We Talked to Goths at Beach Goth about Being Goth

We Talked to Goths at Beach Goth about Being Goth

Black lipstick and pastel sheer top? Pastel goth. Black workout clothes? Workout goth.​ A wizard cape? Wizard goth. Sure.
October 25, 2016, 7:14pm

If there's any place to let your dark soul shine, it's at the beloved anything-goes freak fest that is Beach Goth. Returning for a fifth year at Santa Ana's Observatory fair grounds, fans braved sun exposure and sported their weirdest garb and costumes (at the behest of organizers The Growlers) to catch the gathering's wildly eclectic lineup, which included everyone from Patti Smith to Gucci Mane to Melanie Martinez to Gang of Four.

What does it mean to be a goth in 2016? What does it mean to be goth in 90 degree heat at a music festival? We roamed the annual suburban sun-and-rain-soaked extravaganza to find out.

Turns out syphoning the darkness that binds us all means more than vamping in black lipstick, fetishizing death, and swapping bootleg cassettes of The Cure while scoffing at the conformists at the opposite end of the cafeteria. Now goth culture is like Baskin Robins: available in 31 flavors.

Black lipstick and pastel sheer top? Pastel goth. Black workout clothes? Workout goth. A wizard cape? Wizard goth. Sure.

Just as Beach Goth's lineup impressively jumped across genres and eras without rhyme or reason, the crowd was all about subcultural openness and fluidity. White makeup and all-black attire with matching lipstick was less a middle finger to mainstream society, and more of a fleeting fashion fancy. In fact, many vehemently denied they were goth, but had no trouble spotting those that were. Sometimes you feel goth; sometimes you don't. Deep down we all know that life is only pain and there is only blackness.

Bernie and Sarah

NOISEY: Aren't you hot?
Bernie: Fuck yeah.
Sarah: Yeah.

What's the secret to staying cool and pale in the sun?
Bernie: I mean, keep your leather on nice and tight. Other than that, lots of water. And keep on with the good vibes, man.
Sarah: Stay in the flow.

Tell me about your outfits.
Sarah: Baphomet.
Bernie: She's the son of Satan. I am just a demon.

What does "beach goth" mean to you?
Bernie: Beach Goth means music, life. A bunch of energies, man. Everyone colliding and bringing it all in before the year ends.

What separates a beach goth from other types of goth?
Bernie: I think the people. It's like a spooky side of LA.

What are some different kinds of goth you've seen here?
Sarah: I don't know, Like new wave goth.
Bernie: Yeah, new goth rolling in.

Are you more beach or more goth?
Both: Goth.
Bernie: I've got my shirt off, though.

What's the split?
Sarah: 50:29.
Bernie: 25 percent beach, 75 percent goth.

What are you most excited to see?
Sarah: James Blake.
Bernie: James Blake all the way, baby. And The Growlers, of course.

Who is more goth: Trump or Clinton?
Bernie: You know what? Trump, dude. He looks like he's had it. [_Growls_] He's the asshole.

Eloise aka Yung Frown

NOISEY: Tell me about dressing for Beach Goth.
I just gathered a bunch of my homegirls, used shit from yesterday. I have no other clean clothes because I didn't know if I was going to stay here or not. And so I slept in the car with four other people.

That's hardcore. What was the best set you saw this weekend?
I would probably say Patti Smith, of course, because she's a true legend to me. My mom dated Don Bolles from The Germs, so all old punk rock I really fuck with.

Is Patti Smith beach goth?
I think that she can be considered punk goth. I feel like she's punk and then if the new age, gentrificationees liked her, then I can consider her that.

She really captivated that crowd.
She really did. I mean, Patti Smith is a classic, old punk rock babe.

How does Beach Goth differ from other types of goth?
I think Beach Goth is new age, kind of hipster, kind of newer independent rock all wrapped into one. Last year was really rad. It was all Burger Records, so it was really punk rock-esque indie music. So Beach Goth is trying to incorporate all types of genres into one. I think it's really rad.

What kind of goth are you? Are you a beach goth?
I would consider myself a goth girl. I really fuck with old punk music. Like I said, my mom dated Don Bolles. I fuck with Flipper. I fuck with The Germs. Gang of Four, of course. I'm really bummed I missed them, but they played. Patti Smith. PJ Harvey. I really wish PJ Harvey would have played tonight.

A lot of people I've talked to this weekend are reluctant to say they're goth.
That really upsets me. It is literally the definition of gentrification: Beach Goth. I'm saying there's some really rad old school punk rockers, and then there's these other fucking fools. I grew up in Highland Park, born and raised, and that's the real hood for España people, you feel me? The gentrification that's happening? I'm not trying to be a bitch, but it's disgusting.

People aren't goth, but want to look a little goth when the mood's right?
Exactly! "I'm going to wear Hot Topic and I'm going to be amazing!" And it's like, no! Really, though, how long have you been fucking with old school shit, you know what I mean? You really have to fuck with old school shit to even be considered semi-goth. To me, of course. I love all old punk music.

[ _Someone interrupts and sings "Why Can't We Be Friends?"_]

Cállate, por favor. And all the old shit I used to fuck with. My mom, she introduced me to all this really fucking rad shit. And it's like all of a sudden, I'm in Highland Park and all these fools are like "I'm from Highland Park." What? Are you really, though? Do you know what I mean?

The hipster part?
That's what I'm saying. I saw your rich mom and dad moved to Highland Park and dragged you along with them somehow.

Or helped them get a place.
Exactly. "You're an artist. Be yourself." No!

Who is more goth: Trump or Clinton?
Hillary Clinton. If you threw her some black makeup and white ass foundation, this bitch would be popping. I'm telling you. And that's the other thing about Trump. I'm a no one, and I go up to him and said: "Let me do your makeup." "No." And Hillary Clinton, if I went up to her and said "I'm a professional makeup artist. Let me be your face." I'm sure that bitch would say yes.

Alyssa and Kendra

NOISEY: Tell me about your outfits.
Kendra: Well, we kind of just wanted to go hot and actually do "beach goth," so we wanted to do all black.

How do you stay cool in all black?
Both: We don't.

What's a "beach goth?"
Alyssa: I don't know. I really don't know what to say.
Kendra: Like, good music, good times, but it's a lot going on.
Alyssa: It's messy, but in a good way.

How many kinds of goth are there?
Kendra: Endless, because there are so many different styles.

Which types have you seen represented here?
Alyssa: I think I haven't seen a lot.
Kendra: I've seen some hardcore goths. The makeup, the clothes really down. It's more of people not caring how they dress and having fun.

Are you more beach or more goth?
Both: Goth.

What's the ratio?
Kendra: I don't think I'm beach. I'm all goth.

What are you looking forward to seeing this weekend?
Kendra: Violent Femmes, Homeshake, TLC.
Alyssa: TLC.

Who is more goth: Trump or Clinton?
Alyssa: Trump.
Kendra: I feel like Trump's kind of emo. He really thinks the world's bad, the United States is fucked. He's kind of emo about that.

Do ever get mistaken for an emo?
Kendra: [To Alyssa] You have. You were emo once.
Alyssa: Once. So many years ago.

Why the shift?
Alyssa: I don't know. I think it was pretty natural.
Kendra: You just stopped being emo.
Alyssa: I just stopped.

Jasmine, Daya, and Stephanie​

Tell me about your Beach Goth outfits.
Jasmine: [Stephanie and I] are matching, You can't tell underneath [gestures to hoodie]. Stephanie: We're supposed to be the twin emojis.
Jasmine: The twin emoji girls from your iPhone. That's what we are.

Do you consider yourselves goth?
Jasmine: I would consider myself more alternative than goth.
Stephanie: It depends on how I wake up. Sometimes I feel like wearing dresses. Other times I feel like wearing abnormal.
Jasmine: To me, personally, it's how others view me, you know? People can look at me and be like "she's goth." Someone else can look at me and go "she's emo," or whatever.

So what does "beach goth" mean to you?
Daya: Tradition. Grungy.
Jasmine: Just good vibes.

What are some types of goth that you've seen represented here today?
Stephanie: Oh, like pastel goths.
Jasmine: There's pastel goth. There's regular goth. Emo goth.

Tate and Emma​

Tell me about your outfits.
Tate: We're vampires, except we took out our teeth.
Emma: They're not comfortable.
Tate: One of the reasons why we wanted to be vampires is to enhance the "goth" part of Beach Goth.
Emma: Super grungy, super dark.
Tate: Yesterday, we wore all bright, neon colors. I was an alien; she was a gypsy. So, contrast.

What does "beach goth" mean to you?
Tate: So far, what I think it means is it's a place where people are super happy and super kind to each other, and not really judging each other for what they wear, what they do, how they dance. I think it's a place where everyone feels good, hangs out and listens to good music and gets fashion inspiration.

What are some types of goth that you've seen represented here today?
Tate: I've seen all...it's not even goths. I've seen every type of person ever.
Emma: It's cool.
Tate: It's super cool. I've seen Juggalos. I've gone to Beach Goth every single year, and I've always thought of this place as a home. Every year we get to dress up, be weird, surround yourself with weird people that don't care, and we're all here because you listen to great music, and we have that in common.

What were you most excited to see?
Tate: I've seen The Growlers five times, and they're good every time. We saw Ugly God.
Emma: We love Ugly God.
Tate: Kali Uchis. Melanie Martinez yesterday was super cool. I loved her set.
Emma: TLC, we loved.
Both: 2 Live Crew.
Emma: They were so fun.
Tate: This year has been super diverse in terms of music. It's been all over the place.

Do you consider yourselves more beach or more goth?
Emma: Goth.
Tate: That's tough, because it's different every day for me. I guess maybe goth, but I would never refer to myself as goth.

People seem hesitant to refer to themselves as goth. Why is that?
Emma: I feel like people change their style up. My style depends on my mood, so sometimes I want to go all over the place. I don't define myself to one style. It kind of depends on the week, month or day.
Tate: Yesterday, we were beach. Today we're goth.
Emma: I agree.

Who is more goth: Trump or Clinton?
Tate: I like Beach Goth, and I don't know how I feel about them. So I don't know if I would refer to either of them as something...
Emma: I feel like this place is neither one of their scenes.
Tate: If I had to answer, I would go ahead and say Clinton. I like Clinton better. She's less insane than Trump.

Any tips for the practical goth on staying cool and pale in the sun?
Tate: Be ready for everything. Be prepared. Be flexible.
Emma: Yeah, and wear what feels good. People walk around half naked. It's okay.
Tate: If it makes you feels good, people are going to look at you like you look good.

Frank Mojica is a normcore goth. Follow him on Twitter.