Halloween and Alternative Subculture

Halloween is over for another year. Best time of year for buying cool stuff, for goths to hang around their houses, and for me it was no exception. If I'm lucky there may even be some cheap stuff left on pay day to pick up for next to nothing.

Halloween is a fun time, especially if you have kids. I never really celebrated it aside from DJing at Halloween gigs until my kids got into it. Mostly because I have never really been surrounded by people into it. The general attitude in Australia is "Halloween is an American hallmark holiday". I wonder if those same killjoys say the same about Valentine's day. They likely celebrate Australia Day - a day that seems devoted to selling Australian flags that are made in China, getting Southern Cross tattoos (permanent and temporary) and hating on non-white people in a booze fueled frenzy. Of course I'm exaggerating (though some of that stuff does happen) but you get the idea. One day of dress ups and celebration isn't really all that different from another.

Anyway, back to Halloween. Something that has always bothered me a little is how alternative culture, in particular the goth subculture, treats Halloween as some special holiday for us when its clearly not. Halloween is about as mainstream as it gets and its well catered for.

A lot I think we have to blame for Ministry's Everyday Is Halloween.

The song title alone has become a bit of a mantra. So lets look at its lyrics :

Well I live with snakes and lizards
And other things that go bump in the night
Cos to me everyday is Halloween
I have given up hiding and started to fight
I have started to fight

Well any time, any place, anywhere that I go
All the people seem to stop and stare
They say 'why are you dressed like it's Halloween?
You look so absurd, you look so obscene'

O, why can't I live a life for me?
Why should I take the abuse that's served?
Why can't they see they're just like me
It's the same, it's the same in the whole wide world

Well I let their teeny minds think
That they're dealing with someone who is over the brink
And I dress this way just to keep them at bay
Cos Halloween is everyday

It's everyday

O, why can't I live a life for me?
Why should I take the abuse that's served?
Why can't they see they're just like me
It's the same, it's the same in the whole wide world

O, why can't I live a life for me?
Why should I take the abuse that's served?
Why can't they see they're just like me
I'm not the one that's so absurd

Why hide it?
Why fight it?
Hurt feelings
Best to stop feeling hurt
From denials, reprisals
It's the same it's the same in the whole wide world

The song is really about stepping out as yourself and getting acceptance from the outside world for being yourself instead of being treated like a freak show. Also don't get me wrong, I like the song and the band. Its become a little cliche though.

Is every day really Halloween? I say no. Is Halloween a reference point outsiders use to try understand goths? Yes. We are just being ourselves and the closest thing they can think of in real life is Halloween.

But we don't own Halloween. I think that's part of the reason why World Goth Day came into being as its something that can be ours. While I don't agree with the idea of having a World Goth Day (why have a special day to do what you are doing every day anyway) I can see how others might. Halloween however is not ours and never was.

This leads to some interesting reactions if a goth decides to simply be themselves on Halloween. Which is fine, do what you want to do. A lot of people may think you are in goth costume instead of being yourself though.

Speaking of goth costume... cultural appropriation is a thing. Could people dressing up as goths who aren't goths for a party or Halloween be considered appropriation? Is it appropriation if they do it for World Goth Day? Some interesting stuff to consider.

While I'm on the cultural appropriation bandwagon, Día de Muertos. I have talked about my view elsewhere on the internet but never here. So here it is. I don't think its right to celebrate it outside Mexico or outside Mexican ethnic communities. When a nightclub puts on a party for it with no cultural significance other than decorations and themes I think its disrespectful. I will not go to events themed like that and I would question an event I'm involved with wanting to do that. I also don't like how sugar skulls can be pretty much found mass produced everywhere now. But I also know some people get into it who aren't Mexican and they honour the traditions. Its a tricky line to walk.

Back to goths on Halloween. Something I don't get is a goth going in costume as a goth. Isn't that regular wear for you? Granted there are parties where you just go as yourself instead of choosing to go in costume and that's fine. But we see the usual flood of pictures from people "dressed up for Halloween" and its just themselves. I guess if they are putting in some extra detail they normally wouldn't it might count? Still it feels odd to me when the idea of Halloween is to be in costume. I guess what I'm saying is if you are going to go in costume then go in costume. But you don't have to. I'm just some guy rambling on the internet, do what you want.

I'll finish this by sharing some costumes I have worn over the years for Halloween and Halloween events held on the closest Saturday night.

Mr Greed (1996)
I'm supposed to be re-creating the original artwork on the MTG card Greed here

Bogan (2009)
I'm even wearing shorts, thongs and carrying a beer in a stubbie holder for authenticity

Monty Python Flasher (2010)
Reverse side of the card had the chorus for Never Gonna Give You Up written on it

Murderous Potato Farmer (2015)
At the party in 2010 the host kept slipping a potato into my pocket...

The Butcher (2016)
At the Halloween gig. Did a tamed down version of this a couple of years back (no weapons, severed limbs or blood)  for kids' school Halloween party.

Fairy Princess (2016)
I think this pretty much speaks for itself

No matter what you dressed as, I hope you had a happy Halloween.

-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.

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Aytakk

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.