As you get older, its really easy to fall into a trap of shitting on everything new and waxing poetically about the years gone by. You could say this is also known as grandpa's "You kids get off my lawn" syndrome.
But is that really healthy given goth seems to have an aging population? A lot of places the average age of attendees is around 30, possibly higher. Are events becoming nostalgia fests for a time long past, to a point they are becoming irrelevant to young people? How do we attract young blood to the goth subculture? If not that, how do we attract them to dark alternative culture and then show them goth subculture?
The way I see it, if you want young people at your events you have to engage them. This is where youtube is killing it versus the live local scenes. Kids are flocking to follow prominent youtubers, many of whom are young too. Maybe slightly older so they can serve as role models. But all is not lost in that regard as I have noticed a bit of a boost in the numbers of older goth/dark alt youtubers over the last few months. People who are actual role models - who have lived and experienced the goth subculture more than applying make up and opening boxes in videos - and do engage with the kids too.
Captain Goth-Luc Picard, USS Angsty-prize.
With the event I run I try to have a diverse staff. Current age range is around 18-39. I'm the oldie at 39. If you don't get young people involved in some way, what incentive do young people have in attending the event? In fact, last event one of my 18 year old staff told me my event was the sort of thing she dreamed of attending when she was old enough. What a compliment!
This is exactly why I'm still in this business. I want to wow people the same way I was wowed when I was new. Also when I inevitably retire from DJing and event management I want people to keep things going for the next generation. Also so I can have some fun too.
If people feel emotionally invested they feel more a part of the group as a whole. This is also why I take a broader approach over exclusivity. I want all the weirdos to feel welcome, even if they happen to like wearing furry suits. Diverse crowds make for fun events.
I guess this one is less a furry and more a rubbery
Something worth mentioning again (I have talked about it previously) is how people tend to view the goth subculture in the past with bat-coloured glasses. If you look at old photos there was a lot more colour than today. Somewhere along the line people took the goth uniform of all black too seriously. That said I also remember some nights in the late 90s looking at the crowd and thinking "You all look the same! We are no better than a mainstream club!"
I think part of why we remember things so fondly is because we were young and able to do so much more than we can now. Also (as any drug user will tell you) nothing is ever as good as that first hit. In youth, the weight of the world isn't on our shoulders so we experience from a sense of naivety. It's still all shiny and new even if its years old because its new to us.
Did someone say shiny and new?
Some people complain there are too many fringe people and "weekenders" at events now. But you know what? There have always been fringe people and weekenders at goth events. Some may be wearing off-the-rack outfits or are in whatever black clothing they can find. Many are brought by friends. While the clothing bit is easier to do now admittedly, fringe influences are very similar.
Nowadays it may be more about music like Evanesence, Rob Zombie and Wednesday 13 paired with pop culture influences like The Joker, Harley Quinn and whatever cool and edgydark character is popular from the latest video game. But to be fair in the late 90s the fringe influences were Marilyn Manson, Korn (nu metal in general), Cradle of Filth and pop culture influences like Death (Sandman comics), The Crow and The Craft.
I guess what I'm saying is same shit, different year.
In most of the world its the fringe players and weekenders who keep events alive. No money over the bar = no more event. Some delve further, some don't. Most only stick around a couple of years and move on anyway.
So how do we motivate young people who live goth online only and get them attending stuff in person? I already told you. Engage them. Be enthusiastic. Get them excited too. Let them know they can own a piece of the pie too.
TFW you google "goth pie" and google does not disappoint
Time to get a little nasty...
It is so easy to wrap yourself in a blanket of memories and complain that things are crap today. Well... why do you think they are crap today? Could it be that you stopped trying and let it go to crap? Could it be that when the opportunity to engage with someone young was there you decided to snub them instead? Maybe you simply stopped going out.
I see so many talk about how they haven't been out in ages not because they don't like going out but because the events on offer aren't perfectly matching their specifications. Not everyone can go to everything but if you don't support what little is on offer it will go away.
"Oh but its not up to me" - no, its not. Its not up to me either. But if I want to have a local scene to participate, in somebody has to do something. So why not me? Why not you? If you are doing nothing to make things better, you have no right to complain that things are crap. Don't like whats going on now? Start something new. Lead by example and put your arse on the line like the rest of us are doing.
When I googled "goth pie" it also flooded me with variants of this
The Nostalgia Trap
A disturbing trend I have been noticing online of late has been a switch from 80s goth nostalgia to 90s goth nostalgia. This has been lead by a drive of older goths who experienced the 90s talking about it. While I like that this is happening as so many people write off the 90s, at the same time its having an odd side effect. With younger people, particularly in social media, they are merely jumping from one nostalgia train (the 80s express) to another nostalgia train (the 90s night train).
No! Not that train!
Why is this bad? It doesn't fix a big problem we have had for a long time. That problem being everyone is looking back instead of looking forward. What we should be doing is focusing on the now and building what we have up. Its fostering a case of the old Bart Simpson attitude (ironically something the media didn't like about The Simpsons in the 90s) of "Can't win, don't try".
Yet again - same shit, different year. You don't make things better doing the same thing over and over then expect different results. This is why Industrial/EBM was paired with goth in the 90s so both could survive. This is why most places in the world have mixed genre events so goth can survive. This is why we sometimes have to dance with the devil and introduce non-goth things to attract more people. This is why dark alternative is becoming more poignant and goth is often talking a back seat. Goth is reduced to a mere buzzword with no relevance to integrity only if we allow it.
We can't have the past back. But we can make one hell of a future. Starting tonight.
-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.