Goth clubs - a view from inside the culture
Goths, having something of a penchant for the pretentious tend to enjoy dressing up. It's half the fun. But after dressing up one has to find somewhere to go where you wouldn't get the crap beaten out of you. For this reason Goth clubs exist and in reasonably large numbers in places like London.
Goth's describe clubs on a single scale from Trad to EBM with a rating from crap to great tacked on the end.
In order to get the best quantity of clientele clubs tend to try to cater for a range from dark-industrial to techno-fetish. This range is achieved by simply selecting the right DJ-playlist combo.
These establishments may or may not host bands (depending on night-club / late-bar status) and will
invariably enforce quite a strict dress code.
Due to the desire of many less desirable elements wishing to get in to start fights or
grope/ogle the females (especially the fetish or glam girls) bouncers have become very good at spotting not-a-goths in fancy dress. While your not-a-goth will see no difference between himself and all the other freaks, to the bouncer (probably being from the same background as the "freaks") said not-a-goth looks like a badly dressed plonker who stands out like a sore thumb. Trust me on this.
So unless you are a goth yourself you have little hope of knowing what a goth club is like.
The issue is further complicated by "clubs" having themed nights often with very obscure names unique to that club. Some such nights are run by the DJ and can from time to time move venue. With a few exceptions club refers to the organization and the DJ set rather than the venue.
The most famous Goth Club in London is Slimelight as it stays open until just after the trains and tubes start running. It is one of the few that owns it's own building.
Ironically it is often the worst of the clubs being little more than some booze,
cheap coffee and loud noise in a massive stone warehouse. The facilities are dodgy (and multi-gender) and when you get too tired to dance it's do speed or stagger about like a zombie until you can go home.
Other nights cater to different styles and so no two clubs are directly comparable. Furthermore "clubs" are somewhat organic and can be roughly grouped into a broad "family tree" with the same faces being found within the same family of "clubs".
Ask every goth you meet what the best club is and you will not get consistent
answers. There is a good chance that each group of goths you stop will not agree and unless you plan on doing some decent research you might not have the same club mentioned twice.
This is, as every good goth knows, because goth is not a movement but a loosely grouped collection of style and ideas that don't fit in any other pidgin hole. All definitions of goth being wrong in some way.
The answers you get will be effected by, where that goths mates like to go, what music they like, what beverages the venue serves, chance of sitting down at all during the night and the ease with which any drugs they might want (speed most often) can be obtained and taken (without getting kicked out of the venue). Other factors include
decor, other drinks served and ease of pulling.
Distance has little by way of influence as goths are often willing to travel quite far to find the right night life. This is doubly so in London as the network of tube and night bus means that you can get home from anywhere. If you have a small fortune to burn you can always get a cab.
The big clichés - a dark ambiance, smoke machines and a morbid decor rarely holds true in any significant way. Although, if any, dark ambiance might
occur as a by-product (rather than an end in itself) but then dimmed light and so forth is often a nightclub norm.
If you want dark, smoky and morbid try the mock goth places that are classic goth jokes, like the eerie pub chain or pubs that have "theme nights".