Why are goths called goths?
The first use of the term “Goths” to describe the members of this subculture which I’ve managed to discover is in a post by Tom Vague from the October 1983 re-launch issue of Zig Zag (under Mick Mercer’s editorship). The use within the scene is very likely to have been in the summer of 1979 by Siouxsie and the Banshees, or by Martin Hannett, the manufacturer of Joy Division. By late 1979 and early 1980, the term “gothic” appears to have been rather common in music journalism to describe bands like Joy Division and the Banshees.
In 1981 Abbo from UK Decay used the term “gothic” to explain the emerging group movement. Then later, probably about 1982, Ian Astbury used the expression “goths” to explain Sex Gang Children’s fans. There appears to be a progression that is definite here, together with the expression gothic/goth being used to describe person rings, then a motion of bands the followers of the motion. It’s not that easy. The term “goth” does not appear to have been commonly applied to the motion until a time in 1983, several years after it had initially been used. In early 1983, the most frequent term for what became the goth movement was “Positive Punk”, or afterwards “Posi-Punk”, courtesy of Richard North from the NME (February 1983).
Describing the viewer for Death Cult’s Berlin series, he states “…and a fairly motley crew they’re too. It might be London…” What appears to have happened is that the term “gothic” was floating around, was sometimes used to refer to bands, and finally stuck. The fans of these bands were described as a result of remarks regarding their lovers and Sx Gang Children as goths The title “goth” originally came from a Germanic tribe (ie that the Goths). They were considered by the Romans as barbaric and uncultured. The term was later applied to a late century type of literature that had a fascination with the supernatural and death. Somehow, presumably sometime in 1983, the expression appears to have been substituted by “goth”.
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