Goth won’t die, but he still wants a funeral
“What, are you going to a funeral?” ask parents and peers of gothic children, dressed in black with a paleness heightened with white makeup, drinking an espresso at the restored cafe, for who would be caught (not) dead in a Starbucks?
Despite the nostalgia for The Twilight Saga, Goths seem rarer today than they were in the 80s and 90s. Nonetheless, researchers have documented the beginnings of their culture and its distinctive music in the decline of anarchist, sometimes nihilistic, punk warfare. rock against conventions in the UK. On January 26, 1979, the Bauhaus group recorded a nine-and-a-half-minute funeral song, “Bela Lugosi is dead” which, according to most Goths and critics, influenced the development of everything else in the genre.
The song’s lyrics describe a world of the living dead, including black cloaks, bats, and a steeple, as well as vampire dances and vampire funerals: “Breft in deathly bloom / Alone in a darkened room / The count. (Bela Lugosi, of course, was the Hungarian-American actor who played Dracula in the film version of Tod Browning’s story. And Bauhaus lead singer Peter Murphy had a notable turn as, well, a vampire in, well, the dusk series.)
Performance Research Fellow Tricia Henry Young examines Goth as a subculture with its own styles, media, and even jokes. Music’s dark fascination with death, beauty, gender play, and transgressive sex spawned a scene that fans described themselves as “dramatic and pretentious.” The British Goths of the 1980s showed their Nosferatu-like London legendary Batcave club. The iconic movements of classical Goths, writes Young,
recall images of Frankenstein’s awakening, of convicts electrocuted or victims of electroshock treatment. Alternately soft and rigidly erect, they [dancers] shake their torso and limbs as if they were convulsed by high tension. Other dancers suggest guillotine victims, their hair cut very short in the back and falling in front (to ensure a quick and clean slice.)
Why are the themes so dark? Young says that the chic of the Gothic gravestone comes from a “estrangement from mainstream culture,” which manifests itself in “the deliberate dissociation of its adherents from” normal “daily behavior.” Like several other examples of the various Gothic art movements that emerged from the late 18th century onwards, the post-punk Gothic scene rejoices in the “desire to escape” the mainstream “through a nostalgia cultivated for other eras. and places ”. So just as Gothic poets and novelists like Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Mary Shelley wrote about various castles and shady forests hundreds of years before their birth, Gothic children “cultivate[e] nostalgia for other times and places, ”including medieval Europe.
For Young, it’s no surprise that the Gothic subculture emerged when and where it did: in the UK, in the early years of Margaret Thatcher’s long-standing Conservative government, soon to be equal to the States- United with the ascendancy of Ronald Reagan and the Republicans. The moral conservatism of the 1970s-1980s, panic over HIV / AIDS and “ambivalence” towards technology led to “pronounced anxiety, self-questioning and insecurity about the future”, which Goth summed it up perfectly. These disturbing qualities also characterized the panic in England after the French Revolution, when Gothic literature was born.
Vampires can come and vampires can go, but young people will always ruminate and try to piss off their parents. And Bela Lugosi will always be dead for them.
JSTOR is a digital library for academics, researchers and students. JSTOR Daily readers can access the original research behind our articles on JSTOR free of charge.
By: Tricia Henry Young
Dance Research: The Journal of the Society for Dance Research, Vol. 17, n ° 1 (summer 1999), pp. 75-97
Edinburgh University Press