According to the definition put forth by Oxford, the word ‘Goth’ is a noun, meaning, (a) a member of a Germanic people that invaded the Roman Empire from the East between the 3rd and 5th centuries; or (b) a style of rock music derived from punk, typically with apocalyptic or mystical lyrics and a member of a subculture favouring black clothing, white and black make-up, and goth music.
I suppose, in 2019, we should go with definition (b).
One of the reasons the whole Goth culture thrived during the ‘70s till now, was its distinctive look, and the fact that it was super easy for anyone to adopt the dress code. All you needed were common elements that included black leather and PVC (sort of like the trash bag material), fishnets, crimped spiky hair, black lace, mohair jumpers, winkle picker shoes, and more. Over the years, Goth fashion has become some sort of a fusion, taking in elements from Edwardian and Victorian clothing, steam punk, cyberpunk, rave, cosplay, and much more.
So, the original ‘Goth movement’ — the look and the sound kind of erupted in the U.K., like all great things (The Clash, The Cure) and started gradually spreading to the U.S. too. Music was, and is, one of the most popular ways of identifying with the goth culture, and thanks to the Internet, it has spread like wildfire throughout the world, like Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Indonesia, and Scandinavia. And eventually, it made its way to Bangladesh as well.
Today, there’s about so many different types of goth, each with its own different sense of style, hairdos, music preferences, outfit choices, that the list goes on. You have goth (goths in sunny places), health goth (cool black athleisure wear), cholo goth (Mexican gangsta goth), pastel goths (pastel colours with skulls on pink bows or heart-shaped bats), cyber goths (bright neon colours), and other kinds of goths who wear jewel tones in addition to black.
The scariest ones are probably the goths who wear all white. Each country has done a wonderful job in adapting it to their culture.
In Dhaka, much like most countries, people started to identify as goth through the music they listen to. It’s a gateway drug into the goth culture. However, here, being goth can be a tad bit difficult in terms of outfits, and maybe music sometimes, if it’s too dark. With weather like ours, which ranges between 32-40° C, wearing leather and boots can be quite daunting. In fact, since most people tend to side with the dark goth scene, i.e. black everything, you run the risk of spontaneously melting. Not only that, there are some traditional goth elements mentioned that are either hard to come by, or simply taboo, for example fetish wear.
Luckily, the goths here have adapted and come up with their own idea of goth culture. The dark makeup, dark thoughts, and dark music remained the same, but the outfits were more attuned to the culture. So, instead of fishnet stockings and miniskirts, they just wear black jeans and T-shirts, or shalwar kameez. As for the heat, we all know how to persevere through this heat anyway, goth or no goth.
What exactly does it mean to be Goth? Maybe it’s about appreciating the darker things in life, whatever that may mean to anyone, in terms of fashion, music, media, general aesthetic, ideology. It could be about finding beauty in dark places. Basically, anyone and everyone who is remotely darkly inclined can be a Goth.
Being Goth is okay. Like all communities, the Goth community is an accepting one, and it is accepting of other minorities. Be who you are, and being Goth, ultimately is pretty cool.
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Styling: Sonia Yeasmin Isha
Makeup: Farzana Shakil’s Makeover Salon
Location: The Base Camp, Bangladesh