The Goth Hoover Dance

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I'm glad Summer is over. There I've said it. I even started a Facebook group about two years ago about how rubbish Summer is and only ten people joined. I'm disappointed in all of you. More of you should sign up. Why be mindless servants of the sun, I ask you? You can check the reasons there as to why I don't like it. The beginning of this Summer was pretty much the same as every other one. Miserable, alone, dressed in black and feeling witlessly superior to the photosynthesised plants outside. I was sitting indoors, trying to hack together a bunch of code before a deadline and listening to a load of Goth on Spotify. As I hurled abuse at my screen, while trying to get my fingers to jab out clumsy letters, those yelping humans outside got steadily louder, blindly running into the sunlight like the sheep that they always are. They were doubtlessly jumping up and down and yelping, "Summer's here!". "Shut up," I growled, while my collection of deep-throated dark anthems bleared out of the computer speakers. The only consolation was one singular tweet that had been quacked into the Twitter void by noted Guardian columnist Grace Dent, who was going through a similar agony while listening to Bauhaus. Well, misery loves company, as they say and I tweeted back at her, sharing with her my Spotify playlist. Briefly cheered by the dashing Ms Dent's eager subscription to my terror-filled tracklisting, I still couldn't disguise the dread feeling I had of being back at square one, rather like a terrible repetitive dance that I often found myself doing. Yes, a dance.

Let me tell you about this little-known dance. I know that's a surprise, as you already know me as the man who can't dance and couldn't if his life depended on it. So, it might seem surprising that I'm an expert in a slightly obscure dance move that not many people know about. It's so obscure, the people who regularly participate in this specially-named dance aren't even aware that they themselves are doing it. It's not as low-brow as "The Agadoo Dance" or as depressingly culture-defining as the "Whigfield Saturday Night" dance, nor is it as universal and crowd-pleasing as the "YMCA" move. No, it's the "Goth Hoover Dance". The "Goth Hoover Dance" is deeply symbolic of this entire blog article, as it typifies the sub-culture I was (still am?) a member of. Here's me doing it here, on this video.

As you can see, it consists of a simple three steps forward, three steps backward, gaze aimed firmly at the floor, rather as if one is hoovering the carpet. There's a variation where the said Goth clasps his hands behind his back while performing this move, so if the hypothetical hoover ever existed, the Goth would be moving it around with his nose. The frightening thing about this dance is how closely it parallels the life of the person doing it. It's like a physical and mental cul de sac. You keep thinking you've made the three-point turn to get out, but the stupid steep kerb just refuses to get out of the way.

I was doomed from the outset. The first word I learned as a child was "Dracula". Honestly. Well, to be more accurate, the baby version of me grappled with the syllables and pronounced it phonetically as "Drakla". My brother was buying horror comics at this point and used to regularly alude to Bram Stoker's creation. By the repetition of vampire verse and the power of imprinting, the neurons rewired in my infant brain and made "Drakla" the first word I pronounced. When I hit my teens, the first album that really turned my hormonal head and made an impact on my life was "Peepshow" by Siouxsie and The Banshees. It was lent to me by my mate, Spiderboz. I'd already started listening to punk, from the Pistols to the Dead Kennedys - with a passing sideshow interest in the whacky surrealism of Half Man Half Biscuit. However, the first infant word that had passed my lips had marked my future grave already and "Peepshow" was my first musical love. It helps that the lead singer regularly wore tight black PVC too. Sweet heck, I loved Siouxisie Sioux.

I realised how far this self-flaggelation had advanced, when I was asked a profound and poignant question a few years ago. "Did you ever create something from your own mind that physically manifested in the real world and you thought was genuinely beautiful? Something that you were proud to leave as a legacy once you departed this world, no matter how large or small that legacy was?". To my surprise, there was. I wrote a very perfect love song called "Butterfly" in my early 20s. It was simplicity and it was pure. It wasn't even written about a particular girlfriend or partner; it was just a pitch-perfect paen to unconditional love. However, as I was ruminating my gift to Planet Earth, I got asked the inevitable follow-up. "Is there anything you regret thrusting onto this world in the shape of a perceived creative gift?". Sadly, the answer to this was in plural and also belonged to the category of poetry and songwriting. Loosely. When I declared that the name of this piece of Goth gas was pretentiously entitled "The Scars of Yesterday", I guess I shouldn't have been that surprised at the raucous laugh I was greeted with.

"The Scars Of Yesterday". Fuck's sake. I don't even have to tell you how bad that self-pitying rubbish was, formed as it was on the basis of that title. I'll give you one sample line from it. "If I had a mirror on my shoulder, I'd watch my back every day". I've read that line back and I feel proud and appalled by it, in equal measure. There were other classics from when I stamped around campus with a scowl on my face. "Immaculate In Black" might seem like a parody of a title, but I unironically called a poem that once. "Disposable Friend" explained to a cruel world exactly how I felt, but a colleague felt moved to say that the title made it sound like a chorus about a condom. "I'm Dreaming Of A Black Christmas" doesn't really need an explanation. The only thing that makes me feel slightly less ashamed of this period of my life? Others behaved worse. After one laughably mediocre night in the nearby Goth club and observing a phalanx of darklings doing the hoover dance, I was astonished to see them all suddenly clear off the floor and all retreat to their gloomy corners. Like a black sheep following a load of other black sheep, I said that I "quite liked that song Disintegration" and queried why everyone had buggered off. The Cure had "sold out", came the spat words. I guess that meant Robert Smith was wiping his tears away with diamond-encrusted sequins.

It wasn't all bad. With the benefit of hindsight, the mid-80s to early 90s was a pretty miserable time to be a student, so it wasn't surprising that gangs used to float about like aimless stretch hearses. I'll admit to finding the whole current premise of Emos laughable, although I'm sure some of this superiority is everything to do with just hating youth in general. But, look - in my day, we were properly miserable. We were "4 REAL". Emos look too clean and bourgeois. Emo idols are too shiny and beautiful. They've got clothes from the Hellfire chain, iPhone Evanescence apps and the dude from Twilight. We had bin liners, Christian Death and Peter Murphy having his cock strangled by his trousers.

I also realise that in our twilight (not Twilight) Goth years, my group of friends were taking it less seriously anyway. For starters, my colleague Cryotec started doing the "Whigfield Saturday Night" dance to the "Temple Of Love". The hordes in black would stand back appalled at the obvious irreverance until they realised collectively (and with horror) that he was mouthing along with the words and knew all the lyrics. Another evening, Cryotec clapped his hands together during "Bela Legosi's Dead" and announced loudly, "Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for the Dashing Black Seargant!". Me and my friend Kat felt like we'd been gassed with nitrous oxide when he said that. The final curtain on those mega-serious years was observing an Uber-Goth, clad head-to-toe in black leather, with a flashing LED crucifix on his crotch. It was upside-down, of course. Presumably, if he'd got lucky later on and ended up in a 69 dry-hump scenario, he would've faced it the "right" way up and ended with one leg in Heaven and a head in Hell. After regarding the Uber Goth flapping around in his variation of a hoover dance, Cryotec announced, "Fuck, we all look like dicks".

And after the carthartic chuckling, our little gang headed back home, laughed at the Tamagothi on the internet, went to bed and woke up the following morning as happy, balanced individuals. Our long mid-20s crisis that had lasted roughly the whole decade was over. Except it hadn't. It was merely the forward-most step of the Hoover dance. Being a Goth is rather like smoking, you think you've kicked the habit. Day-by-day, you sink back into the 'odd' social cigarette at the weekend and think nothing of it, until you're retching your lungs up. Similarly, you know you're back to 'square one' of the dance every now and again, such as the time I was in a club, weeping into a pint of cider and blackcurrant. It wasn't the drink that was the warning bell, it was being practically blinded by the diluted black mascara that had poured into my iris. It was exactly the same at the beginning of this Summer, now mercifully at an end. I realised I was still on the Moebius strip of the dance, sitting furiously in the gloom in front of my computer and glaring out of the side of my eye at the brainless lambs gallivanting outside. In the background, the only non-black item of clothing I've got in my wardobe is a pink and yellow garment that also happens to be a Sisters Of Mercy T-shirt. Forever and forever, first and last and always, three steps forward and then three steps backward and never leaving the Summer of misery. Roll on the Autumn and Halloween.

1 response
I listened to a lot of 'goth' and industrial music and hung out with a crowd, but always found the Dracula/666 crowd to be tacky to my sensibilities (no offence!). I know it's just because I'm pretentious, but some music has something to say about alienation, senseless society, overly analytical or twisting minds, and some is just glam rock or bad metal — cheesy. I certainly don't think Hallowe'en has much to do with it, aside from the Ministry song. ;) I do miss the occasional moments of connection in the clubs. I saw a Skinny Puppy show about six months ago, they must be tired of the same thing after 30 (!!!!!!!!!) years, today for me it's much more effective to selectively use headphones, though I'd like to find a sympathetic evolution to the scene.

The main remnant I have is http://zooid.org/~nos/ , which has suffered some bitrot.