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WGT Goth Festival 25 years young

in Culture / Entertainment/Leipzig by

Cover photo: Duong Le
Photo gallery: maeshelle west-davies

No doubt you’ve noticed the streets look a little different this holiday weekend. Yes, it’s that time of year again, WGT (Wave Gotik Treffen). Usually I just stay out of centre during Pentecost when the Goth Festival is on. I admit this is based on my prejudice, based on previous experience and stereotypes.

My only contact was in the 90s when I worked at Sparks Nightclub. We had a dungeon and sometimes had Bondage parties. We had a variety of games on offer, including glory holes. That was never my scene and I remember one particular party where I wore a vintage grey silk negligé, which in my mind, showed I was not interested. After a long night of non-tipping, hairy-backed men wearing leather strips bound by cock rings constantly at my bar, my dear departed friend Steve said, “Honey, you came in looking like Elizabeth Taylor and you’re leaving looking like Virginia Woolf.” Anyway that was not all we were about. We also were about Drag Queens and dancing. That was always my scene.

So when I googled Leipzig before moving here and read it has the world’s largest Goth Festival, I thought, “Didn’t that die long ago?” And the answer is a resounding “No!” But that’s not the only answer.

I truly have nothing against anyone who is into fetish. What I am into is people who go all out for their passion – and there are plenty of them among the 20,000 who come to WGT each year. That’s a far cry from when they started 25 years ago in the Eiskeller club.

Just look at these photos from the Victorian Village that was held at the Panometer for the first time this year.

I loved how happy and open people were. I loved the attention to detail. I loved how free and friendly everyone appeared to be.

I had no idea that there were so many subcultures within this scene. I am, by no means an expert, but I’ll try (with a lot of help from Wikipedia) to give a little background for those who, like me, are ignorant.

Goth music is a sub genre of post punk and started in the UK in the 1970s.

“According to music journalist Simon Reynolds… fixtures of gothic rock include ‘scything guitar patterns, high-pitched basslines that often usurped the melodic role [and] beats that were either hypnotically dirgelike or tribal’… The vocal style [is of] ‘deep, droning alloys of Jim Morrison and Leonard Cohen.’ Siouxsie and the Banshees [used] flanging guitar effects… a brittle, cold and harsh sound that contrasted with their psychedelic rock predecessors. Several acts used drum machines downplaying the rhythm’s backbeat” (Wikipedia).

But that’s not the only kind of music that’s being played by the more then 200 acts at the goth fest. There’s also EBM, Industrial, Noise, Darkwave, Neofolk, Neoclassical, Medieval Music, Experimental, Gothic Metal, Deathrock, and Punk in the mix. And in the park they had a jazz band playing pop. I would never have expected that!

While you get your head around all those genres you may or may not have heard before, I’ll have another look at today’s photos. Tomorrow I’ll tell you more about the events and there are even more photos of fabulous people in fabulous gear.

There are so many things going on all over the city. The WGT app is great!

Here are some of my picks for today and tonight:

15.30 Aurelio Votlaire (USA) Dark Cabaret, Steam Punk at Hedenisches Dorf (Moritz Bastei) free to all

16.00 Amarilli (DE)
“Corrispondenze” Classical Old and New Music at the Alte Börse

17.00 Jessica 93 (France) COLD-WESH PUNK INDIE ROCK  at the Volkspalace

18.00 Dracula at Muko

18.00 Rienzi at Leipzig Oper

20.00 Schneewittchen at Absintherie Sixtina

Maeshelle West-Davies gleans her varied life experiences to expose a personal perspective through a multitude of mediums. Sound, video, photography, dance, performance and public art are the tools she uses to convey her message. Her work is a response not only to a physical journey, but an emotional one, as with all of us who walk along or beside our individual paths.

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