Friday, March 11, 2016

Goth Chronicles part 5 of 500

I always thought it was kind of funny that my grandmother still listened to the music of her youth while she hung out at home in her 70s.  It can't have been that good, I thought.  Not tired of it yet?

One, it was that good, as I later found.  I love Glenn Miller just as much as she did.  And two, you never do get tired of it.

I found an old Sisters of Mercy cd somewhere in my car, scratched and beaten and practically trash at this point.  Within moments I was playing Marian at a dangerous volume in afternoon traffic and wondering what Andrew Eldritch was doing.  If women fell in love with Sinatra for his voice, it's because they never met Andrew.

I stand behind that comment.

I guess the SOM are the greatest goth band of all time.  Other greats are, as Eldritch often incorrectly claimed about himself, not truly goth.  The Cure, Siouxsie, only peripherally goth.  Siouxsie's baroque theatricality was much too big for such a label, and Cure are their own genre.  Also, the sheer amount of squealing and puppety dancing coming out of Robert should probably cancel out the one time he wore a net shirt and the tens of thousands of dollars he's spent on Wet & Wild products over the years.

I love to get super deep about this shit because I know absolutely no one cares anymore.  Except for Anita, but we have to be careful because we'll fight if we tread onto a topic where we disagree, such as Are persimmons good? or What is the greatest goth band of all time?  She'd say Christian Death.  And, as with many ancient friends who, in their ancientness, take on a sibling-like status, I can't back down.  Like two dogs seized on the same toy, we will shake and pull for hours, and it's best to just avoid it.

My goth playlists are my most popular playlists on  I feel the reason for this is because, unlike the old danceclub djs from "BITD" (as Cher says), I know that people just want to hear the hits.  Don't throw in some experimental crap or a bad b-side just to show how advanced your taste is.  No one wants it!  They want an 80s drum machine, an angry Welsh man singing, deep bass, some synth, and that's it.

When I was trying to write about Bowie's death, I ended up writing about the Nile.  It got too tangential, so I deleted it, but it was kind of fun to remember.

I might have been 15 the first time I went to the Nile.  Seems so crazy young, but I had already put in lots of time on usenet's alt.gothic, and after reading so much about goth clubs all over the world (mostly in the sentimental memoirs of 80s goths), I had to go to my own.

I went on New Year's Eve and arrived to a big empty room, as most people had chosen parties instead.  It was a cavernous black space, occasionally cut through by revolving blue and white lights, and Bauhaus' She's in Parties playing ghostly and tall in the dark.  This, I thought.  It was everything.

The walls, floors and ceiling were painted flat black, and the space outside the dance floor was pitch black.  Flickering prayer candles occasionally disrupted the darkness along the walls.  It was a venue for bands on other nights of the week, mostly punk and metal, and sometimes denizens of those scenes intermixed, bemusedly, with the goths, mocking and looking for girls.

Odd to think of being a teenager in this environment, out all night with this extremely motley cast of characters, and odder still that I feel I was entirely undamaged by it.  There were addicts and runaways, creepy older men who I disgustedly avoided.  Basic guys who thought they'd blend in by putting on their only black Hanes t shirt.  You didn't venture into side rooms lest you saw something you didn't want to, like kids shooting heroin, or people having sex while their spurned lovers cried in the corners.  That this happened an area overrun by Mormons was funny.

I didn't recognize the danger that was probably around, and I was completely unfazed by the people.  Many things converge in a goth scene, and pieces of other subcultural groups accumulate, having nowhere else to go.  Sexual fluidity, trans kids, nudity on the dancefloor, bdsm, genital piercings, occultism on behalf of people who actually believed in shit like enochian magic, these things were everyday.  Being gay certainly wasn't the source of tension that it could be elsewhere in life and otherwise straight people occasionally dated or experimented amongst their sex without notice from anyone else.

It feels a little silly to even point this out as a thing because it just was, but all of this happened easily 20 years (and many more before me) before the rest of America began its slow tread to acceptance.  That was the best part about the scene.  Everyone just belonged, without comment, as long as they were there for the music or the aesthetic or, at least, were affiliated with someone who was.  It wasn't very complicated.  I saw a lot of lifestyles that aren't for me, but no more than I would see on the average trip to a mall.

It's also why I'm so disgusted by people who insist on being shocked by regular-ass deviance from social mores.  The dichotomy of being an adult, yet operating with the mind of a flappable, naive child is sort of repulsive to see in action.  I can't stand people who shrink from or are shocked by a past or a garden variety weirdness.