I'm standing in front of a venue, smoking a cigarette.
It's a goth event, and I'm wearing the Queen of Darkness herself, and I've put on my face, with my usual eye makeup flair.
The venue is at a street corner. Two guys walk past me, and stop to wait for the light to turn green. One of the guys turns around, takes a few steps towards me and says "Excuse me, Halloween was two weeks ago".
His sentence is blurted out, so I ask him to please repeat it.
"Halloween was two weeks ago. What's that on your face, why are you dressed up?"
I take a drag from my cigarette.
I turned 30 earlier this month. The guy may or may not be about the same age as me. He seems, and sounds like a tourist, or someone very foreign, very new to Montreal.
Maybe he's never seen a goth person before.
When you're 30, you've realized that it's always better to explain something first, and defend it later. You might not even have the defend anything, if you explain it properly, clearly, calmly, from the heart, with a cool head.
So I smile at him and say "This is not a costume. This is my style".
"This is not a costume? What's it for, then? Why are you like this? Why do you have that on your face, what is that?" I wonder to myself why he keeps on talking to me, asking these questions, but I keep on smiling, and say "It's makeup, and I'm wearing this because there's an event I'm going to tonight at this venue (I point to the place behind me). It's a goth event..."-"Is that a tattoo?", the guy asks, interrupting me. I repeat that it's makeup, and the more I talk to him, the more I'm feeling my voice soothing itself out, and find myself speaking slower, like I'd talk to a child. "Oh, it's makeup", he says. I nod. "It's pretty", he says. I say thank you. He wishes a good evening to me, and I take another drag from my cigarette.
Later in the evening, I tell this to my friends, and we giggle, agreeing that this guy needs to refine his pick-up lines.
I dance all night in the course of yet another Nevermore event (organized 4 times a year for 7 years now). Inside the venue, the Montreal goth scene is vibrant. Beautiful, happy people are dancing, dressed in their Very Best, Slickest Black, and they're 18 and 23, 30 and 44, and possibly 52, and definitely 61.
The older ones are always the most inspiring to me, and then ever since I've been noticing younger ones, well, I'm finding myself taking inspiration from them as well -a bright light for me to stand in and keep being inspired, so as to inspire myself, and the others, and the young.
Fashion and trends are boomerangs. I read somewhere recently that they do a 25-year revolution cycle.
I proclaimed myself as goth around 1998.
I was 13, and found solace in the Darkness, aka the Shadow-Side of life, complex as it is solid. The fashion, the art of it was so creative, gathering its artistry from the past and the future so freely, prefectly balanced. What drew me even more to the goth movement was its compelling mythiscism. What lied within and beneath the Darkness made sense to me, and I could believe in it a lot more than what I had been fed from the pop-tart culture of North America.
The Shadow-Side. The Other Side of the Mirror. The Other Side of the Sun. The Face of the Moon.
In my early 20's, someone told me "You make darkness shine. Looking at you is not staring down an abyss, it's beholding an infinite glittering night sky." This person nailed it pretty well, and I quote her to this day, for that's what a true goth is. We've dug down so deep, in search of the thread leading to the speck of light that kept our focus fixed on the way out, 'til we realized that the light really comes from inside ourselves, and that the only was out is through.
In learning to shine light in and out of ourselves, we bestow it upon everyone else.
To be goth is not to stand in the Darkness, in fear, and wanting to die. Not at all.
It's about rising through, and accepting, and embracing, the Shadow-Side of ourselves, and our lives and stories.
That's what I see, and that's what I feel, when I dance the night away at a goth event. The elders are our guides, and the young are our vigils.
And what do I think of the "New Goth" movement?
As far as I'm concerned, the goth subculture has always been, and the "revival" or "new wave" we feel like we're seeing nowadays is nothing more than another boomerang effect of pop culture. Goths have always been there, and are here to stay -and maybe that's where the fascination comes from. Where fads frantically come and go in the pop-tart culture, subcultures like the goth, punk, heavy metal and rockabilly lifestyles are very solidly remaining.
Perhaps, out of curiosity, a tiny step closer to Evolution has been taken by mass society, through open-mindedness, I dare believe. In these times we're living in, with recent events mostly coming down to people killing each other because they believe in something different, it's a very marvelous thing to see such openness to diversity -in styles, beliefs and tastes.
And maybe that's what's making the kids try on black lipstick and buy Ouija boards.
And whether it's just a phase, or a life-long commitment, what matters is that whoever tries on a little bit of goth can, in that moment, feel closer to their true selves when adorning it, and that mostly, they're not afraid anymore to be themselves, and love themselves.