This weekend was Greg’s stag weekend. I think others will comment on the fun bits, but I’d like to describe a particular sequence of events that’s really got to me.
After we’d done the shotgun shooting, after we’d bought cocktails in the Evil Eye, we went to Darklands. And it’s about Darklands I’ve got something to say.
To set the scene; we have a mix of folks, some typically dressed for darklands, some not. We have a mix, too, of people into the scene and people not.
So we enter the club and almost instantly we’ve got six or seven people up on the dancefloor; if memory serves, all people who are regulars at goth nights – Derek, Greg, me, Yann, Spence… A couple of songs in, someone (presumably part of the organising crew) comes along and asks me to dance more carefully, and asks Greg to cover up (he’s shirt-free at this point). They’ve had complaints, she tells me.
Now, this is the same dance I’ve been doing for years, at Body Electric and Afterlife and Wendyhouse and Death by Misadventure, at Spiders and Fibbers and Whitby; never once have I been called on it. But tonight I am, and the only difference I can think of is that tonight, I’m wearing a white shirt.
It’s not long after this that it becomes clear that someone – a guy in a top hat with a feather and really bad teeth – has a real problem with Tony P. I don’t know what started it, but a problem exists, and the guy starts shouting, and his girlfriend starts shouting, and his big mate behind him starts glowering. Clearly all’s not well.
So we try to talk to the guy; it’s hard to communicate, though; it’s loud and the guy really doesn’t seem to want to be talked to. He’s clearly in the mood to start some agro.
I go and talk to the people on the door. I try to explain that this guy is being very agressive and we can’t seem to calm him; I’m asked “well, what do you expect me to do about it?” She doesn’t stand, or ask me to point out the trouble. She just sits, blank-smiling.
There are several other incidents; the top-hatted guy tries several times to provoke something; at one point he tells me that one of us has spat at a woman in the club. Dunno about you guys, but it seemed unfeasible to me.
Derek comes to me and tells me that the guy is trying turn other people in the club against us; it feels to me like, if we stay, there’s going to be real trouble, so I hurry people out of the club. We get everyone out who’s not wearing black, and we go home. After that, I hear, the trouble subsides
So that’s the story. Other people will be able to tell different parts of it, stuff I’ve missed out because I didn’t see. But that’s the essence of the story for me.
What did I make of the whole thing?
I don’t think any of it would have happened if we’d been soaked in black dye before entering the club. I think everything about that experience can be linked back to the fact that some of us were wearing color and some of us were wearing short-sleeved shirts. I get asked to tone down a dancing style I’ve been indulging in for a decade without (negative) comment, and a goth trying to start a fight barely raises an eyebrow with the door staff. And I promise you, if he’d succeeded, the story you’d have heard is that townies came and started a fight at Darklands.
I think it highlights a myth I’ve heard several times, that goth nights are tolerant and non-violent, in a way mainstream clubs aren’t. It’s bollocks. There is tolerance as long as you look right, non-violence if you act the way you’re supposed to. Conform or suffer.
I think it’s part of a familiar logical fallicy, that looks something like this;
My minority is morally and intellectually superior to the majority; we are the upper end of the bell curve of tolerance, creativity, intelligence, suffering, sensitivity, knowledge or insight
It’s a tribal belief I’ve seen several times. You hear it amongst role-players who think that they are more ‘creative and tolerant’ than the ‘mundane’ mainstream; you hear it from ‘adventurous and tolerant’ goths; you probably see it in most groups of friends. It’s probably the foundation of most cults, too, the few elect who know the Truth.
Thing is, it’s generally bollocks. Few tribes are really merit-based. You get in for listening to a certain type of band or playing a certain game or believing a certain nonsense. If the tribe doesn’t have a difficult selection process, it’s going to be composed of average kinds of people.
It was disappointing for me to see the intolerance of at least part of the goth scene; it has killed any enthusiasm I had for the scene. It’s a pity, because the goth scene is so small it needs to do something better than the mainstream. It suffers from uninspiring venues, a smaller stable of artists, a narrow variety of style, and a tendency to rehash the past endlessly. The idea of tolerance and friendliness was one thing I thought it had going for it. My belief in that has now gone.