I really liked them. I like the crowds and people-watching, mostly. You see a mix of Goths, miligoths, vampires, intellectuals, deejays, potheads, poseurs, wannabes, spoiled kids, and various watchers like me sitting at a bar, sipping my $5 half a can Mountain Dew in 3 cents worth of ice packed to the top of a beer cup. I don't dance, because I respect my fellow dance floor brethren, and don't wish to slap them in the heads with my "sad windmill" or "wading pool" moves, which are probably as outdated as my stonewashed jeans. I was looking at a club site, and I don't even KNOW these places. All the old places are gone, like Traxx and the Landover Warehouse. I wouldn't know what's good anymore, since I usually went with someone else who had a car.
The last rave/goith thing I went to was at some sci fi con a few years ago, and it was lame because there weren't a whole lot of people, and a few that were there were snobby. A mosh pit is not a mosh pit when only two people are beating the hell out of each other, that's just a brawl.
My first Goth intro came at a paltry 13 years of age. I was with some of the drama crowd, and they took me to some place in Vienna which is now I think a cleaners. Back in 1981, it was an abandoned movie theater. Elise (mama hen) had taken a bunch of us to this gig in her older brother's car, a huge boat of a vehicle with a broken back window. We drove past the mall, down to 123, which is Maple Avenue in that area. I can still smell the combination of the clove, patchouli, and carseat leather when I think about it. Elise wore her oversized jean jacket with the holes and the faded etchings of a bong scribbled in black marker on the back. We weren't Goth per se, but we hung around them a lot. With us were Kathy (the voice of conscience), Dawn (the fun patrol), and Julie B (the ear for cops). I have no idea why no one thought the scene wasn't suspicious. I mean, there we were, a bunch of punk and ex-hippie teens around an abandoned building right on a major road on a Friday night. There were open bottle of liquor. Kids who looked younger than me were peering one eye behind long hair, puffing on home-rolled cigarettes, exhaling huge plumes of smoke in the cold autumn air. Back then, Goths and punks were still pretty much interchangeable. Face paint was rare, and usually only a stripe or two under the eyes. The safety pin piercing was popular in the media, but I never saw anyone but one or two people actually wear them in real life.
Inside the theater, there were two parts. The first part used to be the lobby of the theater. The second part was the theater itself, where a local band called "Mantiza" was playing. There were a lot of weird local or small punk bands at that time; Mantiza, Bad Brains, Slug Patrol, Maladiction, Pink Spawn and the Five Spades, Misfits, Puke and the Rabid Dogs, Minor Threat, Blood Bollocks, and Kittenripper. Many were cover bands, giving either a New Wave or Punk spin on stuff. I'd call a lot of what they did as "Heavy Metal," but that wasn't a term used at the time. Most were pretty bad. Sometimes the bands would get into a fight with the audience, which is why we were going. "Mantiza" we legendary for fighting with the audience. Apparently, one of the singers was wanted for questioning over a beating to guy in a club with a mike stand. Mantiza was playing on stage, which was very small, in front of where the movie screen would have been. On one wall, someone was playing a film version (no audio) of Ziggy Starudust and the Spiders from Mars, a weird film with David Bowie and his band at the time. There was a lot of "slam-dancing" going on near the stage, which is only different in modern "mosh pits" in the fact that there was less violence. You could barely hear the band because the acoustics were terrible, and during certain chorus lines of the various shouted lyrics, people would drunkenly join in.
It was chaos.
I'd love to be all badass and say, "Them's my peeps!" but I was 13, a loner, and pretty scared. Kathy came back from the mosh pit, bleeding. She said someone had a knife and was slashing people. She got hit in the temple, and only because of her glasses, did she sustain only a shallow cut. About that time, the band cut off, which wasn't unusual because the electrical jury-rigging was so bad at events like these. In fact, I don't even know HOW we got electricity to the building. I just assumed the former owner never had it cut off.
"Hey!" yelled the lead (?) singer.
"HEEEYY!" shouted the audience back, because I think they thought it was part of the song. You know, the music stops, and people repeat some lyrics, and the music starts up again. Good way to pump the crowd.
"YOU!" shouted the lead singer.
Most of the people started to look at the band, knowing this was unusual. But a few people, just shouted "YOU!" back. Someone else shouted "Gabba gabba hey!" because he was probably high, which made a few people laugh.
"YOU! The fucker in the red jacket!" shouted the lead singer, pointing at a guy who had a ring of people spread away from him like roaches from light. "You have a KNIFE, and you are CUTTING PEOPLE WITH IT! That is very UNCOOL, man!"
A few audience jeers followed. An uncomfortable lingering formed in the pit.
But the singer had some further instructions. "GET THE FUCK OUT!! All of you, grab his ass, drag him out, and beat the SHIT out of him!!!"
People swarmed at this guy, and I saw him dragged out by about 30 people who just wanted a piece of him. Before he got out the door, some people had ripped off his red leather jacket. I saw this guy's head jerk back and forth as jabbing blows punched his head with such ferocity, I thought he had been hit by a bullet.
"That's better!" said the singer. "If any of you ... try any of that ... you'll get a beatin'!" and he shook his mike stand in threat. People cheered. "One two, fuck you!" he shouted, and went right back into the music.
Kathy's cuts were not as bad as they looked, and perfect strangers helped her mop up some of the blood. Dawn stayed with me, trying to make me feel better about the whole thing. She did well under stress, and was always perky and happy when things were at their worst. She was also addicted to heroin, but I wouldn't know that until years later. Dawn and her friends had a great chat about general stuff in the area behind the old concession stand, while some liquor in a bottle inside a paper bag was passed around. I didn't drink from it, but even if I wanted to Dawn, wouldn't have let me. Elise would have killed her. Dawn and her friends really wanted to listen to what I had to say about my home life, and some of them had really good advice, including the old, "You have an excuse for everything." After about an hour on that sticky painted cement floor under broken fluorescent lights, Julie B suddenly came up to Dawn and made the "cut sign" with he hand over her throat and then the "out" sign with her thumb, and Dawn told me to get up and follow her immediately.
"What?" I asked, panting behind my group in the cold air.
"Cops," said Julie B quietly. We never knew how Julie B knew, but she always knew when the cops were about to arrive. You could be just standing around with her, and then she'd get this look on her face, look around, and go, "Let's go." As our car was pulling out onto Maple Ave, three police cars were pulling into the parking lot. Wow. My heart raced at how close I thought we were to getting busted.
We had a few more events like that, only less interesting. Sometimes we'd all go to Rocky Horror in Georgetown and hang out at the Hamburger Tavern for coffee afterwards. Sometimes it was IHOP, where we once got thrown out for a "blow job on a ketchup bottle" contest. We'd also crash into open parties. Rich kids around here would have these huge parties when their parents were away, similar to the big party in the movie, "Sixteen Candles." Dawn always seemed to know where some spoiled frat boy home on spring break or some stupid rich teen who wanted to buy his popularity would be holding their next event. I have to be honest, I had a horrible crush on Dawn. She was very flirtatious and flighty, but I would have done anything she would have asked. She also paid a lot of attention to me in the method of flirtatious teasing. I recall one party where a whole bunch of people dove into the pool, fully clothed. Dawn was wearing a yellow tee-shirt, a black twill skirt, and when she got wet, I saw she didn't wear a bra. The pool was lit from below, and in the dark night air, you could see pretty much everything. Not that she had any shame in it. However, to a pubescent kid like me at the time, that was like shooting an arrow into my heart, but it never went beyond flirting, much to my frustration.
Those days ended really quickly due to a series of events I'm not going into at this time. Suffice to say, it left me bitter for many years, but I have forgiven them now because I have seen a lot of other events unfold which explained a lot about why certain people acted like they did.
Many years went by where I "distanced" myself from the punk culture. You wouldn't have known my past from my geeky high school self. Things got way better for me in high school, which I think I mistakenly thought was a direct result of "no longer being a part of that." In fact, for many years, I denied having any knowledge of punks and Goths, and even stopped wearing black, although secretly, I really wanted to be accepted again. It took sci fi cons to bring me back.
Shortly after I was married, I hooked up with some of them again because they were also part of the BBS community. My friend Suzi was a great influence of this, although to a lesser extent, so was Count Zero. Suzi really understood what had happened to me, and helped me forgive. I started going to clubs again, although only a few times a year, and saw a lot more of them at cons. My friends Suzi, Kangal, Rogue, and CZ were there. We'd hang out at watch people. Suzi hated poseurs, which I found amusing because she always had something really witty to say about it. By now the Goth community was fully split from punks, and while there are always crossovers, for the most part, they are a different breed.
I think I stopped going to clubs around 1996, shortly after I got my first tech job. I just didn't have the time anymore. The rave community was slightly not my taste, although I really, really liked their music (and still do). But the stovepipe hat wearing Seattle wannabes were a bit too much for me to swallow. Also, the fetish community were blending in, and I was really uptight about it at the time. Now I don't care, because I have been working hard on trying to reduce the amount of knee-jerk snobbish "Ewwwww" reaction I used to have towards such things.
Still, I miss the scene. Even though I didn't go that much. I miss the volleyball pits by the smoking area in Traxx, the kiddiez lounging around Landover with the glow sticks. I miss Suzi telling me stuff, like the time some foot fetish guy told me she had "perfect feet" and trying to figure out what THAT meant. I miss Eden's explanation of BDSM, daddy games, and the hanky codes. Count Zero used to find some of the COOLEST people! Kai an Anne K used to have some of the funniest and true observations of Goth dance style. Hell, it was the only dancing I could ever do (although no one does the "pogo" anymore ... shame, really) and get away with.
Anyone wanna go on a field trip with me? Whatever shall I wear?
This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000483.html