The Goths Invaded

By Savannah Thorne

It started in 1983 when I met my best friend Emily at a humble local art exhibit that was showing both our works. We were mere, tinky high school students and had been friends since we were even smaller. She had arrived at this event abruptly decked head-to-toe in draping black, her face powdered ghostly white and a large square of black lace draped over her usually perky, punky, blonde head.

What s up? I asked.

This is the new look, she replied. It s called Death Rock.

It looks silly, I responded archly.

But perhaps I was the wrong one, as Death Rock took off. Never heard of it? Well, these were only the early eighties, you see, and no one had yet coined the term Goth to describe the look and the depressive sound of its related music. Sid Vicious had died in 1979 and the punk movement was growing stale. Alternative music was growing large, but even alternative had its alternative. Death rock.

Thanks to Bauhaus, Bela Lugosi was dead. Thanks to Anne Rice, people were still reeling from her work, questioning whether a book written largely from a vampire s point of view could be legitimate literature. Gary Numan was in his pre- Cars stunning, mechanistic, alienated innovation and The Legendary Pink Dots were wailing, experimenting far outside the mainstream.

I had no idea at the time that what I thought was so silly was about to morph into an underground countercultural statement. As the years went on, Goth has survived. It has merged once again with a new wave of punk, and safety pins, tight black jeans and spiky hair have joined the look.

But, silly as it seemed to me at the time, I miss Goth s more genuine origins, when it was a betrayal of the mainstream and a movement toward something new. It devolved into willowy, lifeless pretty boys and girls dressed in black and complaining bloodlessly, often while sucking tar into their lungs. By becoming a statement, it lost its substance.

She had arrived at this event abruptly decked head-to-toe in draping black, her face powdered ghostly white and a large square of black lace draped over her usually perky, punky, blonde head.

What s up? I asked.

This is the new look, she replied. It s called Death Rock.

It looks silly, I responded archly.

But perhaps I was the wrong one, as Death Rock took off. Never heard of it? Well, these were only the early eighties, you see, and no one had yet coined the term Goth to describe the look and the depressive sound of its related music. Sid Vicious had died in 1979 and the punk movement was growing stale. Alternative music was growing large, but even alternative had its alternative. Death rock.

Thanks to Bauhaus, Bela Lugosi was dead. Thanks to Anne Rice, people were still reeling from her work, questioning whether a book written largely from a vampire s point of view could be legitimate literature. Gary Numan was in his pre- Cars stunning, mechanistic, alienated innovation and The Legendary Pink Dots were wailing, experimenting far outside the mainstream.

I had no idea at the time that what I thought was so silly was about to morph into an underground countercultural statement. As the years went on, Goth has survived. It has merged once again with a new wave of punk, and safety pins, tight black jeans and spiky hair have joined the look.

But, silly as it seemed to me at the time, I miss Goth s more genuine origins, when it was a betrayal of the mainstream and a movement toward something new. It devolved into willowy, lifeless pretty boys and girls dressed in black and complaining bloodlessly, often while sucking tar into their lungs. By becoming a statement, it lost its substance.< >< >< >< >< ><-->