A Study of Gothic Subculture

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Updated 3-12-2009
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This is a shot of Madelyn doing an Armenian dance.

City of residence: Salt Lake City, UT

Age: 30

Length of time in the scene: 15 years

Occupation: Computer programmer / Folklorist / Ethnic Dancer

Education: "M.A. in English & Public Folklore - Northwestern State University of Louisiana ('96). B.A. in Liberal Arts (Anthropology / Ethnochoreology) - Northwestern State University of Louisiana ('93). High School - Louisiana School for Math, Science, & the Arts ('88)."

Musical taste: "Musically, I listen to equal parts early '80s and new-wave stuff, later '80s gothic, older punk (Jello), pre-Alternative-Explosion 'college music' (which ranged from Game Theory or the Lucy Show all the way to Tom Waits), proto-industrial (Steve Fisk or Eno's more sordid experiments), contemporary experimentalists (Phillip Glass, Laurie Anderson), and the Ethnogoths (my own category for groups like Dead Can Dance and the Bulgarian State Women's Choir). A bit of 'classical' - Smetana is high on my list today - and my own ethnic musics, Cajun and Zydeco, round out that list."

Distinctions in appearance: "As I work 9-5 for a software company, my day wear is a series of slightly off-kilter, all-black suits. Clubbing usually finds me in corsets and spiked collars. There's nothing too distinctive about my appearance, except that I'm a redhead, and 'classic' in body shape. Two lobe piercings in my right ear and a labret piercing."

Hobbies, activities, interests: "I'm an ethnic dancer, mostly performing Middle Eastern folk dances from the Caucasus Mountain region and Eurasia, but also from other regions as disparate as Israel and Central Asia. Dancing in clubs is nearly as much fun. I consider folklore both a hobby and an occupation. I used to teach English as a Second Language to Bosnian refugees. I hike, camp, and garden as well." Madelyn has also worked with me on the zine Eklectique and is a founding member of GOTHICS (Gothic Organization To Help In Community Service). She DJs for Submersion every Thursday at club Area 51. Her past DJ credits include Ascension at Confusion, Axis, and the Elder Ball during Convergence 6 in Seattle.

Spiritual, philosophical, religious affiliation: "Lapsed Baptist, with minor Catholic cultural traits. Former leanings towards Hindu. No religious beliefs at all now."

Goals, dreams: "My main goal is to study ethnic dance in deep Eastern Europe or the Caucasus regions, and to teach English or computer use to keep from starving. If things work out there, I may try to complete a PhD in ethnochoreology or a related field."

Do you consider yourself gothic?: "I'm not offended when the term is used on me, inasmuch as it's a useful label, any more than I'm offended when someone calls me a geek because of my job. I don't generally use it to describe myself, but I might use it to describe my dress style or some of the music I listen to. Initially, to me it only meant a style of literature, most of it pretty poor, and an architectural style, most of it beautiful. I see the term as a useful label and a cutting pejorative for an urban, music-driven subculture. It carries no spiritual or deeper meanings for me. Very little attracts me to the social group, per se. I like the music, which leads me to spend time in goth clubs, so most of the people I meet in those places will, naturally, also be a member of that subculture. Many of these people are great, so I do spend time with some. However, I don't spend a lot of time 'hanging out' with people who look, fashion-wise, like me. Most of them are considerably younger than I, and I prefer not to talk about clothes, which seems to be a favorite topic of conversation in some of the Goth places I've been. That sounds very snobbish, and some of my closest friends are under 21, but they're the exceptions, not the rules."

12/22/97 last updated 7/21/00