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On Wednesdays we wear black: How to celebrate World Goth Day in Europe

"We are the weirdos, mister"
"We are the weirdos, mister" Copyright © Courtesy of Columbia Pictures
Copyright © Courtesy of Columbia Pictures
By Amber Louise Bryce
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Wake the dead!

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Five, six, grab your crucifix - and Robert Smith, because World Goth Day has arrived. 

First suggested on a MySpace blog in 2009 by a UK-based Goth DJ known as 'BatBoy Slim', Goth Day has since become a global annual celebration where "the Goth scene gets to celebrate it's own being."

While most Goths prefer to stay out of the spotlight (unless carrying a black parasol), World Goth Day keeps things lowkey, with some events taking place later on. The 22 May date was originally chosen to highlight a special set of musical subculture-focused shows on BBC Radio 6, then stuck ever since. And why not? 

From dark wave DJ sets in Bucharest, to a Goth picnic in Stockholm, to a trip back in time to the subculture's 80s, 90s and 00s origins at a club night in Madrid - there are many opportunities knocking at your coffin. Plus, it's a great way to support local Goth communities. 

Alternatively, you could just draw the curtains, blare some Bauhaus and be your usual black-hearted self with extra pride. 

After-all, some Goths have faced genuine persecution and violence just for daring to be different - one devastating example being the 2007 murder of Sophie Lancaster, a 20-year-old Goth from the UK. 

"There are quite a few Goths who have fought damn hard to retain their identity despite peer pressure, family pressure and indeed, any pressure to conform," the World Goth Day organisers state. "And if you've gone to all that trouble to preserve what you believe is the 'real you', don't you think you owe it to yourself to shine for a day?"

What is a Goth?

"There is no beauty without some strangeness" - Edgar Allan Poe
"There is no beauty without some strangeness" - Edgar Allan PoeCanva

Chipped nail polish, dancing skeletons, synth wave, hair spray, black cats, Bela Lugosi Is Dead. Neon leg warmers, glow bands, pastel chokers, septum piercings, coffin-shaped cat trees, posters of Nick Cave and PJ Harvey. 

Goth is whatever you want it to be. There are no rules, baby! It's about breaking the rules and going against the bland, suffocating monotony of traditional societal expectations to spread your bat wings and express your truest, fang-bearing self. 

At its core, being Goth is about finding a curiosity and fondness for the things others find disturbing. From music to film to fashion to art, there's a focus on themes like melancholy, death, gore and rebellion, expressed through subversive aesthetics and lifestyle choices. 

The subculture's origins can be traced back to the UK's late 70s post-punk underground music scene, with record producer Martin Hannett notably describing the band Joy Division's music as ‘Gothic’ in 1979. It's a term that spread to encompass any bands with a certain melancholic sound. 

"Goth Juice is the most powerful hairspray known to man. Made from the tears of Robert Smith.” - The Mighty Boosh
"Goth Juice is the most powerful hairspray known to man. Made from the tears of Robert Smith.” - The Mighty BooshRob Grabowski/2023 Invision/AP

These included The Cure (even though Robert Smith would argue otherwise), Bauhaus, The Psychedelic Furs, Alien Sex Fiend and Siouxsie and the Banshees, to name but a few. Meanwhile, in America, deathrock emerged as a sort of sub-genre of Goth, similarly taking the anarchy ethos of punk music and immersing it in horror-inspired theatrics. 

While the 80s and 90s are still seen as Gothic hey days, it's a subculture that's managed to stick throughout the decades - albeit morphing into various subcategories such as 'Cybergoth' and 'Pastel Goth', which take inspiration from steam punk, BDSM, Lolita fashion etc to create new forms of contrasting expression within 'Trad Goth'. 

No longer a marker of only youth culture (although the #Goth has been used 4 million times on video sharing platform TikTok), many older adults that grew up being Goth are still putting on their studded leathers and setting their faces with white powder. 

Millennial Goths in particular have carved themselves a niche on YouTube, with 'Emily Boo' and 'Of Herbs and Altars' two of the most popular, sharing their looks and experiences within the scene and offering advice to "baby bats". 

While Mods and Rockers come and go, Goths are here to stay. And contrary to popular belief - and this article's headline - they don't only wear black. 

Where can I celebrate being a Goth?

You can celebrate wherever you want! Although official events are listed on the website for World Goth Day and are as follows: 

UK & Ireland

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22 May: World Goth Day pub set at The Toad (Worthing, UK)

22 May: Vinyl Hear and Tell at GalleryX (Dublin, Ireland)

Europe

25 May: Dark dancing at TOG (Gdańsk, Poland)

25 May: World Goth Day DJ set at Encore Club (Bucharest, Romania)

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25 May: World Goth Day a Sala Garage 442 (Barcelona, Spain)

26 May: (Post) World Goth Day picknick! (Stockholm Sweden)

15 Jun: Body Electric Tardeo Fest: 80s, 90s, 2ks Goth night at STRONG The Club (Madrid, Spain)

But how can I celebrate in the shadows?

Well, if you insist. Here are some Gothic movie and music recommendations instead: 

🖤📽️ Movies

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  • House of Usher (1960) — (directed by the late, great Roger Corman)

  • Eraserhead (1977) 

  • Hellraiser (1987) 

  • Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993)

  • The Crow (1994)

🖤🎶 Music

  • Bauhaus: 'In the Flat Field' (1980)

  • Siouxsie and the Banshees: 'Juju' (1981)

  • The Cure: 'Pornography' (1982)

  • Cocteau Twins: 'Head Over Heels' (1983)

  • Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds: 'Let Love In' (1994)

Video editor • Ines Trindade Pereira

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