ASCENSION KEEPS GOTH ON THE RISE
Electro, darkwave, Electro Body Music - Andrew Midgeley checks out the thriving goth scene
You have to admit to a sneaking admiration for goths. A proper subculture, it's not something you can just dabble in - it inspires a near-religious devotion among its followers.
Goth has even got its own twice-yearly festival. Every April and October, nearly 2000 goths descend on a small seaside town in Yorkshire for a gloom-fest knees-up, the Whitby Gothic Weekend. As a former attendee (I was goth-curious, OK?) I know Whitby when it's awash with goths is an impressive sight, believe me. Why Whitby? A visit to the town's crumbling abbey inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula, that's why. Goths couldn't ask for a better reason.
The goth movement rose out of the ashes left behind when punk burned out at the tail-end of the 1970s. Its spiritual parents were razor-cheekboned Bauhaus singer Pete Murphy and Siouxsie Sioux from the Banshees, whose fetish-friendly look helped inspire goth's acutely style-driven image.
Musically the scene has diversified into a bewildering number of directions and now there's an array of sub-genres within it, all catered for at Ascension. These include electro, darkwave, industrial and EBM (Electro Body Music) as well as the original goth sound pioneered by 80s groups like The Sisters of Mercy, The Mission and the various incarnations of The Cult. It would make a great Venn diagram.
In Scotland, the goth scene is centered in Edinburgh and Ascension is the club at its heart. Run by a collecive of friends as a non profit-making concern, Jules Lile from Ascension explains that the event was launched around ten years ago as a way to fill a void.
"It began as a night for putting on bands," she says. "People were complaining that there weren't enough goth and alternative bands coming to Edinburgh - they always seemed to go to Glasgow or just play in London."
Originally held at the Cas Rock bar on West Port, Ascension was forced to change tack after the venue closed and other suitable live venues were thin on the ground. "When we lost the Cas Rock after it was sold, people asked us if we could run it just as a club night, so it transformed."
The fact that there's such a large, thriving goth community in the city is in no small part down to the Ascension team and they've played an important role in its development.
"We've worked really hard in Edinburgh and we've really pushed the music. It's good that a few other clubs have sprung up in the last couple of years too. It gives the scene a good vibrancy."
Unlike the stereoyped image of goths, Jules says the scene is an overwhelmingly positive one. "I don't think there's really a drug problem associated with this scene like there is with certain others. It's all about image and music, not negative things."
With Ascension's current regular venue at Teviot Row unavailable through the summer because of Festival commitments, this weekend's event will be the last one there before it temporarily decamps to Marco's on Grove Street for three editions. On Saturday night, Ascension's resident DJ team of MIB, Claire and DJ X will be on the decks, but for the next edition the live bands will return and Jules is already looking forward to it.
"We've got a band called Cruxshadow playing on July 15. They're an American band and it's their only date in Scotland. It's quite a coup for us."
Insert beautiful photo of Cheryl here!
Ascension @ The Park Room, Teviot Row, Saturday, 10.30pm, £4 guests (non-students welcome), £1 members of Edinburgh Goth and Rock Society, 0131 220 0006