Gothic-Rock Subculture


What’s playing in the back is The Cure’s Three Imaginary Boys album. Scattered over the bathroom counter top are black eye- pencils and liner. Next to the wall is a tall can of Aqua Net and dark nail polish. Standing in front of the mirror is a new subculture ready to make a loud statement.

The origin of goth rock started during the late 1970s after the birth of punk-rock. It began where punk rock bands in England were forming. These were enigmatic bands such as; Siouxsie & The Banshees, Bauhaus, Killing Joke, Teenage Jesus And The Jerks, and The Cure. Each band gained a cult following from their dark and melancholy tone, lyrics, and overall look. Elements of the subculture borrowed from 19th century literature works of Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, Ana Radcliffe and Gothic horror films: Dracula, Frankenstein, The Turn Of The Shrew, Phantom Of The Opera, and The Hunchback Of Notre Dame.

In contrast to the glittery and dazzling colors of disco and neutral brown of pantsuits, the rebelling “goth rock” style was black and androgenous for the majority. Starting from the head up, hair (and eyebrows) was dyed jet back. Hair would then be back combed, teased up, and finished with hairspray. As for makeup, for both guys and girls, it was a copy of Siouxsie Sioux’s signature “cat-like” eyeliner and pale complexion.

Jewelry consisted of Christian crosses for earrings or necklaces. Crosses and pentagons were worn for religious purposes or purely just as accessories. Silver studded belts and long chains, bracelets, ruffed cuffs, with earrings made from safety pins, band/free speech pins or other occult symbols are all part of the trappings of this cultural statement.

Clothing and fabrics ranged from leathers and laces to velvets. Its fashion protested against the 1970s pastel color palette. For girls, upperwear would be Victorian-era corsets and mesh long sleeves. For men, they would layer with baggy collared shirts and leather jackets with Cure singer Robert Smith as an influencer. Fishnet was always worn as shirts or leggings. Looks were then finished with (preferably leather) knee high, platform boots or stilettos. Wrinckleprickers were also sported as an element from the 1950s rockabilly decade.

Gothic rock went against traditional standards that regarded sexuality and one’s identity. By the late 80s, society had discovered and experimented with what was considered “taboo”sexual practices: poly-amorous and queer relationships were the more well-known types. Religion was not really relevant inside the subculture. Although, there would be those who believed in agnosticism and/or atheism. However, there were individuals who believed in Christianity, Catholicism, Paganism, and ethno-religions.

The subculture also affected an anti-social behavior and non-violent approach within young adults. Drugs were not as favored contrary to hedonism, which was the ethical theory that pleasure is the ideal aim for human living of the 1960s. This was because poetry and music had a deeper connection to others and could foster conversation.