May 22nd has become the worldwide day of celebration for the Goth subculture, so we caught up with the man to blame… sorry, famous founder Cruel Britannia, who described himself to us as “Goth DJ, internet radio show presenter & World Goth Day guy. Nothing too flashy”
TBG: Hi! For the newcomers and other great uneducated, could you sum up World Goth Day?
DJCB: Put very simply; World Goth Day is the annual celebration of the gothic subculture in every medium, although for most of us it’s about the music. I want it to be a day of fun stuff and something that will carry on for years to come under the strength of the goth community, and not just get lost in distant memory after a few years. The whole plan was to give people the idea and let them get on with it and keep it going.
TBG: How did this event start? What made you think we needed a special day a year?
DJCB: The seeds of the idea were planted when BBC 6 Music were to broadcast a subculture weekend in 2009 consisting of a full schedule of music, interviews & documentaries per day of punk, goth and britpop. As it happened, the ‘goth day’ was on May 22nd.
One quiet night in a house in Telford, somebody who might be me, had a little too much caffeine and decided that ‘goth day’ should be something we all do across the UK, with people wearing their goth finery to work for a day, or digging out long lost vinyl from their youth for a good airing, or bugging local radio stations to put on a few choice requests for the day, all sorts of things…whatever it takes to ‘get your goth on for a day’.
So I reeled all of this off on my Myspace blog (now long disappeared into the ether, never to be found again, sadly) and I even quickly cobbled together a “Have A Goth Day” poster in Photoshop for people to slap up in their front windows, which bore the logo we all know now as the ‘Goth Day Smiley’.
What I didn’t expect was for people to actually read the blog, spread the word and run with the idea. Which they did in large numbers.
At the beginning of 2010, World-renowned goth DJ and all round nice bloke martin oldgoth and I discussed the idea of taking it globally, officially, with a proper website, forum, all sorts of social network presences, and pretty much try to *do it properly*. We pushed ‘World Goth Day’ pretty hard into people’s faces and a lot of promoters and organisers took us seriously (again, we weren’t expecting this). It was really well received by everyone and a lot of people were asking us to keep it going. So we did…
TBG: How has it been celebrated in the past? Any special moments?
DJCB: We have seen, and are still seeing everything from meetups and picnics in parks to full blown events with DJs and bands involved in the intinerary. There’s a few online shops that are getting involved by having World Goth Day discounts. There are podcasters, broadcasters, record labels and musicians that are planning special releases. The virtual online community Second Life currently have an event running until the end of the month that’s raising money for the Sophie Lancaster Foundation – I’m quite heavily involved in this project.
There is a wide variety of ways that people are showing their support for World Goth Day. I have to say, I find myself mostly speechless every time I see another thing announced.
I have no idea how it got so big. I couldn’t even get the cat to listen to me this well…
TBG: We don’t know anyone who can! Do you know how widespread it is? Throughout Britain, international – is it truly worldwide?
DJCB: At last count there was 52 events in total ranging through all of the above forms, and that number is still growing as I write this. There are events in England, Wales, Ireland, all across the USA, Mexico, Canada, Poland, Macedonia, Romania, Brazil, Barcelona, Madrid, South Africa and Australia.
I haven’t stopped to count each one and see where it’s based in the world, but suffice to say, World Goth Day 2013 is the biggest we’ve ever seen since it began in 2010. Many of the events are taking place on the weekend because it’s more convenient, but they’re connected with World Goth Day in principle. In a couple more years, World Goth Day will fall on a weekend, and gawd only knows what sort of events we’ll see in the face of that!
TBG: Speed the day! Well this certainly explains the 60,000 fans (and counting) we’ve seen online…
DJCB: I guess you’re talking about the WGD Facebook page? A lovely bloke called John runs the page, and he has effectively kept the idea of World Goth Day running even through the rest of each year while the rest of us were taking time out!
I just think people deep down like the idea of unity. When they see something as fun and as harmless as World Goth Day come along, they’re quite happy to join in with it.
TBG: And if they do want to join in, what’s on offer?
DJCB: The best way to answer this would be to visit the Frequently Asked Questions page of the World Goth Day website. I refer to the section below *wafts laser pointer at imaginary whiteboard…*
Take over the radio.
You and your friends can canvas your local radio station (or supersize your efforts and take on the National stations) and get them to play at least one track by a goth band.
Without descending horribly into what you interpret goth to be (because this isn’t the place for it), firstly you’ll need to think about what you want them to play.
As you can imagine, the likelihood is that your local radio station doesn’t hold the latest album by whoever is currently enticing you to shadowdance around your front room bathed in imaginary dry ice. Make an obscure request and watch them ignore you hard in the face.
It may be best to ‘stick to the classics’, such as something by the Old School crowd (Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Cure, The Cult, Sisters, etc.) as the chances are that somewhere deep in the shelves of your local radio station, there’s a very dusty chart compilation CD from the eighties that only ever got played twice, and that was probably back in the early nineties.
You could try roping in your work colleagues into things as well.
A tried and tested game on Goth Day 2009 was an office sweepstake where everyone put money into a hat/bag/whatever & phoned into their local radio station and requested a track, whoever got their track played bagged the cash. It’s a win-win scenario.
Support your local goth night.
The chances are you’re probably going to do that anyway. But the sad fact is that compared to your local ‘normals’ club night, goth nights have a hard time surviving for a number of reasons (also something else we won’t go into) and have a habit of disappearing, especially in smaller towns and cities.
Promoters run goth nights against many obstacles, be it venue issues, customer numbers, all manner of problems. One thing they all share in common is that they’re doing it for the scene, not for the money-have you ever seen a rich goth? Me neither.
There is a saying that ‘real Goths are old’. I haven’t a clue where it comes from. But the chances are that if you happen to be in your ‘twilight years’ so to speak, the real life scenarios of a day job and being married with kids means you can’t go out and ‘get your goth on’ as often as you did when you were younger.
Pencil in a babysitter for May 22nd and check what goth gear still fits. You and the other half have earned it. Plus, the good news is that the dance you did at your friend’s wedding probably won’t get laughed at in a goth night like it did then.
TBG: Great plans! Thanks for talking to us, any parting comments or ‘final words’?
DJCB: Simply? Thank you all for joining in.
I have precisely no idea why you’re listening to me at all, but you’ve taken this idea and given it life far beyond my expectations. Now just keep it going, pass it onto your kids if you have to, just give yourselves a reason to be proud of your inner and/or outer goth for a day each year. Some people don’t get any other opportunity to ‘get their goth on’ apart from this day, so it’s good to pull them out of the woodwork and stand them amongst those who do it all year round.