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A Look Into The Goth Subculture

Much+of+goth+culture+comes+from+many+gothic+bands+who+write+about+elements+such+as+death%2C+mental+illness%2C+and+darker+themes.
Caleb Balos
Much of goth culture comes from many gothic bands who write about elements such as death, mental illness, and darker themes.

The Goth scene first started in the mid to late 1970s in England. It was born from the punk or the post-punk style of music and fashion. While Goth fashion is very memorable and iconic, the subculture is not fashion-based but rather music-based. It is a well-known fact in the community that if you don’t not listen to Gothic bands then you cannot call yourself a Goth.

The first full Goth song and band was Bauhaus with their song “Bela Lugosi is Dead” which was released in 1982. This 10-minute song discusses topics of death and depicts the passing of Bela Lugosi, who played Dracula in the 1931 adaptation of the movie.

Since the birth of the subculture, like its predecessors punk and post-punk, Goths have always strived to go against the norms of society and be as true to themselves as possible. Many people who felt outcasted and like they couldn’t fit in no matter what they did found a home in the Gothic scene. It allowed people to express themselves without the social rules and the fear that defined normal society.

Many people have joined the culture for many different reasons, such as feeling empowered, loving the music, and finding a community where they can feel at home.

Carlos Aguilar, CC BY-SA 3.0</a”>, via Wikimedia Commons

D Aguilar, who’s been in the Goth scene for a few years says, “I got into the Goth scene because I was already emo in middle school. Two of my siblings went through their emo phases when I was quite small and my mom always played music like Bauhaus, Siouxsie And The Banshees, and Goth-inspired bands like Evanescence. So it always seemed right, like I was meant to someday be Goth.”

Many Goths inspired their music and clothing from Gothic literature or Gothic architecture. Goth music also tended to explore darker and more depressing themes such as death, mental illness, and feelings of isolation and loneliness. While these darker themes are an important part of the history of Gothic culture, many Goth songs also explored happier ideas of love, freedom, and self-expression.

As the years passed, the Goth scene grew and so did its notoriety, for better and for worse. Many Goth people, especially Goth women, all agree that the way they dress gives them a lot of unwanted attention. Many people assume that because someone is Goth, they are scary, mean, or want to be objectified when that is far from the truth.

Hannah Thude, a Goth going to Verrado High School says “ People who aren’t used to seeing Goth people stare sometimes, especially older people. It’s also made me more confident, for the first time in a long time I feel like myself. The only issue that comes from it is how people interact with me based on their assumptions about me because I’m Goth.”

It’s not rare for someone to assume a Goth person worships satan or is an evil person just because they wear black and listen to heavier music. These misconceptions can cause a lot of harm. Many people have had to leave doing what they love in fear of others harming them.
While the Goth scene is beautiful with a rich history and culture, it can come with flaws due to people judging others based on their outward appearance.

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  • M

    MouseJan 18, 2024 at 9:14 PM

    When I got into Goth in the 90s I was just surprised that there was a subculture that felt so inclusive and natural. The one thing that I loved, at least in the flocks I was around was the adittude of ‘no labels’. When I was asked if I was gay, my response would be that homosexuality does not exist in goth. What we meant then, and as I feel now was that ‘labels’ divide and are far from describing a person. Goth has no divisions..we are who we are..we like whom and what we like..we listen to what speaks to our souls. In the 90s it was even a faux pas to ask if someone was goth as that was a label as well..that would quickly get you known as a ‘baby bat’, but I digress.

    Reply
  • J

    Jasin5150Jan 18, 2024 at 12:23 PM

    Goth and punk may be styles, appearance wise, but it’s also an attitude.. There are many blending styles, like traditional Goth, Goth punk, death metal Goth, neo Goth, and rivet heads(industrial), rock the living hell out of whichever works or makes you happy.. We’re all together in rock n roll family

    Reply
  • C

    CasperJan 18, 2024 at 10:02 AM

    Casper here from NYC. So since I’m heavily involved in the culture, every so often I get articles about Goth being this or that but way more often it’s about how lame being Gothic is or how were all posers; etc.
    This article was nothing like that. I’m here to piggyback and say that there has been no better time to be gothic. In whichever form you choose (even mallgoths have made a comeback). Go out and be your beautiful, macabre, slightly misunderstood self.

    Reply
  • J

    JaeSynthetikJan 17, 2024 at 7:15 PM

    A couple of corrections…
    First, It’s “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”… Drop the “Is”.
    Secondly, where it’s stated that goth songs are about death, mental illness, etc… that’s a pretty shallow take.
    Much of goth music is somewhat of a social commentary about socio-political issues and various causes or experiences while simply using imagery, themes, and/or figurative/metaphorical descriptors.
    To add, goth is a sort of umbrella term for the music genres it encompasses.
    It can be broken down to Bat Cave, Death Rock, Goth Rock, and at times, Gothic Metal.
    Other musical offshoots of the culture may include Industrial/Electro-Industrial/Industrial-Rock/Industrial-Metal, Darkwave/Coldwave, EBM (Electronic Body Movement)/IDM (Intelligent Dance Music which may encompass Aggrotech), and Ethereal, to name a few.

    Reply
  • J

    JaeSynthetikJan 17, 2024 at 7:13 PM

    A couple of corrections…
    First, It’s “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”… Drop the “Is”.
    Secondly, where it’s stated that goth songs are about death, mental illness, etc… that’s a pretty shallow take.
    Much of goth music is somewhat of a social commentary about socio-political issues and various causes or experiences while simply using imagery, themes, and/or figurative/metaphorical descriptors.
    To add, goth is a sort of umbrella term for the music genres it encompasses.
    It can be broken down to Bat Cave, Death Rock, Goth Rock, and at times, Gothic Metal.
    Other musical offshoots of the culture may include Industrial/Electro-Industrial/Industrial-Rock/Industrial-Metal, Darkwave/Coldwave, EBM (Electronic Body Movement)/IDM (Industrial Dance Music which may encompass Aggrotech), and Ethereal, to name a few.

    Reply
  • S

    SALAD FINGERS! (The real one)Jan 17, 2024 at 6:29 AM

    Okay, so I read most of this article (I’m lazy) and I REALLY hate the Gothic style, I’ve loved it for 6 years, but never knew how to really have the style. I more listen to metal (Slipknot, yes, but Iron Maiden, Metallica, Mayhem, Opal in Sky, TOOL [Tool is progressing metal btw] etc.) I also listen to some gothic music, but I don’t really know any other bands but The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Bauhaus. I know that thrifting is a great way to get gothic clothing (and Spirit Halloween for accessories) But, I need more band recommendations, I really don’t want to be seen as a poser 😭 It’s a struggle, but I know how to do the makeup, I just don’t have steady hands. It would also be kind of funny if I had two different styles, Metal Head & Goth, and just combined them LOL. Because if you’ve seen the metal head style, you’ll know that the eyeliner is BIG! (I mean covering most of the face) so like I would wear a gothic outfit, with one of those bullet belts (not real bullets) and heavy f***ing metal BLASTING in my headphones. And now I feel like Stephen king with all these parenthesis. Anyways, please give me band recommendations! Thank you!

    Reply
    • E

      EdenJan 18, 2024 at 7:08 AM

      I’d recommend The Sisters of Mercy. They’re post-punk with an electronic wave overtone. A lot of people say that every song sounds the same (like with AC/DC) but I disagree. They have a small discography with only three albums (if we’re not including Visions Deluxe), but Floodland Collection is their essential album (and the one I’d recommend the most). I also recommend Fields of the Nephilim, and their ‘The Nephilim’ album. Hope these match what you’re looking for! 🖤

      Reply
  • S

    Stuart SchellyJan 17, 2024 at 3:09 AM

    No mention of Dave Vanian of The Damned. He was probably the first identifiable Goth along with Siouxsie.

    Reply
  • H

    Hannah ThudeJan 16, 2024 at 10:47 PM

    Thanks for featuring me in this! Love it sm 🖤🦇

    Reply
  • B

    BriJan 16, 2024 at 2:22 PM

    I’m 55 from just outside of Manchester ( Oldham )… I’ve never been a Goth but when I see one…I’m like nice one dude or lady dude, personally lots of UK Goth music was great and didn’t mean you had to dress Goth to enjoy the music…I love the Cure

    Reply
  • D

    DeathressJan 16, 2024 at 1:39 PM

    Fun fact:
    “The term “Gothic” was used in the Renaissance to describe certain types of art and architecture in the Middle Ages. This art was considered inferior, just as the Romans had held themselves superior to the barbarians. In the 18th century, the term “Gothic” morphed into a genre of literature that had elements of horror. In the late 20th century it morphed again into a style and subculture characterized by heavy eyeliner and all-black clothing.

    Originally, the Goths were one of the barbarian horseback riding groups that caused trouble for the Roman Empire.”

    Referencing^ ThoughtCo site by N Gill

    This is SO NICE and honestly a little refreshing seeing more of our community discussed and acknowledged. Not to much though, that’s not punk😹

    Reply
  • A

    AjJan 16, 2024 at 6:37 AM

    Amazing just how things change
    Was Bullied excluded from social groups because of the way I dressed & wore make up in the 80s Now ppl ask Where I get my Sick cloths & boots from & love Chatting to me.
    Long Live Us Goths y’all Keep faith & Keep the trend going We don’t have Dark Souls

    Reply
  • K

    Kitty HawkeJan 16, 2024 at 5:27 AM

    I was a punk rocker in the late 70s when the scene was new. Joy Division was the key band which set me on a more Githic path. By the mid 80s I was writing songs leaning toward a more gothic edge inspired by Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus. By 1986 I formed my own band which By 1991 became Night Gallery based in NYC. I am still part of the Goth Culture to this day and still Plat bass although Night Gallery disbanded in 2019.

    Reply
    • T

      Tony MaxwellJan 16, 2024 at 10:05 AM

      Me too a punk back in the day, down at the Roxy! The Damned, with the black album got me going, Banshee’s too.🖤.

      Reply
  • P

    Porter StaplesJan 15, 2024 at 9:35 AM

    I am a young adult (22) who used to go to Verrado high school. I graduated in 2020. I saw this article recommended to me via Google. I don’t think this website existed back when I was in school, but maybe it did and no one told me about it. I was a total emo, and now I’ve been getting into goth. I’ve been darkly inclined (into Halloween, clothing styles that many people call goth, and other similar things). This was a fun article to read.

    Also, in the name box I’m not putting my legal first name since I’m a transgender man who doesn’t want my deadname exposed. Last name is the real one, though.

    Reply
    • S

      SpadeJan 17, 2024 at 6:17 AM

      I WANT TO STEAL THAT NAME!!! (As a genderfluid)

      Reply
  • A

    Alessandra CamachoJan 14, 2024 at 5:09 PM

    WOOHOOO!! an excellent read!

    Reply