Life-time learner's blog

[English] [Subcultures] Goths

Our teacher asked to make a small report on any subculture. I chose Goths. In this article I’ll try to show you what they are. As I don’t belong to any subculture at all, my report probably won’t be accurate and objective. Anyway, I’ll give it a try.

In my report I would like to answer the following questions:

  • What is a Gothic subculture?
  • What is the origin of goths?
  • How do they look like nowadays?
  • What do they do?
  • What is the public attitude to goths and how do they live together with other subcultures?

There will be some photos which I found on the Internet. Enjoy!

What is Gothic Subculture?

According to the Wikipedia, “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. 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 and to some extent the BDSM culture.

Origin of Goths

The date of origin is usually placed in 1979 when Bauhaus released the song “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” The band originally intended the song to be tongue-in-cheek; however, many young fans latched onto this mysterious, eerie sound as inspiration for the budding Gothic subculture. The first generation of the Gothic movement emerged mostly in the UK in the late seventies and early eighties as a splinter from the punk movement.

In the early 1980s, the Gothic movement thrived with bands like the Sisters of Mercy at the forefront. However, by the mid to late 1980s, the movement was waning. In the late eighties and early nineties, a new, second generation of Gothic bands emerged to breathe new life into the scene. They distinguished themselves by being the first to regularly call themselves Gothic. Examples would include The Shroud, Rosetta Stone, and London After Midnight. This time period is when the US Goth movement grew significantly, and Gothic became recognized as a distinct subculture. Through this period, Gothic music and culture grew and branched out into various subsets, pushing the boundaries of what had previously been considered Gothic.

How Goths look like today

The goth subculture has associated tastes in music, aesthetics, and fashion. Gothic fashion is stereotyped as a dark, sometimes morbid, eroticized fashion and style of dress. Typical gothic fashion includes dyed black hair, dark eyeliner, black fingernails, black period-styled clothing; Goths may or may not have piercings. Styles are often borrowed from the Elizabethan, Victorian or medieval period and often express pagan, occult or other religious imagery such as pentacles or medieval crosses.

The appearance of a Gothic person depends on their personal feelings and preferences, location matters as well. Some people like a romantic look with tailored velvet jackets, lace and period items, while others prefer punk, with bondage pants and a spiked collar, and still others go cyber/futuristic with goggles, yarn extensions, latex, and big industrial boots. There’s not one single goth fashion, there are many branches.

For example, many Goths wear black heavy boots. It is not a necessary attribute – Gothic fashion is all about being original. However some romantic Goths wear dress shoes every day.

For guys, some common Goth looks are:

  • A fishnet shirt and vinyl or leather pants with some sort of boots and other various accessories.
  • A white shirt (sometimes with the collar folded up to cover the neck), black pants, a black vest, boots or dress shoes.
  • Some of the guys will wear makeup, skirts, corsets or heels. It’s not really meant to be cross-dressing because they are not actually trying to look like women. Gothic tends to be a very androgynous thing, where some of the straight guys like to look or dress feminine, either to challenge social gender barriers, to show that they have an open mind, or as just a fashion thing.

For girls, some common Goth looks are:

  • A cleavage-enhancing corset top with a long, flowing or tutu-like skirt.
  • A crushed velvet dress with either boots or heels.
  • A fishnet shirt with a black bra underneath, a bondage belt (or some other type) and either 1) a short vinyl skirt 2) a long velvet skirt 3) tight leggings or stirrup pants usually made of vinyl or crushed velvet.
  • Fishnet stockings with a vinyl dress, bondage gear, high heels or heel boots.

Vampire Goths

There is a clear distinction between vampire and Gothic subculture: Goths do not consider themselves to be vampires and do not drink blood! However, sometimes they choose a vampire style of clothes. Vampire Goth is one of the ‘darkest’ Goth looks, involving predominantly black clothing in heavy or luxurious fabrics such as velvet and leather. Red, of course, is a popular accent. White, too, can be used for that ‘Dracula’s bride/death shroud’ look, but other colours are rarely seen.

What do they do?

Many Goths love to read. The list of authors includes Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Lord Byron, Mary Shelley, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, Christopher Marlowe, Anne Rice, William S. Burroughs,Oscar Wilde, Storm Constantine, Ellen Schreiber, Melissa Marr and The Brontë sisters. A lot of Goths also like sci-fi or fantasy.

If someone is giving a goth trouble, they just walk away. They are never violent.  They are always polite to non-Goths.

Goths always organize parties and get together in Gothic clubs. Gothic clubs are where people come to be able to freely talk and express their feelings about post-modern society. The topics up for discussion may be ones that you consider taboo or inappropriate — as may be their actions.

And, of course, they listen to the Gothic rock.


In part because of public misunderstanding and ignorance surrounding Gothic aesthetics, Goths sometimes suffer prejudice, discrimination, and intolerance. The list of things sometimes attributed to Gothic subculture by mistake includes: self cutting, blood drinking, worshipping to the devil, death fixation.

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