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Flashback Friday - A Love Letter To Goth

Sandman-morpheus  Before there was emo, there was goth. And those of us who slathered on the eyeliner and backcombed our black-dyed hair, remember those days with a gentle fondness tempered with a healthy splash of hubris. Because if you were part of the Children of the Night, right now you're concurrently rolling your eyes and saying "Awwwwww!" like you just saw an especially cute kitten.

Subcultures are a rebellion. What against? Whaddya got? And the goth subculture railed against pop music, wearing (ugh) "normal" clothes, and the idea that boys didn't wear eyeliner. Most of all, the goths were beautiful, at least to me, and when I was drawn into the lifestyle as a teenager, it was dark and mysterious and lovely, and my mother HATED IT. It was perfect.

Goth kids embraced romanticism, androgyny, an unrelenting flair for the dramatic, and of course, the music. Who doesn't remember this iconic image? It throws me back to college immediately.

 Oh, Robert Smith. Where would we have been without you? You taught us how to wear our hair shoepolish black and shellacked with so much hairspray (Aqua Net for me, the industrial strength kind in the pink can) that we could have burst into flames at any moment. Death-pale skin, heavy dark makeup, and various unique clothing ensembles, mostly in black, of course. This was our armor against the "normals" who didn't like that we had Halloween every day, that sometimes boys wore skirts, that our boots made us six inches taller than the jock who was beating us up that day. 

Gothic boots

Born from the post-punk movement, goth music was full of synthesizers and pulsating beats, perfect for dancing. But even the dancing was solitary, an ethereal shoe-gazing experience that was so different from the "normals" of the 80s and 90s. We traveled either in somber packs, finding strength in our gentle numbers, or alone, knowing you were staring at us. That was the point. We were playing dress up, black on the outside to match the blackness of our angst on the inside. To say we were dramatic would be the understatement of the century. This, of course, made the movement perfect for alienated teens. Like the greasers, hippies, and punks before us, we put on our uniforms, listened to our music, and found solace in each other as we shuffled on the dance floor, or smoked clove cigarettes behind the bleachers. Did I mention our parents hated it? They haaaaaaaaaaaaaaated it.

Goth motivational
Reviled by the "normals," we regularly were mocked and got the shit kicked out of us on at least a weekly basis. But we had each other, and our music, and the costumes, nay, the armor, that made us stand out and make a statement without saying a word.


Before there was Edward Cullen: Emo Vampire, there was the Sandman series. Before emo kids were listening to My Chemical Romance, goths were gyrating to Siouxie and the Banshees and crying streaks of Wet N Wild black eyeliner as we played Joy Division over and over till the cassette broke. 

We're older now, and look upon the days of goth fondly, if not a bit protectively. We were the sensitive kids, who yearned to be tough but were more at home playing melancholy music and bitching to each other about how no one "got" us. A recent trip to the movies with a friend brought us upon three honest to god goth kids, loitering in the mall, and my friend and I, too old and world-weary to put that much effort into our appearances anymore, became utterly giddy, whispering frantically to each other that we wanted to hug those kids, tell them everything was going to be okay, and to keep letting their freak flags fly.

I miss those days. But I look back on them with incredible fondness and love, for, like every other subculture, goth existed for those who didn't fit anywhere else. I don't know where I would be today if it wasn't there for me, my friends, and countless others who were different, just like the rest of us. 

. . . . .
Miss Banshee is proud to be an aging goth.

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I was never really a goth, just sort of arty in a general way and never cool enough. Although one of my earliest crushes was Daniel Ash from Love & Rockets. That was my "type" for most of my teenage years: skinny, spooky, and eyeliner-ed.


That's Tracey with the purple hair, right?


Amen! I occasionally see a real Goth kid around, and I have exactly the same reaction.


HEAVY Goth didn't hit here (aka the death metal capital of the world) until I was kind of already out of the club scene so were were kind of goth LITE. The term typically thrown at us was "art fags" We listened to Bauhaus, Joy Division, The Cure, Clan of Xymox, Ministry, anything on the 4AD label etc. We wore as much black as humanly possible and I had the requisite Louise Brooks black/burgundy/red/whatever bob (I LOVED that haircut SO MUCH). So...when I see goth kids and even emo kids congregating somewhere, I never look at them with fear or revulsion. They remind me of me way back when and I think they're completely adorable.

Apryl's Antics

I was one, too. Sigh.


I had that Cure poster for years and years! I loved that thing. I eventually had to tape up its edges with duct tape to hold the whole thing together. *sniff*


Sigh, I remember. Except I didn't wear such high boots, being as I was already 6' tall...


Oh, thanks for bringing me back. Growing up in the smallest state in the union it was hard to find the clothes I truly wanted so I had to be OK with just wearing all black all the time regardless of whether or not it was Gap or something off Thayer St. I was lucky, my high school had a high Goth population and no one but the teachers cared what we looked like. I too see those same kids today and just want to hug them.


I was one too. I long for the mid and late eighties sometimes...


Sigh. I was just listening to Boys Don't Cry yesterday. I still love it! Also can't forget the Smiths. I thought Morrissey was destined to be my husband. Little did I know.


Word. Another aging goth here. True story: a couple years ago, a kid on the local college radio station was playing a Siouxsie & the Banshees song, and pronounced her name, "Sushi". I pulled the car over and called the station to correct his punk ass. He had the nerve to ask me, "Are you sure?" Yes, I'm sure. I saw Siouxsie in concert several times before you were out of diapers. Show some damn respect for your elders.


Sushi?! For reals?? That's funny in a holy crapy I'm old kind of a way.


OMG... you nailed it with this post. This was me in high school... then I hit college became more of an "art-girl" and eventually morphed into one of the "normals". I have to laugh because though I wasn't part of the hearse club (just friends with them) back then, I somehow (unintentionally) ended up as suit-wearing funeral director now... how funny life is.

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