It’s time, Snarklings, for the Lady of the Manners to write (again) about a subject that is very dear to her. A particularly heartfelt letter from a fellow Eldergoth landed in the Gothic Charm School mailbox, which sent the Lady of the Manners down into the depths of some murky nostalgia.
First, let’s get some terminology defined! Which is something the Lady of the Manners has been meaning to do for ages, but was finally prompted to do over on the Gothic Charm School Tumblr:
- Babybat = goths under whatever the legal drinking/club-going age is. For example, 21 in the US.
- Fledgling = people new to the goth subculture, regardless of age. In the Lady of the Manners’ opinion, this term applies for a couple of years.
- Eldergoth = people who have been an active participant in the goth subculture for at least 20 years, and are probably at least in their very late 30s/.
Are these terms and definitions universally accepted by goths around the globe? Probably not. But there are a lot of goths out there who do agree with them. And now you won’t be confused when those terms are offhandedly used here at Gothic Charm School!
Eldergoths. A topic that has come up a few times:
So what prompted the Lady of the Manners to return to this topic? Two things, one of which was this poignant letter:
It freaks me out when all traces of goth get wiped off the world, from Gothic Beauty no longer printing on paper (nor replying re: paid subscriptions), to all the old ‘goth nights’ not happening seemingly, to all the old wensites and events just not there anymore. I don’t live near anyone who wants to come over and dance around to the old stuff–nor do I even want to do that now on my own–and the social isolation and loss of the shreds of the scene is really hard on me, as in Badbadbad. I know perky advice about staying social, seeing a therapist, whatever, and illness prevents me from a lot of stuff, and I know that you have had other really brave-seeming (mostly young) folks with more severe health impairments than I have writing to you, and yet–I simply got old and have some serious-ish health stuff, and it freaks me out to have outlived the scene. Yes, I looked through the list of your active sites, and eh–there’s not enough there to be a lifestyle anymore in my view, just some folks selling things to those who used to be in the lifestyle maybe.
I guess there isn’t much to say really, and I’d rather you don’t print this with any identifying name or anything, but honestly, what the hell do you do when it’s yet another thing gone from life? The obvious thing is ‘replace it with something as good or better’, but here in the Orange-Mulch Apocalypse of what is left of society, there is nothing good or real or fun to me. I know others suffer too, so maybe there are good ideas somewhere.
Thanks and best wishes
The Lady of the Manners isn’t going to lie to you: sometimes it’s hard to find things that are “good or real or fun” and keep them close. The world is full of chaos and entropy, and finding things that resonate to the same chords as your soul sometimes feels impossible. Not merely impossible, but also history-negating: did you ever feel that zing of dark magic and enthrallment about anything, ever? Are you just deluding yourself?
Here, from the bottom of my enormous black purse, I offer you this: hope. Because you haven’t outlived the scene, and there are still good things out there; but you have to do a bit of searching.
Start small, start simply: pick whatever image-heavy social media site you can cope with (Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest), and search on one thing that used to make your heart beat a little faster with joy — A favorite band, a beloved movie, an admired artist, a favored fashion style. See what images and links turn up from that search, and see if they still have the power to bring you stirrings of what you once felt. From there, start link hopping. See what posts are related to your original search, and see what other ideas and images turn up.
The Lady of the Manners will be honest: this is why she sticks with Tumblr. Yes, the site has its problems, and there are unkind and rude people there, just like everywhere. But Tumblr has also led her to discover so many different artists, writers, and musicians that she never would have known about! Plus, if you curate your Tumblr (or Instagram, or Pinterest) experience carefully, you can create a steady feed of things that inspire you and make you happy.
Another reason setting up some sort of presence on one of the image-heavy social media sites is a good idea: you find more of your tribe, and have a way of interacting with them that doesn’t rely on feeling well enough to go out somewhere. The Lady of the Manners absolutely sympathizes with your health issues; there are days when it feels like a major victory to be upright(ish) and in front of the computer. And on those days, living vicariously through other other folks online — enjoying their makeup, outfits, or playlists — is a vital lifeline.
(An aside: yes, there’s Twitter and FB. But for whatever reason, the Lady of the Manners just hasn’t found as much of a community on either of those social networks as she has on others. She suspects it’s a signal to noise issue, which is why she prefers the social networks where she can curate her feed and experience.)
However, the second thing that prompted the Lady of the Manners to write this post is tangentially related to FB. You see, there’s an Eldergoth group that’s recently started up, as a “support group” for the new Eldergoth Central blog. The blog promises to be an entertaining read (full disclosure: the woman behind it is a long-time friend of the Lady of the Manners), and the FB group is already turning out to be an interesting place for “goths of a certain age” to collect and talk about things.
Also on FB is Mick Mercer’s radio show! Mick is someone who was around at the beginning of modern goth music, and is the author of such classic goth reference tomes such as Gothic Rock: Black Book, Hex Files: The Goth Bible, and 21st Century Goth. He knows his music, and posts a weekly show of 3 hours of music covering goth, glam, punk, and industrial. The FB page also hosts discussions for each show, making it easier to find other Eldergoths who share your tastes. If you’d rather not bother with FB, he also uploads the show to his Mixcloud page.
But to get back to the first reason the Lady of the Manners came back to this topic, the heartfelt letter: Sometimes all one can really do for a night (week? Month? Season? Pick your timeframe) is wallow in nostalgia. Play all the music that drew you to the subculture. Dress up in your finery and take some photos of yourself. Indulge in favorite movies, reread beloved books, and slowly page through your collection of goth magazines. (The Lady of the Manners may be projecting just a tiny bit with that last suggestion.) Because sometimes, all that will get you through the abyss of apathy is reminding yourself of what was important to you in the past. Who knows, it may strike a tiny spark that you can nurture into a glorious bonfire.
This is where the Lady of the Manners turns to the Gothic Charm School readers: do you have any kind words or helpful suggestions for this poor creature who is lost in the cheerless dark? Leave a comment.