The Gothic Movement: History, Subculture, and Inspirations

Though the term “Goth” was originally coined circa 1981(an interesting pseudonym pilfered in part from the architectural style to which its aesthetic bares resemblance), the gothic rock movement certainly began earlier, in the late 1970’s. In the wake of punk music’s outcry against conformity and social class division, this new and more visceral tone of music gave way to a similarly dark and angst-ridden style of dress.

The Gothic Subculture in America continued to evolve through the remainder of the eighties and early nineties, and even now is only beginning to lay down serious roots, having firmly established its relative sub-groupings. The most popular and mainstreamed of these includes the traditional 1980’s style gothic, romantic goth, cyber goth, j-goth (or Japanese Harajuku Fashion inspired gothic), deathrocker goth, victorian goth, vampire goth, and gothabilly (a mix of gothic and rockabilly styles). For the most part these divisions are categorized by style and color of hair, clothing choices, musical preference, and frequency or daringness of body modifications.

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Gothic culture in general has taken influence from a variety of sources, such as the shadow-laced romantic scribings of H.P. Lovecraft, Washington Irving, Edgar Allen Poe, Poppy Z. Brite, Matsuri Hino, and John Lindqvist and the darkly beautiful, twisted, and fantastical worlds created visually by contemporary artists like Edward Gorey, Jhonen Vasquez, and Tim Burton.