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A Night at the Xclusiv
November 7, 2013 1:58 PM   Subscribe

THE HEIGHT OF GOTH: 1984: futuristic + way out young people

A blast from the past. This film was rescued from an old and very damaged VHS cassette tape that by total fluke I came across so, the quality in the first few minutes is pretty poor but it settles down fine just in time for the action inside the club. The original video was commissioned by the couple who ran the club (Annie and Pete Swallow) and sold or given to family, friends and regulars (£2 per copy). This is the complete full length video as originally presented
posted by philip-random (116 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
*steps on bug*

*answers telephone*

*cobwebs*

*cobwebs*
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:01 PM on November 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


I still refuse to believe, despite being shown much evidence to the contrary, that peopple willingly did that to thier hair.

(also, hey new wavers, if someone had a baby on the dancer look that baby would now be 30. )
posted by The Whelk at 2:03 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


*steps on bug*

*answers telephone*

*cobwebs*

*cobwebs*


Find the bat, love the bat, hate the bat, stomp the bat. Repeat.
posted by The Whelk at 2:04 PM on November 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


haha, my first random jump led me to the Sisters of Mercy's 'Temple of Love.' Sweet.
posted by kaibutsu at 2:06 PM on November 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Every time i see something like this, i wonder how massive the amount of footage of interesting stuff(and old TV shows/local specials/etc) that never existed in any other format is just disintegrating in a box somewhere.

Because seriously, it's got to be a ton.
posted by emptythought at 2:07 PM on November 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


This isn't even as goth as I thought it would be. I was more goth than this in like 2002, and I wasn't hardly even goth.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:08 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


This IS my adolescence. My hair has recovered nicely, thank you.
posted by Sophie1 at 2:10 PM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


*cobwebs*

Don't forget Spooky Apple Picking and the Spooky Hula.
posted by griphus at 2:12 PM on November 7, 2013


Look at these fucking goths.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:12 PM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, jesus, considering this video was shot the year I was born, I'm pretty sure I spent my early 20s dancing to the exact same music with these people's kids.
posted by griphus at 2:14 PM on November 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yo TD no offense bro but yo if you were a goth in 2002 you weren't really a goth you were like a Marilyn Manson yo, no disrespect.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:15 PM on November 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


emptythought is right. There has to be a lot of footage disintegrating in attics and basements all over the world. And while we might not think it's interesting, future historians will. As computing power grows, even video and documents that look meaningless and forgettable to us will take on new meaning. Case in point: Google NGram viewer.
posted by Triplanetary at 2:15 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man, you watch Liquid Sky too many times and think you might have missed a unquie moment in culture but then you see this and it's every awkward small town dance bar in the universe.

Set list was pretty sweet tho.

( also, you go Vouguing guy, you face dance the hell out of that Bowie song, peopple in West Yorkshire in the 80s* need Vouguing more than anyone )

*SO's home village is near there, when asked why it seemed to empty when we drove through it he said " the mine closed and everybody drank themselves to death".
posted by The Whelk at 2:16 PM on November 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


first 5 minutes of this are the greatest horror film opening in the history of cinema
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:17 PM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Anyone remember Propaganda magazine videos? I found one on YouTube!

I remember being creeped by the Nazi imagery then and yeah, still messed up even now.
posted by Kitteh at 2:18 PM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Do the Germans have a word for "vicarious nostalgia"?
posted by griphus at 2:18 PM on November 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Not gonna lie Potomac, I thought for a second we'd found the UK answer to HOBGOBLINS
posted by The Whelk at 2:18 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Check out this lame Manson cover.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:19 PM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


This isn't even as goth as I thought it would be.

Well, this is small town goth. I think it's remarkable that there is even sufficient interest to sustain a goth culture in 1984 West Yorkshire.

What's the song at 46:20? I have a rap album that samples that, never knew the source.
posted by mediocre at 2:19 PM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I guess it's fairly goth then.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:20 PM on November 7, 2013


The couple that owns the place are DEFINITELY satanists.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:21 PM on November 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


That's an awfully well lit goth nightclub.
posted by dortmunder at 2:23 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm squinting and trying to pick out Gary King in the background.
posted by The Whelk at 2:25 PM on November 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


The rap song in question, if anyone was curious.
posted by mediocre at 2:28 PM on November 7, 2013


mediocre, I recognise that song but have honestly no idea. I'd like to know because it's pretty goth.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:29 PM on November 7, 2013


/drinks QUATRO.
posted by Artw at 2:30 PM on November 7, 2013


Guys guys guys jump ahead to about 56:00 to see the glory of DISCO COCKATOO.

It's like Edina Monsoon just drifted into reality.
posted by The Whelk at 2:31 PM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


So. Much. Shuffling.
posted by jeremias at 2:31 PM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm squinting and trying to pick out Gary King in the background

10 years too early!
posted by Artw at 2:32 PM on November 7, 2013


Love the camera pointed at the people filing past the door man:

*head* *head* *head* *head* *head* *chest* *chest*

huh? blimey! very tall goths!
*moves camera up slightly too late*
*settles*

*head* *head* *hair* *hair*

huh? blimey! regular sized goths again!
*moves camera down slightly too late*
*settles*
*head* *head* [...]

I think that camera man had a few pints while waiting for the club to open.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 2:33 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


So. Much. Shuffling.

This is the height of English dancing that isn't geometry based.
posted by The Whelk at 2:33 PM on November 7, 2013


I'm pretty sure I spent my early 20s dancing to the exact same music with these people's kids.

No, their kids are into bubblegum pop just to piss their parents off!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 2:33 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: blimey! very tall goths!
posted by The Whelk at 2:33 PM on November 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


The couple that owns the place are DEFINITELY satanists.

Yeah, during the interview portion, I was wondering if they were missing villains from the early days of The Sandman or if it was just me.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:34 PM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


(These are the weirdos Gary King would have passed on the way to the newagents to buy 2000AD and a packet of Space Invaders)
posted by Artw at 2:34 PM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, their kids are into bubblegum pop just to piss their parents off

The fact that I had no interest in my mom's obscure punk band mixtapes was a constant source of disappointment for her.
posted by The Whelk at 2:35 PM on November 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: blimey! very tall goths!

I was thinking more:

Metafilter: The couple that owns the place are DEFINITELY satanists.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 2:35 PM on November 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Wait, sorry.. THIS is the rap song that samples the song at 46:20
posted by mediocre at 2:36 PM on November 7, 2013


The song that starts at 46:20 is "Human Fly" by The Cramps -- is that the one you're looking for?
posted by newmoistness at 2:37 PM on November 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


That's it!
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:39 PM on November 7, 2013



I think that camera man had a few pints while waiting for the club to open.


well, it is England
posted by philip-random at 2:39 PM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


What's the song at 46:20?

Experiment in terror.

It makes me think of driving reaaaaalll slow like in my creepy old car in the fog.

On preview DAMMIT i found a song from the wrong part, but that songs still cool too >_>
posted by emptythought at 2:39 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The sequence beginning at 27:21 is crying out for some David Attenborough narration.
posted by davebush at 2:42 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like how the guys are all over the place, from Hair Feathered Like The Wings Of A Mighty Evil yuppie white shirts to Basically Leather Drag, but most of the women are all reaching for the same look, with various degrees of success.
posted by The Whelk at 2:44 PM on November 7, 2013


DAMMIT i found a song from the wrong part

Never the less it's pretty awesome that I mistakingly link to the wrong track/sample, one that isn't even on the linked video, and within moments someone correctly identifies it. Thanks.
posted by mediocre at 2:44 PM on November 7, 2013


Is no-one going to mention Charlie Williams around the 41 minute mark having the most incongrous pint ever? (I swear, he was omnipresent on Yorkshire telly in the 80s, faded off the national scene but everywhere on Yorkshire telly)
posted by Coobeastie at 2:48 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Check out the interviews starting at 1:10:33.
posted by 3.2.3 at 2:49 PM on November 7, 2013


Cool, though also funny. I grew up in Toronto, which developed a enormous goth scene in the early 90s. But this being Canada, we didn't recognize this, but just kept talking about how we wished the scene here was more like the scene in the UK. This is like an apparition representing our collective inferiority complex.

That Propaganda video reminds me of why I hated Propaganda. Just fuck those people.
posted by mobunited at 2:51 PM on November 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think that perhaps a defining characteristic of any local scene is thinking the scene is better somewhere else.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:57 PM on November 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


Nope, NYC scene always Best Scene.
posted by The Whelk at 2:58 PM on November 7, 2013


Cool, though also funny. I grew up in Toronto, which developed a enormous goth scene in the early 90s.

My most complete Goth experience (ie: a club situation unsullied by any other ingredients) was in Hamilton, Ontario, in around 1995. It was perfect somehow, at least three people (guys I'm assuming) doing Robert Smith impersonations, complete with painted smiles. I remember watching one of them dance for a while from fairly close up. He didn't actually smile once.
posted by philip-random at 2:59 PM on November 7, 2013


Heh. The post after this one is apt...
posted by Artw at 3:06 PM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have most amazing desire to recut this into a four minute video set against The Jam's "That's Entertainment."
posted by The Whelk at 3:15 PM on November 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


So. Much. Shuffling

I am subject to horrors for which there are no dance moves.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:25 PM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think that perhaps a defining characteristic of any local scene is thinking the scene is better somewhere else.

Until thirty years later, when we decide that that the club / dance hall / basement party of our youth was a turning point in music history & you really had to be there.
posted by kanewai at 3:27 PM on November 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm so glad nothing I listened to in my early 20s was a turning point in culture and history.
posted by The Whelk at 3:31 PM on November 7, 2013


I too used to be one of these overly self-conscious "dancers"; I recognize the old "lazily stomping out a fire" move.
posted by Red Loop at 3:35 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anyone get served an add for how to get tough bloodstains out? Goth -> Cutting -> Cleaning up -> Blood Stains -> OxyClean! Gotta love algorithms
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:46 PM on November 7, 2013


OxyClean is also good for mascara tears.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:06 PM on November 7, 2013


> I'm so glad nothing I listened to in my early 20s was a turning point in culture and history.

You haven't reached your forties yet, I see.
posted by ardgedee at 4:08 PM on November 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'll be too busy dying on the refugee ship to worry about that.
posted by The Whelk at 4:09 PM on November 7, 2013


"Oh no- someone has tied my hands behind me! I guess I'll just wobble my torso around a bit...
Ungh- now someone has pulled my bound hands over my head with a rope! Such torment."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:10 PM on November 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Would somebody please play "Atmosphere"?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:13 PM on November 7, 2013


Atmosphere
posted by Artw at 4:45 PM on November 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


first 5 minutes of this are the greatest horror film opening in the history of cinema

When the schmaltzy instrumental music behind the first 3:00 started, I immediately recognized it and thought THIS IS NOT GOTH! THIS IS BARRY MANILOW! The next two minutes: John Lennon's "Woman". Excellent for setting the "people making this film have no clue" atmosphere...
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:47 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's fascinating to watch. Some of our commentary is approaching an unbecoming attitude for me though - criticizing someone else's dancing from the safety of not-dancing just seems kind of easy and cowardly. Part of the point of a nightclub is that it's ok to not be a great dancer, it's ok to just try... something, surrounded by the music and people doing the same, for fun or emotions or whatever, and sometimes it takes laudable courage to do even that much. (And besides, some of the people in the video are totally rocking it!)

I anecdotally observe an inverse correlation between level of dance expertise and looking down on people for their dance moves. Pro dancers are usually very dance-positive, pet-peeves aside. (Unless it's a competition, in which case, GAME ON! :-) )
posted by anonymisc at 4:54 PM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh everyone dances doofy down the bar, I was coming from a "yes, yes I know what that feels like, arent we silly sometimes?" cause like, goth club dancing is very ...formalized. It's like the chicken dance at a wedding, feels great, looks goofy, is totally fine. Rock on with your bad self Yorkshire 84' youths, go do the best shuffing goth night dancing you can do. It feels great, really.

Just remember you have to stay out for at least as long as it took you to get ready, that's way more important.
posted by The Whelk at 5:11 PM on November 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


There were no Goths in the 80's.

We were Death Rockers. (Though the term "Neo-Gothic" was used to describe some bands.)
posted by ShutterBun at 5:24 PM on November 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can practically smell the cloves and amaretto sours.
posted by elizardbits at 5:24 PM on November 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also everyone at Communion on tuesday nights were the worst fucking tippers, presumably because most of their cash went to makeup and nail polish.
posted by elizardbits at 5:26 PM on November 7, 2013


amaretto sours.

chartreuse and tonic! I blame Poppy Z. Brite.
posted by The Whelk at 5:28 PM on November 7, 2013


So - at like 43 minutes... That dude doing the interviewing/holding the mic sure looks like a strange hybrid of Davy Jones, Julian Lennon and Barry Manilow.
posted by symbioid at 5:32 PM on November 7, 2013


Yes, thank you, ShutterBun. The goth label has been applied retroactively to bands and subcultures who, at the time, never used that term. Death rock, new wave, psychobilly... These were much more descriptive terms, I think.
posted by fikri at 6:03 PM on November 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is much nicer and cleaner than a NYC goth nightclub circa 1984. The design is that of a disco club that got long in the tooth and started attracting a different clientele, without redecorating. And a lot of the guests look distinctly, erm, is there a UK term for "bridge and tunnel"?

The interview at the beginning is like a Python sketch.

I think this is a great video. I wouldn't term it "the height of Goth" except in the most general kind of framing. Even then, I might put the height - at least the US/NYC area height - in 1985.

What I wouldn't give to go to a place like this again. I miss young men in eyeliner.

OMG, the dancing, though. Don't let a trace of funk get near your booty, kids!
posted by Miko at 6:24 PM on November 7, 2013


Memories of wearing voluminous black velvet in Phoenix in the summertime. I will have to buy a pack of cloves and watch this whole thing.
posted by padraigin at 6:29 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think its helpful to look at this in a similar context to the Northern Soul post from earlier.

For one, I'm guessing there weren't a lot of gay nightclubs in West Yorkshire in 1984.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:34 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thus awesome vogueing guy.
posted by The Whelk at 6:38 PM on November 7, 2013


Ok i didn't read many comments here but had to post bc the commercial before the video plays on YouTube was (for me) had a mom who did a "smokey eye" but basically just looks like she did goth eye makeup. It's the joke in the ad.

Just kinda appropriate. Sort of. The kids think she's totes weird.
posted by sio42 at 6:44 PM on November 7, 2013


That Propaganda video reminds me of why I hated Propaganda. Just fuck those people.

Yeah, you always could count on those Propaganda fuckers to ruin perfectly good soft-core with their juvenile Nazi fetishes.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:49 PM on November 7, 2013


Even then, I might put the height - at least the US/NYC area height - in 1985.

Most definitely. 1985 saw the release of The Cure's The Head on the Door, as well as Siouxsie's Tinderbox and Love And Rockets' Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven, all of which were instant classics.
posted by ShutterBun at 6:51 PM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Love the music. At the time there wasn't really a proper description for it, which made it awkward but more interesting. Some people outside of the curve just called it "punk" or "new wave", which was kinda incorrect. "Goth" or "post-punk" makes more sense in retrospect, but nobody I knew used that exact terminology in 1984.
posted by ovvl at 7:01 PM on November 7, 2013


Thus awesome vogueing guy.


Which one?

Nick Cave jr.?
Sinead O'Connor's Boy George Tribute?
Army Pants Robert Smith?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:07 PM on November 7, 2013


When I was in high school in the '90s, goth kids were totally invested in attempting the hyper-manicured Anne Rice vampire fashion thing which I was utterly repulsed by. Then when I first heard Peter Murphy's Ziggy Stardust cover when I was 14 or 15 I was shocked at how awesome it was. Shocked!
posted by batfish at 7:31 PM on November 7, 2013


The thing was, in Early High school I was ALL ABOUT THE BOWIE cause I just found Ziggy Stardust and glam rock and all that, and it was juuuust at a time when glam rock was bubbling back up and aynthy New Wave and the like was becoming cool again so you ended up listening to the same albums your parents might have listened to at the same age.
posted by The Whelk at 7:47 PM on November 7, 2013


Random comments as I watch along:

This is bringing back so many clear sense memories. I was only on the fringes of this whole aesthetic -- I definitely participated to a limited degree, though I was too young to really go clubbing (I was a sophomore in '85. Also it was not yet called "clubbing"), but I remember it all clearly and this was all part of the zeitgeist where I grew up.

-the blousy, starched white shirt, buttoned at collar and cuffs.
-black loafers with white socks and high above-the-ankle hem jeans
-that odd, arm-flapping, bouncy-spinny-steppy dance move
-trying to get a wide leather belt to sit just so on your hips, over the tails of your long men's shirt
-wearing a leather biker jacket regardless of weather or temperature, indoors and out
-pallor
-working clothing to get a torn edge
-Army surplus campaign pants, because "cargo pants" as a retail category did not yet exist
-taking in your pants at the ankles, or rolling and folding, to get them to narrow at the anke
-when dancing or being seen, smiling is NEVER COOL
-Do not crack a smile ever. The most you can get away with is a brief suppressed smirk. Look serious dammit. Life is a vale of misery and loneliness.
-the smell of Aqua Net
-rosary beads=perfectly normal accessory
-another great accessory: the ankh. Arcane and symbolic.
-do not leave a T shirt alone. Cut the sleeves off. Cut the neck out. Slit the sides under the armholes. Cut the midriff off. Just for God's sake don't wear it un-altered: what are you, a jock?
-stacking different bangles up your arms. +1 for "israeli grenade rings"
-the surplus Navy middy jacket: always a faultless sartorial choice, emphasizes the figure while being impudently retro. Only drawback: made of wool, sweat factory. Bring extra powder.
-short, pouffed women's haircuts which are today considered more appropriate for 50something office managers were cute, daringly androgynous, modern, free and sexy
-two different earrings. Wear them.
-Manic Panicor Jello, if you could not afford it ($8 a pot)
-vintage tropical shirt, buttoned to the collar and tucked narrow at the waist, into blousy-legged but narrow ankled pants: also a totally legit look, if a little more New Wavey.
-1940s beret, always chic

My SO and I were just talking about this whole era/feel last week, because we went out to dinner a few nights ago, and they had a satellite radio station on that was all Psychedelic Furs, Echo and the Bunnymen, etc. But I had forgotten a lot of the fashion and costume subtleties. The other thing is that the actual music mix that was actually played at the time is much more varied/interesting than the satellite channel version of the rigid, genre-purity manufactured past - the real thing included Bowie, Patti Smith, and Glenn Miller.

Is it me, or is the club owner husband totally hooking up with the DJ on the side? (I've been watching 45 minutes and am now creating a metanarrative).

Proto-moshing at 49:42. So I really never would have noticed this without watching this vid, but they're dancing to the song "Eighties" by Killing Joke, and that riff - that riff was completely ripped off by Nirvana for Come As You Are. I was really surprised, Googled it, and yeah, there's even something on Wikipedia about how Nirvana were afraid to release it because it was so similar. It's practically exact.

When you get to the interviews around 1:15, the interviewer starts with "what's your name," and the next question is generally "Where do you work, then, or unemployed?"

REM at 1:41. You're welcome, UK!

nobody I knew used that exact terminology in 1984.

I agree. It happened - fully - before it had a colloquial name. People did default to "punk" and "new wave' but you're right, they weren't perfectly accurate descriptors.

Some of the extra-illustrative eyeliner/shadow styles have been making a reappeareance in this winter's fashion magazines.

Ron Weasley at 1:19. I think the interviewer's got a little spark on for him.
posted by Miko at 7:54 PM on November 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


OH GOD Not! Ron Weasley has the same speaking cadence as my SO

"It's G'ate! G'ate!"
posted by The Whelk at 8:09 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Proto-moshing at 49:42.

It was called "slam dancing" back then.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:31 PM on November 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have briefly mentioned though never elaborated on my horribly ill advised goth phase as a teenager. I feel lucky beyond words that digital photography was not yet commonplace, leading to the Kodachrome detritus wasteland of millions and millions of photographs whose value has been diluted to one or maybe two words. A far, ginger goth kid in mid 90's central Oregon? Good lord, I would have been savaged beyond comprehension if the internet of today was around back then. Luckily, the lack of photographs and a generally speaking much more friendly-to-the-misfit internet culture let me exist more anonymously and probably deceptively in how I described myself to others.

Though I always leaned more towards the industrial side of the goth spectrum, for whatever that is worth. Still would have been totes unacceptable to be fat and ginger.
posted by mediocre at 8:33 PM on November 7, 2013


chartreuse and tonic

I've never heard of this combination, but it actually sounds good to me! Was it a thing, sometime, some place, that I missed? I think I'm going to order it next time I'm at a trendy bar.
posted by kanewai at 10:05 PM on November 7, 2013


It was a thing for NYC-going NJ teenagers who read a lot of erotic horror fiction about vampires.
posted by The Whelk at 10:12 PM on November 7, 2013


It was a thing for NYC-going NJ teenagers who read a lot of erotic horror fiction about vampires.

Oh, Poppy. /sigh
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:17 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure I've ever seen Hamilton and Perfect used in the same sentance before :)

Though there certainly was a certain charm to the x-club ... we definitely were pretty lucky with the Toronto scene back then. It's too bad the only weekly club still running right now is closing down at the end of the year. Some of us still have no intention of growing up!
posted by cirhosis at 10:18 PM on November 7, 2013


Agh, that's so inside something-other-than-baseball, isn't it?

Chartreuse was a favored drink of Poppy Z. Brite (now going by Billy Martin), who wrote a few very homoerotic horror novels before quitting that and writing about New Orleans chefs. Lost Souls, which was about vampires and musicians, in particular calls out Chartreuse a few times.

Also he edited a couple of anthologies of other authors' vampire erotica, but the less said about those, the better.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:23 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just want to hug them all and give them eyeliner.

I also love how they're dancing around to "I'm A Believer" at around 35 minutes. It reminds me of when I used to go to 80s' nights at this one goth club in the late 90s, and we'd get to see fully costumed wonders doing interpretive dance to Simple Minds' "Don't You Forget About Me."

"...rain keeps falling..."
Hands make a slow falling motion towards the body, enticing the rain to fall upon them

(Oh, the life of a goth girl in New Orleans in the 90s. All those tourists coming in wearing layers of velvet in the middle of August and ordering chartreuse...)
posted by Katemonkey at 3:52 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Um, speaking as someone who was there, not in Batley Xclusiv but near enough, these people would very likely have identified as goths. I say that because people who dressed like goths and listened to goth music called themselves goths or gothic. I'm not saying anything, I'm just saying.

There were goth clothing shops, goth nightclubs and goth music. By 1984 a subculture called goth/gothic was well established.

In 1983 The Sisters of Mercy released Alice/The Final Floorshow which was a record made by goths for goths and got the goth subculture some exposure via the indie charts. People in the independent music scene in West Yorkshire would definitely have heard the term 'goth' by the time this video was shot. In the record shops there was not a goth section IIRC, there would be Industrial, Post Punk, New Wave, Hardcore, Noise and some in the Punk section if they didn't know where else to put them.

Music at goth clubs was not necessarily the same as music at goth parties, but some of the bands I was introduced to at the time were The Sisters, The Cramps, The Cure, Laibach, Bauhaus, Tones on Tail, Bowie (70's era), Swans, Sonic Youth, Butthole Surfers, Big Black, New Order, Napalm Death, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Velvet Underground, The Ramones, Foetus, Liquid Liquid, Wayne County and the Electric Chairs, Head of David, Psychic TV/Throbbing Gristle, The Three Johns, The Mekons, Lydia Lunch, Suicide. It wasn't all doom and gloom. Everyone also had a copy of The Best of Blondie, that was the law. They wouldn't necessarily play it, but it was ever present. To quote a local goth wag, that Debbie Harry could shit in my mouth any day!
posted by asok at 3:52 AM on November 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


In 1983 The Sisters of Mercy released Alice/The Final Floorshow which was a record made by goths for goths

The extent to which this embarrasses the hell out of Andrew Eldritch is hilarious and sad.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:47 AM on November 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am younger than the people in the video, but watching this brought back memories from when I started going out a few years later. (The awkward shuffling dancing; the smell of clove cigarettes on my clothes the next morning...)

I love this so much. But I also love that as far as I know, no one ever filmed me as an awkward teenager.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:48 AM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


It was called "slam dancing" back then.

I guess that's not what I would have called "slam dancing" back then. It's too mellow and shuffley.
posted by Miko at 6:11 AM on November 8, 2013


these people would very likely have identified as goths

I'm not going to aggressively contest that, but I think at least in the US, the style made its appearance before the name as a descriptor was widespread or widely understood, and that the term was still evolving in the early 80s before kind of settling out clearly by the middle of the decade. People I knew thought of themselves as "romantic" or "artistic" or "out of the ordinary" or "odd" or "misfits" or part of the broader punk constituency more than as "goths," early on. (I mean, the line was blurry in an American town that wasn't the center of a scene - everyone who wasn't a "preppy" or a "jock" or a "hippie" or a "burnout" ended up lumping themselves together, whether they were punkish or gothish or just arty. Even calling it "Gothic" was originally, in itself, kind of art-schooly. It took a while to become kind of a known, tagged, defined-from-outside subgenre though I don't doubt that happened in the UK before it happened here. I like Wikipedia's summary here:
The earliest significant usage of the term (as applied to music) was by Joy Division's producer, Tony Wilson on 15 September 1979 in an interview for the BBC TV program's Something Else: Wilson described Joy Division as Gothic compared to the pop mainstream, right before a live performance of the band. In 1979, the term was later applied to "newer bands such as Bauhaus who had arrived in the wake of Joy Division and Siouxsie and the Banshees" In 1979, Sounds described Joy Division as Gothic and theatrical. In February 1980, Melody Maker qualified the same band as "masters of this Gothic gloom". Critic Jon Savage would later say that Joy Division's singer Ian Curtis wrote "the definitive Northern Gothic statement".

However, it was not until the early-1980s that gothic rock became a coherent music subgenre within post-punk and that followers of these bands started to come together as a distinctly recognisable movement. They may have taken the goth mantle from a 1981 article published in UK rock weekly Sounds: "The face of Punk Gothique", written by Steve Keaton. In a text about the audience of UK Decay, Keaton asked: "Could this be the coming of Punk Gothique? With Bauhaus flying in on similar wings could it be the next big thing?".In July 1982, the opening of the Batcave club (Soho, London) provided a prominent meeting point for the emerging scene, which would be briefly labelled 'positive punk' by the NME in a special issue with a front cover in early 1983.The term 'Batcaver' was then used to describe old-school goths.

We had some discussion of Gothic style in this thread about steampunk some time ago. One thing that's really interesting about the whole aesthetic movement is that it's a recurrent one, having had consistent revivals since the Enlightenment - there was a big peak of it in the late eighteenth century, two big peaks of it in the 19th century, a big peak in the early 20th, and another in the late 20th. It periodically pops up across the centuries, which I think is really cool. The medieval gothic aesthetic and its romantic/dark overtones are a deep cultural well that people continue to draw on.
posted by Miko at 6:33 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess that's not what I would have called "slam dancing" back then. It's too mellow and shuffley.

You don't want to spill a beer or drop a cigarette!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:36 AM on November 8, 2013


I can't say what terms people were using elsewhere, and L.A. isn't the best place for a sampling of goth history, but in '84 I think we were still calling it deathrock and post-punk. Goth was definitely in usage here by '86 or '87.
posted by malocchio at 8:57 AM on November 8, 2013


I think a lot of people were lumping it into the "alternative" scene.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:04 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that too, and there was overlap with "industrial" bands like SPK or Einsturzende Neubauten. And there were bands that we just kind of thought of as being associated with a specific scene or label, like the Batcave or 4AD.
posted by malocchio at 9:17 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


MCMikeNamara: "I think that perhaps a defining characteristic of any local scene is thinking the scene is better somewhere else."

What's funny is that, having grown up in a small rural area with the county seat being less than 10,000 people, we were always proud of our local scene. The fact we were about an hour from Green Bay meant we had frequent visits from some of the bands there, including Vesicular Basalt, Vacuum Scam and most famously of all, Boris the Sprinkler.

Now, they aren't goth, of course, so if we're only talking goth scene, then yeah. Not that there wasn't a big enough crowd of skater/goth/punk/metal kids around (we all had a lot of overlap, except, some metal kids were their own thing)...

So, I guess, when you're in a large urban area, you have expectations and maybe they aren't met.

But going to a school that was pejoratively known as "Cow Pie High", well... I'm thankful and glad we had access to so many great local bands and talented high school kids who rocked the house.
posted by symbioid at 9:48 AM on November 8, 2013


Most definitely. 1985 saw the release of The Cure's The Head on the Door, as well as Siouxsie's Tinderbox and Love And Rockets' Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven, all of which were instant classics.

Okay, this is just my personal opinion, but that was the last Cure album I ever bought...it couldn't hold a candle to Faith or Pornography. Seventh Dream is fine, but really pales in comparison as goth next to ToT or Bauhaus. And Siouxsie peaked somewehere around Kaleidoscope or Juju, though I was never a huge fan to begin with.

(Hmmm...I guess "pales in comparison" is kind of a backwards phrase when discussing goth.)

But this era is probably my favorite and had a lot of excellent stuff, particulary coming out of Leeds. The Sisters, Lorries, Fields etc. were all putting out legendary material.
posted by malocchio at 9:52 AM on November 8, 2013


Music at goth clubs was not necessarily the same as music at goth parties, but some of the bands I was introduced to at the time were The Sisters, The Cramps, The Cure, Laibach, Bauhaus, Tones on Tail, Bowie (70's era), Swans, Sonic Youth, Butthole Surfers, Big Black, New Order, Napalm Death, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Velvet Underground, The Ramones, Foetus, Liquid Liquid, Wayne County and the Electric Chairs, Head of David, Psychic TV/Throbbing Gristle, The Three Johns, The Mekons, Lydia Lunch, Suicide...

Not to split hairs, but i wouldn't categorize many of these bands as goth.

Not that I would intentionally categorize anyone or anything.
posted by nowhere man at 10:30 AM on November 8, 2013


This also had me thinking about how you even learned about being part of a subculture, pre-Internet.

I mean, it was really different. You couldn't just Google up sliced-and-diced, nuanced descriptions of genres or looks or fashion how-tos or recommended tracks/bands to hear. The information got passed mostly person to person, and the "induction" of newbies into the scene happened that way too. There was nowhere to see people in mainstream culture who were looking and acting like this (especially before MTV found a foothold), there were no books in the library or bookstore about it, there were no classes in it, nothing like blogs really. So you learned about a scene from those random kids who were more hooked into it than you, and then you hooked other people in.

Magazines (European magazines, zines (Trouser Press) zines, Rolling Stone, Spin a little later) were a very important place to hear about bands and stylistic trends, as was "alternative" (usually college) radio. In fact, though I am having trouble finding a reference online. "alternative radio" was a name that only came about when Rolling Stone started ranking stations by that format, and before that it was just kind of known as "college radio." I was very, very lucky to grow up within broadcasting range of WHTG-FM, the radio station that played tons of post-punk/alternative/Goth music and ended up getting routinely voted top "alternative" station in the country when Rolling Stone started the ranking - without them, I doubt this scene would have been anywhere near as much a thing where I grew up.

And then going to places where people in that scene congregated was the other major way you were exposed to the aesthetic and found elements to adopt for yourself. Dance nights or events like this one in the video, but also, record stores, where you could hang out doing nothing for just hours while you paged through magazines and import bins and picked up what you could through conversation or eavesdropping on the staff, and some clothing stores, like the recycled/vintage/thrift kind of store, or certain book/comics stores in major cities.

It really was a different process to get into a new scene before the Internet, and it travelled very virally, person to person and face-to-face.
posted by Miko at 11:11 AM on November 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


I think asok pretty much nails my experience as a baby goth in 1984 in a town just south of London. Our playlist might have been a bit more Batcave heavy (Hello Flesh 4 Lulu!) being more London based but the rest of it was pretty much spot on. We affectionately called each others goths but people who weren't our friends weren't allowed to apply that term to us. We were beyond definition!

The idea of only liking Goth bands wouldn't have occurred to us and in fact like a lot of the post punk subcultures we luxuriated in our ability to like all sorts of music. The look was as much personal aesthetic as anything else and was heavily influenced by the artier end of 70's glam (Bowie, Roxy) crashing into punk with a healthy dose of Stones and then a love of the horror aesthetic and red coloured drinks like snakebite and black.

Later around '85 a slightly younger generation started only liking goth stuff and looking miserable all the time and we elders thought that was stupid. That orthodoxy came along with bands like The Mission. They were rubbish.

The video though? That's me and my mates in 1984.

Love it.
posted by merocet at 1:24 PM on November 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


It really was a different process to get into a new scene before the Internet, and it travelled very virally, person to person and face-to-face.

This is so, so true.

One thing about that, though, was that the "information" was a total mix of truth and fiction. Even basic things like whether such and such band was still together was virtually impossible to confirm. Having it in print was no help -- I can remember reading back and forth crazy accusations in MaximumRocknroll and never having the slightest idea of who or what might be the actual story.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:29 PM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Later around '85 a slightly younger generation started only liking goth stuff and looking miserable all the time and we elders thought that was stupid. That orthodoxy came along with bands like The Mission. They were rubbish.

that's how I remember it, way out in the PacNorthWest. First there was just this massive glop of all things post punk and NOT mainstream that we all shared in. Then a small piece of the scene self-indentified as Goth but none of it was really that good, the best music always transcending genre anyway.

Seventh Dream is fine, but really pales in comparison as goth next to ToT or Bauhaus

Musically, I always saw Love + Rockets as a definitive move away from the gloom/doom of what would become Goth, vampire free and, if anything, a sort of proto-return to 60s psyche which had been pretty much in retrograde since Jimi Hendrix died.

Yin + Yang anybody?

although they were still sort sporting the look
posted by philip-random at 4:55 PM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Okay, this is just my personal opinion, but that was the last Cure album I ever bought...

Totally understand the personal opinion differences. But for a lot of people, that was the FIRST Cure album they bought. It was a breakthrough year for gothic music, whether or not for the better is debatable. (speaking for myself, it was AWESOME) As counter-intuitive as it may seem, I always preferred the more "upbeat" songs of the genre.

And yeah, Love and Rockets very quickly moved away from their goth/deathrock roots and started kicking out straight up (dare I say?) alternative rock (or at least psychedelic rock) beginning with Ball of Confusion.

Express is just a damn fine album.

It really was a different process to get into a new scene before the Internet

Oh my goodness, YES! I had been into the Death Rock scene in high school (mid to late 80's) but once college came around, it was all about Nirvana and Primus, etc. So I kind of fell out of any kind of "scene." There were lots of shows/gigs to go to, but there really wasn't much of a social scene around what I'll call "college rock", at least that I was aware of. An occasional off-campus apartment party was about it, and it's safe to say I liked the music a lot more than I liked the people or their parties.

By age 24 I was dead in the water. Unless there was a show at Safari Sam's or the John Anson Ford theater that weekend, I stayed home.

By total chance I met a DJ from Hollywood (I was living in Orange County, CA) who invited me to a goth club she was working at. From that point on, I became a regular, and met pretty much every one of my current friends. It would have been a whole lot easier if the internet was around (in its current form) back then, but I'm just so grateful that fate intervened the way it did.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:45 PM on November 8, 2013


No one has mentioned it yet, but The Batcave 1983 clip is well worth watching to see "the squares" utterly confused by this goth thing.

And this bit from Northern Lights on the '80s goth scene in York, which starts off with some Virgin Prunes, which is nice.

And then we can cross the pond to the US for AMERICAN GOTH, which apparently features music by PJ Corvus. No, no idea. Maybe he was big in St Louis and they couldn't afford to pay Cleopatra's crippling licencing fees?

And somewhere on the wilds of YouTube is a short piece that is built around (then) up and coming goth rock band Nosferatu as they tour the UK in a hearse (because VAMPIRES!), unfortunately that whole thing is so cringe-worthy I'm afraid to go looking for it.
posted by Mezentian at 8:03 AM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, The Hunger (1983) ... the first few minutes in particular likely being the first very many had seen/heard/felt of this thing that would soon be known as Goth.

It's actually a very good movie ... for the first half hour anyway.
posted by philip-random at 10:18 AM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think that's really very goth at all. They're dancing to 'Don't Go Back To Rockville', fer chrissakes. It's just your basic "alternative" club. We called them "pineapple heads", and they were not just in Batley but from Liverpool to San Jose, California, listening to the same tracks and puffing up their hair in the same pineapple shapes. The ones with mohawks or skunk stripes and studded jackets with band paintings on the back would have called themselves punks. They're all in the club together because there's only one club around.
posted by Fnarf at 11:30 AM on November 9, 2013


Also, it can't be goth without Peter Murphy chanting "undead, undead, undead" in "Bela Lugosi's Dead".
posted by Fnarf at 11:58 AM on November 9, 2013


This NYT article discusses the then/now difference in accessing depictions of and information about subcultures. Neat slideshow images as well.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:46 AM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


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