By Kaitlin Rose

My path to this point was like most things in life, accident mixed with boredom. I saw an article confidently explaining the most common Millennial Goths so naturally, as a millennial Goth, I read it. This was instantly followed by an eye roll, then another, then another, and so on, you get the idea.

When I say Goth, I suppose people most get a pretty instant Southpark-ish mental image of a 14-year-old kid in black lipstick, crushed velvet and eyeliner that would make Adam Lambert jealous. But the fact is, no matter the image conjured up by the word, like anything, the term Goth has changed its meaning over the last decade. These days while the music is still a huge aspect and undertone to this culture (and something that alone would inspire a debate spanning several pages, so let's just side step that), it refers more to an open umbrella encompassing a fairly wide array of weirdos. For example I personally have a collection of human teeth, just sayin'.

From the traditional gothic Victorian ladies and gents to rivet heads to synthpop, electropop, industrialites, rockers to cosplayers and undefined nerds to punks, pirates and tattooed head bangers, we are pretty well ingrained in everything and all encompassing. Basically if you wear black and hang out in dark dance clubs/bars/caves/cat covered coffee houses (cuz that is TOTALLY a thing now) you are probably gonna fall somewhere under the blanket of Goth to someone somewhere, whether you want to or not.

Haujob at Star Theater (Kaitlin Rose)
Haujob at Star Theater (Kaitlin Rose)

That being said like all labels you'll find people on both spectrums asserting their independence from the culture or their total elite devotion to it. But simply put, in the city of Portland to call yourself a Goth you are not speaking to a depressive musical trend but more assigning yourself to a community of active friends. Portland is home to one of the largest and most active Gothic subcultures in the country, which for a city that still feels like a town is really saying something.

We've come together every Thursday night at Shadowplay, which is not actually an interpretive dance project (though sometimes may look like one), and has for 9 years managed to survive a changing Portland. Even with the loss of its home at the Fez, it pushed on appropriately landing at the Lovecraft who in all her dark, witchy magnificence has opened her tentacles to us giving a new breath of life to this night. But if Shadowplay is not your cup of tea, all are welcome around the fire pit at Hive on Sundays, or maybe Tyranny's once a month Saturday at Jack London, Recycle every Tuesday at Embers, Event Horizon on Wednesdays, or Dementia every fourth Saturday, Knochen Tanz every second and fourth Wednesday, Sinister every first Saturday, Volt Divers every second Saturday, Brickbat Mansion every first Friday (RSVP ONLY) and the list goes on. How many niche music scenes can boast a night devoted to the music and culture they love almost every day of the week? In the past few months alone this city has been a gothic playground of black glad bike rides, beach trips, croquette (yes I said croquette), industrial aerobics and family picnics, coupled with music. And we do love our music.

We exist in a world where we can shake hands with the heroes of our adolescence, where legends like Paul Barker (former bass guitarist, engineer and producer of Ministry) play to a packed house based on nothing more than word of mouth and a few scarcely laid flyers. Where bands used to touring Europe decide to do one off DJ nights in darkly lit dive bars, where you can walk out your door any night of the week and be guaranteed to see or make a friend, where baby bats meet white haired old ladies still kicking their heels off to Skinny Puppy. We are a darkly beautiful community of velvet punks and buckled damsels, music lovers, enthusiastic dancers, macabre collectors, artistic outcasts, avid readers, morbid thinkers, overextended musicians, nightmarish corporate accountants, freaks, geeks and fashion divas of all ages' sizes colors and creeds. But most of all, we ARE a community.

Want to be part of the community? Here's a great Facebook group to help you get started.