October saw the biannual Whitby Gothic Weekend descend upon the coastal Yorkshire town with the countryside dressed in its autumnal finest and the promise of All Hallows Eve delights. Although residing in the chiller season, the October WGW usually attracts more patrons than its April sister. However this year the weather was positively balmy in comparison to years gone by where the fear of the driven rain and seaside gales rearranging that perfectly messy backcomb or smearing the painfully precisely smudged makeup is a real worry.
Having not been to WGW for a couple of years (after going to nearly every one since my first) I was a little apprehensive. From starting out as a small festival based around the gothic music subculture, it has become an attraction for many cosplayers and their accompanying gawkers and photographers. While I would normally quite enjoy the pageantry of such… the laziness of the mainstream press who choose to call out these characters as “Goths” and by doing so our scene is then portrayed as fancy dress and somewhat aging neo-Victorian serves as a constant irritant to me. These hordes have also made it almost impossible to wonder through the old town during the day and should you still manage it, you won’t remain un-harassed by the swarm of camera club photographers (see my exploratory article on the whitby photographers). Luckily though the fun I had in the midnight hours precluded any daylight wondering – so I can’t quite say what Whitby was like during the day!
Friday was the busier of the two nights in the Spa with Heaven 17 and Visage drawing the crowds. Heaven 17 played a storming set and were easily the best band of the weekend, while Visage sounded a little like a karaoke version of themselves sadly. Saturday was the more “alternative” line-up with Lesbian Bed Death, Bad Pollyanna, Rhombus, Hugh Cornwall and Voltaire headlining. I must say I always enjoy Voltaire and highly recommend everyone to catch him live at least once. This set had a slightly more somber undertone with his recent split from his wife colouring many of the new songs which are attributed to a forthcoming article called “Heart Shaped Hole”. It was an interesting mix and sadness and joviality – very goth in essence. Although Votaire’s onstage performances are always brilliant, I think it’s offstage where he really shines – he’s really there for his fans, and I think that’s an admirable trait. And as great people are bound to find one another, I wasn’t surprised to find out Alchemy have collaborated with him to create his Vorutanian key blade.
The Bizarre Bazaar this time took on a very arty feel for me, I spent most of the time chatting to Geof Banyard – the very talented cartoonist whose work has a decidedly steampunk feel with the wonderful adventures of his “fetishman” thrown in for good measure. It’s also always wonderful to catch up with Anne Sudworth whose fine art and dedication to the scene certainly afford her the title of one of Goths Grande Dames. Jasmine Becket-Griffith was also in attendance this time round which was lovely considering her artwork is used on the official WGW site.
The festival was nicely rounded off in Raw with the club night “Restoration” on Sunday night where two of my favourite DJs (Martin Oldgoth and Ben) managed to pull out the old school goths from their hiding and elegantly kill us on the dancefloor! As they say on their event page: “martin oldgoth and DJBen, and occasional guests, bring you classic and new goth, post punk, deathrock, dark indie / alternative sounds mixed in with those too often forgotten New Romantic and New Wave classics. And still no EBM, metal, industrial or cheese! It’d be like the nights you loved never went away…” and it was just that. A wonderful way to end a wonderful weekend.
Next April is going to be a four day mega extravaganza in celebration of WGW coming of age. I hope to see you there as we raise a glass to our dear 21 year old.
Just as Alchemy helped to create the ‘Voltaire’ key, Alchemy can help you to create your own merchandise. Beautifully designed products crafted to the highest quality at great prices. Visit alchemygroup.com for details.
* Lady Amaranth wears P701 Viennese Nights. An abstract pewter bat in Baroque style with the body of a black diamond Swarovski crystal, with three miniature crystallised bats suspended below.