The goth subculture is a contemporary subculture found in many countries. It began in England during the early 1980s in the gothic rock scene, an offshoot of the post-punk genre. Notable early gothic rock bands included Joy Division and Bauhaus. The goth subculture has survived much longer than others of the same era, and has continued to diversify. Its imagery and cultural proclivities indicate influences from the 19th century Gothic literature along with horror films.
The goth subculture has associated tastes in music, aesthetics, and fashion. The music of the goth subculture encompasses a number of different styles, including gothic rock, deathrock, post-punk, darkwave, ethereal wave, and neoclassical. Styles of dress within the subculture range from deathrock, punk, and Victorian styles, or combinations of the above, most often with dark attire, makeup, and hair. The scene continues to draw interest from a large audience decades after its emergence. In Western Europe, there are large annual festivals, mainly in Germany.
Origins and development
The term "gothic rock" was coined in 1967 by music critic John Stickney to describe a meeting he had with Jim Morrison in a dimly lit wine-cellar which he called "the perfect room to honor the Gothic rock of the Doors". The Velvet Underground with a track like 1967's "All Tomorrow's Parties", created a kind of "mesmerizing gothic-rock masterpiece" according to music historian Kurt Loder. In the late 1970s, the word "gothic" was used to describe the atmosphere of post-punk bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Magazine and Joy Division. In a live review about a Siouxsie and the Banshees' concert in July 1978, critic Nick Kent wrote that concerning their music, "parallels and comparisons can now be drawn with gothic rock architects like the Doors and, certainly, early Velvet Underground. In March 1979, critic Nick Kent used the gothic adjective in his review of Magazine's second album Secondhand Daylight. Kent noted that there was "a new austere sense of authority" to their music, with a "dank neo-Gothic sound". Later that year, the term was also used by Joy Division's manager, Tony Wilson on 15 September in an interview for the BBC TV programme's Something Else: Wilson described Joy Division as "gothic" compared to the pop mainstream, right before a live performance of the band. The term was later applied to "newer bands such as Bauhaus who had arrived in the wake of Joy Division and Siouxsie and the Banshees". Bauhaus's 1979 single "Bela Lugosi's Dead" is generally credited as the starting point of the gothic rock genre.
In 1979, Sounds described Joy Division as "Gothic" and "theatrical". In February 1980, Melody Maker qualified the same band as "masters of this Gothic gloom". Critic Jon Savage would later say that their singer Ian Curtis wrote "the definitive Northern Gothic statement". However, it was not until the early 1980s that gothic rock became a coherent music subgenre within post-punk, and that followers of these bands started to come together as a distinctly recognisable movement. They may have taken the "goth" mantle from a 1981 article published in UK rock weekly Sounds: "The face of Punk Gothique", written by Steve Keaton. In a text about the audience of UK Decay, Keaton asked: "Could this be the coming of Punk Gothique? With Bauhaus flying in on similar wings could it be the next big thing?". In July 1982, the opening of the Batcave in London's Soho provided a prominent meeting point for the emerging scene, which would be briefly labelled "positive punk" by the NME in a special issue with a front cover in early 1983. The term "Batcaver" was then used to describe old-school goths.
Independent from the British scene, in the late 1970s and early 1980s in California, deathrock developed as a distinct branch of American punk rock, with acts such as Christian Death and 45 Grave. Another genre which had gothic rock's "dark, morbid, and otherworldly leanings" was the "Horror Punk and Death Rock" genre exemplified by the Misfits, a band formed in New Jersey in 1977. The "Horror Punk and Death Rock" genre "...still exists firmly in the gothic rock universe."