How to Dance
The Gothic eZine - Dance
By Kai MacTane
and Anne Killpack
Illustrations by Anne Killpack
You went out to your local goth club in your black velvet frock coat,
your hair teased up bigger and rattier than Edward Scissorhands', and lace
dripping from your wrists and throat. You looked fabulous. But as
soon as you got on the dance floor, everyone started laughing --
eventually, they had to toss you out of the club for being "deleterious to
the proper level of angst."
You need to learn to dance gothic.
It's not that hard; just learn these simple moves and soon you can
blend in with all the other spooky individuals on the dance floor at your
local batcave. After all, for such an individualistic crowd, it's kind of
surprising how goths all seem to use the same moves. Maybe it's something
encoded in the Goth GenesTM rather than just lack of
All difficulties and Goth Ratings are on a scale of one (pathetically
easy or ridiculously non-gothic) to five (tragically difficult or
This one is much like Washing the Windows, but with two
differences. Instead of facing your palms away from you, you hold
your hands with the palms facing each other, a little closer than
shoulder width. Then, instead of moving them in vertical circles, you
spiral your hands around each other in a horizontal circle, parallel
with the floor. It's a little trickier, because you have to drop one
hand under the other to keep from smacking your forearms together,
but you don't want to make it too obvious -- your hands should
just spiral lazily around each other with no apparent effort.
In fact, "no apparent effort" is a good phrase to describe all
these moves. Goth dancing isn't really energetic; the idea is to be
slow, graceful and languorous.
So far, you've gotten a bunch of moves with the hands. "What about my
feet?" you may be wondering. "Where are the little footprint diagrams?"
The answer is, there are very few of those here. There don't need to be
very many. Goth dancing doesn't generally rely on fancy footwork, for a
variety of reasons:
- Many goth women wear long skirts and dresses, flowing gowns, and
other Victorianesque garments that practically brush the floor. Any
fancy footwork they did on those would be invisible. Sometimes, it's
hard to tell if theose people even have feet.
- Many goths, both male and female, wear extremely pointy shoes,
sometimes with a lift to the heels. These things are designed for looks,
not traction or comfort. When your heels are wobbling and your toes are
pinched, you don't tend to do much fancy stepping.
- Alcohol and yes, drugs, are still a part of the goth subculture. It
has occasionally been noted that sometimes the dancers simply stand and
sway (the move known as "I Am a Frond of Seaweed") because that may be
all they are capable of at the time.
But there are a few goth foot maneuvers, which can be a very
important and valuable addition to your gothic dancing. However, if
you're the "two left feet" type, or your own feet hurt, you can just
move your feet in random patterns in time with the beat, and
everything will be fine.
Stand with one foot pointing directly forward and the other
behind it, angled out at about 45 degrees, as in the illustration to
the left. A little more than half of your weight should be on your
rear foot. Now lift up onto the balls of your feet. In time with the
music, lift your front foot and daintily place it a bit farther away
from your body -- you'll need to bend your rear knee quite a bit
while straightening the front leg.
On the next beat, lean forward, transferring your
weight to your front foot. Then move the rear foot past the front
one, pivoting 45 degrees on the ball of your foot as you do so. This
should put you in the exact mirror of the position you were in a
moment ago. As you can see in the illustration at right, the
foot-pivot happens simultaneously with moving your other foot.
"Wow, I could just walk all the way across the floor like this!"
you think to yourself. Don't do it. Take two steps total,
maybe three, then reverse it and go backwards. Real goths
never use this move to make any real progress; they just go back and
forth with it.
This is a good one to practice at home before you try it out on a
public dance floor in front of dozens of goths who will mock you
mercilessly if you accidentally fall on your face when you mess up.
On the other hand, public mocking is great for racking up angst
your arms out to both sides, like you're being crucified or
something. As you do, swirl around once or twice, but remember to do
it slowly, not quick like a little kid trying to get dizzy.
If you do it right, this one can have some of the feel of time
wheeling onward, the spin of the earth around the sun, and so on. It
can also come in handy in case some weirdo DJ puts on Dead or
Alive's "You Spin Me Right Round, Baby". ("Right 'round like a
record, baby, right 'round, 'round, 'round." Oh, yeah.)
Variations: This is one the most
personalizable of all the moves here. You don't even need to put
both arms out; you can keep one in front of your body (ready to do
some other move), or put it behind your back, or you can put it up
to your forehead to show how angst-ridden you truly are.
Of course, simply knowing these moves isn't all there is to dancing
gothic-style. While you're practicing the moves at home, you'll probably
also want to practice stringing them together, so you don't look like
you're doing one move in complete isolation, then doing another with no
connection to it.
One other benefit of learning these moves -- and their names -- is that
you can have hours of fun being a gothic dance critic, rating your friends
(and social rivals) on how well they perform, say, "Sweeping the Floor".
And consider the scathing put-downs:
||"I think Simon's dancing is just wonderful, don't
||"He changes the lightbulb far too often, and he just
can't seem to figure out how to sweep the floor properly."
IF YOU STILL CANNOT DANCE, MAYBE YOU SHOULD CONSIDER PROFESSIONAL HELP AND GO TO A PROPER DANCE SCHOOL.
Note: York University is in Toronto, the Gothic capital of the world. Therefore it has an incredibly high percentage of goths, especially in its fine arts and dance departments.