Thank you and Project Update

Thank you to everyone who has completed the surveys, and for the great interviews, conversations, web link ups, online chats, forums etc so far – without your contributions this project would not be able to continue.

THANK YOU APR 2016


Where to from here?

The anniversary of the project is approaching, and this will signal the conclusion of the data-gathering stage.  As data-gathering for this project draws to a close the focus will  shift to analysis and writing up of findings.

I will continue to conduct interviews until May 22nd 2016, mostly around Melbourne or online, so if you are interested please get in touch.


Update – Surveys Now Closed

28th May 2016 –   The surveys for Goth – Just a Phase? are now closed.  I always welcome talking to people about their experiences in the Goth subculture, so please contact me directly if you wish to be involved.

Sureys Closed Small

 

 

  CLOSED 10Quick WEB MINI Whitby RED

Thank you again to everyone who responded.


Australian Interviews conducted over the last few months in  Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane  as well as online  have provided the opportunity to talk with some fantastic people, all of whom have made valuable contributions to this project.

I have been interested to hear the different perspectives on the scene, individual understandings and experiences of Goth sub/culture and some of the quirks of belonging as a Goth – especially for those who have been involved in the scene for a long time.  Hearing how people  interpret the values of Goth culture, how Goths cope with change as well as the ongoing discussions around what is/not Goth/does it matter? and how we read those differences within the scene is fascinating.

Insights into how Goths in diverse geographic locations  – especially hot ones! – have altered their stylistic choices to suit their environment has been particularly interesting and an aspect of Goth identity which I hope to further explore.

Flinders St

In our conversations we covered topics as diverse as emerging new trends in the scene, music (always music!!!), changes in the club environment, hair techniques, elitism in Goth subculture, religion, ephemera and the value of Goth history, footwear, record stores, pubs, upcoming tours, new bands, image and style, Goth terminology, flour, band T-shirts, travelling in the Goth scene, hanging out on the Post Office steps, Goth aesthetics, hats, belonging within the Goth subculture, frilly shirts, shoes and boots, growing older as a Goth, safety-pins and fishnet, reconnecting with old friends,  urban tribes, DIY fashion, redefining Goth for new generations, Goth nostalgia, preferred tipples, online shopping and everything else in between…

Thank you for your generosity!

Dadas 2  Dadas

Posters 2  Perth from the air

Post Office3


 

Just a Phase Interview

Thank you to Daniel for contacting me for an interview about my project on his podcast Cemetery Confessions.   It was great to discuss the Goth culture in this forum and I look forward to sharing findings from this research in the future.

For the interview please see:

http://www.thebelfry.rip/blog/2016/3/29/just-a-phase-cemetery-confessions


 

ELB 2015

For those people who have already donated time, effort and energy to this research – my heartfelt thanks and gratitude.

I look forward to sharing the stories of our scene and furthering understanding of Goth culture over the course of this project.

Emma.

 

 

Melbourne Interviews: February 2016

Thank you to the wonderful people I met in Brisbane; it was fantastic to talk with you and to have the chance to enjoy your beautiful city, even if it was a tad hot!

Brisbane3

 

It was great to hear your perspectives on Goth identity and your experiences in the culture in the tropical North.  Exploring the city (and its pancakes) was a real pleasure.

Gothy Pancakes3

It was particularly fascinating to hear how the Brizzie scene – especially the clubs and retail outlets – has evolved over the years and how this has changed the way people connect, participate in the Goth scene and enjoy its music.  I look forward to discussing this more over the coming months.

 

Now it is Melbourne’s turn!

 

Melbourne Interviews

 

If you are interested in being interviewed for the Goth – Just a Phase?  research project I will be conducting interviews in Melbourne throughout February.

I am scheduling interviews at different restaurants, bars and other spots around the city, so please get in touch and let me know what suits you.

Also – if you are interested in taking part in a group discussion let me know.

After the Tears2

 

Please let me know via email or Facebook if you would like to participate or get in touch via the contact link.

Thanks again for your interest!

Emma

 

Whitby – One Month On

WHITBY by night3

First and foremost : A huge thank you to all the wonderful people I met, interviewed, chatted with, photographed and spent time with in Whitby, London, Manchester, Vancouver and all the other stops along the way.   It was brilliant to meet so many folks who were willing to share their stories and be part of this project – thank you for donating your time to my research.

I owe particular thanks to the people I spoke with in Whitby at both the Bram Stoker International Film Festival and the Whitby Goth Weekend.  Thank you for giving up valuable festival time to talk with me about your experiences in the Goth Subculture.

I truly appreciate the efforts you made to fit this project into your schedule. Your honesty, good humour, acceptance, generosity and integrity is a rare and wonderful thing and your contributions are greatly valued.

Bram Stoker International Film Festival 2015

From a research perspective, the weeks in Whitby are critical to the data-gathering phase of my study and time spent there has generated material which I will draw on throughout my project including lots of fantastic conversations and visuals.

From a personal perspective, the trip was hugely inspiring and has renewed my commitment to pursue this research and to write about the Goth subculture.

At a time when so much energy seems to be devoted to writing about societal division it is of some comfort to be reflecting on experiences of belonging.


 

Bram Stoker International Film Festival 2015

 Where to from here?

For the immediate future, I am working through the data I amassed overseas and writing up my notes.

Then, it is time for the Australian contingent!

I will be scheduling interviews in Australia over the next few months, and will reopen the Australian survey to correspond with these interviews.

 

Once again, thank you to everyone who has contributed to and supported this research.

Cheers,

Emma

          Whitby Goth Weekend 2015 (October)

 

 

Back in the Day: Perth Goth Club Scene 1989-1998

GothEye Back in the Day: Memories of the Perth Goth Club Scene 1989-1998 As discussed in a previous post, I have been exploring the visual nature of the Goth community as a source of inspiration and impetus for my research.  By digging through my old shoe-boxes of clubbing memorabilia and photographing some of its contents I am attempting to catalogue an indicative selection of club flyers, gig pamphlets and other ephemera from the Perth[1] Goth scene in the decade 1989-1998. A few are included here, and I will continue to add more to my Pinterest page as I digitise them throughout this project. During this time there were several highly creative, motivated and capable people in the Perth scene who collectively made stuff happen!

Amnesia 1

Amnesia Club Entry Card …Admit One

The flyers provide an illustration of the club/event activities of the subculture at the time; the start of this time period marks my early involvement in the club scene through my most active clubbing years during which I helped organise and promote Goth and Goth-Industrial club nights. The geographic isolation of Perth inspired an entrepreneurial approach to social enterprise within the Goth scene during this period.  With the costs of travel high, bands seldom scheduled lengthy tours of Australia, and when they did the far-flung city of Perth was often left off itineraries.

Who else remembers the I need a Cure tour petition??

Firm2

Inner City Firm – Club entry card c.1991

While this resulted in a limited number of major bands performing in the city during this period,  it succeeded in creating a self-supporting culture with an active club and local bands scene. Additionally, for some this isolation inspired travel and provided a catalyst for establishing connections between Goths living in Perth and communities overseas and interstate, which in itself generated diversity through drawing in external influences.

Skin Atrocity 3rd Birthday

Skin – The New Loft

Most people involved in the Perth Goth scene during this period actively contributed towards sustaining its social and economic activities beyond attendance at club nights and gigs. Members of the subculture established record stores, fashion design labels/stores, club nights, publications and other services to keep the subculture not just alive but thriving. A result of this communal desire to improve and support the subculture was a proliferation of specialised club nights and events, (particularly between 1992-5) organised by scene members with the support of nightclub proprietors.  The level of activity, as illustrated by these flyers, gave the Perth Goth and Industrial scene a strong support base which was further enhanced by retail enterprises such as specialist stores and aesthetic services such as body piercing, tattooing and hair-dressing.

The-Loft4

The Loft

This evolving sophistication of the Goth culture is also reflected in the production quality of the scene-generated ephemera.  Initially, the quality of the materials appears secondary to the primary purpose of effectively advertising events to the subculture in suitably familiar language, using in-culture references and styles to speak to the ‘right’ audience.   Improvements in technology, access to materials and reduction in printing costs during this period is evidenced by the transition of many of the brochures from cheap, photocopied amateur productions to more professional materials. Within this vibrant community, the emergence of subgenres is evidenced in the various club pamphlets.  Some venues specialised in particular styles of music – industrial, alternative, indie-pop, Goth – and  provided a venue in which events could be scheduled so as to satisfy the shared tastes of subsets within the larger Goth population.  Individual DJs delivered dependable setlists which catered to the needs of the various key audiences.

Ascension1

Ascension

Growing from the Punk scene, early Goth nightclubs of the late 1980s (such as The Red Parrot, Asylum, Inner City Firm, Fruition, Amnesia among others) provided the Perth scene with predominantly English-influenced Gothic Rock nights and my first introduction to the scene.  These clubs featured music from bands who themselves often did not consider their music Goth, nevertheless the music was (and is) heavily favoured by Traditional (Trad) Goths and played in almost all Goth clubs.

Berlin Club

Berlin Club Flyer c.1992

Industrial music had begun to find commercial success in the early 1990s; frequently featuring Goth-influenced imagery, alternative iconography and dark themes; it was a natural high-energy companion to the comparatively sedate musical approach of Goth.   The flourishing Industrial genre heavily influenced Perth Goth club nights, with setlists often featuring a mixture of Goth/Electro/Industrial and other alternative genres to a lesser degree, with a marked increase in the number of dance-oriented club events being scheduled in the early-mid 1990s.

Geremiahs 10

Desolation at Geremiah’s Nightclub c.1995

The promotional material represents the spectrum of aesthetics within the Goth scene, with Industrial flyers often favouring harsher, mechanised forms and horror themes.  Goth flyers utilise vampire, kitsch-horror and Victorian-influenced imagery to define and promote more traditionally influenced Goth events.  Alongside these are other alternative bands and genres including shoe-gazer and indie sets.  These distinctions demonstrate the stylistic differences in terms of music styles and visual representation as well as  design/iconography within the scene, simultaneously it shows the Goth subculture’s ability to co-exist with compatible music styles and social groups. In 1990s Perth, there was an amicable yet apparent schism between those who principally favoured less energetic rock-based music (the Trad-Goth aesthetics) in comparison to the parallel genre broadly grouped under the moniker Industrial, featuring faster, more electronic dance-oriented music styles, less formal Goth-influenced dress and an emphasis on dancing rather than exclusively focussing on social interaction within the club environment.  Clubs nights at Geremiah’s, The Loft, Interzone and Skin  (among others) catered for those who sought dance-intensive nights primarily featuring Electro Body Music (EBM) and Industrial tracks with strong Goth influences.

Recoil 1

Recoil – The Loft, Post-Detonation c.1995

With music containing mechanical and electronic noises accompanying heavily distorted vocals, the Industrial music genre also generated an occasionally uneasy association with heavy metal and thrash music; genres less congruent with the more flamboyant Goth scene.  This shared patronage, however, helped sustain the subculture and provided financial stability in an otherwise niche market in a geographically isolated city. At times this resulted in uneasiness, when patrons unfamiliar with Goth aesthetics  reacted to the extreme styles of the Goth patrons, sometimes approaching Goths with benign curiosity, sometimes with genuine animosity and attempts to generate confrontation.  While these events were rare, the reliance on nightclub proprietors to provide space for Goth events, in part  prompted future generations of the scene to be more self-managing, establishing dedicated Goth events management and membership-based clubs such as Dominion to better serve the needs of the Goth community.

Interzone - Club Industrial

Interzone 1994

The flyers presented here articulate by example the self-generating and sustaining nature of the Perth Goth and Industrial scene and record a period of high creative activity in the subculture.   The ephemera itself represents examples of subculture specific iconography and thematic preoccupations, and demonstrate the scene’s ability to effectively self-promote and instinctively engage with its participants.[2]

Dominion1

Dominion c. 1998

[1] Perth, Western Australia for basic information about the city see : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perth [2] Not all clubs of the period are represented here, just a sketch of the overall scene.  I will continue to add to this theme in future posts, including excerpts from various street press and other media.

Survey Update – Week One!

Survey Update

To all of you wonderful people who responded to my call for survey participants  – a heartfelt thank you.

I have been genuinely overwhelmed by your positivity, generosity and openness and your intelligent and articulate responses.    Collation and analysis of the data is going to take considerable time.

I am determined to present a thorough, authentic and detailed study of the subculture reflecting on the key themes of the research and hopefully incorporating as many of your contributions as possible.

To everyone who indicated that you are interested in participating in interviews, meetings or contributing through other means, thank you!  I will contact you in the coming weeks to discuss interview options.

Thank you all again.

Emma.

Whitby Spires Through Window Arch

Goth Subculture Survey


Take the Survey!!!

What better way to celebrate World Goth Day than by taking a survey all about Goth Subculture!!

Follow the links below to take part or contact me directly if you wish:

                   

                   CONTACT WEB MINI Whitby BLUE

Surveys are now closed – Please contact me if you would like to be involved.

Is Goth Just a Phase?

To find out I am conducting research at Curtin University.   You are all welcome to take the surveys, however I am particularly interested in Goth identity in Australia & for those of us over 40.

How did Goth come to be part of your life… Did you think it was just a phase…How would you describe Goth… Is there a strong Goth population where you live???

Thank you for your contributions.

Curtin University Project Number 5251 Approval Number RDHU-17-15

Is it really just a phase?

Is it really just a phase?

For some people, I am sure it is, and that is as it should be.

But for those of us who have continued to be Goth (yes, even when we said we were not) there must be compelling reasons for this ongoing connection: this is the primary focus of my research.

My research project will undertake an examination of the phenomenon of the Gothic youth subculture (Goth) in Australian and European contexts, engaging with participants whose connection with the Goth community has extended beyond the transitional phase of youth into adulthood.   This post provides a brief introduction to my study, how this research evolved, its personal significance and the foci of investigations to come.

Goth: How I first experienced the subculture

In the early 1980s as punk was subsumed by mainstream culture and exploited by the mass media, the language and representation of youth culture changed; commodification of the once extraordinary “big” hair, torn fishnets and icon-laden T-shirts synonymous with the punk era diluted the anarchic impact of radical fashion so much so that Goth – the slightly more polite voice of ‘teenage rebellion’ – could thrive.  It was at this time I first encountered the pale, interesting fellows in music press articles that loitered like ghosts under a mane of black back-combed hair and velvet frock coats, their lyrics apparently misunderstood and their dark theatrical style a media confection.  Though I had been too young to experience Punk, Goth immediately connected with my own sensibilities and the historic influences promised a deeper cultural link I felt was missing in my suburban Australia.

By 1990 Goth had traversed the post-punk rebellion of the 1980s, emerging globally, in the UK, Europe and Australia in particular, replete with its own brand of dark, collective non-conformist individuality that somehow embraced this difficult relationship with the media (and labeling) and emerged as an intact subculture.  The foundations of Goth identity became standardised and the scene progressed sufficiently as to allow further diversification, resulting in varied style sub-sets which reflected other subcultural groups and celebrated otherness as distinct from mainstream pop-culture.  The idea of otherness and the acceptance of social and aesthetic difference in identity formation will form significant themes within this research.

Goth is the Word

During the early 1990s, Goth experienced a brief and incongruous period of mainstream popularity, with the Goth style influencing pop music videos, Goth characters appeared in television programmes and films, and the term Goth* began finding its way more frequently into conventional media and social discourse.   A seemingly resultant quirk in the Goth scene is the almost universal custom of self-denying of the label Goth [1]From Jaspers’ experience of the Dutch Goth scene, here in Australia as well as in Britain: it seems none of us liked to be labelled.  Through surveys, this paradox is an element of the subculture  I hope to discuss with other Goths in order to provide insight into the social etiquette of belonging in a subculture where authenticity and identity are seemingly visually apparent and yet naming it remains taboo.

Belonging & Social Connections

Connecting with other Goths, developing a sense of place within the subculture and understanding the basis of belonging within Goth will form recurrent themes within this research.  When I first began writing about the subculture  in the 1990s Goth was just beginning its life with the internet and my research at the time used the fledgling networks of online communities and forums to connect with the now globally linked Goth scene.  Through the use of the internet, from my desk in Perth Western Australia, I was able to connect with places, groups and individuals to a greater extent than ever before; replacing old methods of postal correspondence between Goths via NME (and other music press), tape/music exchanges and  fan-based zines.  Only a few years previous the social networks within Australia were tenuous at best and joined to the parent Goth culture in Europe only by our music and  mail-order catalogues and supported by limited personal exposure.  For the Goth scene in Perth, one of the most isolated capital cities in the world, the internet could not happen soon enough and it appeared to promise the subculture longevity.

A Diverse Subculture

In addition to the emergence of genuine commercial opportunities allowed by the internet (which I will explore in future discussions) it also created an environment in which the Goth subculture could evolve with increasing rapidity, developing maturity and complexity as it transitioned from fashion fad to true subculture and in so doing refining and defining the parameters of Goth style, music and identity.  Goth now encompasses a range of subcultural aesthetics which have been absorbed from diverse sources which would perhaps not have occurred without the benefit of our global connection.  Traditional Medieval and Victorian historic periods hold enduring influence on Goth aesthetics, especially High Victorian couture, these sit alongside the pre-imagined futuristic realities of Cyber Goth and hard-edged and militaristic Goth Industrial.  Goth  has incorporated the risqué fashion from other outsider subcultures (Punk, Bondage and Discipline/BDSM, fetish and erotic-horror) and conversely, appropriated elements of the cute and the kitsch from Japanese Harajuku and the 1950s-reminiscent Rockabilly styles[2].

…And  yet somehow Goth maintains its own cohesive style and Goth remains easily recognisable as a distinct subculture, despite these aesthetic shifts.

As a subculture then, Goth is as diverse as any other community; since the early 1990s it has dramatically changed and adapted to expand the basic tenets of the style; it has diversified from the traditional Gothic Rock influences (Trad-Goth) of its’ early years to include a wide variety of ‘looks’ and a breadth of styles which enable it to reach a broader, more committed audience.  My research seeks to explore if this is a result of the collective will of participants or if the changing patterns of social interaction in broader society have enabled this evolution through improved understanding of inter-cultural/inter-generational tolerance.  Discussion on the reduced importance of geography on social connection and how this has transformed the subculture over time will provide insights into the changing character of Goth from the early 1980s to today.

Revisiting this topic, nearly twenty years after my first research project, the profound changes in how the world now connects offers a new way in which to research and interact within the subculture and allows a deeper, more holistic understanding of the value Goth holds for participants  – myself included.


[1] ‘I am not a goth!’: The Unspoken Morale of Authenticity within the Dutch Gothic Subculture Agnes Jasper Etnofoor, Vol. 17, No. 1/2, AUTHENTICITY (2004), pp. 90-115Published by: Stichting Etnofoor  http://www.jstor.org/stable/25758070 Accessed: 26/06/2013 23:27

[2] Brill, D. 2008 Goth Culture: Gender, Sexuality and Style, Oxford: Berg.

Curtin University Project #5251, Ethics Approval RDHU-17-15 see About for more info

Continue reading