A Requiem for Gothic Sydney

04 January 2017

Venerable Sydney Goth, Steampunk and Victorian clothing boutique Gallery Serpentine recently announced that they are shutting up shop on Enmore Road and moving to Marrickville. Having shopped there for many years - I got my wedding outfit at GS - I wish them well, but it's sad to see them go. With the departure of Gallery Serpentine, the last remaining hold out - more of an elder statesperson, really - we see the end of Enmore Road as the Gothic heart of Sydney.

Fifteen years ago, Enmore Road was home to a thriving Goth scene, by Australian standards. There was Cabinet de Curiosities, In Visible Light, the Wild One, GS of course, and many others I have no doubt forgotten somewhere between my first corset and my first age spot. There was also a decent club scene in the city at large, in those magical days before lockouts or drink restrictions or even smoking bans; a group of us would travel down so regularly we were known as the Newcastle group.

And I'll never forget the excitement of the Under the Blue Moon festival; the first, held in 2004, with the whole street filled with hundreds of goths, shopping, going to shows and exhibits, having drinks, meeting and chatting. It was awesome.

It is impossible to imagine anything like that now. All the shops are gone - even stalwarts such as Furr Hair and Polymorph piercing. The clubs are few and far between. The Facebook groups are dead. The scene is on life support. Because young people just don't want to be goths right now. And you need them to support the boutiques and clubs. Nostalgic thirty and forty somethings who manage to turn up once in six months, have two drinks, give a slightly stiff and embarrassing go at dancing to Mother Russia then leave at 10:30pm cause their back is getting sore and the kids have early sport in the morning aren't enough to keep a club running. And what's the point of being a goth if you can't go to clubs to show off your costume?

I hope Gallery Serpentine do well in their new venture - there's still a busy market for wedding and formal outfits, cosplay and steampunk - but I feel a small pang of nostalgia for the old Sydney Gothic. If ever there was an appropriate time for a momento mori, this would be it.


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