Bauhaus and the Gothic Movement
(Created by Sean Logan, History 135, November 1998)
Assignment   Chronology  Links  Further Reading
Band Photo.  Source=http://apollo.lpg.fi/Bauhaus/pics.html

Compare and contrast the Gothic subculture with other music-related subcultures (i.e. the Hippie Movement, the Punk Movement, rock-and-roll) and discuss its social impact.
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Peter Murphy, David J, Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins formed "Bauhaus 1919" in 1978 in Northampton, England. 1919 represented the German art movement of that year (They shortened the name to simply Bauhaus in 1979). Their first single, "Bela Lugosi's Dead", became the perennial Gothic song and later became forever their legacy. Later releases were "Mask", "In The Flat Field", "The Sky Has Gone Out" and various singles and EPs.

Being heavily influenced by bands and musicians such as Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Velvet Underground and David Bowie, a band like Bauhaus would have normally settled in to the underground music scene just fine. There was something different, however, in the band's lyrics and their sound which moved beyond art rock, beyond punk, and much like Black Sabbath in its day. These lyrics were what, most sources agree, started the Gothic subculture. (Some critics do consider Siouxsie and the Banshees, formed in 1976, as the starting point.) By 1999, a Gothic subculture existed in just about every country in the world, and is especially strong in the UK, Germany, Australia, Canada and the United States.

The music had a certain dark tone to it: caustic while at the same time melodic. It was fairly minimalist, but created a haunting and somewhat seductive atmosphere for the listener. This, coupled with Peter Murphy's vocals, which sprang from ghostly and wailing to bouncing and lively, formed the foundation for "Gothic" music for a good portion of the next decade. Although the band members themselves deny being responsible for creating the Gothic subculture, and claim to "...owe more to Elvis Presley's 'Heartbreak Hotel'..." than to any other influence, Bauhaus was still the primary force that drove the Gothic subculture and remained a large influence throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

There has always been much disagreement over just what is "Gothic" Many see the culture centering on nineteenth-century Romanticism, while others see influences from medieval/Renaissance culture, and still others are more Post-Modernist than anything else (These "goths" are popularly known in the scene as Rivetheads, Industrialites, or Gravers. Industrial music is as equally a part of the culture as traditional Gothic music, which encompasses Dark Ambient, Guitar Goth, etc.) One constant is that Gothic dress typically has a flair for both the dramatic and the macabre. Contrary to popular opinion, goths do not only wear black, but adopt somber tones of all colors. Fashion, accessories, make-up (for boys and girls) and home décor encompasses everything from the morbid to the languid, morose to demented, but above all: beautiful.

The primary feature that distinguishes Goth from other music-related subcultures is that it is almost entirely non-political. The Gothic community as a whole is more concerned with individual growth: achieving an appreciation of the fine arts, architecture, music, etc. Instead of gathering together to change the ills of society, the Goth scene is more or less solely concerned with cultivating the individual.

Today, if one observes the patterns of behavior in society and, more notably in many schools, in some cases, youth has taken on a different pattern of behavior than previous generations. Kids no longer seek to rebel simply by growing their hair long, or by supporting a fringe political group. These days the youth "rebel" by wearing makeup, dressing in black, and listening to music that reflects their worldview; thus the Gothic culture has made its imprint on history. Instead of pushing against the class ceiling of a society that will not (often) listen, they seek to better themselves and dwell amongst those who are likeminded. As youth today mimics what Goths created almost 20 years ago, they have gone from one extreme to another. In this way the Gothic community has survived where others fell by the wayside: It is not founded in any simple ideal or slogan. It is based upon the principle that the person must beautify and cultivate him/herself if they want to improve their life.

Please read the additional material about the origins of Goth contributed by Timothy Miller.
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- 1976: Siouxsie and the Banshees began their career, later to be considered a major influence on Gothic music. This year also marked the first time the term "Industrial" was used by Industrial Records, and Industrial music was pioneered by bands such as Kraftwerk and Throbbing Gristle.

- 1979: The release of Bauhaus' "Bela Lugosi's Dead", normally recognized as the beginning of the Gothic subculture.

-1980: Andrew Eldritch formed The Sisters of Mercy, which became one of the most long-lasting and influential 2nd Wave Goth bands.

-1981: Christian Death becamesanother of the well-known 2nd Wave Goth bands.

- 1983: Former members of Bauhaus (sans Peter Murphy) re-grouped as Tones on Tail.

-1984: Tones on Tail becames Love and Rockets and continued to record through the 1980s and 1990s.

- 1989-94: the Gothic subculture received another breath of death, or, life, when revived by bands like Nine Inch Nails (Unfortunately, the latter also led to goth becoming a trend)

-April 1, 1998: Rozz Williams (Christian Death, later solo) committed suicide after battling a heroin addiction.

- April 20, 1999: Two students, mistaken by the media and their peers as members of the Gothic community, committed an act of mass violence which resulted in a nationwide awareness of the Gothic lifestyle. It also led to a newfound display of unity within the culture itself.
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The All Music Guide is a database for general music information, including Gothic/Industrial

gothic.net remains a good source for general info on the Gothic culture with many links, articles and news

The Darkside is a site that has much information on the goth scene and also hosts Siouxsie's Homepage, with links almost any "Dark" site on the Web

Official Bauhaus Homepage has just about everything you that you would ever want to know about Bauhaus.

Academia Gothic is a sort of Gothic FAQ that discusses multiple aspects of the culture and its history

Examining the Subculture is a lengthy supply of media links, a large history section, and details on drugs/vampirism/depression etc.

Klubs.com has some Gothic music available for listening (Real Audio files).

Gothic Portal has everything Gothic.

A Study of Gothic Subculture

Goth subculture May Protect Vulnerable Children is an article extolling the benefits of Goth culture.

Darkside of the Netis another lengthy links site that covers most every aspect of Gothic/"dark" culture
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Dark Entries: Bauhaus and Beyond, by Ian Shirley, Helter Skelter Ltd., 1998, traces the history of the band and its influence.

Hex Files: The Goth Bible, by Mike Mercer/Mick Mercer, Penguin USA, 1996, is a comprehensive guide to the goth scene in several countries.

Gothic Rock, by Mick Mercer, Last Gasp Eco-funnies Inc., 1993, covers the Gothic music scene
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This page is copyright © 2000-15, C.T. Evans and S. Logan.
For information contact cevans@nvcc.edu