue goth and death are related but at the same time goth doesn't hold the patent on death.

The one thing (if anything) that ties it all together is nerd/geek culture. Now that's something I know well.

Jelly DJs at Neko Nation which has a focus on Anime, gaming and internet pop culture. Jelly also DJs at JoyPad which has a focus on retro gaming and internet pop culture. Never have either of these events used the word Goth or even been thought of as Goth. Some goths do attend these events but they know they are what they are. In fact the next Neko Nation in my city is a combined event with JoyPad. It should be fun. But not goth and thats how we like it.

Lets look at the music genres

  1. Techno

  2. Electro

  3. Witch House

  4. Industrial

  5. Synth Wave

  6. Italo Disco

Seriously, WHERE IS THE GOTH?!?!?

If you advertise as goth you should provide goth music else its false advertising. Industrial is the closest thing there to goth music and it is not goth music.

To emphasis a point I'm going to refer to a couple of events I have DJed at in the past. RvM Adelaide, Klub Plastik and Cybermorph (coming February 2016) are all events that have industrial music. All of them avoided the word "goth" in promo because they didn't want a reputation for being goth, nor did they want to be goth. Being an industrial oriented event (well Klub Plastik was a little different - it was weird) was enough of a hook to get people there. People want industrial alternatives to goth events. The people didn't want it to be goth either.

Hell Neko Nation has had industrial at some of the events they run interstate and they don't advertise as goth either.

An event doesn't need to advertise as goth to do well. In fact advertising as goth can hurt the event when people turn up expecting one thing and receiving another. Bad word of mouth can kill an event. You want people talking up the things you did, not picking apart because of what you didn't do.

Then we have the issue of goth by reputation.

What is goth by reputation? When an event does not advertise as goth, yet people rightly or wrongly assume it is goth.

A lot of non goth events get this. Some will roll with it if they play some goth music. That's fine as they deliver on that reputation even if they don't advertise as goth. Others don't deliver and will often end up being derided for it.

Some events people assume are trying to be a goth event, when in reality they don't want that. That happened with Klub Plastik. I made this to try dispel such ideas and have a little fun at the same time :

That brings us back to the lesson of the day. Don't advertise as goth unless you are going to deliver. You don't need to do it and people will respect you a lot more for being honest. Everything does not need to have the word goth attached to it to be interesting.

-Aytakk has been active in the goth scene since the mid 90s both online and in real life. He firmly believes in the old line "if you don't get the joke, you are the joke". As well as this he produces music for a couple of music projects: Corpulence On The Catwalk (goth/darkwave/coldwave) and Hypnophile (aggrotech/power noise). He is also a club DJ and nemesis of DJ Jelly.


Hello everyone, Count here, I wanted to throw in my two cents in behind Aytakk, from my own sociology driven perspective. Mainly I'm going to focus on this comment left on the original reddit thread.

As many of you know, I've talked extensively about neo-tribes on this websites blog and the Cemetery Confessions podcast. For a short definition (full explanation follow the link), a neo-tribe is a sort of distinct cultural grouping, marked by it's ephemerality, transitive nature, and lack of substance. A recent example would be the nu goth scene, which has now gone by the wayside and shifted into vaporwave. Nu goth being primarily aesthetic in nature, and vaporwave, to my understanding, being primarily a music genre. Often these groupings are focused on a specific style, or specific sound, with very little else associated, and often these groupings are trends, lasting no longer than a few years before falling off and shifting to something new.

Some sociologists have argued that the death of subculture has happened or is immanent, due to these new liminal, often hyper specific youth groupings. At the very least, these groupings have certainly increased both quantitatively and in popularity with the proliferation of the internet. While I don't believe these will see subculture fall by the wayside, we have certainly seen groups like health goth, pastel goth, street goth, and so on, appropriate, water down, and splinter parts of the goth subculture. The above quote is just a further evidence of this, and the danger that these groups and their intrinsically ephemeral ideologies can pose to more substantial, meaningful cultures like goth.

I would argue, if these groupings become increasingly conflated with goth, as the DJ in question sees it, this appropriation and dissolution of goth could pose a real threat; at least to the quantity of adherents, and to further splinter the subculture. I see a specific danger presented as well, to youth looking to get into goth, furthering this amalgamation of spectacular groupings, rather than strengthening existing subcultures, leaving the future and stability of goth in question.

My plea would simply be that we respect the values and ideologies of the culture, and its intrinsic substantiality, and not try to force it into a role, label, or box it was never meant to fit. I've always said, that above all each person should be true to themselves. However this means being who you are, regardless of subcultural label, rather than trying to force the world to conform to your view. I don't seek to diminish or remove these neo-tribal groupings, when they exist logically apart from goth, but to rather protect the very identifiers that make the goth subculture meaningful in the first place.

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

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Aytakk has been active in the goth scene since the mid 90s both online and in real life. He firmly believes in the old line "if you don't get the joke, you are the joke". As well as this he produces music for a couple of music projects: Corpulence On The Catwalk (goth/darkwave/coldwave) and Hypnophile (aggrotech/power noise). He is also a club DJ and nemesis of DJ Jelly.