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Goth of the Irish: Boyreau and Kira S. bond at Death Guild.

Gothagon

Summoning South of Market's inevitable Caligari

By Jacques Boyreau

With true shark-like somnambulism, Gothagon sleeps in motion. We merely assume that Gothagon is part of our world. Don't bother rapping with the other fella about Gen-X because Germ-X, and its most valuable specter, Gothagon, will make you a package that will fleece your worldview. Kerouac prophesized America's Inevitable Africa. I'd like to put in a word for San Francisco's Inevitable Caligari.

There's a force at work here, and it's always been a lot darker than the mythology La Dolce Frisco will admit to. But we who negotiate the plummy maw of oneiromancy, that is to say, divination by dreams, know full well that Gothagon is howling with victory and pain. It's not as simple as going to a Goth club with a bag of hamburgers and a sun lamp, and yelling, "Dude, get some sun! Dude, you need to eat! You look sick!"

Death Guild is a Goth club that convenes at Third and Market on Monday nights. My homies and I dressed the part, then egged each other on: "I dare you to go into Safeway." We did, and one girl asked what it was all about. I said, "I'm going to a party." But before we got there, we rode bumper on the guy who was in front of me in the Safeway aisle. My appearance disturbed him. "Let's follow them," I said. After several blocks, they took a fast turn and absconded. Soon after, we arrived at the scene.

A flotilla of Goth-friendly San Franciscans lined Market Street. Dread filled our lungs, yet the air was fresh, the night was lit. We moved in. The Goddess was there and her energy did slay, her dominance circulated. After a splitting period of transition, I was in odd awe, quite hypnotized. The feeling hardly simulated home, but I nonetheless found my space. The dictum was not "let's take a trip," but "respect my trip." As my homie DJ Snooty said, "Everybody's following the rules here."

The sense of a smothering, dark, mothering, steely, merciless kiss was all too present. I realized the biggest rule-followers were the musicians whose recordings were being played. The Goth sound has come a long way from Christian whoever, ranting "Blood! Blood!" and Bauhaus being egotistically catchy. The new sound had all the cosmic trappings of techno-fluent orgasm machines. As one girl told me, "That's what I do. I dance to anything." This sound conquered the mind, like slow strangulation--the corollary of auto-asphyxiation. An anaconda of disco offal, it was a seamless stitch of the delightful and the frightful. I got into it like Nietzsche's plum dumb abyss.

I'm talking about surrender to a higher force simply because you dressed up, baby. Like that vulgar faggot Lou Reed said, "Anyone who's ever played a part/ wouldn't turn around and hate it." After observing several numbers, my homie says, "It's definitely its own dance." Referring to the amazingly subdued madness on the orb-flashed floor, I groovingly concurred.

Again, the sense of people obeying rules still blows my mind. This scene does not bullshit you about potential freedom. It's as tight as a rat's asshole. This is the paragon of uptightness. This is Thus Spake Not a Through Street. This is Play Dead. And I do. I do play dead. And anyone who played soldier as a kid knows that following the rules is crucial. The rules make us a family. And the rules are not pretty. But without them, there would be no cool fear, there would only be uncool fear, of which there is already plenty.

One moment transcended the Now for me. It was when the DJ played Joy Division's "She's Lost Control." Nobody got it and the dance floor caved in. Only my homie knew the Ian Curtis handcuff boogie, and he promptly busted the tortured moves.

But I was still outraged. The testicular terpsichorean glee of Ian Curtis has been obviated by a dangerously mellow danse macabre. His is a language that few speak. I've often wondered what "rock" story could ever top The Doors in filmland. The surrealistically preppy and God-forsaken answer is Joy Die-Vision.

Postscript:

Flashback two flyspecked centuries ago ...

Thomas De Quincey writes: "... into a disease which seems no disease, into a languishing which, from its very sweetness, perplexes the mind ... . Gothagon has seized upon you. ... You acquiesce, nay, you are passionately delighted in your condition. Sweet becomes the grave."

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From the April 17, 2000 issue of the Metropolitan.

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