World Goth Day 2016 and Some Reflections on Goth

This coming Sunday, May 22, is World Goth Day. Yes, you read that right—there’s a whole international holiday all about goths! World Goth Day was created to celebrate the gothic subculture and promote visibility and acceptance of goths—a group who are often feared, maligned, and misunderstood by the general public. The event originated in the UK in 2009, but quickly grew into an international affair. On Sunday, groups all around the world will host local goth events under the World Goth Day banner. You can look around online for events near you, start your own, or just take the day to indulge your inner goth in solitude or with friends. Here at The Gothic Library, I’m celebrating World Goth Day by sharing some of my thoughts on what the subculture means to me and how I got into it.

The official World Goth Day logo. Learn more at worldgothday.com
The official World Goth Day logo. Learn more at worldgothday.com

I know on this blog I tend to mostly talk about Gothic (with a capital G) literature, or gothic works of derivative genres, but not so much about goths, themselves. However, I feel that all of these are intimately related. To me, goth is a mindset. It’s a philosophy and a way of looking at the world that involves seeing beauty in darkness and being fascinated by the taboo (especially the taboo of death). This dark and morbid mindset has existed throughout history, but was especially indulged and brought into the limelight by the Gothic writers of eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Separate from, but related to, the gothic mindset is the gothic subculture. The gothic subculture is a music and fashion scene that arose out of punk in the late ’70s and ’80s. The defining feature of a subculture is that it is a community. You can have a gothic mindset all by yourself, but you’re not part of the gothic subculture until you engage with other goths in some way—whether that’s by consuming gothic media, wearing gothic clothing, going to goth clubs, or just sharing your spooky interests with some dark-minded friends. Though goth, in this sense, is expressed largely through music and fashion, even these elements have been heavily influenced by cinema and literature, including by the Gothic novels from which this subculture takes its name.

In my experience, one generally recognizes one’s own gothic mindset first, then discovers the gothic subculture when looking to find others with similar interests. For me, it started (as it always does) with books. I’d been reading horror and mystery for as long as I could read chapter books, but my life-changing moment came when I picked my first vampire romance novel up off the shelf in fifth grade. From that moment on, I was captivated by these creatures of the night and propelled along a path that led to me reading both Anne Rice and Stoker before graduating middle school. It was around the same time that I also began taking on a darker aesthetic (though I’m not sure the two are related). It took me a while to come around to the label of “goth,” but I’ve come to embrace it with open arms. So if you see me next Sunday, I’ll be flying my goth flag high!

What are you doing to celebrate World Goth day? Know of any good gothic events going on in New York City (I’ve actually been having trouble finding some)? What aspects of goth are you celebrating this week? Let me know in the comments!

3 thoughts on “World Goth Day 2016 and Some Reflections on Goth”

  1. I’ve had an interest in goth for a while and am only starting to express it, and I’m afraid I’m in the same boat as you. Besides the fact that no one knows what goth really is, there are practically no events in New York City! I didn’t get around to buying tickets for Peter Murphy’s tour (boohoo!), and I love the Bauhaus, so…

    Very very cool blog for a bookworm like me to find, let me know if you hear of any goth (esp. bookish and/or all-ages) events in the city hahahah

    1. Glad you’re enjoying the blog!

      I’m keeping an ear out for goth events in NYC and will definitely pass anything I find along, but so far no luck. I’m thinking of just rallying some friends and hitting up one of the gothic lit-themed bars I wrote about last week.

  2. When I was in high school I was far too flitty to really have a clique, so I ended up with a lot of friends from a lot of different groups. I’ve always liked the gothic subculture and one of my best friends is definitely very goth, so I think I’ll celebrate by having a nice long catch up chat with her and letting my goth flag fly a bit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *