I’d always been fascinated by goth culture since I was a little girl. As a metalhead from the age of 11, I’d look around for specific elements in the clothing and find similar accessories. Although, most of it was never available in the local markets. Whatever I found in proper stores was too expensive for me as a school and college student. It was also not something easily acceptable to my very Indian family at the time! Cybergoth culture was far from introduction!
Anyway, I forgot about it, and continued to dress like any other dude at a metal gig here! I added a few accessories, and the eyeliner and kajal (collyrium, a cosmetic product used in Eastern countries) were probably some of the only things that differentiated me from the guys!
Over the years, the goth aesthetic constantly evolved. It was only recently (in 2018) that I stumbled upon the subculture of cybergoths, which were anything but the traditional goths I’d seen or tried to imitate. It seems that somewhere around the 90s, cybergoth fashion became increasingly popular in the UK, parts of Europe, and even the far reaches of Japan. Until today, we have a mild but thriving cybergoth culture in a few different pockets around the world.
I’ve put together a piece on closely observing the subculture and its evolution. I also spoke to a couple of goths and cybergoths from Europe to get a better understanding of the culture – Orphea, a YouTuber and goth from Belgium, and Cyberpink.Monster from France. Read on to know about the history, music, industrial dance, and fashion associated with cybergoths!
History & Culture
I found out that the cybergoth subculture grew somewhere in the early 90s. According to Vice, a venue in Camden, UK, called Cyberdog was one of the birthplaces of this subculture. What started off as just a stall selling accessories later turned into an important part of the subculture’s history. It was one of the first places that catered to the futuristic and alternative fashion that ravers and goths alike embraced.
What began to happen was, cybergoths emerged out of the base aesthetic of goths, adopting a futuristic look. Their music remained heavy, the aesthetic was dark, and they retained the bright neon, UV colours and paint like ravers. However, unlike traditional goths drawn to punk, rock or metal music, their musical tastes leaned towards electronic subgenres. They’re also said to party like ravers, along with the industrial dance style they do at events and gatherings.
In the UK and European countries like Germany where industrial metal flourished, more people were drawn to goth clubs wanting to dance to this music. People even poured into the UK from different countries in Europe, attending major rave events in the 90s. But unfortunately, as the rave scene in the UK was scrutinised massively later in that decade, these birthplaces of the new subculture were slowly dying out.
At industrial nights in different parts of Europe with Germany spearheading, the culture continued to flourish. Orphea told us, “Germany still has a big cybergoth scene. During its peak in the early 2000s, you could see many at festivals and events; also in Belgium, the Netherlands and France.”
In a country like Japan where trends and alternative fashion change by the second, a thriving cybergoth and cyberpunk culture populates clubs and events even today. A notable mention would be at Harajuku Street in Shibuya, Tokyo, which is home to all subcultures, alternative fashion, cosplay, and much more. While their style variates from the usual goth culture, art strongly influences what shape their fashion sense takes.
Let’s get into some of the finer details about the subculture, including musical influences, fashion, and more.
Cybergoths don’t listen to music that goths would regularly listen to, and traditional goths separate themselves from cybergoths distinctly through music. Cybergoths are influenced by the rave, rivethead culture, even a little bit of trance music (in parts of Europe), and are not drawn to punk and related genres like traditional goths. They listen to more of the electronic genres like EBM (Electronic Body Music), Aggrotech, Future Pop, Synth Pop, Powernoise, Industrial, and Industrial Dance Music. This music is not exclusive to cybergoths, and is heard by people from different subcultures as well.
Artists would include Suicide Commando, VnV Nation, Combichrist, Asphyxia, Aesthetic Perfection, Goteki, Psyborg Corp, Eisenfunk, [distatix], etc.
Industrial dance is common among ravers and listeners of industrial music. It comes as no surprise that cybergoths would have adopted this dance style, since their music is also majorly influenced by these genres. My introduction to industrial dance was through cybergoths actually, which is quite the other way around. I came across Ciwana Black, who does industrial dance videos decked in her cybergoth clothing!
I’ve got two videos, one is a dance video by Ciwana Black, and the other is a crowd of people at Amphi Festival in 2019, also documented by Ciwana.
Ciwana Black – Dance video. Follow her channel for more information HERE.
Amphi Festival 2019
Cybergoth fashion is vast, and is not limited to the colour black. If we talk about the fashion style broadly, it can be seen as black based on a dark aesthetic overall, but cybergoths can wear any colours they like, especially bright neon and UV colours like mentioned previously.
Cyberpink.Monster told us how a typical cybergoth wardrobe would include ‘neon colors mixed with PVC, leather, latex, vinyl, faux fur leg warmers and arm warmers, fishnets, post-apocalyptic inspiration with accessories such as gas masks or aviator/welding glasses, androids printed circuits, make-up with lenses, dreads and cyberlox (made of plastic tubes and ‘scoubidous’/ ribbons in hairpieces), phosphorescence, clothes reacting to black light, etc.’ You can also add huge platform shoes, fishnet stockings, chokers and corsets. Some go to the extent of shaving their eyebrows and redrawing them, wearing artificial lenses, and more.
One of the major parts of cybergoth clothing are cyber falls or cyberlocks. These are synthetic dreads or extensions made out of tubed crin (most popularly), and also neon or UV threads, wool, beads, etc.
The beauty of the subculture is also androgyny when it comes to the dressing sense, as narrated by Orphea in one of her videos. Here below is a reinterpretation of the diagram originally available on YouSceneSucks.com demonstrating a cybergoth’s clothing.
The Cyberdog chain of stores was one that propagated this dressing sense in the UK, and the culture around it. Some companies today that still specialize in the style include Cyberdog (UK), DANE (UK), Pen & Lolly Clubwear (UK), Lip Service (US), and Diabolik (CA).
The Decline (?) of the Subculture
You will see headlines and write ups about how the subculture is dead because cybergoths don’t really fit in too well with ravers, or are too colourful for goths. This was something I was really curious to know about from the people I had spoken to, who were in different parts of Europe. Orphea says it’s COVID-19. “Like for every other alternative subculture, it thrives on events. The last couple of years, nothing has happened. The last event I attended was the Amphi festival in Keulen, Germany, where there were specific cyber goth dance gatherings.” Owing largely to how public gatherings for these events is what makes them keep up with the culture, there have been setbacks during the pandemic.
The question also arose if there were a ‘global community’ of cybergoths, where people met, conversed, shared music, and so on. Orphea told me, “I am in contact with most people through my YouTube channel or through specific Facebook groups. I know that a few years ago, there was a website called ‘Das Bunker’ targeted at dance meetups and dance videos in the style. But I am not aware if it is still actively in use or if people built a community there. Das Bunker is a physical club in the US, where specific parties took place. I’m not sure if they still do right now.”
A message of hope to take home is, wherever you are in the world – even if you are attracted to embodying this aesthetic – explore, experiment, be yourself and do what suits you. No step in life comes without its set of judgment, or even so its haters. “The goth subculture is all about creativity and expressing yourself, not being an exact copy of someone else” Orphea concluded.
Hopefully, with the rise of more events in the near future, the subculture of cybergoths will have a place to thrive again. As a way of life that takes elements from the future, don’t be surprised if this becomes a trend 20 years later!
We appreciate the cybergoth community and wish for everyone to find their space and individuality with their own tribe!
Information gathered from online sources and people interviewed – Orphea and Cyberpink.Monster.
Cover photo using combined illustration of cybergoths from Wikipedia, Pinterest and videos on YouTube.