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Written by MIGUEL PAOLO CELESTIAL Photos by MARK “DARCKE” BAUL / darcke.com Published in The Philippine Star, 28 November 2008 Let me tell you about Russell, Kaira, Katrina, and Paula, and how I met them over at the dark side of Serendra on an otherwise predictable night of costume parties. “Eternal Death Wake 6: Grand Gothic Ball 2008” was my first brush with the world of goth, its music, aesthetics, and practitioners—not to mention the first ever Halloween party I dressed up for. Begun in 2002, the event has become an annual gathering for musicians, music lovers, and enthusiasts to call on the dead with their eerie screeches, morbid dressing, and heavy black make-up. When I arrived, the bands hadn’t started playing yet and a small group all in black were gathered in front of mag:net at Bonifacio High Street, the venue of the gig. They all seemed to know each other, and their talk sounded half in secret code. Funny, the punk photographer didn’t even recognize me as I approached and asked about the night’s schedule. The outfits of the small advance group captured the costume classifications of the eventual crowd. Among women, the most prominent were Morticia Addams ensembles in long lace dresses and gothic lolitas in short skirts and fishnet stockings. The guys were mostly in black jeans and shirts, donning headbangingly long hair, Mohawks, or striped skinheads. I was surprised nobody came as a vampire. Paula was really the first to surprise me. Her hair dyed red, she wore a long coat, high-heeled boots, and what appeared to be a gas mask. She told me that part of her outfit was borrowed from the “industrial” side of the goth movement. It was only later in the night that I discovered that she had leather, studs, and bondage chains under her coat. Their combination with the gas mask was uncanny, to say the least. When the music finally started, I caught sight of two more of our deathly ladies, Russell and Kaira, a guitarist and vocalist, respectively, for the goth-metal band Oremuz. Russell, with her shaved head, quickly reminded me of Deborah Dyer, vocalist for Skunk Anansie, but more feline and, in spite or because of her goth attire, even more feminine. Russell wore synthetic tights and big ringed belts that matched her hoop earrings. Kaira, on the other hand, had dread braids over her undercut hairstyle. Though her asymmetrical apron skirt worn over skinny jeans was more masculine, it was nonetheless edgy.
I didn’t expect to like goth music, but I did. I enjoyed Oremuz and Skies of Ember, a shoegazing/goth rock band. After getting used to the volume and the throat-scraping, I got carried away by the heavy beats, and even sometimes by the melodies. The songs pulsed together with the flashing lights—mostly mad, at times ghoulish, but at other instances plaintive, and even pleading. The goth rock Scattertears was another group I enjoyed. And it brings us to the last member of our feisty foursome, Katrina, the vocalist of the band dressed in a satin and leather, harlequin-meets-the-joker outfit. She looked the most demure among them, but also the most capable of mischief. Another band of note was Funeral Frost, a male group made up with black and white faces, not very different from 70s rock band KISS. One guitarist displayed tattoos all over his torso—the best non-fabric fashion statement in the event. Many impressions were made that night. Though much of the audience only came to listen to the bands and were not really into the goth subculture, attire and all, those that were in the thick of the gothic movement were thriving. Music is at the heart of goth, expressing the rebellion inherited from the punk genre, but I think that the fashion, which is mostly specially ordered or made and assembled by the people themselves, is equally important. Goth attire gives its wearers license to deviate and to stand apart. For Halloween-only enthusiasts like me, it grants us a chance to see in the dark. Captions 1 2 3 4 5 6-7 8-9 10 11 12 Highly unusual suspects: Four very differently dressed goth girls Death pose: (From left) Russell, Kaira, Katrina, and Paula Fatally feline: Oremuz guitarist Russell brings no bad luck Eternal peace: Nobody messes with Oremuz vocalist Kaira Haunting harlequin: Scattertears vocalist Katrina knows how to make you cry Poisonous steam: Paula combines industrial with bondage Transparent evil: Oremuz lead singer Sensi in lace and fishnet Corpse bride: Nothing but Scarlettears The design of death: Tattoos of a Funeral Frost guitarist Gothic gamble: The portrait of the author as an initiate