The Goths are back. They’re spilling into the clubs, materializing at the mall or gliding around in your neighborhood. You may have caught a passing whiff of myrrh and patchouli or noticed them popping up on a mainstream designer catwalk but it’s the street that matters.
They’re talking about Dion Fortune and Abraxas or their band, the poem they wrote last night, their new cat…Or maybe they’re silent, immersed in reverie.
Their idols are long-dead poets and undead philosophies; they’d rather read an out of print esoteric book than corporation-curated content.
Gothic fashion is timeless, often thrifted and fluid enough to flow around any form of body shape. It’s also nearly always raven-black: Call it a homage to Nyx and other night deities or note that it doesn’t need to be laundered as often.
Other dimensions of the Gothic aesthetic: Kohl eyeliner, noire nail varnish and a sardonic, self-possessed demeanor that advertisers call nihilistic.
Goths are a gigantic ‘fuq-you’ to the algorithm. They’re also the recession indicator. When you start to notice more of them around the place, the economic fuqery is not far behind. It’s not that surprising. Modern Goths – as opposed to the old Germanic Goths who took down the Roman empire – emerged en masse in the early Eighties.
They came out of the energy crisis sparked by the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Every economic indicator plummeted, just as the earliest Gen Xers were leaving high school or getting ‘vocational guidance’: Uranus was in Scorpio and a British band called Bauhaus released the ur-Gothic hit single Bela Lugosi’s Dead.
A Hungarian actor, suave Libran and veteran of World War I, Lugosi could never break free of being a B-List Dracula. “I am definitely typecast,” he wrote at one point. “I am doomed to be an exponent of evil.” It’s unclear how he became a touchstone for a new generation and its disdain for the way ‘the adults’ were running things.
Additionally, the Goth aesthetic was the antithesis to the Cheryl + Christy (Tiegs and Brinkley), neon perkiness and spandex paradigm. It’s waxed and waned ever since but Goths returned prior to the 1987 stock market crash and the Global Financial Crisis.
It’s partly a scorpionic syndrome – Uranus in Scorpio, Pluto in Scorpio, Lilith in Scorpio, Scorpio South or North Node and – this year – a series of Eclipses across the Taurus-Scorpio axis. Culturally, Scorp is all about the black-hued clothes, interest in underworldly affairs, esoterica and mystique.
You could also see it as a wholesale rejection of whatever mainstream society and media is serving up; onetime fun spaces like social media are devolving into such overt advertiser vehicles that it seems like they should be paying viewers for their time and info.
And with a few exceptions, global leadership has rarely seemed so moribund or venal. Even Foreign Affairs, an august establishment magazine published since 1922, acknowledged it in a recent article, declaring that “the world is between orders; it is adrift.”
Perhaps the return of Goths is a timely reminder that our most valuable resources are the ones that cannot be commodified – our individual quirks, resourcefulness and creativity. There are no advertisements or fact checks in the terrain of psyche and cosmos.
It’s not only about your noire cosmetic aesthetic, Anubis amulet or trying to manage billowing black layers if you’re in a subtropical climate.