Goth Life: Goth’s DO Valentine’s Day (without so much pink perhaps)

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We do Valentine’s Day.

Oh yes we do.

Ok, so my idea of the dreaded day might be quoting from Percy Shelley over a blood stained handkerchief whilst pouring over a badly lit church candle, but I have to admit, that might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

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The problem with being a Goth is that most normalies don’t think you want to be into all that love, romance and skipping (well, the skipping bit I haven’t done since I was 12.) We do still feel things. We just might feel that Fields of Nephilim might put it better than Justin Bieber, that’s all.

But what about dating a non-Goth if you’re a Goth? In the past, I think I have scared more people off than had them running towards me with arms out stretched. I guess they don’t get the haunting Emily Bronte make up and the wild Mr Rochester hair (and yes, I always think that, that look is more appealing than the crinoline.) Romance when you’re a Goth can be challenging. If it happens at all. Most of the time, it’s a bit scary and not just for the other party….

It is often I spend my Valentine’s Days with some Absinthe and songs on the turn table that start with ‘25 whores in the room next door...’ It’s not wonder much of my Goth years have been spent … well, in the company of a book of Dickens Ghost Stories.

The one thing I have learned is that no one is ever worth lusting after if they don’t love you for everything you are. If they are scared off by the black, then so what? What you mustn’t ever do is go through the pretence of being someone you’re not just to get their attention. In fact, I have found that the more I have been upfront about dressing like Jane Eyre, the better the results have been.

Find someone this Valentine’s Day who adores you for your wistful looks and flowing darkness. Who thinks of nothing better than to sit with you in dimly lit room and listen to your Bauhaus records.

More importantly friends, don’t despair if you’re alone this evening. Find a comfy chair and if you haven’t got a back catalogue of Most Haunted to catch up on, pour a cup of your favourite black tea and while away the evening with some Chopin and Keats – much better than being with the wrong person!

 

Best music for drinking Jasmine tea to:

Overture in D major, Op.20
Juan Crisistomo de Arriaga & BBC Philharmonic Juanjo Mena

Love and Absinthe

BB x

For further enlightenment….
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Welcome To The Black Bacarra Blog

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mee4When I first stepped into Goth way back in 1985, I hadn’t considered the impact it would have on my life. (This picture was taken about 4 years ago and I have to admit, not my best!) Looking back, for me, it has been on a way of dressing but a state of mind – a lifestyle that means you can still be Goth even when you’re in pink fluffy PJ’s and watching EastEnders… sometimes…

Since being a 15 year old Goth thing decades ago, I have ditched the black (several times) added in some screamingly awful pastel shades a la Haircut 100 (eeeek!) Moved into vintage, rockabilly, vintage again, back into Goth, went steampunk for a couple of (very lost) years but decided that brown could stay where the heck it was and black soon made a triumphant return.

Thank the darkness for that!

Now as an elder Goth (I only found this term this year and like it) I’ve started to delve deeper into the roots of my beloved sub culture to figure out what it’s all about. What it means to me at least, and hopefully, to a lot of other Goths too.

Back in the day, I stuck steadfast to The Cure and Sisters of Mercy without actually knowing why (my guilty pleasure was Rick Astley at the time) and only layers of black fish nets, ribbed tube skirts and patent brogues rather than running over the moors shouting Heathcliff which is probably where I’m at now. Then, I thought I needed to do was hang around Carnaby Street and pout a lot on street corners. I certainly didn’t know what I was aiming for/rebelling against/delete as appropriate. To me, I looked cool in black, but that soon changed…

I had always hated novels and thanks to my educational years, I was put off Dickens for much of my adult life, yet now I can been seen, with booted leg hanging over the side of a winged back chair in an average coaching Inn indulging in Great Expectations and the like. For me, nothing is as Goth as social decline, poverty and Victorian workhouses. Now I have become obsessive about literature. From Mary Shelley to Wilkie Collins and HG Wells, I feast my eyes and mind on billowing shirts, riding boots, anguish and oversized castles. Now, this is the Goth I spent years painstakingly trying to define!

There aren’t a great many of us around, I have come to notice. I look longingly across the aisles of my local Asda in the hope I might catch a glimpse of a ruffled shirt or frock coat, but I never do. I agonisingly scan the Facebook pages for Victorian groups for like-minded souls, but so far, I have found few.

When I’ve not parading the supermarket aisles, I can often be found drifting around old houses (sometimes with the roof still attached) and drafty castles (thank you National Trust) on my days off from being a PR professional. (You will find some of my recent adventures below.) I travel the length of the country in search of barren estates, wild, rambling hillsides and a decent tea room. All of which, you will find in this blog as it fills up…

In short, I hope you like this blog and I would be delighted if you could join me as I don camera, tails and hat and wander the rambles of England in search of our Victorian Gothic heritage. Throughout, my mind will drift back to the roots of our glorious subculture and I might ask a few weird questions (not the ‘how did I get here’ ones) and I will expect you to answer them as I will need to hear some Goth voices (and not just the ones inside my head…)

Until the next post….

With love and Absinthe,

 

BB x

 

 

Read on for….

Brilliantly dark days drifting around Salisbury Cathedral

Goth history – the lost shop years

Goth Days Out: Wells Cathedral in Somerset

How it was to be Goth in the 80’s

Goth Days Out: Hampton Court Palace in Surrey

 

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How To Be A Goth at Christmas (oh yes, we do love Christmas!)

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For any years, Christmases at home were dull affairs. As a Goth teenager, actually all I wanted to do was sit in my bedroom and play records. I couldn’t sit at the phone and call my Goth friends because the only phone in the house sat at a telephone table in the front room and the world and his wife were in there. Everyone would be able to hear you sharing your teenage angst, finding rather funny no doubt. Yuk.

Christmas and the elder Goth

As I got older and had my own Christmases and older still and have my own children, I figured out that if my son wanted to sit in his bedroom and eat nothing but curry for Christmas dinner, then that was fine by me. Of course these days, he can chat all day long to a mate in Denmark over the net and I don’t have to worry about a massive phone bill!

So, as an elder Goth, what does Christmas mean to me now? It’s a questions I have often pondered over. I guess my ideal Christmas would be nestled in a Welsh cottage half way up a mountain surrounded by howling winds and snow drifts with nothing but a large roaring open fire and a first edition collection of Victorian Christmas ghost stories and a candle to read them by. I would sit in my black finery with a ruff at my neck and ease myself back into the corners of my leather wing backed chair and with my wolf at my side, read Dickens and Edgar Allen Poe until the morning light against the backdrop of the whistling wind and owl hoots in the forest near by.

Gothic Christmases in the 21st Century

So, what’s the reality? Well, I might get a turn at the family turn table so I can whack on a couple of Clannad records but Nine Inch Nails would be out of the question – even their slightly commercial concept album would be considered too racy for the rest of the normals to bear. So, I would have my Dickensian Christmas inside my head and ignore the fact I can hear Paul McCartney on every channel and wish for my idyllic Christmas for the following year…

What about Gothic Christmases now?

So, do I have any advice for Goths for Christmas? Yes, I think I do. When you are a teenager, I guess you have to play along with whatever the rest of the world wants you to do. There’s nothing truly around that These days, one can talk to one’s friends anywhere any time, so things have certainly changed, possibly for the better. I would have loved to have had something like Pinterest in my hand so I could spend hours gazing at darkly Gothic frocks, black heels and accessories and dress myself up like something from a Bronte novel in my head. I think what I am trying to say is, is that Christmas can be anything you want it to be.

For me, it was always about the Winter Solstice. The closing of one season and the start of another. I would have loved to have decked my house in black tinsel, glowing candles and ghost stories.

I think there is much more you can do these days within the realms of creativity. Long gone at the days of running through heaps of black eye liner around your room for a Gothic feel.

Many you have a beautifully dark Goth Christmas and a gracefully peaceful New Year.

 

BB x

 

 

 

Goth images I love on Pinterest…

Gothic reath

Gothic snowflakes

Gothic tree decorations

Goth History Part 2 – The Lost Goth Shop Years

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Nothing is new.

Delving into the depths of History (I have become a fan of all things Medieval) you can see that Goth, for example, was always waiting to happen. We certainly didn’t have to wait for the Victorians to come along and spice it all up for us, although I will admit, Mary Shelley did help…

 

Grace with poise for the darlings

There have been many such groupings in modern times, such as the rockers in 1950s America or the punks in the UK in the 1970s. One very distinctive group is the goths, which developed from the punk subculture. But where punk had been a mix of how to get dressed in the dark, pissed, Goth brought with it an element of grace and decadence. It was glamour with a hint of TB about it. We could be intellectual and poetic. We could swoon over Vampire novels and listen to dark B sides of Bauhaus without coming over all necessary. This was Goth. It was to the world of fashion and music what Shakespeare was to the Elizabethans. Sheer deep and endlessly brilliant.

Then came lots of brown…

Generalisations are often dangerous, especially when describing a group such as goths where members have a strong desire to express themselves individually. It was no wonder that Steampunk (when Goth discovered brown) grew out of it giving a home to many elder goths who felt that wearing too much black over a certain age might be too horrifying to small children. Personally, I did agree with this on principle but only to a point. I soon went back to complete out and out Goth again after a couple of weak months of being Steampunk. To me, brown was no substitute where black had been such a loyal friend.

 

Black is black

The color black is extremely common in goth style – there is no argument about it. It can be represented in clothing, dyed hair, and black make-up including painted finger nails.(I must admit, I went the other way and had white blonde hair in a Louise Brooks page-boy hair cut. I went for the black nails but never got on with the black lipstick – yuk!)

It should be noted that this applies to both males and females. There is no one particular reason why black but I had always imagined it was something to do with the years of mourning with Queen Victoria bestowed upon after the death of Prince Albert. That might be the ‘lighter’ way of looking at it though.

Some of argued that it represents a certain morbidity inherent in the culture. For others it is simply that they like the way it looks. Yet there is something about black that is luxurious and classy. Goths look to me, beautiful, thoughtful and polite creatures. At least, I have always discovered this myself. Never nasty (rarely) always caring and on the whole, cheerful. It always annoyed me how society considered goths as depressed and morbid – I often feel my most cheerful when I am decked in my black!

 

The fall of the goth shop

The only thing that saddens me, as a goth of the 80’s and beyond was the decrease in goth shops and places to hang out. During its era, the Batcave was out-of-bounds to me (on many levels, but geographically, it was challenging.) I loved hanging out looking deathly around the stream of goth shops in Carnaby Street in London around the early to mid 80’s. They have since been replaced with up market boutiques for the masses of tourists who come to our city and want what they can get back home – lots of pastels and labels and not an ounce of black creativity in sight…

 

Best Goth clothing shop online (well, possibly…)

One of my favourite places is Kate’s Clothing )and no, I’m not an affiliate.) It’s difficult to find clothing (as possibly like you, I would much rather drift around a physical shop!) which is not going to be overly expensive, but Kate’s in the UK appears to do the job just fine.

If you know of anywhere either on or off-line for Goth clothing, especially in the UK, I would love to hear about it. If you are in the U.S, leave your expert knowledge too for other readers…. 😉

Peace and darkness

BB x

 

More darkness in your life? Read my next post here….

The Alternative 80’s – How It Was To Be A Goth Then

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When I started seeking out all things dark and alternative back in about 1985, I think the first thing I wanted to do was hang out with other like-minded Goths.

Public schools, especially in Surrey were full of spindly youths in faded drain pipes and long fringes listening to albums like U2’s October and bands like The Alarm in their dormitories, so for me, I was in good company.

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1988-1989…That’s me, middle row, far right on the end. The Cleo haircut and black eyeliner was about as much as I could get away with on a school day

My school was an all girl’s independent school in the well to do area of leafy Ashtead in Surrey. Knocked down around 15 years ago due to a lack of local interest (which to this day, still surprised me) Parsons Mead was, during the mid 1980’s full of moody girls papering their walls with posters of Bauhaus and Adam Ant.

The problem with private schools is there is usually more to rebel against. Having parents with careers in the city with little or no time for their fledgling teens, we were grouped together in a sort of black cladded mingle of forgotten girls who smoked too much and loved pouting about their misplaced parents. The music at the time only fuelled our misery. With the Gothic look and alternative subculture now in full swing, it was like being given your life on a plate.

We were taking Goth to a whole new level. We were white middle class kids who really didn’t have anything to be depressed about. We had good educations, money and a future – something that most kids didn’t have in those days, yet we loved to think we were being hard done by, and Gothic culture of the time gave us visual status. We were in and refused to let go.

The Carnaby Street years 1985-1989

On a Saturday afternoon, we were spoilt for choice. Being only a stones throw away from Epsom train station, it was only about 30 minutes and several stops before we were London. Then it was a carefully constructed decision of where to go and look sullen – was it to be Carnaby Street or Camden Town.

For me, Carnaby was the place. In those days, it was wall to wall goth shops that spilled out on to the street. In fact, they oozed so much black stock onto the pavement, it was usually a challenge to find the actual shop front door. Towards the back end of the 80’s, shops that once sold winklepickers with points that went into infinity started selling plastic fetish wear which, for a public school Goth, was not my scene at all. Yet, this was a place to get knocked off band tees and a slimy Chinese lunch. If it wasn’t raining, we would hang out at either end of the street but actually not buy anything because we had spent all our money on train fares.

If we felt flush and wanted to splash out, then we would hit the markets, but you had to know where to go. Second hand shops were in their masses back in the mid 80’s, long before they cottoned on that they could mark up stuff for a higher price. We were the young set who found these thrift shops and bought loud designer Mary Quant style stuff from the 70’s and recrafted to make it our own. So long as it was black (I loved silver threads and glitter like Glam Rock on a bad day) you could rip the sleeves off things, sew on black bows and lace and suddenly it looked like something else. We were creative in those days when jumble sales and markets were still cheap.