Goth Life Beyond Club-Land

Hello Snarklings! The Lady of the Manners is, once again, very amused by how the world works at times. She had been pondering a particular popular misconception about Goth life, and idly contemplating writing a post about it. And then, surprise surprise, a letter asking about that exact misconception arrived in the Gothic Charm School mailbox!

Dear Lady of the Manners,
I have a question for you, if you wouldn’t mind answering 🙂 All your talk of Goth Clubs, and partying worry me, because i’m the kind of girl who likes to curl up on her victorian couch with her black cats and read all my lovely vampire romances by candlelight. Some people mention to me “Well, you aren’t Goth if you don’t like Goth Clubs!” and i don’t know how to reply! I’ve never liked crowds of any kind, and even typing about it gives me panic attacks. Am i a Goth wannabe if i dont like clubs, parties, drinking, or even Goth music (save Emilie Autumn). What is a recluse like me to do, Lady??
All my love,
Sadie Mai

Oh goodness, you absolutely can be a Goth and be a recluse or a homebody who doesn’t like the club scene! The Lady of the Manners likes going out to clubs because she likes going dancing, and because such activities give her and her friends an excuse to dress up even more elaborately than usual. But! The Lady of the Manners also very much likes spending quiet evenings at home, sitting on her Victorian-styled couch with her cats, reading vampire books by candlelight. So you aren’t alone in that preference, Sadie Mai, not at all.

The Goth subculture is, to a degree, focused on a nightclub and party scene because that’s where its roots are. Goth blossomed out of the punk scene, and for a very long time, the only place to find other people who shared one’s shadowy inclinations was by going to obscure clubs that played the music that bound the subculture together. Clubs were (and still are) a haven, where someone could flaunt their blackened finery and morbid interests and know they were surrounded by people who understood. That’s not to say that Goth clubs were or are places of magical spooky harmony where everyone gets along and is part of the extended Addams or Munsters clan, but the chances of finding people who felt the same way as you were (are) pretty good. That no matter how boring, drab, or aggravating your “everyday” life was, you could count on the escape of going to Ye Olde Spooky Club to be in the company of others like yourself.

However, there have always been Goths who didn’t like the club scene, and that doesn’t make them any less Goth. In fact, in the Lady of the Manners’ opinion, there is a stronger argument to be made for the non-club-scene activities to be a bit more gothy, because the people who are sitting at home reading books by candlelight aren’t doing it for display; they’re living their life, doing the things they like, and those things just happen to be very, very Goth. It’s the old “Lifestyle vs. Weekender” Goth argument: who is More Goth, the person who has a closet full of spooky club clothes and goes out every weekend, or the person who stays home with their antique books, gargoyles, and candelabras? It’s a trick question, of course, and also veers dangerously close to the notion of Goth Points – that in order to be a Real Goth you must check certain tickyboxes off of the list maintained by the mysterious Goth Cabal. Here’s a little hint: you don’t. There is no Goth Cabal (honest), and Goth Points are nothing more than an amusing in-joke.

Another thing to be aware of is that insisting that the only way to be a Real Goth is to be part of the club scene is (if you’ll forgive the Lady of the Manners a sweeping generalized statement) partially a product of people in their 20s. As much as the Lady of the Manners hates to play the “grown up” cliché card, there’s some truth to it. As shocking as it may be to some people, there is more to life than spending evenings at a club, and after a while, having your entire social life hinge upon club-going gets, well, boring. Not to mention tiring and expensive. The Lady of the Manners has been hearing more and more about groups of gothy types who are organizing alternate social events; while they want to hang out with other black-clad folks, they want to do so in an environment that is friendlier to conversation than shouting over the remix of the current stompy dance-floor hit. Picnics, crafting nights, tea parties, movie nights — there’s no dearth of social activities! (In fact, if the Lady of the Manners had free time (ha!), she’d try to organize some social outings for her area. But alas, the Lady of the Manners does not have free time, not even a little bit.)

So yes, Sadie Mai, you are a Goth, even if you don’t like clubs, parties, drinking, or most Goth music. What is a recluse like you to do? Keep reading your vampire romances. Keep doing the things that make you happy, and do not worry about what other people think. If (well, when) people tell you that you aren’t a Goth if you don’t like Goth clubs, smile at them and tell them that’s their opinion.The truth of the matter is that thanks to the wonders of the Internet, the Goth subculture has been able to spread its little bat wings and fly far beyond the confines of tiny, dimly-lit clubs. The dark at heart can find others like themselves across the globe, and not have to worry about if there’s a Goth club anywhere near them, if they’re old enough to get into such an establishment, or if they’ll even like the other spooksters at the club. So snuggle up on your couch, and please give your black cats a scratch behind the ears from the Lady of the Manners.

Coming soon to Gothic Charm School: another trip to The Nocturnal House to talk about vampire books, a review of Spin Doctor clothing, a write-up of Wave Gotik Treffen from Special Correspondant Marc17 , and more reader questions. Speaking of which, if you have a question, the handy-dandy Correspondence link is something you may want to investigate …

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