Gothic Culture: History and Main Characteristics

The gothic culture is a sub culture that adopts dark elements of fashion like black clothes, black hair, dark eyeliner, black nails and old clothes. It is also related to the musical genre of Gothic rock and with a range of artistic genres.

The Gothic sub culture has tastes associated with music, aesthetics, and fashion. The music of gothic subculture involves a number of different styles, including gothic rock, industrial rock, post punk and neoclassical.

Gothic Culture: History and Main Characteristics

Dress styles within this sub culture range from Victorian styles, punk and deathrock or even combinations of these branches.

The aesthetics of this sub culture is associated with dark (often black) attire, pale facial makeup and black hair.

The Gothic sub-culture began in England in the mid-1980s, where it developed from the gothic rock scene, in turn a variation of the genre and post-punk movement.

This subculture has survived much longer than others of its own time and has continued to diversify and spread throughout the world.

His images and cultural trends indicate an influence of nineteenth-century Gothic literature and gothic horror films.

Gothic subculture

Followers of the Gothic subculture can be defined as those who love Gothic rock, Gothic literature, Victorian and medieval history, and contemporary horror film.

Members of this subculture are often quite accepting and nonviolent intellectual individuals who are sometimes a little cynical about the evils of society and have a fascination with death.

Its members take pride in being distinct from the dominant culture and their dark dress style indicates an option to separate themselves from conventional norms and standards. Today this sub culture involves a mixture of music, literature, art and clothing.

A gothic listens to gothic music, uses black clothes and unusual jewelry. Both men as women often use particular makeup.

The Goths want to represent with their look death and decay; the colors black and dark red are of great importance.

Historical background

The Gothic subculture, especially the earlier generations, were pretty much influenced by Romanticism, or a style of art and literature that emerged in the late 1700s until the early 1800s.

This style of art and literature emphasized the expression of emotions, feelings and imagination. He Romanticism also took an affinity for unhappiness and the use of ancient verses of poetry to express this melancholy.

The Gothic cub culture also took an affinity for medieval, Edwardian, Victorian and Gothic architecture, literature, music and art.

History of Gothic subculture

The first inspirational song for the Gothic movement could be 'Bela Lugosi's Dead', released in August of 1979 by the English band Bauhaus.

This song has cryptic sounds and ominous piano notes; a song that would be appropriate music for a horror movie or a Halloween party.

However, the first person to use the term 'Gothic' was Siouxsie Sioux, lead singer of the band Siouxsie and the Banshees. She used this term in reference to the direction her band was taking in relation to her musical genre.

The genre of Gothic rock, a variant of punk rock, gained a lot of traction from 1979 and during the early 1980s; began in England and spread to other countries. A second generation of Gothic bands originated in the late 1980s.

Some researchers have proposed that the Gothic movement can be seen as a rebellious response to the polished fashion of the disco period of the 70's.

It suggests that it began as a proposal against the colorful pastel colors and extravagance of the 80s.

Characteristics of the gothic scene

Icons and examples of this movement

Notable examples of Gothic musical icons include Siouxsie Sioux, Robert Smith (leader of The Cure), Peter Murhpy (leader of Bashaus), Ian Curtis (leader of Joy Division), Nick Cave, Marilyn Manson and Nico.

In literature, the influence of Mary Shelley's work is remarkable in this subculture. His book Frankenstein is one of the most popular and well-known novels classified as Gothic literature.

Another gothic writer with great influence was Edgar Allan Poe, who wrote on dark and lugubrious subjects like to be buried alive, the death, the murders and the torture.

As for architecture, windows with large arches, clustered columns, pointed towers and statues with many details are characteristic of this movement.


The gothic fashion is often dark, mysterious, complex and exotic, being able to be recognized for its totally black clothing.

Typical gothic fashion includes black-dyed hair, black eyeliner, black-painted nails and antique-style black clothing; Goths can have piercings too. Silver jewelry is also popularly used.

The styles are influenced by the medieval period, Elizabethan and Victorian; often expressing pagan images, the occult and other religious imagery.

Gothic fashion can be described as a combination of black velvet, lace, mesh stockings, gloves, heels and jewelery that symbolizes religious and occult themes.

Black hair, dark clothing and pale complexion provide the basic look of a follower of this culture.

It can be said that he tries deliberate exaggeration with emphasis on dark layers and frilly fists; pale facial makeup and dark hair demonstrate a modern version of the late Victorian excess.

Gothic cinematography

Many early gothic artists adapted traditional horror movie images and were inspired by the musical soundtracks of horror films to be inspired.

The use of standard horror movie articles such as smoke, plastic bats and cobwebs are characterized and used in this subculture. The supernatural and hidden themes are quite serious for this movement.

These influences can be seen in the 1983 film 'The Hunger'; the films of Tim Burton 'Beetlejuice', 'Edward Scissorhands' and 'Nightmare before Christmas' are also examples of this movement.


  1. Origins of Gothic. Retrieved from
  2. Goth subculture. Reclaimed from
  3. What is goth subculture? Recovered from
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