okay, I was going to write a post about the end of an era now that Cyberdog Camden has changed locations, but I thought that before I did that, I should probably write a short post about my conception of Cybergoth to provide the context for why Cyberdog Camden meant as much as it did to me once.
So what is Cybergoth?
Cybergoth is a subculture. It branched out from Goth around the late 1990s and found members among goths who had interests in Cyberpunk fiction, Technology and who listened to Rivet and EBM music and dressed in a manner different from trad-goths. That, for me, was the essence of Cybergoth in the year 2000. We retained our roots in Goth’s melancholic despair in our vision of a dystopian future, but shared Cyberpunk’s love of technology. So for me, Cybergoth == Cyberpunk + Goth.
I first discovered Cybergoth on digiboy's posting board. Unfortunately, it closed soon after i joined the board so i never really got to know more than one or two of the posters there. The next pivotal point for me was when i first went to Camden in 2000 and was totally blown away by all the Goth and Cyber gear there. Cyberdog Camden made a huge impression on me, as did my first trip to Slimes, but i was later, as time went by, to discover and forge my own conceptions of what Cybergoth was to me.
1. Cybergoth Reading
Where trad-goths would read Byron and Poe for their romantic despair and poetic melancholy, cybergoths preferred to immerse themselves in the world of Gibson's 2 trilogies and Stephenson's Snow Crash with their visions of a grimy, gritty future:
2. Cybergoth Musical Tastes
Where trad-goths listened to the Sisters, Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Cruxshadows, we listened to VNV Nation and Apoptygma Berzerk. Some cybergoths I knew were also into the Industrial and Noize genres, which had a harsher, discordant sound and would often be found playing on Slimelight's upper floor. I don't pretend to know very much about the musical aspect because i have never really been a music-aficionado and i actually preferred listening to Trance and the sort of Hard Dance that was played in the Cyberdog Camden foyer.
3. Cybergoth Style
I think that what set cybergoths aside from cyberpunks was that one could carry on being or professing to be a cyberpunk without anyone really knowing what they were because cyberpunks could dress like normals and pass off as one of them. There was no sense of a dress code, however informal, binding on them and their appearance was not a sine qua non to their identity.
In contrast, cybergoths, like their trad-goth counterparts, did not simply read the literature and listen to the music in the safety and privacy of their bedrooms; their culture also placed a strong premium on dressing the part when they stepped out of their homes so that there was a public dimension in the form of identifying oneself to the world at large as a member of the subculture.
<NB:For some reason, i am also thinking of how gang-members in NZ, like the Mongrel Mob and King Cobras, wear big gang-patches on the back of their leather jackets and vests and also how gangs in the US use colour (Bloods/Crips) in their apparel as a form of indentification-as and identification-to. The parallels probably are due to the fact that these are all semi-formal social groups/organisations with the property of high visibility. What motivates the desire for said visibility and non-verbal signalling is probably different in gangs, though the possibility of there being some underlying principles in common between gang culture and Goth and Cybergoth cannot be ruled out as they can be viewed in a sense as cultural entities which are a deviation from the mainstream.>
This dress code and the visibility it brought with it, I think, was the difference between the goths and the cybergoths in the UK and US, versus those who in SG who call themselves goths (and actually look more like metallers). We weren't bedroom cybers or bedroom goths (that actually sounds a little dirty), we looked the part and stepped out in public with a willingness to look like we were and be identified as different, even if it meant that some of us would be persecuted by chavs or just simply be subjected to milder forms of social sanction, such as disapproving glances or being thought of by society as freaks.
To be honest though, I saved my full-out efforts to dress the part for the weekends when I travelled down to London (usually once a month, or every fortnight if i could) for clubbing at Slimes and hanging out inCamden. Most normal days though, I would, in a manner true to my Goth roots, just wear a black trenchcoat over a black tee and black BDU pants with New Rocks.
This Goth-mufti style of dress adopted out of convenience reflected, in a way, the close ties that cybergoths still maintained with trad-Goth culture and the occasional blurring of the nebulous boundaries which attempted cultural delineations. For after all, we were wont to frequent the same club (Slimes) and pub (the Dev) and I never once felt any sense of animosity towards trads. We were from the same family after all, i felt, and were just of different lineages.
Anyway, let's start with an intro to Cybergoth style:
3a. The Hair:
In my opinion, Cybergoth haircuts tended to favor falls with colored hair for the girls, and shaved sides and backs for the guys. I liked bi-hawks or the Skold-cut and sported both at different times as the mood suited me. The pics below illustrate what I am talking about:
female cybergoth hairstyles.
Male cybergoth hairstyles
3b. Stylistic Influences:
Now, if you were to look up Cybergoth on wikipedia, you would be redirected to the 'Cyber' entry. The image on that page, reposted below, would very likely give you a wrong impression of what Cybergoth is and was like, in the sense that the pics posted there represent just one conception of cyber-style – the candy-raver cyber style which paired blacks with fluorescent and neon colors, being all bouncy glow sticks and Es, and which could, as seen below, at times could approach being effeminate.
Quite frankly though, i'm not sure how appropriate it is to subsume Cybergoth under the blanket term 'Cyber' or 'Cyberculture' when people like Crasher kids don't even have any close connection with Cybergoth, Cyberpunk or Cyberspace. I don't know what Crasher kids have in common with this ill-defined "Cyberculture", but i am open to being educated on that score.
My own conception of Cybergoth-style leans towards the grit and harshness of Cyberpunk and Rivet, so I used to favor a look which suggested the anticipation of a post-apocalyptic future and a need to gear up so as to be able to survive in it; I would therefore dress accordingly in MX-armour, gauntlets or motorcycle gloves with metal or kevlar knuckles, and knee and shin-guards.
3b(i) The sources of inspiration:
My stylistic influences were drawn from anime, the Rivet subculture and the whole SWAT/Riot-police look. The pics below will illustrate my influences more adequately.
3b (ii) Some of the Gear - some owned and some coveted :
I was thus a big-fan of MX armour, gauntlets, kneepads, shin guards, New Rock boots or MX boots. Again,see pics below:
3b(iii). The Boots:
As much as I loved the platform-New Rocks, I never wore them because I was a firm believer that I should be able to fight at a moment's notice, and when you go out at night in London, with its preponderance of lager louts and booze-addled chavs, the possibility of getting into a streetfight was very real for me, especially when you are more eye-catching and therefore more susceptible to being picked on when you are alone and they are in a group.
This meant that I really didn't want to look too much like an easy target. Putting aside the fact that some say i have a paikia face, I always knew that looking and dressing different would possibly attract unwelcome attraction and that's part of being a practicing cyber or goth; but I also knew that I would not be doing myself any favors by hamstringing myself in the sense of making it difficult for me to fight back or escape if i was badly outnumbered. You just try running in the 8 inch platformed New Rocks!
Boots for survival in Hostile Urban Environments
New Rock boots for the female cybergoths
3b(iv). The Goggles
I'm not going to post a pic of the goggles here, because they already feature in most of the pics. Most goggled-cybergoths tend to favor the aviator-style goggles worn on their forehead. For the female cybers, this serves to help keep their falls in place. I actually preferred to wear mirrored Snowboarding or Motorcycle goggles (the really big mask-types) around my neck. Oh, what the hell. A picture is better than guessing what i'm talking about, right?
4. Misc. Stuff
Here're a couple more pics related to Cybergoth:
The previous incarnation of Silver AJ in the
December 2002 edition of Vogue UK.
Pic by Mario Testino.
Clothes by Dane, boots by Transmuters. Shot by Gothic Image.
Cyborg headpiece designed and crafted by the insanely talented Dominic Elvin
other examples of Cybergoth style.
Okay, so that should give you a quick intro to what Cybergoth is to me. In a future entry, I will try to write more about Cyberdog (Camden Branch) and how it was so important as a visual and cultural point of reference for me and how, together with Slimes, it was a sort of central gathering point for cybergoths in London and other parts of the UK.