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Whitby Goth Weekend November 2011

Whitby Goth Weekend November 2011

Yet another pilgrimage to Whitby Goth Weekend to add to the tally; Almost every year, twice a year since I first moved to the UK in 2002. That makes for quite a few trips to the North Yorkshire town! Although my fiancé has been going since Jo’s very first gathering of penpals in the Elsinore in 1994, and has taken to the stage for about a third of them. So it is certainly starting to feel like a second home. It’s always wonderful to know there’s a place where you can step into any pub and know at least ten of your friends will be sitting there ready to join you in a drink. Whitby is the place where you get to see faces from all over the UK (and indeed sometimes the world) all in one place. And this year there were even some new members invited into the fold – in the form of our next generation! The number of baby buggies as this year’s must have accessory among my friends was certainly noticeable, great to see that goth definitely isn’t just a phase.

This time round I was off-duty as I wasn’t commisioned to write an official review. So in my alcohol fueled haze my opinions fall mostly, “to like, like more, love” especially as we had a particularly good line-up. In-fact since Martin OldGoth stepped in to lend a hand with the booking of bands, we have had some stellar musical offerings. It was great to have Abney Park back especially as they are one of my favourite bands and I had succumbed to the legendary “Whitby lurgy” the time before. Our friends, The Last Dance, unfortunately had to pull out,

Cornia Cryogenica backstage after a great gig

but were well substituted with Voltaire. Being another of my favourite performers, I was definitely pleased by this. However, after seeing him a number of times, his routines do become a bit repetitive. Perhaps because I equate him more to a stand-up comedian than a musician hearing the same songs/jokes doesn’t quite do it for me. But you can’t deny he’s a great entertainer none-the-less and his charisma is catching. I also love the fact he’s so available to his fans, walking round the room talking and taking photos with everyone who approaches him – a lot of bands could learn from this!

Also on the line-up were a band who has never wholly appealed to me musically but completely own the stage when they take to it (and being only two of them this is a feat) – Devilish Presley. Their energy and sheer attitude always make for a great show. Berlin Black, being relative

Brigitte Gothtart the dedicated merch bird!

newcomers, seem to be making waves already, and their opening was one welcomed by many. I also rather liked Mists of Avalon – a band I’ve heard of for many years but one I never really got round to listening to. However will reserve a final judgement until I take a listen to the CDs I bought – I can never quite make an accurate decision on my thoughts of a band at first gig listening, so much of musical enjoyment is situational.

I missed the opening bands on Saturday, which I hear were actually rather good, so have resolved to find some you-tube footage and hunt down some CDs if opinion matches mine. Chameleons Vox closed as Saturday headliners and were their usual great self. However again, while I love a few of their songs – not really ever been a favourite of mine.

Brute-Force Thomas and his fabulous stempunk arm

Club-wise we were fortunate to find the well-hidden “Black Veil” upstairs at the Resolution on Friday night after the Spa event. GOG Promotions (the people behind Beyond the Veil festival and Black Veil club) really do have some excellent taste in music often championing bands that I love but don’t get much play in the UK for some reason. The club was actually very empty with only a handful of people, all of whom happened to be good friends of mine. To that end we effectively had our own personal DJ for the night and much dancing was done to some wonderful tracks! Then Sunday night was Nostalgia. Along the lines of my beloved Tenebrae,

Being a fan-girl with Abney Park

it always tears me between chatting to the wonderful patrons and occupying the dance floor.However being on a Sunday, after two solid days of partying always means it is initially met with slightly less vigour than it really should be. But a shot with Abney Park and a couple of bottles of Champagne with a crazy Italian, put me back in that dancing mood! In fact I think I may completely blame Abney Park for my hangovers of the weekend – ending up drinking with Nathaniel and various other Rogue Americans till early Sunday morning, who obviously went twisting my rubber arm ;)

The Brilliant Black Veil DJ

Shopping was somewhat of a failure, with only having the spa and leisure centre of stalls – and even then not being completely full – my only purchases came from the bring and buy. Town was also a little quieter than usual and I rather enjoyed a quiet walk up to the Abbey without the hoard of photographers who have been banned from the Graveyard. A move I personally agree with. In fact if I could have a ban on photographers in the town over the whole weekend I would! While I completely appreciate the art, the mass of photographers who travel down to Whitby to effetely act like paparazzi and try and invade my personal space while enjoying my holiday weekend is really starting to irk me. Each time I go there are more. But I guess the day trippers and those that go simply to dress and parade are frustrating the purpose as they are willing photographer fodder.

Voltaire being kind and not making me look short

If you think I am being somewhat unjust (and there have been many forums where this argument has been raised) here are some hand-picked quotes from the photographer sites:

dan_yorkshire “You just need to be a bit forward in asking the models to pose for you”
So us all out on the Whitby streets enjoying the scenery and shops on our holiday weekend are now “models”? Even if some are, since when are we on duty or working for them?

greynolds999 “It is the best time to photograph lots of willing models for free”
ahh, so we are all your models, and working for free… well at least they don’t letch and are just in it for the art…

My wonderful man and Rachel of P,M? / Die Laughing

greynolds999 “This year we must take pictures of at least one man!…”
Technoblurb “…Flanked by two scantily dressed ladies”
Father Ted “I took photos of a man. OK, only because he wouldn’t move far enough out of shot when I was getting a photo of his wife!!”


To be slightly fairer to them though – this year they were far more polite than those in years gone by. Actually asking first and being courteous when declined (although I think mostly owning to all the uproar recently). My general rule of thumb is only allowing people who ask nicely, have a small point and shoot camera and look like they are into the scene, to take a picture –

Gordon & General Megatron Bison - Out of Order obviously!

goodness knows I have taken photos of some of the lovely specimens about. But anyone with professional equipment and no interest in the scene apart from getting free models and using them to win competitions in their little camera clubs or goodness knows what else – well, I’m sure you can gauge my feelings on that one…

But it’s chicken and egg – what came first, the photographers or the people dressed up who seem to love being photographed?

Berlin Black & Partly Faithful

Whitby is a town of two festivals running in parallel: A festival for real goths who like goth music, and a festival for people who like the odd occasion to dress up like goths and be photographed. Sometimes you can’t quite distinguish them from one another if stood side by side – but it’s quite easy really. The real goths will be the ones at the gigs and on the dancefloor, the ones buying the CDs, the ones who don’t wear “costumes” but “clothes”… As much as I adore the fashion, and I really do, I think the style needs some substance to it (and conversely some of those jeans and t-shirt musos need some style – I think the two work best when hand in hand :)

I’m not sure Whitby feels like it used to any more, or perhaps I’ve just finally become that cantankerous goth who believes everything was “better back in the day…”

Ps. excuse no photos of the bands performing – my stage photography leaves much to be desired!