[As my descent into gothdom continued, I befriended Chad, a college radio DJ who had an industrial band with his friend Rick called Clamp. He invited me to see his band play The Batcave, a club I had been curious about for a while, though I heard it was nowhere near as good as The Bank. He offered me a free ride to the club and free admission since I’d be with the band, so I couldn’t say no. (And for the record, while Chad was an utter sweetheart, I had no romantic interest in him.)]
May 5, 1996
What I wonderful time I had last night.
Let’s do a Batcave vs. The Bank (Sat. nights) thing. First of all, The Bank has much better music. The Batcave was mostly industrial, though the last half hour or so was great in that I heard Sisters, Bauhaus, The Cure, Corpus Delicti, Alien Sex Fiend. Much fun to dance to. Also water is free at the Batcave (nice to save two bucks) and the people seemed a lot more approachable (though there are many more normal ones). And the Batcave’s dance floor is really cool—big checkered tiles and amazing lights…strobe, colorful pattered lights. It’s almost dizzying. I’ve giving The
Batcave a lot more points here but I still feel more attached to The Bank because they play so much more Goth.
[Goth and industrial music are quite different, though they share similarities in that both are dark and often relay heavily on synthesizers. Goths also seemed to outnumber rivetheads, their industrial counterparts, though they were essentially part of the same club scene and there was a lot of overlap in music taste. While I enjoyed some industrial (Skinny Puppy, Ministry, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, Nine Inch Nails of course), my preference was for the less aggressive and more melancholy and melodic goth bands. So all the free water in the world wouldn’t have had me favor The Batcave over The Bank considering their respective playlists. And I’m sure it’s obvious by now, but I was totally one of those snobby goths who got annoyed at seeing “normals” in clubs, which usually meant jeans and sneakers. I wasn’t expecting everyone to be decked out in fishnet and leather, but come on, you go to a club like this, at least wear your black jeans and a dark T-shirt.]
As for people—at first there was no one that outrageous-looking, a few typical industrial boys. But then while dancing I noticed this guy who was almost even too scary-looking for me! He had a red velvet cape on, decorated studded/painted jacket underneath, lots of chains, a long skirt, lightning bolts painted all over his face.
I said something about him to Anita and she started laughing because she had just told this girl we had met that in a second I would mention this guy (in fact she jokingly bet her 10 bucks that I would get his number).
[Look, I know judging people favorably for their unusual appearance is just as bad as judging them poorly for being “normal” but here’s the thing. I was in my sixth year at a magnet school wearing The Gap were the unspoken uniform. I had been mocked for my… more colorful attire in seventh and eight grade, I got sick of the ridicule and wore bland clothes in ninth and tenth grade, and in eleventh grade I stopped giving a damn and started wearing what I wanted again. By the time I was a senior and doing the goth thing, I was definitely drawn to others who had a more unusual look, even though none of my friends did.]
I waited a while, mustering up the guts, and went up to him. I said something like: “I have to say, you look incredible.” He smiled and I walked away (not rudely, though—I hope). I guess I might have been a tiny bit freaked out, but I also wanted to leave a sense of mystery, have him come to me. Which he did at about 3:30 (yeah, he took his time, I guess we were both being coy).
We chatted for about 10-15 minutes (his name is Lanique, but the way) and exchanged numbers.
[And thus, my drive-by flirtation technique was born. I had the nerve to approach guys and be bold with them, but for very, very short bursts of time before I ran away.]
There was someone else, too. This stunning… industrial boy I’ll call him, even though it seems unfair to categorize someone so lovely. Tall, kinda thin, fishnet shirt, straight bleached hair (about jaw-length, pinned back) a long blond braid on the lower half of his head, some eyeliner and lipstick. Such a breathtaking face.
I watched him dance for a while. After I met Lanique, I went out on the dance floor for a while (when they played that stretch of Goth) and saw the blond nearby. Just as Anita and I were about to leave I asked her to give me a second.
I went up to stunning boy (well he was in his 20’s probably, but I’ll still use “boy”) and said, “don’t let this go to your head, but are beautiful.”
He smiled and said, “Thank you” then “you are, too.” This second part did not register for a moment, but by the time I realized it was to late to thank him so I just smiled.
Anita came over and we started to go. I was going to leave anyway—that mystery thing again, I suppose. Also, I’m not sure I could “have” someone like that.
As Anita was getting her coat and putting it on he walked by (actually she was blocking his way). He told me his name and asked me mine. I said, “Damiella” and repeated his name, “Berlin?”
He said, “Berlin” (or something like that) then “see you around.”
When Anita and I got outside we walked behind him for a block and she pointed out that he seemed to just float down the sidewalk, he moved so quickly and gracefully. He sort of reminds me of Zillah, from Lost Souls. There was something very vampiric about him… his seductiveness, really. It was sort of surreal—he is what inspires me to come up with my most memorable/intriguing story characters.
[I haven’t read Poppy Z. Brite’s Lost Souls in twenty years, but when I looked up the character—described as androgynous, slender, incredibly beautiful, but also menacing—and then found fan art depicting him, I guess I can see why I made the comparison. And it wouldn’t be for a year or two, but “Berlin” would end up being a character in a future short story.]
I have not even mentioned Clamp’s performance. Well, they had technical problems at first, and then they were ok. They definitely have potential, I’ll say that. Oh and Chad told me tonight that he and Rick decided I’m their #1 fan. How sweet.
If I remember correctly, there were maybe twenty people in the audience for their performance. They were really nice guys, though.
I was definitely coming into my own and finding a new boldness as a goth, even if my flirting style was on the childish/passive-aggressive side (hey, at least I didn’t pull guys’ hair and then run away).
There is nothing like the feeling of being somewhere you feel you truly belong, and—as corny as it may sound—I have felt than many times at goth clubs, and not many other places I can think of. Of course, those were on the good nights. There were also nights where I felt self-conscious, lonely, dejected, and anxious (because after all, drama sticks to goths like white on rice), but those feelings could be cancelled out by dancing to the right song or meeting the right guy (even if for a fleeting moment) or that greater sense of being part of the cosmic cobweb of the goth scene.
Let’s talk about “Berlin” for a moment. While it was fun chatting with Lanique (who I never called and vice versa), it was the pale-haired man I met later who I found truly mesmerizing. He was one of the most stunning men I had ever seen. In retrospect, I’m surprised I had the nerve to talk to him at all. I try to avoid spoilers as much as possible, but I’ll reveal two things: 1. My stupid hearing picked up his name incorrectly. 2. Our paths would cross again, more than once.
I’m floating. Barely slept (less than 6 hours), tossed and turned. I was back at the Bank yesterday by my lonesome. It was packed, took me a half hour just to get inside. Didn’t take me too long to get dancing, though (I would have gone out when they played “The Blood” but it was too soon). “Christine” is what did it (I actually had woken up that day to a different Siouxsie song, “Israel,” which they played later on). I really got into the dancing (esp. during “…zombified,” “reptile,” “this is heresy” and some really good Skinny Puppy song).
[Maybe it was a little weird for me to spend New Year’s Eve at a goth club on my own, but after the super-fun time I had their on my birthday, it was my happy place, so it didn’t matter that I couldn’t wrangle any of my friends—none of whom were goth—to go with me.]
I’m getting to the good part.
I was standing outside the Gothic room [not to be mistaken with the main room which played post-punk, industrial but also goth music] when a guy that I had been watching walked by me with a girl (he had dark wavy jaw-length hair and wore a velvet cape and lots of eye make-up and lipstick — black).
[Apart from the hair, that actually sounds a lot like my look at the club the previous week.]
He looked at me as he entered the room and we made eye contact again when he turned around. About a minute later he left the room. Then I felt a tap on my shoulder.
I looked to my right and he was standing next to me. He asked what my name was (his is Morgan) and we started talking.
He said, “So you noticed me?”
I said, “Yes.”
He said, “Well, I noticed you too.”
[I am 1000% sure my little black heart did flip-flops when he said that.]
It was pretty loud where we were standing so we had to lean in really close and talk right in each other’s ears. It was nice just standing in the semi-darkness, chatting.
We were having some trouble hearing each other, so Morgan suggested we go upstairs. We did, it was actually more of a large balcony with a bar and some chairs. We were at one end of the railing watching the people and he asked how late I was staying. I said 4:00 (at this point it was about a quarter to) and he said that was unfortunate.
I didn’t know how late The Bank was open but he was under the impression that since it was New Year’s it was open until 5:00 or 6:00. So I offered to call to see if I could get picked up later. Well, I ran into a problem at the coat check (it took forever to find mine) and they told me down there they were open ‘til 4:00. I went back upstairs and we asked a bartender who said the same thing.
[“ran into a problem” is an understatement. At the time, I owned a black wool peacoat. Somehow, mine got misplaced, so I had to actually go and search through the racks myself. Imagine the coat check of a goth club on its busiest day of the year. The racks had HUNDREDS of black coats. 80% of which were peacoats. All I wanted to do was get back to the cute goth boy waiting upstairs for me.]
So then we went down this back staircase to this shady area on the floor not too far from the door. Though it was kind of brief, it didn’t take me long to discern that Morgan does not have a tongue piercing.
[My “coy” way of saying we had a brief make-out session.]
At one point he said something really interesting. Don’t remember the exact wording. Something like,
“You may not understand this. But save me.”
There were a few things I could have said in reply, but instead I just kissed his neck.
[Oh, how much bad poetry was inspired by the brief interlude with this guy…]
We talked about when we would meet and he gave me his number (he lives in Pennsylvania but is staying at his friend’s house in Queens).
I called him today and he wanted me to come over, but Mom was dead set against it. He told me I should come to the London After Midnight show at the Limelight on Thursday but that’s not possible, unfortunately. That’s all I’m going to write for now.
It was my first hook-up with a goth boy and I couldn’t have asked for it to be any more gothtastic. It had all the necessary elements: Noticing each other in a dark goth club? Check. Boy wearing lots of black make-up and a velvet cape? Check. Smooching in dark corner of said night club? Check. Boy says something insanely melodramatic like “save me” to girl, which girl finds strange and thrilling and romantic? Check and double check.
Another thing I learned that night is that smeared black lipstick takes forever to wash off. I must’ve come out of that club looking like a crazy hybrid of Marilyn Manson and Ronald McDonald. If my parents noticed anything unusual about my smudged appearance when they picked me up, I’m sure glad they didn’t say anything.