Trad Goth

Trad Goth (short for Traditional Goth), also called Batcave Goth and Positive-Punk Goth, is a type of Goth that emerged alongside the original gothic music genre in the late 1970s and early 1980s. As the name suggests, it is based on the gothic aesthetics and style from that era, making it the most “traditional” form of Goth.

Trad Goths are often associated with listening to various genres of music, including but not limited to Goth Rock, Deathrock, darkwave, coldwave, minimalwave, and ethereal wave. While these genres are typically considered to be part of the goth subculture, Trad Goths are not strictly bound to them and may enjoy other types of music as well.

The Origins

The emergence of the Trad Goth subculture in Britain during the early 80s can be traced back to the niche club “The Batcave” which gave rise to the Positive Punk movement at the time.

The Batcave club, owned by Ollie Wisdom of The Specimen, was known for exclusively playing alternative and independent music, shunning anything considered too mainstream or “pop”. It quickly became a hub for up-and-coming bands like The Virgin Prunes, Alien Sex Fiend, and Danielle Dax.

However, even before The Batcave, there were several bands in the late 70s that laid the groundwork for what would become Goth. Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and The Damned all made appearances slightly before The Batcave, exploring what they called “punk” or “dark glam” with their gothic, costume-like fashion, gloomy lyrics, and bass-driven Post-Punk sound.

Their influence led to a wave of bands creating music and using imagery in a similar vein, with The Sisters of Mercy becoming the most famous of the lot. These bands drew inspiration from the earlier bands and developed the Goth subculture, which remains a thriving and vibrant community to this day.

The Scene

Trad Goths have a broad-minded attitude towards what constitutes Goth music and the modern scene. The key for them is understanding that the music developed from Post-Punk and recognizing Goth as a legitimate musical genre with specific guidelines for its sound and evolution. While they listen to a wide range of music, they can differentiate between Goth and other darkly inclined musical genres.

In contrast to newer dark subcultures with the “Goth” label, such as Nu-Goth and Pastel Goth, modern Trad Goths are conscious of the religious, cultural, and political iconography used in their fashion, in comparison to the scenes of the ’80s and ’90s. They are well-read in these fields and understand the influences behind the imagery they use.

Today, much of the information about the Trad Goth subculture comes from blogs like Post-Punk.com, which are essential for learning about new music in the scene and related genres. YouTube channels and playlists by Cadaver Kelley and Angela Benedict also serve as significant resources.

It is essential to understand that people of all religious, cultural, and political backgrounds have been part of the Goth scene since its inception. Trad Goths express themselves without limitation, and their style and aesthetic can vary widely. While black is a popular color choice, it is not always used. The only unifying factor among Trad Goths is their love for Goth music, their appreciation of the culture’s past, and their enthusiasm for its future.

Trad Goths can be found in Goth and ’80s rewind nights at clubs, coffee shops, bookstores, and record stores. They often engage in stimulating conversations about literature, music, and the arts. Trad Goths are recognizable by their DIY jackets covered in pins and patches of their favorite bands, exaggerated dark-colored eyeliner, and, sometimes, clove cigarettes.

Music

Trad Goths place immense value on music as they share their origin with the emergence of the Gothic Rock genre.

Below are some examples of bands that have been significant in the development of the subculture (mostly from the ’80s, to showcase the breadth of bands that have emerged globally since then):

Gothic Rock/Batcave

  • The Cure
  • The Sisters of Mercy
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees
  • The Mission UK
  • Joy Division
  • The Cult
  • The Virgin Prunes
  • The Specimen
  • Flesh For Lulu
  • Gene Loves Jezebel
  • Red Lorry Yellow Lorry
  • Bauhaus
  • Alien Sex Fiend
  • Danielle Dax
  • Lords of the New Church
  • Xmal Deutschland
  • Madame Edwarda
  • Asmodi Bizarr
  • Exces Nocturne
  • Seres Vacios
  • Zero Le Creche
  • Auto-Mod
  • Garden of Delight (80s)
  • Bone Orchard
  • 45 Grave
  • True Sounds of Liberty
  • The Birthday Party
  • Neva
  • Play Dead
  • Patricia Morrison
  • Voodoo Church
  • Phaidia
  • Kommunity FK
  • Paralisis Permanente
  • Christian Death
  • Skeletal Family
  • Blood and Roses
  • Depeche Mode
  • Clan of Xymox
  • Die Form
  • Kirlian Camera
  • The Danse Society
  • The Vyllies
  • Astaron
  • Psyche
  • Cocteau Twins
  • Black Tape For A Blue Girl
  • Lowlife
  • Breathless
  • This Mortal Coil
  • And Also the Trees
  • All About Eve

 

Neoclassical Darkwave

  • Dead Can Dance
  • Collection d’Arnell Andrea

Coldwave

  • Martin DuPont
  • Opera de Nuit

Dark Cabaret

  • Rozz Williams
  • Marc and the Mambas

Fashion

Goth Fashion styles of the 80s were much more diverse than the more uniform look that became popular in the 90s. There were no strict rules about wearing only black or dark colors, and different bands had their own unique fashion styles. This, coupled with the fact that Goth is primarily a musical scene, allows Trad Goths to dress in any manner they choose. The scene has embraced a variety of looks and aesthetic facets over the years.

During the 80s, the fashion styles tended to lean towards the typical Batcave and Trad Goth looks, Deathrock (which is a punk-inspired variation), as well as the romantic, ethereal, and bohemian styles that are now grouped under Woodland Goth and Ethereal Goth.

Shared elements in most Goth Styles

  • Androgyny
  • Egyptian eyeliner
  • Dark red lipstick
  • Dramatic blush/contour
  • Teased hair
  • Winklepicker boots
  • Platform boots
  • Ripped items
  • Tattered edges
  • Mesh gloves
  • Various piercings
  • Cross necklaces
  • Black beads
  • Clove cigarettes
  • DIY effects

 

Trad Goth/Batcave Styles

Inspiration taken from:

  • The Sisters of Mercy
  • Specimen
  • Alien Sex Fiend
  • Virgin Prunes
  • Bauhaus

Specific elements:

  • Leather jackets
  • Band Tees
  • Fishnet
  • Studded accessories
  • Spiky, puff-ball hair
  • Western styles
  • Black and white
  • Short, low waisted skirts
  • Mid-length skirts
  • Flat black hats
  • Felted coats
  • Body paint

Deathrock Styles

Inspiration taken from:

  • True Sounds of Liberty
  • Kommunity FK
  • Christian Death
  • Patricia Morrison
  • 45 Grave

Specific elements:

  • Dramatic hats
  • Bright hair dye
  • Rips and holes
  • Military fatigues
  • Wedding dresses
  • Veils
  • Punk elements
  • Metal grommets
  • Vintage
  • Vibrant colors (like red or gold)
  • Opera gloves

 

Ethereal Goth/Woodland Goth Styles

Inspiration taken from:

  • Dead Can Dance
  • The Cult
  • The Mission UK
  • Gene Loves Jezebel
  • Cocteau Twins

Specific elements:

  • Kimonos
  • Puff sleeves
  • Sequins and glitter
  • Long maxi skirts
  • Lace details
  • Pearls
  • Brocade and velvet
  • Jewel tones
  • Draped scarves
  • Handkerchief hems
  • Bangles
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