Thursday 3 May 2018


The average follower of the dark alternative subculture and its adherents would be forgiven for believing that the scene has taken on a strangely Machiavellian dimension. Everything from the booking of acts to the scheduling of events is imbued with a political subtext which is often merely a skilfully subtle (or not so subtle) expression of opposition; and the body count – not to say the lack-of-body count – is starting to pile up.

In fact, there is more to this comparison that we might think. The UK goth scene is increasingly resembling the warring city-states of Renaissance Italy, locked in a constantly destructive battle for supremacy. Some of these states are republics, others are hereditary monarchies, but all are constantly eyeing up the chance to form alliances or seize territory at anothers' expense. Everyone is wondering how they can claim Scunthorpe, or take Norwich into their sphere of influence. Clashes of events become de facto declarations of gothic war. Flock with the enemies of others and you may soon find a beheaded Pokemon in bed beside you. Friendships and alliances must be chosen carefully, and power blocks bolstered and maintained, all exercised through the power of social media. Plus, also like Renaissance Italy, everyone is drunk – so it all gets deadly (and hilarious) very quickly.

For the nobility who engage in this there is a great hidden cost – that the vendetta is endless, exhausting, and ultimately self-defeating. You can land, you can expand, you can spin a complex web of political intrigue, but a simple 'costing error' and you are wiped out. Every Cesare Borgia, carving up a kingdom of their own with each battle and conquest, can find their empire collapse with the withdrawal of the key support of others; power is tenuous, and gothic power even more so. Overstretch, and you lose everything; fail to grow, however, and you also fail – for, in this 'game of goths', you either win or you die.

But, obviously, that is not the case. Although maintaining the purity of our social circle and the ethics of our music policy are important, we are all still part of the same scene, drinking from the same trough, ploughing the same gloomy furrow. Our musical taste is still, collectively, terrible. We need centres of unity, participants who resist the Balkanisation of the scene and bring people together in a joint subcultural endeavour. The fight is only part of the fun – the real joy is to play. And to do that requires a determination to have a good time – a commitment to rise above the crap and see the world for what is is.

So don't let the drama grind you down, and resist the factional forces of feck. Or, as Cesare himself would say - “Make your choice: death, or joy!”

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