This truth is ignored or denied when one first delves into the subculture, sometimes followed by proclamations of how one "knows better". This is very rarely true, as some new goths will have a helping hand, either in the form of a goth friend or the internet. In my case, I relied on a short Wikipedia article that didn't really explain much, hence why my babybat phase lasted much longer than I like to claim. This is going to be a mix of story-time, common mistakes, and tips I wish I'd either known or listened to.
I discovered goth after my dad died (I'm not one to delve into sob stories, so moving swiftly on). I initially spent my first week of being a babybat claiming to be emo, though I knew even less about that subculture, but "decided" goth was better when I realised that emo hair was just darker scene hair, or something like that. After becoming a brief but dedicated Within Temptation fan and reviving my inherited love for Evanescence, I finally found out about actual gothic rock. Long story short, I fell in love with many classic and modern bands, like the Sisters of Mercy and the Cruxshadows. Since then, I've expanded my tastes, though I prefer EBM more thanks to my pre-goth love of electronic music genres.
As for the fashion side of the subculture, well...I was here, there, and everywhere; Trad one week, Romantic goth the next. I made plenty of mistakes in this area, including the cliche bondage pants and studded chokers. The difference between my experiences in music and fashion, however, was that took a long time, up to right now actually, for me to realise what I enjoy to wear. One thing I found difficult about combining the two, however, was that, whilst I used to dress in long skirts and ornate tops, I was listening to mostly dance-based genres.
|Me during my babybat phase. I thought the whole one-eye-showing thing was cool for well over a year.|
COMMON MISTAKES, AND TIPS
- Thinking you must wear certain things to "look goth". The first goths ever didn't have any brand names or templates to follow, so perhaps start by getting ideas from the first-wave folk rather than charging towards the first pair of Tripp pants you see. Try Googling for photos of goths from the 80s, and I'd also check Tumblr; there are blogs dedicated to the original scene. If you already want to go for a certain look, just search around using terms closely relating to the fashion.
- Only sticking to gothic metal. Goth rock and goth metal are very different, including origins and components. The best advice I can give here is to listen to Bauhaus, Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Sister's of Mercy; they are the first bands to be described as goth (even if Andrew Eldritch denies he is). However, don't feel limited to just gothic rock itself! It's common for goths to branch out their musical tastes and find their ideal genre, be it ethereal, new-wave and industrial. Again, just snoop around until you find something you like.
- Acting creepy or spooky doesn't really work. Just be nice to people. Better yet, just be yourself. Just because you dress in black and listen to rock, doesn't mean you have to act out the stereotype. As a well-known Lady (of Manners) once said, people are more freaked out by a polite goth than a scary goth!
- Don't go around yelling about how goth you are. This is something both babybats and elitists do. It's okay to say that you're goth, but don't be pushy about it. In a way, this is just an extension of the politeness thing. Additionally, you are free to tell people that you're goth when you're ready, not necessarily when you first join the subculture. I'd also recommend mentioning when asked about how goth you are (if you are) that you are still new to the subculture. When faced with elitists, especially online, this could prevent any drama going on.
- Stripy Tights and Dark Delights; possibly the largest resource for anything goth-related
- The Gothic Charm School; advice and babybat questions answered by the lovely Lady of Manners
- Black Waterfall; home of the notorious and amusing Goth Types!
- Now This is Gothic; a Tumblr dedicated to the original scene in the 80s