Gothic (culture)

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The gothic culture is a subculture , the early 1980s from the punk - and New Wave -Umfeld emerged and is composed of several splinter cultures. It existed in the 1980s and 1990s as part of the dark wave movement and formed the hub of the so-called black scene until the turn of the millennium .

The basic element that enabled the development of Gothic culture was the interaction of music ( Gothic Rock ), a fascination with topics such as death and transience and the resulting self-staging . Literature and film ( Gothic Fiction ) had a major influence here , the subject matter of which shaped the appearance of the scene to a large extent.

The supporters of the Gothic culture are referred to as Goths across all countries , although this term is rarely used within the scene, is even rejected by many scene members and is often questioned. The reasons for this can be found in the attempt to preserve one's own individuality. In the German-speaking world, the term Grufti (e) is also used .

In the first decade of the 21st century, the term Gothic experienced a misuse as a marketing label by the music industry , but also by the commercial media, which developed another reason for the rejection as a scene name. More and more bands from music cultures that were unfamiliar to the scene, such as metal , medieval rock , new German hardness or visual kei , were marketed as Gothic , while the center of the Gothic movement was gradually sidelined.

Goth in the goth style: teased hair, piercings, rosary and astrological symbol on the forehead

Names and their origin

Goth (ic) (actually 'Gothic', here in the sense of 'gloomy', 'scary') was used at the end of the 1970s for a style of rock music from the post-punk environment and from 1982/1983 on the followers of the the resulting youth culture. The name of the scene does not go back directly to the Goths , the Gothic epoch or the Gothic Novels , but is based on a style of music that originated in England, which due to its dark and muffled sound and the themes used as " scary ”was felt. Accordingly, there was no direct reference between the Gothic scene and the Gothic epoch or the Middle Ages , as was mainly misinterpreted by outsiders in the following decades.

In 1982, for example, Ian Astbury , singer of The Southern Death Cult , dubbed the fans of the Sex Gang Children group as "Goths". Only a short time later, Ian Astbury from The Southern Death Cult formed the band Death Cult and in 1983 performed in Berlin. The music journalist Tom Vague, who attended this concert, said in a report in the October 1983 issue of the music magazine ZigZag about the Berlin audience “Hordes of Goths. It could be London… “ (English: 'Hordes of Goths. It could be London…') and tried to illustrate the similarities between the audience of both cities. In 1983 and 1984 the term for a new youth culture gradually solidified in Great Britain and was mentioned again in The Face magazine in a special on London's Batcave Club .

In the German-speaking world, terms such as “Goths” or “ Blacks ” or “ Waver ” across all scenes were used at the same time , since Gothic was unable to establish itself as a genre term or as a term for a subculture beyond British borders in the 1980s. In Canada and the USA this only happened around 1988, in Central Europe at the beginning of the 1990s, although Gothic has been used as a self-designation since 1986 in West Germany and since 1988 in East Berlin . Goth, based on the word “ crypt ”, was long regarded as a negative term, which later, however, was increasingly used as a casual self-term by the scene members. On the contrary, at the beginning of the new millennium it was largely displaced from the scene-internal language. Outsiders still use them today, now mostly without negative connotations.

The term "Waver" is derived from New Wave or Dark Wave. In contrast to other post-punk cultures of the 1980s, there were no pure Gothic scenes in many places. In addition to the main genre Gothic Rock, a broad spectrum of related dark wave genres was often preferred, so that in Central Europe one usually spoke of a “dark wave scene”. This was divided - mostly due to the musical preferences - into individual subcultures, of which the culture of the Goths was only one component of many. Gothic was thus subordinated to the dark wave movement. This division has been preserved in the name of the Wave-Gotik-Treffen and can be found in various magazine titles from the 1990s (for example The Gothic Grimoire - music magazine for Dark Wave and Life Style ).

At times the term positive punk was used, which - like "Gothic" - was derived directly from the preferred music. Positive punk was an alternative name for Gothic Rock in the first half of the 1980s and was first used in a February 1983 issue of the New Musical Express . Already in 1984 there was a mention in German music magazines, such as the Düsseldorf punk fanzine. Without you it would not have happened . The fanzine includes a. a family tree that ironically depicts developments in the punk and post-punk environment and describes typical positive punk as “gaunt, pale make-up, dressed in black, shy of daylight” and “with a preference for occult things” . Back in early 1986, Spex quipped in a report on Siouxsie and the Banshees :

"Positive Punx, English scribes christened the black, disheveled children who hung themselves with chicken bone chains and saw to it that old books on thunderstorm witches were republished. But the Banshees were far too busy with themselves, now probably too big and too important to deal with the cemetery philosophy in more detail. "

- Ralf Niemczyk : Spex, January 1986

As a result, the term positive punk in journalism increasingly lost its meaning and was replaced by the terms Waver and Grufti .

Furthermore, terms such as ghouls or darks were common in the GDR and in parts of Berlin . The latter name can also be found in countries such as Italy, Mexico or - in the linguistically adapted form Darkeri - in Croatia. In some areas of Germany, such as North Rhine-Westphalia, the self-titling crows was also common, which roughly corresponds to the designation les corbeaux ('the ravens'), which French Gothic and Wave fans used for themselves in the 1980s and who rely on them Appearance related.

Goth , mostly Goths , has established itself in many parts of the world to this day. In Germany, the corresponding translation Goten and the grammatically incorrect name Gothics are also common.

The scene

The scene at a glance

Social statistics

Little is known about the extent of the Gothic movement. A market study from the late 1990s - with regard to the scene in Germany - assumes around 60,000 followers, although this number is considered unrealistic, as it includes parts of the entire black scene and numerous sympathizers in addition to the actual Gothic culture . For example, Roman Rutkowski says in his book Das Charisma des Grabes :

“In addition, one has to distinguish between actual people in the scene and short-term, especially young sympathizers who“ try out ”themselves on their development path and only pause for a short time, influenced by the current popularity of certain music groups or the effect of“ belonging to the scene as fashion ”. Here, marketing takes place that cleverly tacts with the tendencies of the teenagers. "

Against this background, the growth of the Gothic and Wave scene, which was predicted several times around the turn of the millennium, is heavily questioned within the scene. Instead, a gradual decline was assumed in many regions as early as the late 1990s, which is the basis for the decline of Gothic and Dark Wave music. Most size statistics are based on festival events and magazine sales, so no suitable data is available. Because not every member of the scene goes to the festivals and not every festival visitor is necessarily a Goth. For example, the number of visitors to the Wave-Gotik-Treffen in Leipzig is currently around 18,000, but the audience is heterogeneous and in addition to Gothic also includes cultures such as punk , metal , visual kei , electro , cyber , neofolk and members of the medieval scene . In addition, it must be taken into account that the major events in particular are attended internationally. For this reason, it is not possible to estimate the size of the German audience share.

Likewise, no exact figures can be derived from CD sales, because "not all people who purchase or listen to music typical of the scene would consider themselves to belong to this scene, since more attributes are required here than just music consumption."

According to a study by the Ministry for Women, Youth, Family and Health of North Rhine-Westphalia (MFJFG NRW), the age of the scene members is 14 to 40 years - the majority of them are between 16 and 24 years. The gender distribution within the scene is very balanced, so the proportion of women is significantly higher than that of many other subcultures.

Scene features

The Gothic scene is regarded as an aesthetically oriented subculture whose members are perceived as peaceful, but also as aloof, elitist or unrealistic. It's a retrospective culture with an enormous range of fashionable forms.

The average population is criticized negatively by parts of the Gothic culture, for example as conservative, consumer-oriented, intolerant, selfish and guided by the law of social reliability. The rejection of these characteristics results in a demonstrative distancing from society.

There is no characteristic attitude towards life that all members of the Gothic culture share. Philosophical, religious and political questions are addressed among Goths, but not answered uniformly.

" Due to the [...] emergence of sub-scenes, the range of ideas [...] is very extensive. In addition, the members of the scene [...] show a very strong individualism and claim not to adopt preconceived notions, but to have developed their own attitude towards life in the course of their lives. "

The peacefulness of the scene is often emphasized as a special feature. However, this is mainly due to a self-centered, passive and sometimes resigned attitude. Gothic culture is not a politicized movement. It neither pursues goals nor does it follow a common ideology.

Rather, the young people circle around themselves, think about themselves and their stories, certainly also about big issues, but without actively acting politically or loudly articulating their criticism. "

Some Goths seek out places of silence, solitude and contemplation - according to their intention to withdraw - which mostly exude an atmosphere of death, sadness, suffering, peace and transience. Still, the Gothic scene is not a culture of mourning. There are a number of Goths who primarily enjoy mystical and occult content and try to live out this side of their personality. Melancholic and introverted idiosyncrasies are thus common, but due to the heterogeneity of the scene and its forms of expression, these cannot be generalized. Humorous traits are also present, which is illustrated above all (partly self-critical) Goth comics .

Dealing with death and its acceptance as a natural part of life is often ambivalent , that is, it is carried out in a serious and ironic way. Occasionally, there is a tendency towards existential philosophy , which, in addition to the thought of reincarnation, also includes the knowledge of impermanence and the associated meaninglessness of life, from which negative states of mind such as indifference, resignation or longing for death can develop.

The Gothi image of death contains extreme and direct forms of preoccupation with death that are received with unease by the rest of society. It is mostly incomprehensible to outsiders why young people are concerned with the end of life of all things [...]. "

Past eras, such as the Victorian Age , the Wilhelminian Age and the Fin de siècle , attract the interest of Gothic culture. Linked to this is often a preference for literary genres and periods, especially for Gothic Novels and Black Romanticism , which at the same time exerted a significant influence on the appearance of the scene. One of the basic characteristics of the scene is not, as is often assumed, a return to the Gothic age, but - closely related to music - to the 18th and 19th centuries . Century, the age of the horror novels. There is also a longing for the Middle Ages and its myths and legends. However, this is a romanticized image of the Middle Ages that many Goths have in mind and should enable an escape from the real world. The negative aspects of this time, such as deadly epidemics ( plague ), high mortality rate and poverty, are mostly excluded.

The motivations for joining the Gothic movement are of different nature and differ only slightly from those of other subcultures. In addition to musical preferences, especially in adolescence, this includes the search for identity, alternative life plans, protests and demarcation from the parents and society, but also a depressive attitude towards life, which is often caused by a lack of meaning and a lack of understanding. The decision to join the Gothic scene often leads to many private, school and professional conflicts. In individual cases, this decision can completely destroy the bond with the parents or other family members, for example if family life was already heavily burdened and inharmonious. However, these difficulties are by no means seen as a motivation to distance oneself from one's own ideals, a worldview or a way of life.

Many Goths maintain a strong sense of tradition and maintain their lifestyle or the preferences associated with it (including music and clothing style) well into adulthood. In contrast to classic youth cultures , this creates a cross-age dialogue.

Interests / leisure activities

According to an international study (mainly concerning Europe, North America, South Africa and Australia) 95% of the scene members spend their free time with music, which underlines that the Gothic culture is essentially a music-oriented culture. About 75% –80% of the respondents also spend their time reading, on the PC or with friends. Around 60% like to go out (parties, cinema, etc.). 48% deal with lyric and poetry and write their own texts and poems. Around 40% enjoy taking photos, painting or traveling. Female Goths in particular devote themselves to artistic design. However, only 20% –30% are close to nature.

Even without considering the scene in Germany, the results remain almost identical in comparison. It is striking, however, that only about 30% of those surveyed abroad spend their free time with friends, which suggests a higher proportion of loners.


A central feature of Gothic culture is styling, which is used by many of its relatives as a means of demarcation, belonging and expression. Goths who try to express their emotions and thoughts through their appearance generally prefer the "color" black. It is an expression of seriousness and thoughtfulness, a fascination with mystical-occult content, but also of hopelessness and emptiness, melancholy, grief and death. On the contrary, it is used as a simple, fashionable element. But also blue, violet, white or bordeaux-red are hair and clothing colors to be found. These are mainly used for accentuation. Based on the roots in punk , items of clothing such as tights or fishnet shirts are deliberately provided with tears or holes. Likewise, a number of hairstyles are based on the punk and wave culture of the 1980s, which means that the Gothic movement can still be optically located in the post-punk milieu today .

However, the clothing strategy of the early Gothic scene did not show itself, as with the punks, as an aestheticization of the ugly or with the New Romantics as a revival of the glamorous of bygone times, but as a staging of horror. For a long time, especially among Goths , it was considered fashionable to symbolize the transience of human existence with a deadly appearance. The glamorous aspect, as later Gothic generations have known since the 1990s, initially only played a minor role.

However, many Goths also deliberately distance themselves from the appearance of punk culture. Elements from clothing styles of the Renaissance are just as present as an outfit based on the Victorian Age or Art Nouveau . However, the respective clothing styles are rarely found in their pure form. As a rule, these are individual clothing components from different eras that are eclectically combined with one another. Occasionally, in addition to the associated clothing expenditure, high costs are also accepted, for example to have a stylish Rococo costume tailored. Some of these forms of clothing are seen as relics of the New Romantic scene, on the other hand, the actors of romantic vampire films are considered fashion models.

Distinctive features can be
  • Pale make-up complexion (corpse pallor or Victorian aesthetics), highlighted by dark make-up (such as kohl ) and paintings (accentuation of the cheekbones as well as elaborate ornaments around the eyes and mouth); black painted fingernails
  • Unusual hairstyles such as "Tellerminen" (circularly shaved hair, often styled in the form of "crow's nests" or "tower hairstyles"), "weeping willow hairstyles" (long, teased hair or creped hair, English called "crimped hair" or "crimpers") ) Irokesenschnitt (ausrasierter strip from the front hairline to the neck) undercut (additional shaving of the back of the head), fixed usually placed very high toupiert, down or to the side bonded to the braid; black, less often blue, red and purple colored or bleached. Since the 1990s, more and more women have hairstyles from bygone eras, and in some cases hair that is over shoulder-length in men.
  • Religious, occult or esoteric symbols as jewelry ( e.g. rosaries , ankh and Petrus crosses ), almost exclusively made of silver
  • Bracelets en masse (element of wave fashion), rivets, piercing jewelry and safety pins (element of punk fashion)
  • Power shirts, fishnet stockings, torn shirts, Vestons and buttons ( Batcave - or deathrock -Look)
  • Collar shirts (plain), Aladdin trousers ( Sarouel ), leather jackets, peacoats , loden coats , Dr. Martens , Pikes or Boots ( Goth look)
  • Ruffled shirts, gowns , dolmans (hussar jackets), frock coats and uniform jackets from the 18th and 19th centuries; Dresses made of velvet, lace and chiffon, often in floral designs; Pikes and pumps (black romantic or end time romantic style)
  • Swallowtails and black cylinder ( " Chapeau Claque "), often wearing dark sunglasses as an accessory (based on Bram Stoker's Dracula )
  • Collar shirts, leather jackets, lederhosen, biker boots, hats (later Gothic-Rock style, inspired by bands like The Sisters of Mercy)
  • Hennins and Witch Hats (popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s)
  • Corsages , overbust corsets and corset belts (brocade, velvet, silk or leather) for women, often in combination with wide hoop skirts

This list is only a rough overview of the variety of styles that are common in the Gothic scene. There are too many clothing combinations for a precise style description that also include the sampling of clothing elements from subcultures outside the scene, such as the Rivethead culture or the BDSM scene. In addition, due to professional constraints, a Goth cannot be assigned to the Gothic movement immediately.

Occasionally, because of the clothing, there is confusion between Goths and members of the metal or medieval movement. Metal icons such as Liv Kristine (Leaves' Eyes, formerly Theater of Tragedy), Tarja Turunen (Nightwish), Amy Lee (Evanescence), Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation) or Vibeke Stene (Tristania) served as fashionable women Role models who often appear in corsages, panné velvet and lace dresses at concerts and promotion photos. The visual kei trend, which is indirectly and exclusively related to the Gothic movement for reasons of fashion, has led to further confusion in recent years . Due to the broad musical festival program, members of the visual kei scene are meeting more and more often at events such as the Wave-Gotik-Treffen .

Preferred forms of music

Music is the driving force behind the emergence of numerous youth subcultures. It is experienced emotionally and serves as an outlet for pent-up emotions such as anger, gloom or fear, as an escape from the gray everyday life and at the same time as a form of expression of youthful protest, which is usually underlined optically by a corresponding appearance. The musical experience and the staging of the body thus form an inseparable unit. This in turn serves - depending on the preference of an artist or genre - as a transmitter of a certain attitude towards life.

The Gothic culture emerged on the basis of the so-called Gothic Punk , an early form of Gothic Rock , also known colloquially as " Batcave ". In addition, a number of related varieties were favored, which - apart from styles such as death rock - developed primarily in the dark wave environment. Many of the preferred forms of music therefore moved within the post-punk and wave periphery and - regardless of the type of equipment used and the sound generation - are characterized by classic punk-rock nuances. An example of this is the group Alien Sex Fiend , which used both guitars and analog synthesizers.

Between the beginning and the middle of the 1990s, a large part of these forms of music died out and was gradually replaced by music styles outside the scene, so that the Gothic movement did not have an independent music scene in the following years (and apart from a few niche bands). Only the increasing spread of the Internet made it possible in the new millennium for an underground scene to emerge that communicates via platforms such as MySpace . There are also numerous retrospectively oriented Goths who are limited to the musical spectrum of the 1980s and early 1990s and who tend to be critical of externally initiated trends.

Frequently preferred forms of music were / are:

Other, non-specific or unrelated music:

Dance styles

Different forms of dance are present in the Gothic scene, which are basically performed as soloists. Couple or group dances are alien to this culture.

The pogo was still widespread as a dance style in the development phase of the early Gothic scene . This was taken directly from the punk environment and was able to gain importance again with the Batcave Revival after the turn of the millennium. In addition, the so-called "grave digger" was prevalent among the Goths in the 1980s, also mockingly referred to as the "north-south course" or "vacuum cleaner dance". Here the dancer moves three steps forward, bends his upper body - leaning to the left or right - down and moves back to the starting point with just as many steps. The implementation of the dance often gives the impression that the dancer is digging a grave on the dance floor. Both dance forms, the pogo as well as the “gravedigger dance”, are performed regardless of the beat of the music. Sometimes a form of "anti-dance" was performed with particularly melancholy music, which was expressed by standing around motionless on the dance floor, usually with closed eyes:

You just don't dance, you stand on this dance floor and let the music creep into you really nicely. "

In the 1990s, rhythm-oriented dance forms were increasingly added, the theatrical gestures of which are partly reminiscent of Indian or oriental temple dancers.

Living space design

Since the living space is often used as a place of well-being and retreat, the design of the living space plays an essential role for many Goths. In the 1980s it was common to decorate the walls and ceilings with mostly black-colored fabrics and cloths and to decorate them with accessories such as rosaries, crosses, plastic roses or grave sashes. The room furnishings also often consisted of black furniture and cemetery-typical objects such as candlesticks, grave lamps or skulls.

After the Gothic scene broke out of its status as a youth culture in the course of the 1990s, these forms of living space design - now largely regarded as clichéd - gradually disappeared and were replaced by less macabre design forms, for example in the style of the Victorian era , historicism or the Wilhelminian style or in a contemporary, simple and neutral-colored art room style . Almost exclusively in parts of Batcave culture, design elements from the 1980s such as torn textiles, spider webs, skulls or bat dummies have been preserved as ironic allusions.

Chip cultures and homology

Due to the growth of the scene, personal preferences regarding clothing and music as well as the associated development of a lifestyle, a number of recognizable splinter cultures ("interest groups") developed over a period of about 15 years, which have coexisted continuously or only temporarily since then. In particular, the development of new musical sub-styles in the 1980s (see the article Dark Wave ) promoted the growth of the scene and fundamentally shaped the diversity of Gothic culture with regard to its worldviews and fashionable manifestations. The end of this development process can be dated to the mid-1990s.

Especially the “hardliners” of the respective splinter culture can be quite hostile to each other. A member of the Batcave scene can have a completely different mindset than, for example, an end-time romantic . Two characteristics that unite all splinter cultures are the roots in the post-punk and wave movement and the thematic connection with the Gothic Novels and Black Romanticism .

Batcaver also called Goth Punk or Gothic Punk , refers to the members of the early Gothic scene, as it was mainly to be found in England. They were the first to be called Goths around 1983 . The name "Batcaver", which goes back to an early scene club in London , only came up at a later time and primarily serves to distinguish it from the following splinter cultures within the Gothic scene. In terms of outfit, hairstyle and ideology, still strongly influenced by punk, the Batcavers experienced a revival at the turn of the millennium with active networking with the American death rock scene. The Batcave culture is less attached to the affinity to Weltschmerz and contemplation than to the fun of the scary / morbid.
Preferred music: Gothic Rock , Gothic Punk , Post-Punk , Death-Rock
Examples: Bauhaus , Siouxsie and the Banshees , The Damned , Sex Gang Children , Virgin Prunes , UK Decay

Goth Also known as the Goth , referred to the members of a youth culture in Central Europe that emerged as a parallel movement to the Batcave culture in England and made headlines in the 1980s and early 1990s for its morbid peculiarities. Contrary to the Batcave scene, Goths, both music-related and outfit, were much more rooted in the electro-wave environment and showed a pronounced tendency towards Weltschmerz and escape from reality. In the meantime, the Goth movement, whose followers primarily moved within the adolescent stage , is considered extinct.
Preferred music: Gothic Rock , Cold Wave , Electro Wave
Examples: The Cure , Joy Division , Bauhaus , Christian Death , early Anne Clark , early The Sisters of Mercy

End time romantic The end-time romantics form a splinter culture that was first mentioned at the beginning of the 1990s. It developed gradually from the Goth movement, of which part of the appearance, such as shaved and teased hair, silver jewelry, etc., was retained - in comparison to the outfit of the Goths, however, clothing and make-up style are careful, significantly more elaborate and with love elected to the detail. They are the "mirror of an apocalyptic, death-focused worldview" . Distinctive features are white make-up, often with filigree ornaments, clothing made of velvet, brocade, lace, chiffon and silk as well as accessories such as rosaries, crucifixes , brooches, tiaras , velvet collars, richly decorated folding fans and lace gloves. The end-time romantics have a much stronger predilection for philosophy, literature (especially poetry), painting, cemeteries and old, dilapidated buildings than was the case in parts of the gothic scene of the 1980s.
Preferred music: New German death art , neoclassical
examples: Relative humanity , early Goethe's heirs , early Das Ich , Sopor Aeternus , early Sanguis et Cinis

Black romantic Also called Dark Romantic or Romantic Goth , denotes the supporter of a splinter culture that established itself roughly parallel to or immediately after the end-time romantics and developed into one of the predominant splinter cultures within the Gothic scene, especially in the second half of the 1990s. Contrary to the end-time romantics, punk and wave-typical features, such as shaved, teased hair, piercings or dead-like make-up parts of the face, are hardly or not present. In terms of interests and clothing, however, the boundaries between the two splinter cultures are fluid. Black romantics are a transnational phenomenon and, with different titles such as Romantic Goth and Romantigoth , can also be found in Great Britain, France, Italy, Spain or Brazil.
Preferred music: Neoclassic , Ethereal Wave , Pagan-Folk
Examples: Dead Can Dance , Ataraxia , Dargaard , Faith and the Muse , early Love Is Colder Than Death , Artesia

Others In the second half of the 1980s, with the growing popularity of bands such as The Sisters of Mercy, The Mission or Fields of the Nephilim, a fan base emerged that differs greatly from the external characteristics of all of the aforementioned splinter cultures. Long hair and clothing elements dominate the hard rock scene. This outfit culminates with some fans in the complete adoption of the clothing style of the Fields of the Nephilim, which were jokingly dubbed "The Bonanzas" due to their western look (riding coats, Barmah / Stetson hats). Although this appearance clearly stands out from the others, it falls into the time of the Victorian cultural period (19th century) and is shaped by this ( sample photo ( Memento from February 13, 2008 in the Internet Archive )).
Preferred music: Gothic rock , related
examples: Fields of the Nephilim , The Mission , The Sisters of Mercy , New Model Army , Catherines Cathedral

Style-determining commonalities can be recognized within a fragmented culture, which extend to the entire living environment and include both musical preferences and personal interests as well as appearance and living space design. The relationship between these components is called homology in social science .

This includes the entire living environment, such as your own room or apartment, the style of clothing, hairstyle, music, dance style as well as specific places and meeting places. As is the case with other youth subcultures, the special styles of music are a fixed point of orientation for stylistic practices. "

Example: A Goth who predominantly favors neoclassical dark wave groups such as Dead Can Dance or Ataraxia, dresses primarily in flowing clothes (see black romanticists ). His living room is furnished with antique furnishings, appears aristocratic or even folkloristic and exudes a dreamy, secluded or fairy atmosphere. The cultural environment of a Goth, who favors predominantly Gothic-rock-oriented dark wave groups such as Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Cinema Strange , is primarily determined by the post-punk movement of the early 1980s. His environment is still clearly shaped by the punk culture (see Batcaver ). The external attributes, such as clothing, hairstyle and home furnishings, are usually an expression of a mental attitude or an attitude towards life that determines the respective fragmented culture.

Not all Goths belong to a splinter culture. There are also various mixed forms, which are primarily reflected in the appearance and musical preferences.


For a long time, a prominent feature of the Gothic and Dark Wave movement was the use of pseudonyms , which had been widely used since the second half of the 1980s. Initially clearly influenced by punk culture, the range of pseudonyms was expanded quite early to include names that came from the fields of film, music, literature and mythology and at the same time referred to the interests of their namesake. These included names such as Morticia , Ceridwen , Menhyt , Moonchild, Lilith , Luctus, Necrophorus, Nycteris , Châtelaine, Akasha , Baal , Desdemona or Ozymandias . Simply put together pseudonyms ( e.g. Dark Angel 666 ), as they are mainly used by sympathizers and newcomers to the scene, were and are considered unimaginative and are frowned upon in the scene.

With the spread of the Internet, the use of pseudonyms ultimately reached its peak.

Presumably driven by the use of the Internet as a communication medium, many followers of the scene use a pseudonym instead of their real name, which often goes beyond the virtual boundaries of electronic media and is also used in everyday, real life. […] Within a local scene, the pseudonym is usually unique and therefore allows the person to be identified. "

In the meantime, such pseudonyms are also finding favor in other youth cultures and milieus, such as in the Black Metal scene or parts of today's black scene , which means that their use is no longer tied to the Gothic movement.

Scene media

Magazines for the Gothic scene appeared primarily in the beginning to the end of the 1990s only in small numbers. In addition to fanzines such as Goth's Not Dead from northern Germany and the Koblenz magazine The Torturer , which incidentally published cassette compilations with newcomer bands from the Gothic-Rock and Dark-Wave environment, The Gothic Grimoire and the Gothic magazine in particular established themselves . The latter is still active today due to its shift in focus. It is now dedicated to the spectrum of topics from the entire black scene and far beyond, so that it lost its status as a Gothic magazine in the second half of the 1990s. Outside Germany, the Naked Truth from Glasgow, the Gothic Chapter from Paris, the Propaganda Magazine from New York, the Under the Black Rose Magazine from Latina as well as Alma Mater and Sturm und Drang from Barcelona and Maldoror from Madrid were in charge. Another magazine simply titled Gothic Mag appeared in Greece.

Typical fanzine Design: Michael Wolgemut Danse Macabre- representation dance of the skeletons , a woodcut of 1493, used for a UK-Decay credit report in a fanzine of 1982 ( Report 2 . Braunschweiger scene magazine ).

Many of the fanzines and music magazines published since the 1980s , such as Spex , ZigZag , Glasnost , Der Wahrschauer , Strange Ways , PopNoise , Zillo , Inquisita or Epitaph , always contained a wide selection of different genres of the wave and independent movement and were therefore not intended exclusively for Gothic culture. In the early stages of the Gothic movement, bands that defined the scene, such as Bauhaus, Joy Division and UK Decay, were primarily published in punk magazines (e.g. Pretty Vacant ). These were duplicated by means of xerocopy or hectography and held together with simple staples or strings. Highly contrasted band photographs, vanitas motifs or images of gargoyles and animal skulls were used to decorate the pages of the magazine . Furthermore, according to several Gothic and Dark Wave albums, photos of grave sculptures were used (photos of graves in Staglieno and Père Lachaise can be found, for example, on the works of Joy Division and Dead Can Dance). The use of such photographs in Gothic-oriented magazines peaked in the 1990s.

For some reason the first fanzines never had their own photos, so they relied on illustrations that they could steal from somewhere. […] From there the world of images developed, which has dominated Goth ever since. "

- Mick Mercer : journalist and book author

Currently there are - in addition to a few print media such as Transmission Magazine and Crawling Tunes Magazine (both Germany), Drop Dead and Death-Rock (both New York) and Music Your Grandparents Can Dance To Magazine (Australia) - some webzines (online Magazine), such as , or , whose main focus is on Gothic and related directions such as Death-Rock or Cold Wave .

Compared to the metal movement, Gothic culture was never given a place for scene-specific music programs on television. Even radio broadcasts that deal exclusively with the musical stylistic output from the Gothic environment have not yet been realized. There were occasional programs that repeatedly included Gothic bands in their wide-ranging independent program, such as John Peel's Music on BBC Radio 1 , which was also broadcast in North Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia, West and East Berlin on the British soldier channel BFBS Radio 1 could be received, and from 1984 graffiti on WDR 1 . A characteristic part of John Peel's Music were the Peel Sessions , for which different bands were invited to the studio in order to record some pieces live in a short time without extensive production. Many of these peel sessions were released on phonograms (for example The Cure, Joy Division, Xmal Deutschland, Clan of Xymox). For a while there were some web radios , such as the French broadcaster Onde FM , but they ceased their activities after a short period of time.

Relationship to other subcultures

A friendly relationship connects parts of the Gothic scene with the punk and psychobilly culture. One reason for this can be found primarily in the musical preferences that these youth cultures share ( The Cramps , Alien Sex Fiend , Fleeing Storms ). Since the beginning of the scene, points of contact with the post-industrial movement can also be identified (e.g. via groups such as Einstürzende Neubauten , Cabaret Voltaire , Foetus or, later, Skinny Puppy ), which were intensified particularly in the 1990s.

Conversely, there were more conflicts with supporters of the EBM scene, which developed predominantly in the western European metropolitan regions of Brussels , Liège , Rotterdam , Frankfurt am Main and Berlin or in eastern Germany apart from the black scene and developed with the Weltschmerz attitude and androgynous Appearance that prevails in parts of Gothic culture, could not befriend. For them, martial appearance and body-hugging hardness as a sign of masculinity were in the foreground.

The metal scene has long been considered one of the greatest enemy of Gothic culture . This hostility, which emanated from both subcultures, was counteracted in the 1990s mainly by artists from the musical environment, such as Secret Discovery , Paradise Lost , Dreadful Shadows or - quite specifically - the metal formation Atrocity in collaboration with Das Ich . The opening up and the increasing amalgamation of parts of both subcultures into a “ Gothic Metal scene” is not universally endorsed and has been heavily criticized since the late 1990s. It meets with rejection , especially among traditionally oriented representatives of both the Gothic culture and the metal scene .

Furthermore, overlays with the BDSM scene have been increasingly visible since the mid-1990s . However, they are not generally rated positively by the Goths, but sometimes perceived as an infiltration. It is often overlooked that elements of fetish and BDSM culture found their way into Gothic culture via the punk movement as early as the 1980s and were a fashionable part of the Batcave scene in London. Through musicians like Siouxsie Sioux ( Siouxsie and the Banshees ), Gitane Demone and Eva O (both formerly Christian Death ) and later due to the growing success of performance artists like Die Form , the fetish / BDSM fashion found further spread. The overlap with the BDSM scene is almost exclusively limited to the fashion aspect.

There are clear attempts at differentiating from the visual kei movement. The visual kei scene is a thorn in the side of Japanese Goths in particular, as many representatives of this scene (so-called J-Rock bands) are falsely presented as Gothic by the mass media and internationally misunderstood as Japanese Gothic bands.

There is also a split relationship with cyber culture. This scene is often perceived as an enemy, but also occasionally seen as part of Gothic culture (as so-called "cybergoths"), although there are no fundamental similarities in terms of outfit or musical preferences and roots. Cyber ​​culture is also not familiar with romantic issues.



The affiliation of a person to the Gothic culture is independent of belief , denomination and religious affiliation . Goths deal mainly with the topic of religion and draw individual conclusions, which means that a more detailed definition is not possible. Some parts of the scene are inclined to atheism and completely reject the institution of the church, for example because of its misconduct throughout history.

With some Goths there is a longing for the origins of faith and paganism , which was violently destroyed in the course of Christianization . This often expresses the desire for one's own origins and roots. There is also an interest in occult or neo-pagan content (e.g. in Wicca ). This is accompanied by a tendency towards syncretism (also known as the “ patchwork religion”).

Unlike Black Metal , Satanism is not an elementary part of Gothic culture. Although many members of the Gothic movement distance themselves from Satanism and try to express a completely different attitude to life, they are often associated with this because of their external appearance and are ridiculed by outsiders or even classified as potentially dangerous.

It is true that in the Goth scene of the 1980s there were members of the scene and youth cliques who superficially dealt with the topic of Satanism. Most Goths, however, were not concerned with Satan. Rather, their appearance and peculiarities arose from a morbid, partly nihilistic mood that represented the unifying element of the Goth scene. The main content of faith of the Goths was not, as often claimed in the media, the belief in Satan or in a god, but in death as a superior power to which every person is subject. This belief in turn points to an atheistic attitude.

Further preoccupation with Satanism beyond theoretical considerations takes place - if locally at all - only among marginalized groups and is by no means to be assessed as typical of the scene. "

The social prejudices, however, hit the inconsistent Gothic culture in its entirety. Especially with younger people who are growing into the scene, they may reinforce the view that a rejection of the Christian faith or even a turn to Satanism is a prerequisite for being recognized as part of the scene. However, this is not the case. In individual cases, this fallacy leads to a fictional satanism ("fantasy satanism" based on individual interpretations), which is driven by thrills or provocation, but has no real reference to Satanism, especially with newcomers in the adolescent stage of development .

Young people want to shock adults, which they can do most effectively by turning to Satanism, since Christianity is the dominant belief system of Western culture. "

Occult symbols, for example the pre-Christian pentagram and the Petrus cross , are often played with for the purpose of provocation. On the other hand, they are used as an expression of church and religious criticism. Often, however, it is the fascination with mysticism that is widespread in the scene that motivates Goths to wear occult and religious symbols.

A small part of the scene is Christian. One example of this is the Black Service , which takes place annually for the Wave-Gotik-Treffen in Leipzig's Peterskirche .


A clear political orientation cannot be determined. In comparison to other subcultures that move around the black scene , politics within the Gothic movement is of secondary importance, which means that conservative or right-wing ideologies are less common. Some goths are interested in left-wing alternative policies. Others, on the other hand, take a primarily apolitical stance - with an upward trend since the 1990s.

“It seems to steadily decrease over time, [unusual] when you consider that the wave and gothic movement emerged from punk and was strongly influenced by the cold war mood in the first half of the 1980s . "

- K.Baal : singer of the gothic rock band Lady Besery's Garden , 1999

Right-wing extremism and xenophobia are largely rejected in Gothic culture. This circumstance was particularly noticeable in the 1990s. Magazines such as the Bonn music magazine Gothic Press wrote a circular in 1992 about the danger of right-wing extremism and spoke out against right-wing extremist violence. At the same time, however, a large part of the scene distanced itself from any political ideology and took actions against right-wing extremism and xenophobia for granted.

The media and left- wing extremist organizations, such as splinter groups of the Antifa , have made several connections between Gothic culture and artists who are said to have a right-wing extremist sentiment. Many of these politically controversial artists, such as Boyd Rice , Death in June , Von Thronstahl , Der Blutharsch or Blood Axis , however, come from the neofolk and martial-industrial environment. They move primarily on the fringes of the black scene and have only a few points of contact with Gothic culture.

Meeting spaces


An "event" is the term used in the black scene for a discotheque event. There were hardly any pure Gothic events until the late 1990s. These were usually held in the form of "Independent fetus", the audience sat down first of all followers of different subcultures such as punks , Rockabillies , Psychobillies , wavers , Rude Boys , EBM - and electric fans, rarely from supporters of the Post-Industrial - Culture or the crossover scene, together. These diverse independent events were necessary because an event for only one music and scene direction was difficult to realize due to the costs involved. Between the beginning and the middle of the 1990s, some of the public disappeared from the discos, especially punks, rockabillies or fans of the EBM and crossover scene. At the time, Goths shared the dance floor with only a few subcultures, such as the electro scene.

In the following years the audience changed drastically. This was expressed in particular by the enormous influx of members of the metal scene, but above all of the techno culture, whose members increasingly migrated to the black scene after the techno wave subsided. One reason for this is the presence of metal-heavy (including Dark Metal ) or technoid-shaped (including Future Pop ) sounds, which are increasingly shaping the event program of the black scene and thus triggered the first internal conflicts in core regions such as North Rhine-Westphalia as early as 1996 . Since there were initially no uniform draft programs nationally or internationally and the events were organized differently from city to city, this change was noticeable in other regions only a few years later. In particular, the dance- and techno-heavy music, which was preferred by parts of the electro scene during this time , promoted the development of cyber culture in the new millennium , which is currently the main audience in discos in several areas of Europe (for example in the Ruhr area ) forms, and led to the fact that numerous Goths turned away from the conventional events and organized gothic, dark wave or death rock-specific events, which are now - benefited by the Batcave Revival - due to the size of the Gothic Audience paid off.

There are now real» anti-future pop «events. If that is already on the flyer, it is a sign that people are getting tired of it. "

- Paul Cuska : journalist, musician and label owner of Strobelight Records, 2004

Well-known events in recent years have included Pagan Love Songs ( Bochum ), Gothic Pogo Party ( Leipzig ), Blüthenrausch ( Berlin ), Geistertanz ( Bremen ), New Dark Age and Crimson Night (both Hanover ), New Wave & Romantic Night ( Chemnitz ), Tanz Debil ( Bielefeld ), Levitation Party ( Rüsselsheim ), Dangereux ( Basel ), Dead and Buried ( London ), Batcave Party ( Bratislava ), Gothic au Chat d'Oc ( Toulouse ), Bloody Bat and Beautiful but Deadly (both Paris ), Release the Bats! ( Los Angeles ), Zombie Party ( Barcelona ) or 1334 ( Melbourne ).


Another significant - albeit controversial - meeting place and abode for Goths is the cemetery. In the 1980s, the cemetery was visited mainly for the youth's thirst for adventure. At the beginning of the 1990s, the thrill of nightly visits gave way to a fascination with the aesthetics of old graves. The cemetery became a popular destination with a quiet, romantic and mystical aura. With this, many Goths tie in - often unconsciously - to the customs of the Romantic era . In the 19th century, cemeteries were not only burial places and collection points for corpses, but also public and popular places that were visited by their visitors as places of meditation and mental gathering .

The morbid charm of a church garden surrounded by high walls and old trees with its graves overgrown by ivy and gorse, its steles and statues, its small chapels and tombs, is ideally suited to calm the mind, inspire the imagination and talk about transience to ponder all that is. [...] In the shadow of the cool walls of an ossuary, in the face of the ubiquity of death, the small worries and hardships of existence fade and give way to an understanding of their insignificance. "

At the beginning of the 20th century, the cemetery developed into a taboo place, which the younger generations in particular avoided and banished from life. Goths remove the taboo from the cemetery and make it an everyday (or nightly ) place to stay.


Well-known starting points for the Gothic culture bild (et) en das:

None of these events were designed exclusively for the Gothic scene. However, they are often visited by representatives of the Gothic culture. Especially the Wave-Gotik-Treffen, which was originally launched as a meeting place for wavers and goths, now covers the interests of the entire black scene with a wide range of offers . The Zillo Festival also attracted numerous followers of other independent cultures (e.g. punk ). As a result, the audience was less homogeneous. In addition, there were and are smaller, but far more representative events such as the Sacrosanct Festival and the Whitby Gothic Weekend (both England), the Under Cover of Darkness Festival , the Batcafe Festival and the Gothic Pogo Festival (all three Germany), Judgment Day ( Austria) or Drop Dead (USA).

Influence on art

Gothic culture has influenced various artists, not only musicians but also painters, photographers and writers. What they all have in common is their turn to mystical, morbid and romantic topics. Stylistic devices from different epochs can be used, for example German and English Romanticism . As multifaceted as the gothic culture is presented, the art forms influenced by it also appear diverse: In photography and painting the spectrum ranges from unobtrusive portraits to erotic pictures to depictions of fairy tales, gods and fantasy figures. In literature, the themes of poetry , horror and fantasy dominate . There is a preference for dark colors and moods, similar to the Gothic Novels , the Pre-Raphaelites or the painters of Art Nouveau .

Photographers closely related to Gothic culture include Felix Flaucher, Gerd Lehmann and Anni Bertram from Germany; Viona Ielegems from Belgium; Nadja Lev from the USA; Stéphane Lord from Canada or Lord Heathcliff from France. Among the cartoonists are Natalie Shau, Rachael Huntington, Myka Jelina, Gerald Brom and the American comic artists Jhonen Vasquez ( Johnny the Homicidal Maniac ) and James O'Barr . Comic artists from Germany are Michael Kämper ( Always when it gets dark ... ), Uwe Roesch ( Dead ), Andreas Keizer ( Gothic Tales ) and Mathias "Tikwa" Neumann ( The Little Gruftschlampe ), whose works are mainly published through music and culture magazines Gained notoriety.

Authors who write exclusively for the Gothic scene are rare and if they are, then hardly known, as the group of buyers for "dark" poetry is not very large. Christian von Aster is considered to be a well-known author across all scenes, who addresses some of the Goths directly with some short stories and satires or at least gets a greater response there. American author Poppy Z. Brite is very popular in parts of the English-speaking Gothic scene .

In the area of ​​film, the works of the American director Tim Burton deserve special mention, whose work is partly influenced by the Gothic aesthetic. Quite a number of musicians and pioneers of the early British Gothic movement were also inspired by Gothic horror classics and film noir , which led to a correlation between film art and musical culture early on. An example is the horror film has desire (Engl. The Hunger ) by director Tony Scott , in which - in addition to David Bowie in the lead role - even Peter Murphy , singer of the gothic rock band Bauhaus , participated. Some of these films are still very popular with members of the Gothic culture.

Representation of the Gothic scene in the media

The negative image attached to the Gothic scene was and is largely shaped by the commercial media but also by the scene itself. Reports about Satanism, desecration of graves or black masses form the content of numerous publications and have a strong influence on the way the population sees it. Many of these reports, the content of which has been adopted and reproduced almost unchanged over the course of two decades, represent the image of a rebellious youth scene that is considered to have long since died out in terms of its mentality and way of life.

In fact, in the 1980s there was occasional cemetery vandalism in parts of the Goth scene, which the later Gothic movement, however, is opposed to. This included knocking over gravestones or stealing grave decorations such as wreaths, grave lamps, vases or crucifixes that served as decoration for one's own home. This was probably not so much anti-religious motives as youthful carelessness, impressive behavior and the thrill of playing with taboos. In addition, the objects collected symbolized the close proximity to death, which at the time was still central. Even decades later, the carelessness of many young Goths casts a shadow over the entire Gothic movement. The continuous take-up of such incidents by the commercial media, especially by the tabloids and broadcasts, is often not justified with the intention of serious reporting, but rather aims primarily at the sensationalism of the population, which is their in the old, often exaggerated crimes Sees prejudices against today's Gothic culture confirmed.

Not all media presentations show the scene from a distorted view. There are also many articles that describe this subculture with great sympathy. Such reports can usually be found in reputable daily newspapers. Most of the really damaging reports have to be attributed to the tabloid press. "

The scene is also gently mentioned in the Tatort episode Ruhe, which was first broadcast in 2007 . The representation is strikingly realistic.

Apart from the commercially oriented media, there are also isolated reports and self-portraits from the 1980s in the early editions of the music magazine Zillo , in which - in addition to "Séances on the graves of the dead" - the destruction of gravestones and the escape from reality through the use of drugs , the increasing division into youth culture cliques and the steadily growing intolerance within the Goth scene are addressed. However, it must be taken into account here that the Goth scene was constituted as a pure youth movement, some of its followers trying to attract media attention with the help of adventurous, morbid stories and, above all, to gain respect and recognition within the scene.


Precursors and influencing factors


The punk movement emerged in the mid-1970s, but its subcultural and musical origins date back to the late 1960s. The culture developed as a reaction to the mendacious, peaceful idealism and optimism of the hippies as well as against the political establishment (also against the left ) and represented an anti-bourgeois way of life. In the foreground was the provocation of the society she rejected, both through the appearance, which above all emphasizes the ugly (such as torn, often with slogans and controversial symbols or otherwise modified clothing, eye-catching sunglasses, piercings), as well as through behavior. Due to the escalation of the Cold War, the economic recession and the associated mass unemployment, a lack of future prospects, identification problems and growing resentment among the youth for the clearly conservative moral ideas of the authorities and the church emerged. The pessimistic attitude of the punks, who showed a noticeable closeness to anarchism and nihilism , was expressed in the motto No Future . However, not all members of the punk movement dealt with the existing problems in the same way. Very early on, various characters appeared in the scene who are very similar to those within Gothic culture: In addition to socially critical and hedonistic- oriented punks, whose main intention was to celebrate the path to ruin, an introverted offshoot developed in parallel, the is mostly reflected in the depro-punk attitude .

The music of the early punk bands was a raw and primitive form of rock 'n' roll as a counterpoint to perfected progressive rock and the superficial and commercially oriented disco culture. Bands such as Ramones , The Stooges , New York Dolls , MC5 and Patti Smith laid the foundation for punk, and the CBGB club in New York City is considered to be the nucleus of the movement . When punk split into different genres in the late 1970s, death rock and goth rock emerged from it; Punk bands like The Stooges and The Damned exerted a significant influence on the development of Gothic music. Contrary to some statements, Gothic was not a deliberate separation from punk. Many Gothic bands saw themselves as part of the punk movement and not as initiators of a new genre.

Both external features such as the mohawk , torn fishnet shirts and tights as well as ideological aspects flowed into the Gothic movement. The transition from punk to gothic was fluid and was hardly noticed at first. A dark style of clothing and make-up was also common among punks, which gave way to more colorful outfits as early as the 1980s.

New Romantic

New Romantic, actually New Romanticism , was a youth cultural scene that developed in the late 1970s within the New Wave movement as a reaction to punk . The members of this scene, the New Romantics , Mantics or Blitz Kids (named after the nightclub "The Blitz" in London, which is considered to be the cradle of this youth culture), were particularly striking because of their glamorous appearance, consisting of classic uniforms (18./ 19th century), hats ( bifurcated or barque ), cutaways , waistcoats , ruffled shirts, lace dresses, Harlequin -Kostümen, walking sticks and Indian decorative objects as well as extremely-applied makeup on and bizarre hair styles with which they are aware of the as dingy perceived Punk Tried to differentiate the look.

Musically, the New Romantics moved between New Wave, Funk and Glam Rock , before the scene's own bands such as Spandau Ballet , Visage , Classix Nouveaux , Duran Duran and Culture Club stepped into the limelight and made the movement known outside of England. In Central Europe, however, New Romantic was mostly associated with bands such as The Human League , Depeche Mode and Soft Cell , which resulted in a shift in meaning to the synth-pop environment. For this reason, in many places on the European mainland there was no New Romantic movement corresponding to the British scene.

To what extent New Romantic influenced the Gothic culture in its development is unclear. In fact, many Goths in Germany believed that the Gothic movement had developed on the basis of the New Romantic scene. Around 1982 the New Romantic movement in Great Britain reached its cultural peak. Numerous “mantics” turned away from the scene - due to the commercial success of their idols - and looked for alternatives, which they found among other things in the simultaneously newly developing Gothic culture. The Batcave Club in London, which is considered the place of origin of the Gothic scene in England, initially served as a meeting place for new romantics, punks and related youth cultures before it became the prototype of a Gothic club. With this, part of the New Romantics went seamlessly into the Gothic movement, whereby various clothing, make-up and hair styles exerted an influence on the development of Gothic fashion.

Black romance

The Black Romanticism was a literary movement of the 19th century, introduced by the Italian literary scholar Mario Praz in his 1963 study La Carne, la Morte e il Diavolo nelle Letteratura Romantica (English title: Love, Death and the Devil. The Black Romanticism ) has been extensively investigated and addressed both the abysses of human existence ( madness , morbid tendencies such as necrophilia ) and anti-Christian, nihilistic and ghostly topics. Significant authors of this flow of romanticism , whose pioneer Mario Praz sees Marquis de Sade , were Ludwig Tieck , ETA Hoffmann , Edgar Allan Poe , Algernon Charles Swinburne and Lord Byron , but also Gérard de Nerval , Gustave Flaubert , Charles Baudelaire and Gabriele D ' Annunzio .

The so-called Gothic Novels were an essential part of Black Romanticism . In the English-speaking world, the Gothic Novels, with their gruesome settings such as cemeteries, haunted castles and ruins, enjoyed great popularity. The success of these novels in the context of emerging decadence literature in the 18th and 19th centuries was a response to the rational, demystifying view of naturalism and the Enlightenment .

Since the beginnings of the Gothic movement, there has been a thematic network with Gothic Novels and Black Romanticism , which has been preserved in its various forms of expression to this day. There were many bands from the Gothic-Rock and Dark-Wave environment, such as Bauhaus , Siouxsie and the Banshees , Ghosting or The House of Usher , who dealt intensively with this era. There is also a strong interest in black romanticism in Gothic culture. Here, however, not only the spectrum of topic-related novels and films is received, but an attempt is made to stage dark characters such as the undead or Femmes Fatales . With this, Goths take the place of role-players . In retreating into an idealized way of life, there is a tendency to flee from the world both among the romantics and among adherents of Gothic culture .

Development of the Gothic scene

Early years (1981–1989)

The Gothic culture emerged as a music-cultural youth scene across Europe from the early 1980s. As with other youth cultures, a tribalization process took place here , which was completed in a first stage around 1983. It is not entirely clear whether the Gothic scene spread from England or whether parallel scenes developed in other European countries at the same time. Groups like Siouxsie and the Banshees or The Cure toured Germany as early as 1980/1981 (including Hamburger Markthalle and SO36 in Berlin; an appearance of the Banshees was broadcast on ZDF in 1981 as part of the "Rock / Pop" broadcasts ) and were already able to win numerous fans at this time. The post-punk band Joy Division also gave two appearances in Cologne and Berlin in 1980 and was therefore well known in Germany. However, England served as a travel destination as well as a landmark for music and fashion. An exchange took place on an international level.

Inspired by other artists such as Bauhaus , The Sisters of Mercy , Christian Death , Xmal Deutschland and UK Decay , for example, smaller, regional groups ( cliques ) developed in the German-speaking countries that were part of the punk and new wave movement of Western Europe were rooted, but hardly kept in touch with one another. In the big cities in particular, many of the youth cliques were hostile to one another as a result of generational conflicts. The earliest developmental approaches of the Gothic movement in Germany can be found since around 1982 in the former walled city of West Berlin , which in the 1980s developed into a place of pilgrimage for the West German Gothic scene and maintained an intensive exchange with London. This is where the Goths from all over Germany met at the Zoo train station or on Breitscheidplatz ; Among the most important discos at this time were the trash in the Kreuzberg district (later “Altes Kaufhaus”, alias “A. K.”) or the Linientreu . In Austria, the U4 in Vienna developed into a central meeting place for the scene.

Ten or twelve years ago there were young people who, stimulated by acoustic and optical phenomena in the realm of poppes and rock, wrapped themselves in black cloths, made their hair dark and pointing upwards and scowling through them Big cities crept. I don't know what they called themselves. But I remember one so dressed up woman who said she was a "Gothic woman." Others called these people »Goths« ... "

- Max Goldt : writer, columnist and musician, 1992

Even in the early stages of the Gothic scene, the first wave of Gothic music was considered extinct around 1984. Significant representatives such as Bauhaus, The Cure, UK Decay, Specimen , The Southern Death Cult or The Danse Society changed their musical style or went their separate ways. This fact soon affected the English regional scene, which began to show signs of decline as early as the mid-1980s. Was the Gothic movement in England primarily a fashion phenomenon among many, which mainly found itself in clubs like Clarendon Ballroom , Batcave , Kit Kat (all three in London) or The Phonographique in Leeds (known for the "Black Sheep" series of events ), so it was able to gain a foothold in the rest of Europe, especially in the most industrial regions of Germany, France and the Netherlands.

It was fashionable then to be Goth. Therefore the following was bigger. When fashion tastes changed, the "true goths" stayed with them. But the people who had only followed fashion turned to other things. "

- Andrew Bachelor alias Damien DeVille : lead guitarist for the British gothic rock band Nosferatu

In Spain the scene was limited to the centers of Madrid, Barcelona and Saragossa. It was - like Italy's scene - only a short-lived movement that subsided in the mid-1980s and only experienced an upswing in the 1990s. In the USA, gothic-specific infrastructures developed primarily in the coastal cities of Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia, while the region known as the Rust Belt , with cities such as Boston, Detroit and Chicago, was mainly characterized by post-industrial, electro-industrial, Disco, House and Detroit Techno was shaped and thus contributed only insignificantly to the development of musical culture. Los Angeles plays a separate role in this. The city became the center of the death rock movement, in the vicinity of which part of the American Gothic scene developed. In Canada, the area around Toronto, Montreal and Québec formed the core cultural region.

The hairstyles and clothing styles of the Goths at that time were strongly based on the appearance of the punk and new wave movements or were taken over from the musical leading figures. Popular artists such as Robert Smith (The Cure), Rozz Williams (Christian Death), Siouxsie Sioux (Siouxsie and the Banshees), Peter Murphy (Bauhaus) or Jonathan Melton (alias Johnny Slut, Specimen) are idols of Gothic culture and to this day served as a model.

It was a year before we realized that we were attracting a huge audience, post-punks, morphing into what we called wildebeests, wild creatures. […] On the one hand we had an audience that we had created through our own work, on the other hand we were also a little irritated, curious and a lot confused: Why does our audience look so strange? We didn't even realize what we looked like. After a while you become immune to the shock effects of your own outfit. That'll be the norm. "

- Peter Murphy : singer of the Bauhaus group

From 1984 the scene was increasingly mentioned in German punk fanzines. The Mettmann scene magazine The Mettmist complained in a report about a performance by the band Christian Death in the club "Okie Dokie" in Neuss:

The concert by the American Oberdüster group Christian Death started late again. […] The audience was also very gloomy […] Some had appeared in full 'Christian Death' outfits. Well, I found these clothes great about the group. But to totally imitate them? "

- The Mettmist : German punk rock fanzine, 1984

Another influencing factor are the regional differences in terms of environmental and living conditions and the associated attitude towards life. In areas that were characterized by industry, a punk-heavy clothing style prevailed. In regions in which a historical architectural style dominated, on the other hand, part of the Gothic scene felt inspired by eras of bygone days. In southern Germany, for example, different clothing styles were created that were based on the Romantic or Baroque periods . These styles are often interpreted as being influenced by the English New Romantic movement.

In addition, countless goths were inspired by film characters from horror and B-movie classics such as Nosferatu , The Black Cat , The Raven and The Hunger or film comedies such as The Munsters and The Comedy of Terrors . Although they felt they belonged to the same culture, goths who were oriented towards horror film and novel characters or parts of the New Romantic movement differed from those who were more inclined to punk in both their appearance and their outlooks on life concerned.

In the mid-1980s, magazines such as BRAVO (Germany) and Rennbahn-Express (Austria) began to show an increasing interest in the youth phenomenon. For example, in March 1986 the BRAVO published the report Die Gothics liebe Grüfte . As early as February of the following year, an eight-part Gothic photo love story started with Ratte makes the fly .

Due to the lack of musical idols, however, the scene in Germany gradually began to disintegrate from around 1987. Groups such as The Sisters of Mercy , The Cure and Fields of the Nephilim counteracted this decline . In addition to Robert Smith, who returned to his dark wave roots after a foray into commercial pop, Andrew Eldritch (The Sisters of Mercy) and Carl McCoy (Fields of the Nephilim) were the leading musicians of this era. The latter had a lasting influence on the fashion of a new splinter culture , especially in Great Britain known as Bonanzas , although the punk and wave-related appearance that was characteristic of early Gothic culture continued to dominate.

Other culturally significant bands from the Gothic / Dark Wave environment were The Mission , Dead Can Dance , Clan of Xymox , The Fair Sex , Pink Turns Blue , Psyche or Girls Under Glass .

At that time, discos such as the Incident in Bochum-Langendreer , the Abby in Meßkirch , the Ohm in Mannheim , the Cräsh in Freiburg or the Madhouse in Berlin became important meeting places in Germany.

Further development (1990–1995)

Wave-Gotik-Treffen photographer Viona Ielegems in the black romantic style 2005

In the early 1990s, the German independent scene experienced an upswing, with the turnaround and the merging of East and West Germany, interest in music grew. There was an exchange between two cultures and various record companies and newcomer bands, such as Love Like Blood , Garden of Delight , Silke Bischoff or The Tors of Dartmoor , established themselves within the growing Gothic and Wave movement.

Various meetings were arranged, such as the Waver meeting on June 16, 1990 in Cologne, the Wave-Gotik-Treffen on May 29 and 30, 1992 in Leipzig or the Gothic meeting on August 6, 1992 in Berlin. Numerous music magazines such as Glasnost Wave Magazine , Zillo , Sub Line , Gothic Press or The Gothic Grimoire established themselves on the German market. The Zillo in particular became the mouthpiece of the entire independent culture. Here cross-regional communication took place via a classifieds market. On the basis of these exchange opportunities, an infrastructure grew over the years, in relation to which one could speak of a nationwide Gothic scene for the first time.

Although it originated in the 1980s, it was only in this decade that the demand for related music styles from the dark wave environment, such as neoclassic and ethereal wave , but also for music inspired by the Middle Ages rose. Artists and ensembles such as Love Is Colder Than Death , The Eternal Afflict , Qntal or Estampie enjoyed a high priority. With the development of the New German Death Art , the German language gained increasing acceptance in the clubs. Here it was bands like Goethe's Erben or Relatives Mensch sein , who once again strengthened parts of the Gothic and Wave movement in terms of their clothing and lifestyle.

In general, these dark wave subspecies have merged with one another in the course of time or emerged from an earlier wave genre, so that a clear separation and thus the exact assignment of a band is no longer possible in some cases. So varieties like Gothic Rock , Ethereal and Cold Wave are not only stylistically related and culturally branched into one another. Several groups, such as the Cocteau Twins , The Frozen Autumn or Engelsstaub , can even be assigned to several sub-styles, taking into account their entire creative period (the Cocteau Twins, for example, both early Gothic Rock and later the Ethereal; The Frozen Autumn initially underlined theirs Electro wave with gothic rock guitars, similar could be seen in the early works of Diary of Dreams ).

In addition to Germany, other countries also recorded a small upswing, in particular Great Britain, with groups like Nosferatu, Vendemmian or Rosetta Stone, and the United States, with bands like Lycia , The Wake or Mephisto Walz. Some of these groups gained worldwide popularity. However, this time Germany assumed a role model function for foreign countries, especially for Austria, France, Spain and Brazil. The music-cultural supremacy that Great Britain had in the 1980s was thus passed to Germany.

I don't think we are even aware that what we have achieved with this music in Germany over the past four years is paradise for audiences abroad. We Germans used to go to England. Today Italians, French, Belgians and British go to Germany to see and meet some band. "

- Gunnar Eysel : bassist for the gothic rock band Love Like Blood , 1994

Cultural decline (1996-1999)

In the second half of the 1990s, the Gothic scene experienced a significant break. With the disappearance of Gothic Rock from the clubs and the simultaneous fading of the Dark Wave era, the movement lost part of its main source of inspiration - music.

When you look back over the year, I actually find it difficult to say whether it was a good or a bad one in relation to the scene. But I had to realize (with a few friends) that there was no longer a real boost like at the beginning of the 1990s. "

- Andreas Starosta : Editor of The Black Book music magazine, Berlin 1996

[…] For the first time I noticed a phenomenon that for me is a sign of the inner decay of the scene: a large number of the bands disappear after the release of their first album. [...] Where have they all gone [...] The Tors of Dartmoor, The Merry Thoughts, Substance of Dream ... Is it because of the bands? After an album is the air out? "

- Lara von Bergen : editor-in-chief of The Gothic Grimoire music magazine, Koblenz 1996

Numerous bands, labels and music magazines stopped their activities or turned to other areas in terms of style and content. Especially between 1996 and 1999 this led to a clear change within the scene; With each subsequent generation change, Gothic culture gradually withdrew from the discotheques and developed into a marginal movement in many regions, which was mainly due to retrospective events and a few gothic-related bands such as Faith and the Muse , Untoten , London After Midnight or Sopor Aeternus , was kept alive. In many small and medium- sized towns , it died out completely, for example as a result of demographic, biological or interest-related changes (e.g. east-west shift, exit from puberty, withdrawal into family life).

Save the Wave - Can the scene still be saved? was the headline in 1997 of the two-page report of an issue of Gothic magazine, in which the decline of the wave / Gothic movement and its values ​​is discussed.

Whether all the countless new releases that flood the market are to blame for this decline in Gothic culture… I don't know. […] Since I don't go to clubs myself, I cannot assess what has happened in the dark wave and gothic genre and which music is currently preferred by the DJs. But whenever I was told how the evenings were going, I almost always had to experience how terribly sobering and boring it was. Apparently newer things were running the whole time, which were just bad and you were immediately grateful as soon as an old Sisters piece was smuggled in. "

- Anna-Varney Cantodea : Sopor Aeternus , 1996

As had been the case a decade before, the country of origin, Great Britain, also experienced a cultural low point at this time, the cause of which, however, was not, as in the mid-1980s, the greatly reduced number of scene-relevant bands, but rather the lack of a suitable target audience.

The British Gothic scene is the size of a very small loo bowl right now, and most of it sucks. There seem to be a lot of bands out there that are called Gothic, but there doesn't seem to be an audience for them, or at least a bigger underground audience. To be honest, Gothic has been at its lowest level in England since it started. "

- Steve Weeks : singer of the British gothic rock band Revolution by Night , 1996

Also suddenly there seem to be fewer new UK Gothic bands than about two years ago. Maybe too many of them broke up due to a lack of consent ?! "

- John Berry : guitarist for British gothic rock band The Laughing , 1996

Eileen Bowe, singer and guitarist of the band Dichroic Mirror , confirms a similar development for the west coast of the USA , especially for the Los Angeles area , and reports that the scene is dying. The band London After Midnight, also from the Los Angeles area, has a similar opinion and speaks of a migration to alternative music and cultural areas. Not least for this reason, bands like Mephisto Walz, Shadow Project , Autumn or This Ascension took long-term breaks from publications in the mid-1990s.

I have the impression that this whole Gothic thing is limited in time and is coming to an end. […] There seems to be a renaissance for darker, more theatrical music, but I don't think it presents itself to us as in the familiar sense of »Gothic«. "

- Douglas Avery : former drummer for London After Midnight , 1996

Part of the reason for this was the steadily growing popularity of non- scene , especially metal- oriented genres, which were gradually given more space at club and concert events of the alternative and black scene and in the renowned independent magazines Zillo , Orkus and Sonic Seducer has been. In 1995 and 1996, this shift in focus increasingly met with discontent among readers:

Nobody can seriously expect that their preferred groups will be reported in every Zillo. […] But don't you think that you sometimes stray too far from your principles, your origins? Gothic, punk and independent in the broadest sense - that should mainly be your subject area. There are metal magazines for metal. Why report about such groups in the Zillo? "

- Zillo letter to the editor, June 1995

At that time no one suspected that this change would decisively shape the future of the black scene: The foundation stone for the development of the " Gothic Metal scene" was laid, which was initially recruited from supporters of the metal scene and parts of former Goths, only a little later, however, produced pure Gothic Metallers who had hardly any reference to the subcultural original forms, in particular to the Gothic and Dark Wave movement:

New generations came and old ones disappeared. The problem with this is that today's audiences just don't know the roots of the black scene anymore. For the majority of people, Gothic Rock, such as Christian Death , Screams for Tina, Mephisto Walz , The Sisters of Mercy or Fields of the Nephilim , seems dusty and boring, whereas they then turn their heads at the weekly club events Shake to Moonspell , Type O Negative and Crematory . "

- Thomas Thyssen : Journalist and DJ, 1997

The 1980s revival (since 2000)

It was not until the turn of the millennium that bands such as Cinema Strange , Diva Destruction , Bloody Dead and Sexy , Zadera , Scarlet's Remains and Chants of Maldoror brought some innovations and thus also introduced a younger audience to traditional Gothic music. Leading the way in this repeated upswing were labels such as Alice in ... (Germany), Strobelight Records (Austria) and Infrastition (France). Unlike in the 1990s, however, this revival is only limited to a few metropolitan areas, such as Berlin, Leipzig, Westphalia, Los Angeles or London, and culturally ties in directly with the 1980s. Gothic culture thus shares the fate of other post-punk scenes such as Oi! and Psychobilly , which have established themselves primarily in the big cities. For this reason, a large number of people in the provincial scene use the Internet as a communication medium.

There is an unmanageable variety of internet presences, personal pages, information pages, forums and central pages (which serve as contact points and lead to further specific offers) as well as commercial web presences with the sale of scene requirements. "

In many places, the infrastructure is maintained almost exclusively via the Internet, across regions and countries (“virtual infrastructure”). For example, it enables the announcement of smaller Gothic events that would hardly be mentioned in the major media. Likewise, there are hardly any limits to the distribution and presentation of scene-relevant music (including your own) via platforms such as MySpace , Soulseek , CD Baby or

Development of parallel scenes


At the end of the 1990s, the black scene began to be partially commercialized , but the Gothic and Dark Wave culture remained largely unaffected. Only the term “Gothic” was used as a marketing label - without any consideration of its original meaning - and expanded to include comparable and completely independent cultural trends and forms of music.

This development began in particular with the hype surrounding gothic, atypical music groups such as HIM , Nightwish , Cradle of Filth , Rammstein , Oomph! , Marilyn Manson , Evanescence , Xandria , Krypteria , In Extremo , Subway to Sally , ASP , Eisbrecher , Staubkind or Samsa's dream that the commercial media (including music magazines such as Orkus , Zillo and Sonic Seducer ) with the Gothic culture in And culminated in the music industry's attempt to market test-tube bands like Nu Pagadi as Gothic acts. Many of these groups come directly from the metal , alternative rock and crossover environment and can be found as part of the alternative movement in the German Alternative Charts ( DAC for short ). However, they are not representative of Gothic culture and its music. They do not represent a further development of the scene's own music, but predominantly use foreign stylistic devices. Above all, bands like Nightwish, which are supposedly presented as “Gothic Metal bands”, are rooted exclusively in the symphonic metal environment and have neither a stylistic nor a cultural connection to the Gothic movement.

We're not a Gothic band, but it's also pretty hard to categorize ourselves, so people come up with the wildest definitions of our music, like 'Snow White Metal', 'Fantasy Art Metal' or 'Neoclassical Avantgardist Gothic Speed ​​Power Symphonic' Progressive Hard Rock '. "

- Tuomas Holopainen : Founder and keyboardist of the symphonic metal band Nightwish, 2003

Even Rammstein, who can be assigned to the New German Hardship , stated in the 1990s that they had no relation to the Gothic or Black scene. Others, however, like The 69 Eyes , only slightly pick up on style elements of Gothic music or are marketed as Gothic bands only because of their external appearance (black clothing, dark make-up) (for example Jesus on Extasy ).

Although the youth and fan cultures that have emerged on the basis of this form of commercialization are mostly attributed to the Gothic scene by outsiders, these are parallel movements that often lack reference to the Gothic movement.

In 1999, this development was discussed on a larger scale for the first time in The Next Generation , a program broadcast by the culture magazine Polylux on ORB .


With the increasing development of these parallel movements, the club-specific infrastructure of the Gothic scene was almost completely destroyed in many cities. This is due, among other things, to the strict guidelines of the management, as a result of which a number of DJs are forced to play music that is in line with the trend in order to attract a profitable audience to the discos. On the other hand, many young DJs do not concern themselves with the music of the scene and focus primarily on the commercial media. The events will continue to be advertised as "Gothic events" - in most cases, however, they are non-scene, mostly metal , medieval rock , techno or even j-rock- oriented events aimed at a mass audience. As a result, numerous discos ceased to exist as essential meeting and communication spaces for Gothic culture since the late 1990s (see also the Events section ).

If you want certain songs in many clubs these days, you are often looked at as stupidly. Sometimes I have the feeling that if you feel part of the original movement, you are very lost today. [...] And two hours of pounding with distorted vocals would drive me crazy. I mean, it started with such dull, pounding sounds in the Stone Age and now we're back there. That speaks volumes. "

- Tilo Wolff : musician, former DJ and label owner, 2005

At many events in the last few months I got the feeling that I was the wrong person in the wrong place. [...] Unheilig , Combichrist , Tumor and all the others have also broken into our »beautiful eternal island«. But in Berlin we have another problem: The strictly commercial club K17, which has destroyed a lot of underground culture with free events with up to five floors here in recent years and, unfortunately, has also massively established the aforementioned junk bands. "

- Uwe Marx : DJ, journalist and musician, 2006

Goths in the GDR

Goths in public life

Around 1985 the Goth movement penetrated via Berlin and West Germany into parts of the German Democratic Republic. The age of the scene members ranged between 14 and 23 years and corresponds roughly to the information on today's scene. Dieter Baacke , in his book Youth and Youth Cultures - Representation and Interpretation (1999), gave the GDR scene a heyday that can be dated to the years 1988/1989.

In Germany, and especially in East Germany, people dealt much more intensively and seriously with the values ​​and ideals behind music. Baacke even assumes - as far as the East is concerned - that the GDR should have flourished. "

From the mid-1980s until shortly before the fall of the Wall , the Ministry for State Security (MfS) counted more than 600 Goths within the GDR, 150 of them in East Berlin . Other centers were Cottbus , Frankfurt (Oder) , Leipzig , Potsdam and Halle an der Saale . 36 unofficial Stasi employees were smuggled into the mostly regionally organized youth cliques for spying, so there was roughly one unofficial employee (IM) for each clique.

In the small towns, on the other hand, there were less homogeneous structures. Here Goths showed solidarity with punks or new romantics . Because of their "anti-socialist appearance" (O-Ton Volkspolizei), many young people were persecuted by the state, meetings were broken up by the Volkspolizei and recorded as gangs, evictions and city bans were not uncommon. This circumstance made an exchange between the supporters of the East German Wave and Gothic movement difficult.

Basically, it developed in a similar way to the West, the only difference being that here, due to the socialist system, it existed very narrowly, suppressed and separated from the rest of the scene and was officially taboo. As a result, however, the community only grew closer together and thus had a family-like character that showed its peculiarities in relation to the West. [...] The scene especially had to struggle with the intolerant population, because they saw a threat in the different »Ostrogoths«. "

There was also massive pressure from the teachers. This was expressed in the fact that poor grades were awarded regardless of performance or in the prohibition of taking higher school qualifications such as the Abitur. Using these measures, many Goths whose desire for individual development was misinterpreted as an attack on the political system were excluded from public life and prevented from pursuing a decent professional life.

I was in a lot of trouble at the time. I never understood when they came up to me and put pressure on me about my appearance. I was not at all aware that I was clinking something politically, nor was it my purpose. It only developed, out of spite, when I realized that the system I believed in made fidelity dependent on the hairstyle. "

- Jörn Ranisch : 37 years old, cartographer

Music and fashion

Music collections were usually limited to magnetic tape cassettes ( ORWO cassettes), the recordings of which were mainly recorded in poor quality by the radio. The Parocktikum program , which was broadcast on the youth radio DT64 in the second half of the 1980s, was considered to be an important medium . With the help of this radio show, bands such as Joy Division , The Cure , Alien Sex Fiend , Bauhaus , Einstürzende Neubauten , Cocteau Twins , The Smiths , Dead Can Dance , Clan of Xymox , Marquee Moon and many others quickly gained notoriety in eastern Germany. Regardless of this, the number of national wave and gothic rock bands remained low. Only groups like Rosengarten from Salzwedel, Die Art from Leipzig, Happy Straps , Die Vision and Die Firma from East Berlin as well as The Happy Cadavres from Magdeburg and The Calyx of Rose from Frankfurt / Oder achieved cult status . One of the main reasons for this was the lack of inexpensive and powerful instruments:

There were very few synth bands. State-of-the-art technology from the west was very expensive, and a guitar was barely affordable. Synthesizers from the GDR production could be thrown in the garbage can. That's probably why there were mostly guitar bands. "

- Thomas Böttcher & Jens-Uwe Helmstedt : Musicians

Records and cassettes that reached the “Zone” via Poland , Hungary , Czechoslovakia or the Federal Republic of Germany were rarer. For albums by The Cure , Depeche Mode or Bauhaus , one often paid excessive prices in the GDR, for example via Intershop . On the other hand, some publications were published by the record label Amiga (VEB Deutsche Schallplatten). Many of these sound carriers were sold out immediately after their release due to their small numbers and due to the high demand and were subsequently traded as collector's items.

The difficulties in obtaining the music that was frowned upon by the state gave it a particularly high priority. Transferring such records to cassettes and hoarding such "treasures" was almost a cult act. "

In terms of fashion, creativity was given free rein, as many items of clothing in the Goth look were not available in traditional department stores. Mainly out of necessity, many objects from everyday life were misused. Among other things, robes were made from inexpensive flag fabric or metal pull chains from toilet flushes were turned into wearable jewelry. For studded belts and bracelets, the metal spikes attached to the sole of spikes have proven to be optimal.

Meeting spaces

While Breitscheidplatz acted as a meeting point for Goths and Waver in West Berlin, Alexanderplatz in East Berlin took on this task for Goths in the GDR. Mostly on the weekends, fans of the Gothic scene from various cities in East Germany, such as Leipzig , Cottbus , Suhl or Zwickau , traveled to Berlin and gathered there near the Urania world clock .

Although numerous meetings were suppressed by the state authorities between 1985 and 1988, members of the East German scene managed to spontaneously and illegally organize private parties, such as in Berlin-Weißensee or in the Rotkamp youth club . Larger events, such as the New Year's Eve celebrations in 1987 and 1988 in Berlin-Spindlersfeld , on the other hand, were rare. A key event in the history of the East German wave and goth movement was the Walpurgis Night in 1988. In Potsdam, on the former Belvedere castle ruins on the Pfingstberg , around 150 "blacks" from all over the republic met, after initially 20 people. The initially undisturbed course of this meeting was ended by the security forces of the then GDR regime .

Above all, the offense of a forbidden gathering came into play when more than three people met on public streets or squares without official approval. Even if, according to some descriptions, some of the young people played a game of cat and mouse with the police, it can generally be assumed that there was a stronger preference for private meetings, which, however, did not protect against state control. "

During this time there were only a few discos and youth clubs that included gothic and dark wave-specific music in their programs. One of the most famous venues was the live club in Berlin-Friedrichshain , which opened in 1988 in the basement of a new school. In the late 1980s, the Eiskeller (now “ Conne Island ”) in the Connewitz district , the “ Haus Auensee ” in the Wahren district and, since the spring of 1990, the socio-cultural center “ Die Villa ” in the Leipzig city center were important for the cultural city ​​of Leipzig.

On August 4th and 5th, 1990, The Cure's two first and only concerts in Eastern Germany took place in Leipzig and Dresden . Several thousand festival visitors from East and West attended the concerts, which lasted several hours. The performance in Leipzig was broadcast by the German television network (DFF 2) in September of the same year .

Downturn and upswing

In the course of German reunification , the East German scene experienced a rapid downturn. Numerous Goths and Waver migrated to the old federal states due to a lack of future prospects. Other parts of the movement turned to the New Right or even the neo-Nazi scene as a result of increasing social grievances and political disorientation . At the same time, a new generation of Goths grew up and initiated a cultural boost on an all-German level (see the section on further development ).


  • Manfred Stock, Philipp Mühlberg: The scene from the inside - skinheads, goths, heavy metals, punks . 1990, ISBN 3-86153-007-4
  • Klaus Farin , Kirsten Wallraff: The Gothics - white like snow, red like blood and black like ebony . 1999, ISBN 3-933773-09-1
    ( see also archive of youth cultures )
  • Klaus Farin , Ingo Weidenkaff: Youth cultures in Thuringia . 1999, ISBN 3-933773-25-3
  • Doris Schmidt, Heinz Janalik: Goths - youth culture in black . 2000, ISBN 3-89676-342-3
  • Klaus Farin, Hendrik Neubauer: Artificial Tribes - Young Tribal Cultures in Germany . 2001, ISBN 3-933773-11-3
  • Axel Schmidt, Klaus Neumann-Braun: The world of the goths - scope for darkly connoted transcendence . 2004, ISBN 3-531-14353-0
  • Roman Rutkowski: The charisma of the grave - stereotype and prejudice in relation to youthful subcultures using the example of the black scene . 2004, ISBN 3-8334-1351-4
  • Ute Meisel: The Gothic scene - self and external presentation of the controversial youth culture . 2005, ISBN 3-8288-8911-5
  • Alexander Nym (Ed.): Iridescent Dark. History, development and topics of the Gothic scene . Leipzig 2010, ISBN 978-3-86211-006-3

Web links

Commons : Gothic (culture)  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Roman Rutkowski: The Charisma of the Grave - The Term “Goth” , p. 56, 2004, ISBN 3-8334-1351-4
  2. a b c Ingo Weidenkaff: Youth cultures in Thuringia - Die Gothics , p. 41, 1999, ISBN 3-933773-25-3
  3. a b Pete Scathe: A History of Goth - The Name , online article ( Memento of December 14, 2005 in the Internet Archive )
  4. Ecki Stieg: Gothic! The scene in Germany from the point of view of its makers - A scene without a name , p. 15, 2000, ISBN 3-89602-332-2
  5. Pete Scathe: A History of Goth - The Batcave (excerpts from "The Face" magazine) , Article Pt.1 ( Memento of March 3, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) / Article Pt.2 ( Memento of March 3, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) in the Internet Archive
  6. BRAVO: The Gothics love tombs , edition 14/86, p. 20, March 1986
  7. Manfred Stock, Philipp Mühlberg: The scene from within - Die Grufties , p. 84, 1990, ISBN 3-86153-007-4
  8. ^ A b Doris Schmidt, Heinz Janalik: Goths . Youth culture in black - term "Goths" , p. 16, 2000, ISBN 3-89676-342-3
  9. Birgit Richard: Kursbuch Jugendkultur - Schwarze Netze , p. 129, 1997, ISBN 3-927901-86-5
  10. Rennbahn-Express, Die Grufties , p. 12, 1986
  11. ^ Richard North: New Musical Express - Positive Punk: Punk Warriors , Feb. 19, 1983, online article
  12. Rüdiger Thomas: Family tree of the punk and post-punk scene , it would not have happened without you. Düsseldorfer Punk-Fanzine, Edition 2, p. 9, 1984
  13. Ralf Niemczyk: Eternal Spring in the Hong Kong Garden - Report on Siouxsie and the Banshees , Spex. Musik zur Zeit, issue 1/86, p. 37, January 1986
  14. ^ Ingo Weidenkaff: Youth cultures in Thuringia - Gothic quo vadis? , P. 45, 1999, ISBN 3-933773-25-3
  15. a b c Roman Rutkowski: Das Charisma des Grabes - scene size , p. 40, 2004, ISBN 3-8334-1351-4
  16. Klaus Farin: Die Gothics - Interview with Claus Müller (editor of the Orkus music magazine) , p. 63, 1999, ISBN 3-933773-09-1
  17. Dave Thompson , Kirsten Borchardt: Shadow World - Heroes and Legends of Gothic Rock , p. 361, 2004, ISBN 3-85445-236-5
  18. Peter Matzke / Tobias Seeliger: Das Gothic- und Dark-Wave-Lexikon - Gothic Rock , S. 185, 2002, ISBN 3-89602-277-6
  19. Ralf Jesek: Interview with the German band Dreadful Shadows - With statements by Jens Riediger and Love Like Blood , Neurostyle -Musikmagazin, issue 3/96, p. 46, 1996
  20. a b Sven Friedrich: Gothic! The scene in Germany from the point of view of its makers - Gothic Rock , p. 36, 2000, ISBN 3-89602-332-2
  21. ^ Roman Rutkowski: Das Charisma des Grabes - Die Szene heute , p. 61, 2004, ISBN 3-8334-1351-4
  22. ^ Roman Rutkowski: Das Charisma des Grabes - age structure , p. 42, 2004, ISBN 3-8334-1351-4
  23. ^ Roman Rutkowski: The Charisma of the Grave - Gender Relation and Professions , p. 43, 2004, ISBN 3-8334-1351-4
  24. Ronald Hitzler, Thomas Bucher, Arne Niederbacher: Life in Scenes - The Black Scene , p. 81, 2005, ISBN 3-531-14512-6
  25. a b c Ingo Weidenkaff: Youth cultures in Thuringia - Die Gothics , p. 42, 1999, ISBN 3-933773-25-3
  26. Birgit Richard: Black luck and dark wave. Gothic cultural sediments in youth culture style and magical symbol recycling online, in: Christof Jackets, Eva Kimminich / SJ Schmidt (Hgg): Kulturschutt. About recycling theories and cultures. Bielefeld: Transcript 2006, ISBN 978-3-89942-394-5
  27. a b Arvid Dittmann, Markus Matzel: Artificial Tribes. Young tribal cultures in Germany - Die Gothics , p. 131, 2001, ISBN 3-933773-11-3
  28. a b Roman Rutkowski: Das Charisma des Grabes - style features, motifs and attitudes , p. 64, 2004, ISBN 3-8334-1351-4
  29. a b Werner Helsper: Occultism. The new youth religion? - The symbolism of death in youth culture , p. 248, 1992, ISBN 3-8100-0872-9
  30. Kirsten Wallraff: The Gothics. White as snow, red as blood and black as ebony - Existential Philosophy , p. 65, 2001, ISBN 3-933773-09-1
  31. ^ Roman Rutkowski: Das Charisma des Grabes - style features, motifs and attitudes , p. 89, 2004, ISBN 3-8334-1351-4
  32. Manfred Stock, Philipp Mühlberg: The scene from within - Die Grufties , pp. 48/50/51/56/89/107/108/109/113 , 1990, ISBN 3-86153-007-4
  33. ^ Roman Rutkowski: Das Charisma des Grabes - style features, motifs and attitudes , p. 81, 2004, ISBN 3-8334-1351-4
  34. Roman Rutkowski: Das Charisma des Grabes - emergence of the scene , p. 54, 2004, ISBN 3-8334-1351-4
  35. ^ Roman Rutkowski: Das Charisma des Grabes - Romantik , p. 74, 2004, ISBN 3-8334-1351-4
  36. ^ Ingo Weidenkaff: Youth Cultures in Thuringia - The fascination of being different , p. 43, 1999, ISBN 3-933773-25-3
  37. Manfred Stock, Philipp Mühlberg: The scene from within - Die Grufties , pp. 87/88/101/102 , 1990, ISBN 3-86153-007-4
  38. ^ Roman Rutkowski: Das Charisma des Grabes - Empirical Part: Survey of members of the scene , pp. 159–163, 2004, ISBN 3-8334-1351-4
  39. Roman Rutkowski: Das Charisma des Grabes - empirical part: survey of scene members , p. 165, 2004, ISBN 3-8334-1351-4
  40. a b Ingo Weidenkaff: Youth cultures in Thuringia - The scenes of the blacks , p. 38, 1999, ISBN 3-933773-25-3
  41. a b c d Marion Hittaler: The Gothics - A subculture in international comparison. Archived from the original on March 21, 2009 ; accessed on November 30, 2015 .
  42. ^ A b Doris Schmidt, Heinz Janalik: Goths . Youth culture in black - clothing , p. 40, 2000, ISBN 3-89676-342-3
  43. Doris Schmidt, Heinz Janalík: Raisins. Youth culture in black - clothing style , p. 47, 2000, ISBN 3-89676-342-3
  44. Doris Schmidt, Heinz Janalík: Raisins. Youth culture in black - Vestimentary strategies , p. 51, 2000, ISBN 3-89676-342-3
  45. Manfred Stock, Philipp Mühlberg: The scene from within - Die Grufties , pp. 52/103/109 , 1990, ISBN 3-86153-007-4
  46. Axel Schmidt, Klaus Neumann-Braun: Die Welt der Gothics. Scope of Darkly Connected Transcendence - Introduction , p. 12, 2004, ISBN 3-531-14353-0
  47. Bruno Kramm: Gothic! The scene in Germany from the point of view of its makers - content instead of labels! , Pp. 217, 2000, ISBN 3-89602-332-2
  48. Doris Schmidt, Heinz Janalík: Raisins. Youth culture in black - dance , p. 37, 2000, ISBN 3-89676-342-3
  49. Manfred Stock, Philipp Mühlberg: The scene from within - Die Grufties , p. 95, 1990, ISBN 3-86153-007-4
  50. Kirsten Wallraff: The Gothics. White as snow, red as blood and black as ebony - dance , p. 50, 2001, ISBN 3-933773-09-1
  51. Doris Schmidt, Heinz Janalík: Raisins. Youth culture in black - room and apartment furnishings , p. 17, 2000, ISBN 3-89676-342-3
  52. ^ A b Doris Schmidt, Heinz Janalik: Goths . Youth culture in black - room and apartment furnishings , p. 20, 2000, ISBN 3-89676-342-3
  53. Axel Schmidt, Klaus Neumann-Braun: Die Welt der Gothics. Scope of Darkly Connected Transcendence - Aesthetic Practices and Styles , p. 82, 2004, ISBN 3-531-14353-0
  54. Klaus Farin: Die Gothics - The Dead Can't Dance , pp. 65/66, 1999, ISBN 3-933773-09-1
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This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on January 22, 2008 .