World Goth Day

May 22 has been designated World Goth Day. The Official World Goth Day site defines it as “a day where the goth scene gets to celebrate its own being, and an opportunity to make its presence known to the rest of the world.” World Goth Day originated in the United Kingdom in 2009. BBC Radio 6 was looking at a number of music subcultures throughout a week in May, including Goth music. Goth DJs Cruel Britannia and Martin OldGoth got an event up and running. It was decided that May 22 would be the day when this event would be held regularly. The tradition continued and spread outside the United Kingdom, with a website being initiated to coordinate and advertise events worldwide.

The goth subculture is a contemporary group of people within a culture who adopt fashion elements such as black clothing, dyed black hair, dark eyeliner, black fingernails and black period-styled clothing  and a focus on gothic rock and a range of other music genres. The goth subculture, which is found in many countries in the 2010s, began in England during the early 1980s in the gothic rock scene, an offshoot of the post-punk genre. Notable post-punk groups that presaged that genre are Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division and Bauhaus. The goth subculture has survived much longer than others of the same era, and has continued to diversify. Its imagery and cultural proclivities indicate influences from the 19th century Gothic literature along with horror films.

The term “gothic rock” was coined in 1967 by music critic John Stickney to describe a meeting he had with Jim Morrison in a dimly lit wine-cellar which he called “the perfect room to honor the Gothic rock of the Doors”. 1967 Velvet Underground released “All Tomorrow’s Parties”, and created a kind of “mesmerizing gothic-rock masterpiece”. In the late 1970s, the “gothic” adjective was used to describe the atmosphere of post-punk bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Magazine and Joy Division, and parallels and comparisons can be drawn with gothic rock architects like the Doors and, certainly, early Velvet Underground”. In March 1979, Magazine’s second album Secondhand Daylight, contained an austere sense of authority” with a “dank neo-Gothic sound”.

The term was also used by Joy Division’s manager, Tony Wilson who described Joy Division as “gothic” compared to the pop mainstream and The term was also applied to “newer bands such as Bauhaus  and Siouxsie and the Banshees”. Bauhaus’s 1979 single, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”, is generally credited as the starting point of the gothic rock genre. Joy Division were also described as “Gothic” and “theatrical” and “masters of this Gothic gloom”. However, it was not until the early 1980s that gothic rock became a coherent music subgenre and recognisable movement within post-punk asisted by 1981 article published in UK rock weekly Sounds: “The face of Punk Gothique”,  In July 1982, the opening of the Batcave in London’s Soho provided a prominent meeting point for the emerging scene, labelled “positive punk”  The term “Batcaver” was then used to describe old-school goths. During the early 1980’s Deathrock also developed in California as a distinct branch of American punk rock, with acts such as Christian Death and 45 Grave.

The goth subculture has associated tastes in music, aesthetics, and fashion. The music of the goth subculture encompasses a number of different styles, including gothic rock, industrial, deathrock, post-punk, darkwave, ethereal wave and neoclassical. Styles of dress within the subculture range from deathrock, punk and Victorian styles, or combinations of the above, most often with dark attire (often black), pale face makeup and black hair. The scene continues to draw interest from a large audience decades after its emergence. In Western Europe, there are large annual festivals, mainly in Germany.

World Goth Day celebrates the Goth subculture and the many Aspects of the culture like fashion, music and art are celebrated by fashion shows, art exhibitions and music performance. Many of the events feature local Goth bands, and some have taken on a charity aspect with events in the United Kingdom and Australia supporting favoured charities like the UK Sophie Lancaster Foundation, a charity that tries to curb prejudice and hatred against subcultures. The event has evolved to be now celebrated by goths all around the world, including the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Macedonia and South Africa.

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