Bright Lights, Big City

Hello Faithful Readers, and welcome to August. The Lady of the Manners has complained at you (the Faithful Readers) for the past two months about summer weather, so she’s going to spare you that topic of conversation entirely. No, what this month’s topic of conversation is going to be is . . . moving.

For some reason, lots of people move during the summer months. Schools are out, days are long, and wanderlust seems to hit many people. And in this age of high-tech jobs that are all over the country, a lot of net.goths seem to end up moving from state to state. Which means that besides the practicalities of finding a new domicile, learning where the best place to buy coffee, hairdye, or to find good cheap Thai food, a goth has to adapt to the quirks of a new goth scene.

Now I know that some of you are thinking, “what could be so hard about that? Goths are goths are goths.” Ahhh, but you would be wrong. Each city has it’s own peculiarities in the local version of Gothyland, and if you don’t want to be (1) lonely, or (2) ostracized, there are some things you need to keep in mind.

Firstly, do some hunting around on the web, and see if the city you are moving to has a regional goth mailing list, and if it does, join it. This way, you can start learning about the events that go on in the local scene, introduce yourself online, and (hopefully) make some new friends via that wacky new technology, email. Regional goth lists are a great way to find out what people think of the local clubs, where you might be able to do some goth-themed shopping, and to be invited to various events that net.goths seem so fond of putting together for socializing. If you’re brave, you can even offer to host a movie night or dinner party at your new place of residence, once you’ve moved in. Also, after you’ve moved you can post things such as, “Hey! I’m going to be at club ___ tonight, and I look like the following:_____ If you see me, introduce yourself!”

The down side to this is that the dirty not-so-little secret of the Internet holds true on regional goth mailing lists; some of the people you become acquainted with online are not people you would EVER choose to spend time with in real life. But, there is no sure-fire way of being able to discern that without meeting some of those loonies face to face, so that’s something you’ll just have to accept.

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Things To Keep In Mind When Joining A New Club Scene:

Everyone dresses differently than you’re used to.

Sure, everyone will probably follow the basic theme of black clothing, but in some scenes, PVC and fetish gear are normal club-going clothes, other scenes are casual black jeans, t-shirts, and slip dresses, while in others it’s full Victorian formal wear. Don’t feel you need to change your look if you don’t “match” the local scene. Dress how you want to and in what makes you comfortable, but do realize that you will stand out.

Next, the whole re-inventing of yourself. Sure, it’s tempting to overhaul your public persona when you change locales; you’re meeting new people, and you can come across as pretentious or mysterious as you like, right? Well, kinda. Remember, the internet is a huge storehouse of information, including any posts you ever may have made to newsgroups. If someone really wanted to, they could probably find out what you used to be like, and then tell all of their friends. It would probably be much simpler if you just decided to be yourself, and not make up a new, Gother-Than-Thou personality. (Unless, of course, you’re already like that. In which case, don’t worry about it, but be prepared for people to try and poke holes in your attitude.)

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Mind Games, And How They Can Backfire:

Ah, a whole club filled with new people, all for you to dazzle, conquer, and manipulate. That’s what it seems like, right? Well, not really. Many, many of those people you are just meeting already know each other and know what sort of social interaction is going on behind the scenes. So if you decide to start saying things to get reactions, make sure you have a good idea of what sort of reaction might blow up in your face. A example:

Just recently here in the fair city the Lady of the Manners resides in, a young lady moved and joined the local mailing list. She seemed like a nice enough girl, and the various people on the list introduced themselves to her at one of the goth nights at the local club. The next weekend, the New Girl sat down with another young lady on the mailing list and started to regale her with stories about one of the young gentlemen who was also on the list; how he and the New Girl had been having four-hour long conversations on the phone, and that how he told her that she was the person he really wanted to be with, even though he was casually dating a couple other people. But that didn’t matter because he would figure out some way to dump them, because he was really interested in her.

What the New Girl did not realize was that the person she was telling the story to was one of the people casually dating the young gentleman. When confronted with the tale the New Girl had told, the young gentleman was VERY perplexed, because nothing the New Girl had said was true.

So the end result? The New Girl is now learning all about social ostracism in the goth scene. Of course, she is protesting her innocence to one and all, saying that the story she had told ISN’T what she said AT ALL. But since the others involved all have known each other for a while, they tend to believe one another, instead of the fictions of a complete stranger.

(Yes, the above is a true story. The names are being withheld to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent.)

You see, Faithful Readers, why one shouldn’t indulge in mind games when one moves to a new city? Don’t think that waiting until one knows who is who will make it any easier or better to indulge in manipulating people either; there is ALWAYS someone better at it than you, and having that pointed out in a cruel in and humiliating manner isn’t good for anyone’s ego or social standing. Go watch Dangerous Liaisons again, and you’ll understand what the Lady of the Manners is trying to get across here.

There, that wraps that topic up nicely. It all boils down to Play Nicely with the Other Goths; and if you chose to ignore that bit of advice, you need to be sure that you’re very clever, and have a very thick skin. The Lady of the Manners is going to wander away until next month. She’ll amuse herself in the meantime by watching the various nightclub dramas and politics; maybe she’ll even report back on them for your entertainment and edification if you’re lucky.

As always, send your burning etiquette questions to headmistress@gothic-charm-school.com. (Yes, even the ones about how to deal with your parents.)

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