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What Makes a Goth?

The attendees were treated to a heady concoction of pulsating beats and synth-pop sounds served by DJ Eskil Simonsson, lead singer of the acclaimed Swedish future pop band Covenant – which hit position no. 3 on the Deutsche Alternative Charts 2006 with their single “Brave New World”. The band has released albums like best seller Northern Light and Skyshaper. Local spinning talents, DJ Mentor, DJ Murderfreak and DJ Saito Nagasaki, backed him up, dishing out tracks for the Goth crowd from genres such as Electronic Body Music (EBM), Industrial, Electro, Goth and Future Pop. The event was also a record release party for IMATEM’s Journey – a project pitchfork side project.

Just as the latest album Skyshaper is being promoted, Eskil has revealed that he is halfway through a new one already. Expect a fresh injection in the sound as Daniel Myer of electronic music project Haujobb and side project Destroid, a prominent figure in the world gothic scene in his own right, have also joined Covenant’s ranks.

Dancers gathered on the floor, wreathed in banks of smoke and decked out in ebony leather jackets, industrial Goth boots, skinny jeans and corsets. They stomped, swayed and partied on the dim neon light painted floor. You’d be forgiven if you thought Halloween had come early.

Many Goths take offense at the oversimplified generalization
Many Goths take offense at the oversimplified generalization

Friday night every month and targets the Gothic community of Singapore. It is organised by the Singapore Dark Alternative Movement (SDAM). Dark Friday has existed under several other names before, says chairman of the SDAM, Mark, who also goes by the stage moniker, DJ Saito Nagasaki.

The other events that SDAM has organised for the Gothic community prior to the recent Dark Fridays are GhastHeart of Darkness at the Gashaus and sponsored by Jack Daniels and the hugely popular Alternation, which ran for 31 weeks at DXO. “We usually get turnouts of about 90 people on normal nights,” he says, “but for the big events, like one that featured DJ Alec Empire of the German electronica group Atari Teenage Riot, it can sometimes reach to more than 200.”

So What Defines A Goth?

“Individualism” declares 18-year-old Sylvest, a lanky youth sporting eyeliner, clad in a requisite black leather jacket and knee-high platform boots. He’s been subscribing to the subculture for 2 to 3 years after first finding out about it through music and friends, and came to know about SDAM through its Facebook account. It’s not so much the image, but the personality, which defines a Goth, he says.  A point most certainly evidenced by the number of faces in the crowd who turned up, devoid of any make up or any article of clothing that would spell the word ‘Goth’

“It’s more of a personal and character discovery that you make on your own,” says Nureen, 25, a LASALLE College of the Arts student, who sported a page-boy cap  – one example in the crowd who went against the typical look. Eyeliner and makeup don’t make a Goth, she maintains. Her curiosity about the subculture was piqued when she began reading Anne Rice and other ‘vampire’ novels, as well as listening to music from the bands Nightwish and Eternal Tears of Sorrow.

A Goth is normally characterised by scepticism, says DJ Saito, of what the Goth character is. They “ask more pertinent questions, have larger social boundaries” than most ordinary people and many are are well read, possessing a range of interests that might exceed the conventional social boundaries of Singaporeans.

A person who subscribes to the Goth subculture is also characterised by liberal thinking and ideals on freedom – the freedom to speak, freedom to choose, the freedom from fear, says Faith, a committee member of SDAM.

While Goths tend to share a personality trait of open-mindedness and an accepting stance toward others’ chosen way of life,  it doesn’t mean that all Goths like, or even approve of what other Goths do with themselves, maintains Faith. “Some Goths are religiously devout whereas others live in hedonistic extremes, but it’s very unusual indeed that a person will get ostracised by the whole for his chosen lifestyle.”

Many Goths are also very artistic and dynamic thinkers and take offence at the simplistic generalisation of them being nothing more than a collection of people obsessed with dark coloured pants and jackets, eyeliners or makeup so commonly associated with them.

As DJ Mentor put it, just like other subcultures, there are some who are into the Goth music but not the Goth look, and vice versa. If freedom of expression and acceptance are the core of what it means to be Goth, there were certainly droves of them in unadulterated fashion tonight as local Goths let their hair down, came dressed as they liked and partied to their heart’s content without the scrutiny of judgmemental eyes or prejudiced whispers.

SDAM’s next Dark Friday gathering will be on Nov 14, 8pm at the Bridge Bar, this time featuring DJ Stefan P. of the Dominion Club/Factory, Germany. The following Dark Friday event in December will be held at that same venue on Dec 5, featuring Destroyx and Zoog of ANGELSPIT.

Suruchi Lohani
Suruchi Lohani
suruchi lohani is a content editor who love playing with words to make stories come alive. Besides editing the content she loves reading books and writing.


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