So you’ve decided to go goth. Congratulations! Goth is a rich subculture with many details, a nuanced history, great music, cool clothes, and clubs all around the world. This is a guide that will help you ease into the scene without too much hassle or confusion.
Save yourself some time. Why do you really want to be goth? Are you trying to anger your peers? Your parents? Are you just desperate to stand apart from the group? You might have been told that goth is just a phase. This rings true for some people, head cocked and eyes rolled in condescension, but many people have been identifying as goths for decades. Some clubs will have people as old as 50 swooning in capes and sporting ghastly makeup. If the goth image is truly something that will make you whole, then it’s time to get started.
2. Explore your fashion sense
Contrary to television caricatures and Hollywood mockeries, the goth look is highly varied. The traditional aesthetic of leather, velvet, and lace is never out of style. Black boots are mainstays that span all branches of the entire subculture, whatever the specifications. If you are partial to industrial club music, then don’t hesitate to delve into goggles, latex, and synth dreads. If the 80s still rule your heart, then you might identify most with spiked colors, ripped jeans, and leather jackets. If your price range is still a bit modest, then you can never go wrong with a modest ensemble of all black.
If you’re daring to wear your heart on your sleeve, you might feel inclined to dye your hair a different shade—a darker shade. It’s common to see pasty-faced fiends with hair that’s all pitch-black or blood-red. With how the subculture has evolved and become more open to alternative at large in recent times, a color that is in any way unusual is often celebrated as one of the traits that differ us from mainstream drones.
3. Be social
Social goths? Isn’t that an oxymoron? You’d think so, but sociality is a major facet of the subculture. Clubs, events, and shows are great ways to connect with fellow night crawlers and make new friends. Best of all, real goths are no different from the rest of society: they all have jobs and families. And yes, some are in bands. Being a goth does not bar you from the rest of society, and there is no reason why you can’t balance both.
4. Listen to the music
This is an especially exciting part of being a goth. The subculture is overflowing with all kids of music to fulfill your dark psyche. Having its roots in punk rock, goth’s beginning rose from the post-punk era of bands like Joy Divison and Siouxsie and the Banshees, as well as early industrial bands like Throbbing Gristle and Skinny Puppy. With this sort of sound established, the genre had no boundaries. Post-punk, deathrock, darkwave, new wave, dream pop, synthpop, industrial, ebm, witch house—it’s all out there, waiting for you. One click of the mouse on Google will overwhelm with you with how much there is to choose from. Don’t hesitate to dive right in!
If it is all too much to take in at once, then gradually soak in music by listening closely to what you hear at clubs, making notes to ask friends or the DJ about what band just played. And with streaming services like Spotify and Pandora, this is easier than ever.
5. Be open-minded. Be a person. Be you
You’ve accumulated a closet full of ornate Victorian coats, spikey collars, and knee-high boots, and your medicine cabinet is overflowing with ghastly makeup concoctions and eyeliner pencils. You have an encyclopedic knowledge of Peter Murphy, Rozz Williams, and Robert Smith. Parents in suburban neighborhoods give you funny looks as you stroll down the streets wearing all black in the middle of summer.
And yet, you’re still a part of society, and you can’t function without the structure of society. Here’s the best part: There’s nothing wrong with that. You can be both. How? You’ll find a way. If you made it this far, there is no situation that you cannot adapt to. Don’t give up your love for the grotesque and the romantic. Never be afraid to be goth. But don’t be afraid of other people. There are over 7 billion people on this planet, and each one knows something that you don’t know, no matter how ungoth they might be.
You should strive to be friendly with people from all walks of life, all while striving to find out who you really are. Liberating yourself to have that kind of freedom with your social circles will only bring good things. Take a break from goth clubs and hike a mountain. Give Alien Sex Fiend a rest and hear what’s going on in jazz circles. Mix up the black with some white and gold. Never forget who you are, but always be willing to diversify and listen to what other people have to say.
To find out more about goth culture check out our guide to the 10 best gothic websites.