World Goth Day: Black Celebration

World Goth Day
World Goth Day

Really? A day dedicated to goths? Yep, it’s true. Along with Black Cat Day and Bat Appreciation Day, there’s another spooky date for the calendar. Organised in 2009 by two DJs on the British goth scene, Martin Oldgoth and Cruel Britannia, World Goth Day initially began as a day in the UK only. It wasn’t until the following year that it went international. May 22 was chosen because a BBC radio show focusing on the gothic subculture was broadcast on that date, and the guys fancied extending the goth-love a little further. Many have said that perhaps Halloween would be a more obvious choice, but as the fellas themselves say “(only if) you want to share the day with half the world who think it’ll be cool to wear black for a day just so they can look ‘spooky’, and completely miss the point after you’ve gone to all that effort to look that good all year round”. Too true!

So what is it exactly? Essentially it is an excuse to get your goth on. To promote gothic music and subculture and celebrate the awesomeness that is gothdom. Organize an event (or support one that is already on), request gothic tracks on your local radio station or at the very least “dress up in full goth regalia and dance around your bedroom to goth songs in your head.” Unless you do that most nights of course. (No? Just me?)

We got the chance to catch up with Cruel Britannia ahead of this year’s black celebration, to find out what he will be doing on May 22, why he no longer wears PVC and what his favorite shade of black is.

It is obvious from the tone of the website that you guys have a sense of humor about WGD. Do you think the lighter side of goth is often ignored or overlooked perhaps?
I don’t even know if it’s ignored anymore to be honest. I don’t think I personally know anyone in the scene who hasn’t got a heightened sense of humor. We as a subculture are so good at laughing at ourselves we could possibly give other music based scenes a run for their money!

Why is it important not to take the whole thing too seriously?
The goth scene has its own substantial collection of very private personalities. We’re insular by nature around what I hesitate to call ‘ordinary’ people, but we essentially need an outlet for our more social side in order to survive, and that invariably involves humor to some level. There’s only so long you can look at yourself in a mirror before you leave the house to check your hair is big enough, your nails are painted and your eyebrows aren’t painted on wonky, before that little voice in your head whispers, “Dude. You look like a scary clown. What’s with that?”. And then the smile cracks.

Did you ever expect for WGD to spread as far as it has?
Nobody did. Not a clue. I was talking to the other co-founder Martin Oldgoth about this at Whitby Goth Weekend. We are so surprised how well this has taken off. It was our intention from the outset that this would be a seed we would plant in everyone’s mind and then after a year or two, people would just run with it. And that is exactly what has happened. Having emails from the same promoters worldwide year after year leading up to World Goth Day informing us of their latest WGD event is so satisfying – it’s these people who are keeping it alive. We couldn’t be happier.

What is the strangest event you’ve ever heard of held for WGD?
That’s a tricky one. I’ve always been a personal fan of the picnics. I’ve seen some incredible photos of people swarming together in some random park somewhere chilling out and having a lovely afternoon. They sometimes bring barbecues with them and all sorts of stuff.

And the most awesome event?
The first couple of years saw the ‘Race For Life’ cancer research charity event in Hyde Park in London being run by several people in full black Victorian costume as it fell around World Goth Day-Martin’s wife participated in this. Apart from it being extremely difficult to run in a massive gown, how much more commitment to being a goth do you need to display?

What will you, the founders of WGD, be doing on May 22?
There’s a fair chance Martin might crack open a bottle of rum. Personally, I booked the day off work…*tumbleweed* It doesn’t sound very exciting, but I often get a lot of emails around WGD and the occasional phone interview too, so it’s actually best for me to take a day off and deal with those. I will also be participating in World Goth Fair which is an event based in Second Life, I’ll be doing a DJ set there which will also stream out over the internet so anyone can tune in and listen to it live.

And now for the Old Grey Goth Test

What is your favorite shade of black?
‘Brand new, as-yet-unwashed t-shirt black’. It used to be ‘shiny PVC black’, but I’ve grown outwards a little over time, and now I’d look like a sophisticated garbage bag if I tried to wear that…

The Addams Family or the Munsters?
I have Herman & Grandpa Munster stickers on the back window of my car. Martin is also a Munsters fan-his own radio show is called ‘Thirteen13’ after the address of the Munster’s house.

Black cats or flappy bats?
I’m a cat person by default, though I’ve had the privilege of being able to help release some bats back into the neighborhood.

Silk or crushed velvet?
Um. Cotton. I’m the least glamorous goth in the locality! Though I do rock a good pinstripe suit for when I go for the ‘corporate goth’ look.

Earl Grey tea or Jaeger shots?
PG Tips, milk & two sugars. See above for my level of ‘classiness’.

Winkle pickers or platform boots?
Winklepickers when I’m not stomping around in combat boots. Unless you’re dying to see me walk like a new-born baby giraffe, I will not be entertaining platform boots anytime soon.