Hello, faithful readers, and welcome to May. The days are longer, it’s sunny and warm out, and the Lady of the Manners has been looking through her closet in vain for something that might be usable for gothic Victorian summer wear. But never fear, that overwhelming obsession has not distracted the Lady of the Manners from the pleasant task of answering your questions! This month’s query comes from reader Adrian Forte:
I’m curious, when do you reach the point in your life when you are too old to consider yourself Goth, especially if you’ve never really gotten into the Goth scene in real life.
Oh, I’ve loved the music since high school. Everyone in my group of friends has considered me Goth as long as they have known me. But the thing is, none of them are. All through my early years I was this kind of proto-Goth that never bloomed. I didn’t know where to go or who to meet. And if it involved clubs or dancing, I didn’t have the balls to go.
Now that I’m 28, I’ve finally developed the courage to step out of my shell and I find myself in the same place I was ten years ago. All Goth on the inside, no Goth friends, etc. I love my non-Goth friends to death, but I wish I had someone I knew who would actually want to go out with me to a Goth club. And then there’s the age bit. I’m about as Goth as I can get without ever hanging out with more that one or two Goths at a time. Now that I have the courage to go out into the Goth world, I no longer know if I should. Is 28 too old to be fumbling around clubs trying to mingle? How much danger am I in of looking like some wannabe and will the Goth subculture even tolerate someone of my age or have I “passed my prime”. It must sound silly. At least I think it does. But now that I have the courage and the motivation I should have had a long time ago, I wonder if I’ve missed boat.….
Too old to be goth? Nonsense! Pish and twaddle. My dear twenty-eight-year-old Adrian (and the rest of you reading out there in cyberland), your faithful the Lady of the Manners is . . . older than that. As are the majority of the people she hangs out with. As are (as seen in various polls done on the myriad gothic newsgroups) the majority of the net.goths out there.
There is no cut-off age for the goth subculture. None. There’s not even a sign of a gothy cartoon character that says “You must be THIS tall to be in Gothyland”. A person can decide they’re goth at any age, and one doesn’t have to stop being goth by some previously-determined birthday. Personally, the Lady of the Manners plans on growing up to be the eccentric old lady that all the neighborhood children think is a witch. It’s taken the Lady of the Manners a long time to accumulate a wardrobe of black vintage clothes, and she plans on getting a lot of use out of it!
As to being too old to go to clubs, there is no such thing. (Unless, of course, a person is only going to goth clubs to try and pick up younger nubile gothlings. Then you should probably stop once it’s apparent you’re fifteen or more years older than the people you’re hitting on.) Go out, dance, have fun, and don’t feel so much angst about your age.
However, there are some things to consider when you are out of your mid-twenties and in the goth scene. After a certain age, big, complex, swirly eye-makeup designs look a bit . . . out of place. And capes from the post-Halloween sale rack, while never a good look for anyone, seem even sillier on people above the age of 17. The joy of growing older is that one becomes more comfortable with oneself. Which means not needing to prove how goth one is by how many goth clich’s or stereotypes one lives up to. So what if you don’t wear black 24/7? So what if you decide that getting enough sleep so you can go to work the next morning is more important than staying out all night at the club?
With age comes wisdom; that’s the theory, anyway. With age also comes the probability that a person will be more settled in their life, and able to devote more time, energy, and money to their hobbies. Sure, the general public associates goth with depressed teenagers, but most goths are in their late 20s to 30s, and have decent enough jobs that they sometimes have the spare funds to blow on really extravagant goth toys or clothes. Also, older goths (Or ElderGoths, if you prefer) are generally smart enough to realize that appearing on Jenny Jones or Jerry Springer won’t be doing them (or the subculture) any favors. They know the difference between something cool and something that is strictly a marketing gimmick aimed at weird people in black.
But the best thing about being an older goth? The fact that no one tries to tell you “It’s a phase” anymore. *wink*
One of our readers in DC read last month’s column, and commented:
Well, I’ve been in the DC goth scene since ‘89 and the “Nice boots.….wanna fuck?” line was in common club usage then, and had been for awhile. I have no idea where it came from, but it was definitely around before net goths were prevalent. One of my boyfriends even used it once and ended up having sex in the girls’ car behind the club. (No this is not an urban legend, I was there that night.) So, we now use it as a “Lets-go-home-and-make-like-rabid-weasles” code word. Sorry I can’t be of more help but at least I can pre-date it some.
So there we go, proof that the infamous “Nice boots . . . ” line is more than just a net.goth in-joke! Thank you for getting in touch, Kitty!
That tidily wraps things up for this month, boys and girls. Come on back June 1st, where the Lady of the Manners will answer a younger reader’s questions on how NOT to look like a poseur or clueless newbie when just starting out in the wonderful world of goth. As always, if any of you have a burning question (other than “Do you think that girl or boy would be interested in going out with me?”, or questions concerning your homework), send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.