I moved from the East Coast (Go Mountaineers) to Los Angeles about nine months ago. I spend a lot of time at a job getting underpaid for a job that promises incredible “networking opportunities.” It’s something like indentured servitude for thirty-ish guys that make references to Zuul under their breath.
At any rate, I stay home a lot. But when I DON’T stay home I’m looking for big, intense fun that hits my major marks: drinking, dancing, and combat boots. Someone looking for these three things is likely to start checking out the various goth-industrial events around town. LA, as you might imagine, is a pretty good place for them.
While having a casual conversation with some bondage-pants neurotics that I randomly met, many of them recommended an event called DAS BUNKER, which, just from the name, sounded promising. So I tell my phone that I want to go to Das Bunker, and my phone is like “shutup jagoff, I’m a phone.” I swiftly arrive in the sub-miracle mile area off Olympic blvd which is also promising because it’s sketchy and there are no normal looking people on the street at 10:45. In my experience, the best clubs are always located in places that make you anxiously check where your wallet is stashed.
I wait in line outside–there are like 50 kids waiting in line down the blocking. Promising! As I am want to do in these situations, I posit the question to no one in particular as to whether there’s actually a show or if it’s just club night. A heavy kid in bondage pants and a poncho who looks exactly like his girlfriend/sister tells me he thinks it’s just club night, and when I make some off-handed comment about “as long as it’s loud and obnoxious I’m good” the 6’2 woman in Dr Martin’s and cargo pants says “So you’re looking for obnoxious, huh?” and I gesture to the line “Well have you seen how all of us dress?” She didn’t want to chit chat anymore after that for some reason.
I got my neon arm band, got patted down by a dude with an actual gun, and paid my tenner (I’m British now, also). First there’s the bar room, then I giant, and I mean giant dance hall with a five foot neon cursive sign that just says “DISCO”. It has the great effect you get in movies where they dolly behind the main character as they push from one room into a great bacchanalian situation, and the view is all encompassing. It’s very impressive, and looks like those black and white illustrations that my Vampire: The Masquerade books promised me I would find if I moved to a big city. Also, for only being eleven the place was pretty pumped with people. Goth nights, like all real club nights, are notorious for peaking around 1 am, so this was a good sign. I did a walk through of the main area, which features two independent gogo boxes, each with a pole and a weird octagonal seating area around it, a separate bar for the dance floor, box seating around most of the place, and wall to wall mirrors that consistently confuse you as to where it actually ends.
Then, downstairs you go into a whole new section in the basement and adjoining rooms, with a small chill room adjacent to the dj walk, which is something of an old victorian outcropping that overlooks the “Retro room”, a smaller, high ceilinged dance floor with its own bar, plants for some reason, and a massive projector playing ALIENS (very good sign), and ROBOCOP 2 (very very good sign). Maybe my favorite thing about this place was the staff. The club maintains about six security guards of various degrees of dangerous, who mostly stand around and look concerned, which probably isn’t that hard to do when all these white people are wearing kilts and hooks through their noses and string lights in their hair and frankenstein shoes. In addition, there were three sad looking folks with mops and brooms just busying about picking up drinks and walking straight through the dance floor to mop up spills, with the two parties apparently totally oblivious to one another. They gave off the impression of Chance the Gardner in BEING THERE, and just needing to tend the garden.
For the vast majority of you who have not been with me to one of these clubs, I tend to get a little wily. Maybe a little wurly. Maybe even a little Wooly Willy. Anyway, the point is I will generally have four to nine drinks while scoping out/watching, and getting properly amped and pissed off about how “nobody is doing it right”, after which point I will fall into a dance pack of kids and proceed to dance, shake about, drink, scream at the gods, and make various clandestine threats to the crowd-slash-dj about how they ought to take their testicles out of their Mom’s handbag and dance like they were born with knees and a procreative instinct.
There are a thousand boilerplate goth kids dances and I hate all of them.
The taffy pull: A sinuous pasty kid from Pasadena or Squirrel hill, preferably in a flowing white pirate shirt (which he calls a poet shirt) bends his knees into deep, slow dips while grabbing at an invisible, never-ending umbilical cord attached to some great sadness located in the center of a strobe light he would be looking straight into if his eyes were open.
The longest soccer game ever: The preferred dance of vaguely hot white girls with huge frankenstein shoes. You kick your 6-inch platform strapboots repeatedly at an invisible soccer ball located just in front of you, while batting away misquitos with an invisible samurai sword (expect more invisible props).
The 16 frames per second Tattooine bartender: A fun variation particular to caucasian ravers and industrial kids who don’t do much dancing from the waist down, but whose arms are going fucking CRAZY. Employed as an underpayed bartender on Tattooine, it’s necessary to grab, place, fill, remove, and alternate thousands of invisible shot glasses on a circular bar located about two steps away from you. No matter how fast you serve these drinks, your boisterous customers keep demanding new ones, until your sad boyfriend who just wants to go home and play God of War tells you it’s time to stop.
The — I take this mop and break it over my knee, with much anger! : The preferred stomp show of guys in sleeveless shirts with one 40 dollar tattoo. An invisible mop (maybe you’re getting a pattern here) is grabbed unceremoniously from a nearby invisible wall, switched to the other hand much like a marine’s rifle, raised into the air, clutched straight out in both hands like Donatello’s staff, then brought down and cracked over the knee that you raise as far up in the air as you can without having to unpack your inhaler.
The, Where’d that hot chick go, oh, she’s over HERE! : A popular move with many variations, where a hot chick with thighs enough to toss herself around via their weight take two to three steps, followed by one huge asymmetrical lunge, punctuated by a perfect straightening of the spine, and the intense hope that Steven your ex-boyfriend with the nasally voice and period-appropriate pocket watch is viewing angrily from the shadows.
So in hundreds and hundreds of these fuckers, I inevitably do what I inevitably do. I drink really fast, dance really really really hard, scream a little primal scream, make jokes to the Latino security guy about how these are the weirdest people in the world (he agrees because he thinks I mean their clothes), tip a little too much, get a Mexican hot dog (there’s bacon involved), and make my way home, with only sore muscles to show for it.
I haven’t learned a lot of lessons from these kids, just found another population that I’m not really a part of. I start a conversation, and realize these guys really think they are in that Vampire the Masquerade book, and don’t get my jokes. To the goth scene I’m Randall Patrick McMurphy from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I should just settle down. I’m not going to settle down. I can only communicate with the smallest population of people, the restless messes, the perpetually unsettled big talk jerkoffs, and the androgynous complicates. In the meantime, at least there’s ALIENS.
There’s a club and you’d like to go…