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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Last Friday night: becoming a Goth dancing queen

Published: November 4, 2011
Section: Arts, Etc.

When one thinks Goth club, the following imagery may come to mind: a cold, damp room in some obscure basement, the floor covered in dust and spiders, and angst-filled teenagers bathed in black and eyeliner. There may or may not be dancing, if by dancing you mean shuffling back and forth in one spot, or sipping blood-red wine from goblets while glaring at others in the room.

Or at least, that was what I was expecting when my friend Tiffanie told me she was taking me to a Goth club. There were only three things I knew about the club: It was called Xmortis, it was 18+ and it was a Goth club. That sounded like enough information for a Friday night, so I agreed to go. “Oh yeah,” she added, “dress code is all black.”

Xmortis is actually a monthly Goth night held on the second Friday of each month started by “Latex Lily” and “Patman the Avenger,” a long time couple in the Boston Goth scene. It continued at the club Manray until its closing in July 2005. At that point, it moved to its current location, well-known rock club T.T. The Bear’s Place in Central Square. Although Xmortis is a Goth night, the events typically have a different theme each month such as X-Mortis (comic book night), Monster A-Go-Go (Gothic greasers and vintage horror) and Fashion Victims (a night of all Gothic fashion shows).

The night I went was Devil Night, in honor of Halloween weekend. Having no black clothes of my own, I had to go over to Tiffanie’s house to get ready, which in itself was an adventure. Tiffanie’s closet was similar to one you’d see at a theater: hectic, disorganized and extraordinarily flamboyant. While I settled into a pair of black jeans, and a black shirt with a laced back and laced sleeves she owned, Tiffanie wore black lingerie along with black fishnet leggings, a devil tail and red boa for garnish. She called the look “Bloody Burlesque Skank.” As I stared at her, I knew I would be out of place. “Don’t worry, here’s some devil’s horns and fake blood,” Tiffanie said, as she put on a ridiculous tiny red top hat. I donned the devil’s horns and noted that I looked like a Viking.
Two other friends came along with us, one dressed like a tiny witch (“You didn’t tell me it was Devil’s night! I’m going to be the only witch there!”), while the other personified my middle school years thrown together in the form of Tripp pants and angst. This motley crew was going to a Goth club.

By car it was pretty close, amounting to a 20-minute drive. As we approached Xmortis, my tummy began hurting. It didn’t help that Tiny Witch could not stop verbalizing how afraid she was of being judged for being a tiny witch. When we walked in, the first thing I noticed was how dark it was in there. Granted, it was a club, but the walls were black and the overall demeanor was dark as well. To the left there was a pretty standard looking bar with some admittedly trendy looking bartenders. Over on the far left was, similar to a Renaissance Faire, a table selling Gothic items such as masks, studded chokers and all things leather. To the right was the dance floor, something I was not quite yet ready to face.

As I walked around the bar, slightly self-conscious of the X’s on my hands, I couldn’t help but stare at everyone. Most people were not as decked out as Tiffanie was, which was relieving. Regardless of what they were wearing though, they almost always had a really great outfit, which was something I could only ever dream of seriously pulling off. One man had on a suit, a cape, a top hat, a cane and monocle. He resembled the Penguin and it was fascinating. There were women dressed in extravagant black gowns that were so elaborate, it looked as if they were going to a Gothic ball. The most surprising part, however, was how friendly everyone was. They weren’t spitting at me or glaring at me at all. Instead, whenever someone caught me staring, they’d make eye contact and offer a smile. Admittedly, this at first was disconcerting, especially when it was someone with especially gruesome facial makeup, but you could see the allure of a place like Xmortis.

After some time, I knew I had to face the music—literally. I had to make my way onto the dance floor if I was to able to say I truly had gone to a Goth club. I eyed the dance floor. There was a good amount of people but the bizarre thing was that no one was really dancing with someone else. With the heavy industrial music pulsing in the background, there was a pretty steady beat to get people dancing—and people were dancing! But no one made eye contact, no one even acknowledged there were other people around them. They just jutted back and forth and flapped their arms to the music in whatever way they saw fit. After getting over the initial awkwardness that accompanies making your way to a dance floor soberly, I got into it pretty quickly. I spazzed to the music and stopped feeling self-conscious. Pretty soon, or so it seemed, it was already really late and we decided to call it a night.

The true allure of Xmortis is how genuine everyone was. Especially in a generation marked by irony and indifference, it’s really difficult to do something just because you want to and not because of how it appears to others. At Xmortis, everyone is there to have a good time and, whether that means dancing or just sitting by the bar, it’s all good. As it turns out, Xmortis was a surreal experience not because it was a Goth club, but because everyone was sincere. I’ll be sure to head back there next week for Black Mass.