This is the last of the three related articles (the other two are here and here). Before I get into it, I'll address some things that came up in conversation about the previous article or I remembered after publishing.
Some More Handy Items To Bring
- Power boards/extension leads/spare cables
Don't rely on the venue to have everything, especially if you have additional equipment. Better to be over-prepared.
- Media conversion equipment (CD burner/flash drives etc)
Sometimes things go wrong. the CD-Js won't work, a laptop dies, cables are damaged. So you might need to convert music media so it can still be played using another method on the equipment that is left. Always good to have a plan B.
- Make sure DJs/staff are briefed on equipment
I can't believe I forgot to mention this, especially given how important it is for the events I run. Because a lot of DJs use my rig they need to bring music on USB to load onto my laptop. Bringing CDs I can handle (I have media conversion equipment) but its a lot of unneccesary work on the night that should be avoided. Staff need to know what DJ equipment is availalbe and the event manager needs to know who is using what so it can be worked out.
- Gaffa tape/markers
Taping things down (or up in the case of notices/posters) is sometimes needed. Loose cableson the floor create an occupational health and safety hazard thats easy to fix. It can be handy to use tape/marker to label what mixer things are used for what. Markers are handy to label things in general.
Like zip lock bags. I wasn't joking about them.
A lot of people don't like cover charges on the door. But they serve a few uses.
First, it covers costs. Plus if the staff involved can get a little money out of it why not? You don't ask someone to paint your house for free. If you value free entry so much go to a pub and listen to them play AC DC and pub rock all night whilst being harassed by normies. If you want goth music no one else plays and a crowd you actually like and feel safe in, a few dollars to get in is nothing.
A cover charge keeps the trouble makers and lookie lous out. If they are just looking for a cheap drinking pit or want to leghump the ladies it makes them think twice. Yeah, its "gatekeeping" (Oh no! Not the other dreaded G word!) but its primarily good gatekeeping. Genuinely interested people will still pay a cover to get in.
You can't make everyone happy. I know a lot of people who hate paying cover charges even though its the only revenue going into keeping their favorite events alive. One less drink to keep the event alive. Sounds like a bargain to me.
Coaxing People To Go Out
It takes a hundred reasons for someone to go out but only one reason to stay at home. And its usually something petty. From a petrson they don't like being there, to poor weather, to the genres played not being exactly to their liking, to the age-old "I'm washing my hair that night".
Notice how I haven't even mentioned distractions like internet and social media? I don't think its part of the problem. We have had the problem of getting people to actually get dressed and get out of the house long before that. I find social media helps as friends will convince friends to come party with them and via social media they can really bug them about it. If people want to stay at home on their computer they likely were never planning on going out anyway. Its their loss.
So you want to target the people who are on the fence. Usually during the week before an event I do a lot of promo on the event page with music and related things to keep people thinking about the event. The last thing you want is people saying "I didn't know it was on - I would have gone!" because you failed to let people know. Unfortunately Facebook has a habit of not telling everyone so direct invites can be helpful.
You also want word of mouth to do a lot of advertising for you. If people are excited the excitement spreads, more people turn up. That excitement starts with you.
Are you gothing it now, Mr Krabs?
Mobile Phone Jammer
An idea from another event organiser was possibly using a cellphone jammer to limit people staring at their phones all night and encouraging them to participate more at an event. I can understand this sentiment as some nights it seems all people are doing is staring at their phones, videoing themselves or taking selfies all night. Why are they even there if all they are doing is playing with their mobile devices instead of enjoying themselves?
Here is my take on it. I think its a terrible idea for many reasons. To start with depending on the range of such a jamming device, it could effect places outside the venue as well as emergency services. It could also mess with venue security as many use mobile technology over radios now. That would be highly illegal and could potentially end up having the venue fined even if they were unaware of you using it.
Social media and people being able to use it at your event is amazing. You have people in attendance sending photos and livestreaming video as your party happens. This level of advertising on the night can be the difference to a few extra people turning up or not. Ten to twenty years ago live promoting like this was unheard of for small events.
I am not going to dictate to anyone how they should enjoy my event as long as they aren't doing anything bad like breaking up the venue. Once they have paid their entry to get in they are free to enjoy things as they please. If this means they refuse to dance and lurk in a corner with a drink and their mobile thats their choice. The fact they are there (even if they kind of aren't most of the night) matters more. Hell some people go to a club event and bury their head in a book - how is a mobile device any different?
Re-using pictures from the last article. What the hell Aytakk!
Before I go into building your local scene from scratch, I want to link to a fantastic article that covers a bit of all three articles. This was originally posted on Vampire Freaks of all places by Malkavian. While Vampire Freaks is a little on the dead side now, Alex Malkavian (as he is now known on other social media) is still about on Facebook and Reddit. He knows his stuff well and this article is a great resource too.
Just in case people can't access it easily, I have taken screencaps of the article, I will paste them at the end. Don't worry, there are only three. Its not heavy reading.
Gothic International has pretty much been moved to Facebook. Alex still runs it and it can be found here
Building Your Local Goth Scene
The ultimate daunting exercise. Building from nothing to very little. Hopefully some of my ideas listed here can help.
Again, like in the DJ and event articles, these are just ideas and opinions based on my personal experiences and observations. Different places and people will work differently and likely will not agree with me. These are more helpful hints and ideas.
Again, this isn't just to cover goth. This stuff can be applied to many types of local scenes and subcultures. But what I have to say here is geared more towards goth and industrial subcultures.
Okay, so you've been online, learned about goth, talked to goths around the world and now you are thinking "Why haven't I got what they've got?" or if you really have to be dramatic about it "Why haven't I goth what they goth?". By this we mean a local goth scene. Its so bad that trying a public event and putting money on it is a sure-fire way to burn money playing music to an empty room. And believe me - even with a semi-active local scene playing to an empty room can still happen.
Building a black house in a colourful town
Finding Your People
So where to begin. Lets start by reaching out and seeing what locals we have to work with. Social media and the internet is a great way to do this. You may even find there is a scene locally already that you are unaware of.
Fairly recently on reddit we have had a couple of people ask about a scene in Sydney and Brisbane in Australia. For me being in sleepy ol' Adelaide it seemed rather odd as I know people in both scenes and I know they are pretty active. So I passed on information about where to find out what was going on in each city. If you don't ask, you don't get.
I have found people can be a bit lazy like that though. A simple search on Facebook or Google will find what they are looking for but they don't do it. Search for goth plus their city name will often find something. If not try goth plus nearest big city. If not try goth plus state. If not try goth plus country. If not just ask around where you can. You may need to throw a hail mary internationally and see what pops up. It worked for the Sydney/Brisbane people above.
So you search and search and search some more. Nothing. Maybe you should be the one putting up a flare and hoping they come to you.
Make some noise on the internet somewhere. A group on Facebook is always a great base of operations. Make the thing you were searching for. I am one of those people whom if I think the internet should have something on it that I can't find, I'll create it if possible. Creating Facebook a group is easy and it gives people something to look for.
Make sure you tell people around the internet you are looking for local goths, maybe link to the group too. You may even want to tap into near by towns who have a similar issue with no scene. Instead of building a scene for a single town, why not build one for a region? At the very least you can make some friends with similar interests.
At first it may be best to be a bit flexible with how you define goth. You don't want people screaming "Poseur!", "Elitist!" and "Gatekeeper!" (again with that G word, Aytakk!) at each other yet. Preferrably not at all. Odds are you will see a lot of cross contact with other scenes who may or may not think they are goth too.
It may even be so dire that you are building an alternative scene instead as you are the only goth. But thats not so bad as you can all share what you all know and you might win some people over to the goth side with the music. I know plenty of people who don't identify as goth but like goth music and have similar aesthetics.
Don't be too negative about it.
A Gaggle of Goths Gathering Gothicly
Lets assume you found some people. Doesn't have to be many, they don't even have to be goth. But everyone has some similar interests. People have talked online, some even friended each other. Time to meet up and do something in meat space.
Depending on what the planned thing to do is can determine whether you advertise it privately or publicly. A meet up in a public place is safe to advertise publicly but if you want it deliberately small make it private.
First up, lets assume its a public gathering. So you make a public event on your local goth facebook group to promote it. This part really isn't much different to creating and promoting an event except the physical preparation is different. Most of these will require little preparation aside from possibly booking the space ahead - especially for a meal. Generally (like with club events) its better to hold these in a central location like your town's CBD to make it easier for everyone to get to.
Some gathering ideas :
- picnic in a park
- shopping tour of local alternative-friendly shops
- cafe/coffee (goths love this one)
- meal at a nice restaurant or fast food joint
- shisha bar
- goth swap meet
- hang out in a mall and do whatever (mallgoths loved this one)
- movie in a cinema
- fun fair/carnival/amusement park
- stroll through a cemetery
- drinks at an alt-friendly pub (if you can find one)
- combine a few of the above
The best part about most of the above ideas is they have no age limit. These sort of things can also work as an alternative to club events for people who aren't into them and to give younger people interested in the local goth scene something to do who can't attend clubs yet.
For many of these events you could introduce goth elements to the gathering like music, decorations, people dressing up more than usual and so on. Of course being in public you also need to be careful and aware that not all people are going to agree with how you look or what you are doing. No one wants trouble and if goths/alternative people are rare in your town, people may not react well to seeing a bunch of them in public. Be careful and stay safe.
Gatherings during the day are less likely to attract trouble so day-time public activity may be the best way to go initially. Plus for new people attending it makes it safer for them. I know, we all prefer to be out at night but Dracula's castle wasn't built in a day. You are building a group but at the same time teaching the locals you aren't going to cause trouble. We aren't talking about forming a gang here (Cholo Goth I'm looking at you).
Elitist Joe regrets nothing
House. Party. A party in a house. A party at someone's house. A goth party at someone's house.
Like a gathering or club event, a Facebook event is a good way to get the word out. Plus you can make it private so the only people who see it are friends and people you invite.
Its generally best not to go public with a house party. If people want to bring outsiders along, I think its better if the host says something like "if you want to bring someone we don't know, ask" so they can okay it. You don't want a bunch of unknown gatecrashers who only want to ruin things.
If you keep it private you can more or less do what you want. People can dress up and make up to their heart's content without fear of persecution, you can listen to goth music no one plays in bars/pubs locally. Just don't make it too loud or you will have the police to deal with. I have seen some cops be cool with alt people at house parties, others be real pricks. Best not to antagonise the beast. You also have a lot more freedom to decorate a house than a public space.
A house party is really only one step beneath a club event and even with club events happening, people still have house parties. But there is something important to remember - private events are great for the people in the scene but they don't help grow the scene. You need to have public club nights and public gatherings for that, as well as talk to people online and encourage them to join in. You build nothing settling for a small group and not looking to expand.
That said, the best you can do may be house parties for a while. So make them good and invite new people where you can into the group.
We are the pants off men. Fluff is aroused.
The Next Step
How do you know its time to try a club event? The truth is you will never know for certain. Even if you put it on and people promise to turn up, many of them won't. I would say do the best you can and try not to lose too much money doing it.
Just last week I tried a new event (non-goth related) that flopped but luckily I only lost about $40 from promo costs. It looked like a good time to do it (hadn't been anything similar on for at least 6 months) and I was tapping into a couple of crowds who like those sorts of events. I did everything I could to promote and it still failed. It happens. At least hosting a house party you can still drink at home.
I can't think of anything else for this. It feels shorter than the other two articles but I have covered everything I think is important. Hopefully this helps some of you out there looking to grow something out of nothing.
As promised, Alex Malkavian's article screencaps. You may find more answers in there :
I am glad I was able to get these three articles done finally. I have wanted to do them for a long time. Next time, I have something more along the lines of my earlier ones planned based on a conversation I had with someone and some interesting ideas and observations.
-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.