DeeTee (deeteeuk) wrote,

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Goths, clubs and inclusiveness.

Most of you probably know I used to spend quite a bit of time on the goth/industrial scene. Indeed, my ex and I even set up a club night called Intrusion, that somehow survived my drunken idiocy. That club night has been passed on to the eminently deserving Mark Wickson and Doktor Joy, who are (as far as I can tell) doing a far better job of responsibly DJing and running a night than I ever did. I'm genuinely pleased for them both.

What I used to like about the scene was that it valued everyone based on who they were. It was accepting of the odd normal wandering in with an open mind and having a good time. It was smarter than most scenes, and wasn't scared of people with brains expressing considered opinions. It wasn't about 6 inch heels and eyeliner, they were just there.

Time has moved on, and so have I. I don't dislike the "scene", but it's not really where I am any more. Anyone who listened to my DJ sets (which you could set your watch to) would be able to tell you I'd lost my passion for it. I will always be fond of it, and the people I met during my time. I will always have fond memories of DJing Whitby, great parties, genuinely interesting people, and being fortunate enough to have had a great deal of interesting experiences.

I have a lot of friends who have never been involved in this whole thing, and I while ago, I took them to a club. They weren't head to toe in black, but they weren't exactly in tracksuits and gold chains either. Think jeans, suit jacket, and a smart shirt. Not so different to what I wear these days.

I was appalled at how they were treated when I wasn't around. They were referred to as chavs, and made incredibly unwelcome. Someone referred to them as my "fucking chavvy friends". Now, aside from the fact that word has somehow come to mean anyone not fitting into some sort of subculture, that's just shit. These friends aren't chavs. They aren't anti anyone. They aren't unpleasant, and if they see a goth/alternative type getting trouble from people, they're far more likely to weigh in on the side of the alternative types. They weren't threatening, or sneering, or anything other than interested and looking forward to it. They came in with an open mind, and took nothing but shit for it.

These friends didn't say anything to me, for fear of upsetting me. But it was pretty clear they wanted out of there. They came in with a far better impression of the scene than they left with, and I couldn't argue otherwise, then or now.

The thing that really galls me? This was Intrusion. This was the club my ex and I set up. I popped back for the first time in years, just to say hi, and my group was welcomed with a nice big fuck off. Now, I'd like to make this clear, this wasn't anything to do with the current organisers. This was other people. But it did include a large group of people I knew, and would have thought knew better.

I was really hurt by this, and really embarrassed that good friends, who have always stood by me, were treated so shabbily at a night I still felt some responsibility for. I don't know if things have changed, or going back to the scene for the first time in years made me look at it anew. I do know that this was no longer a place I felt welcome.

The irony of a place where people like to dress differently being abusive to people who aren't dressed like them is obvious. If I head out for the night now, I'm not heading to goth clubs, I know that. I might go back to one at some point, but I'm not taking any bets.

I'd like to reiterate that none of this is anything to do with Mark or Dok, who are lovely people doing a stand-up job with a club that deserved more than my half-arsed stewardship.

Please, next time you think someone doesn't belong in your club, ask if it's because of their behaviour or their appearance. If it's their behaviour, and they're sneering at you, then all well and good, give 'em both barrels. But if it's the way the look, challenge yourself to go and say hi. Or put your drink down and go home, you're ruining it.
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October 8 2010, 16:29:51 UTC 6 years ago Edited:  October 8 2010, 16:30:12 UTC

Countercultural subcultures develop as many rules, strictures and shibboleths as mainstream cultures. Something like goth, which often starts off as an "us against an uncaring world" type thing can easily tip over into "we're better and everyone else is shit" and become incredibly cliquey. Not all goths, I hasten to add before being flamed.

Of course Goth being a middle class subculture (yes there are exceptions, but it predominantly seems to be middle class) it's not surprising that the traditional tropes of middle class society will seep into it.

Urgh. I have fond memories of Intrusion myself and I'm really sorry to hear about this.
There have always been fashionistas in the G-scene. Ask 'em which is their favourite Bauhaus album & they'll look at you like something with 6 legs they found in their corset. But for some people it's not about the music, it's about the dressing-up. Most of them were ugly kids who have overcompensated, and you only have to go down about a layer or six of foundation to find that.

None of which excuses this behaviour. So bring your mates to Judder, I'll see they get in free and have a lovely time. Of course, the difference is that we're not and never have been a goth club. We're just a bit odd, but that's the way I like it.
Aw, bless you. I was actually going to use Judder as an example, as it's a club that welcoming to all and sundry, as long as you're welcoming to everyone else. I'd say I must get over and drop in again soon, but I've been saying that for about six years now!
You must go and Judder - it's an awesome club full of lovely people. I went down on my own when I DJed it and everyone made me feel so welcome I wanted to move to Cheltenham!
Heh, I have been, and Djed too. That was long ago, back in the mists of time. I was slim, and had black hair.


6 years ago

if we have to book you to DJ in order to ensure you turn up, so be it... it wouldn't be the first time we'd used the guest DJ card as a way of arranging a weekend of mischief!
Hearing things like this makes me really sad and I suspect you'd be treated much the same in many alternative clubs.

I know Wendyhouse in Leeds welcomes everybody and we did the same when we ran Batfink (to the extent where we often had someone working with the bouncers to persuade them to let not-goths in) but The North isn't the same - every subculture is smaller so we all tend to stick together, making it all less cliquey. Having said that, there were still a few elements of our local scene who looked down at bloody everyone, including other goths!
Yes, that's my point really. I didn't mean to pick on Intrusion, it just happens to be the club where the incident happened, and my relationship with it just amplified the problem.
Even though I have funny hair and funny clothes, I shy away from the (very infrequent) nights that run in Sheffield that enforce a strict dress code. I've never seen any merit in the thought that we must all get on because we wear the same style of clothes.

I'm more than happy to be the only goth in the village, mixing in the local pub with farmers, townies and fashionistas these days!


6 years ago

intrusion was awesome when i was there for that gig like 5 years ago at this point, sucks all this stuff happened, though its everywhere with the goffs acting this way, what little i remember from intrusion was alot of fun tho, you guys were awesome hosts
That was a good laugh. I was a drunken shambles, I'm sure. That's sort of how I operated...
theres 2 photos of me somewhere on one of my hard drives from that night, first dj set, looking normal, 2nd dj set face red as hell from all the drunk lol.


6 years ago

Deleted comment

Yeah, more than that actually, I feel old. I think it was my 19 or 20 birthday when I was there so at least 6 years
Sadly, I'm not surprised. The country generally seems to have become more snobbish in the last few years. I try to pay attention to how often individuals use "chav" as an insult. It's generally a pretty good guide to their views. When I was in Cambridge it seemed to take over from "townie". Up here I guess it replaced "schemie".
I'm concerned that it has become a generic term for anyone "not alternative". As if anyone who doesn't own either the black album, Pretty Hate Machine or Slight Case Of Overbombing are all the same, and worthy of naught but scorn. It is the exact attitude that all subcultures complain about, just turned round and fired out.

Deleted comment

Really annoying. Thing is, we all know where that behaviour comes from, it's a defensive reaction. Goths do feel somewhat endangered out in the world (that news story acouple of years ago where that guy kicked a girl to death for being a Goth and then claimed to have done a good thing), and a goth club is a safe space, which feels threatened by a dilution of its exclucivity.

On the other hand, you'd know if there were actual chavs - as you and I have always defined them - because they would be causing trouble, not getting it.
That excuse only holds so much water. Perhaps a thimbleful. Had the reaction been distrust, or concern, I might have accepted it, but this was just ridicule and unpleasantness. It didn't feel like a defensive reaction, it felt like the bullied kid seeing the chance to get a few licks in on someone else, someone who had never done them harm, because they saw the chance to be the bully for a change. That's an ugly face.
Wasn't an excuse, just what I consider a likely explaination of the reaction. You'll note that at no point did I say it was right or acceptable.
I know my first impression of Intrusion wasn't the best, for various reasons, but certainly that incident didn't exactly change my mind. It was especially awful, really, as all the people in that group with us were genuinely looking forward to going. They were, pretty much, all fans of alternative music & had said they were relieved to be going somewhere that played good music. I felt so awful for them, being openly sniggered at, and if I had been treated that way at a 'normal' club I'd have had a right old moan about it, but would maybe have expected it. It's deeply upsetting to be confronted with that from a group of people one may have supposed were one's peer group. It made up my mind, let's just say.
Former Sheffgoths who went down there for PHDs have called it either Intruded or Excluded and now I have an inkling as to why as Sheffgoths are chummy rather than uber.
Intrusion, that brings back memories... ;-)

I'm sorry to hear your friends didn't receive a better welcome. I'm not sure if it would have been much different back in the day, though...
You might be right. Maybe I'm just mythologising times gone by, like a Daily Mail editorial on The Youth Today.