The Goth Scene In Boston
The Night Is Dark, So Are They
by Angela Dauthi
For the past few years, if you were a Goth in Boston, you didn’t have very many places to go and feel comfortable in your white facepaint, flowing silks, and chrome. In the past few months, we have been graced with three clubs that cater to the dusk till dawn crowd. They are Man Ray, the originator; Ceremony, the new kid on the block; and Hexx, the misunderstood up-and-comer. All of them have great nights.
Man Ray is the grandaddy of the Boston Goth scene. As a staple hangout of anyone who prefers the color black over all others, they have a few different options. On Wednesdays, Crypt plays primarily Gothic music, and is rather low key, a comfortable place to go in the middle of the week. The weekends, however, are a different story. The first and third Fridays of the month are Fantasy Factory, a blowout of Gothic Industrial music based around an ever-changing theme, fetish performances and fashion shows, and a dungeon for those of you who want a taste of roughness. The second Friday is Hell, a legendary Gothic night, also with performances, food, and vendors. The last Friday is reserved for the hardcore fetishists, and the dance floor is taken over by racks, stocks, spanking tables, and other instruments of torment, presided over by Mistress Mimi.
Jen (who has been running Fantasy Factory since September) doesn’t feel threatened by the birth of the two new clubs. “Granted, Ceremony and Hexx both represent competition for the club, but I feel that’s healthy. It can only serve to strengthen the scene. There’re no nights that overlap.”
In choosing what themes to use (past themes have included Girls with Guns, Bordello, and a Skin Two Fashion Show), she says “I don’t like doing things that have already been done.” Jen notes that the performers, who not only dance on boxes like go-go dancers, but act out skits that invariably have them strip down to some small article of clothing and hit each other provocatively, usually help choosing themes and writing skits. Her ideas for the future include “to bring more people into it, and to make it less intimidating. We’d keep it underground, and always keep our standards, but we’d like people to see that this isn’t just for some in-crowd, it’s for all like-minded people, fetish and Goth.” I have noticed that usually the last Fridays of the month are domitated (forgive the pun) by an older crowd, who seem to be annoyed at the younger Goth and industrial fans. When asked why, Jen responded, “There’s been ongoing conflict for years now, between what is considered the ‘Old Guard’ and the people who are just getting into the fetish scene. I think it’s very unfortunate. We try to bring them together on Fridays because not only is there a dungeon, there’s a dance floor and music, so the Old Guard, who have made this a lifestyle, can show the younger crowd how it’s done, and with the dancers and performances, there’s a lot of other energies going around.”
Ceremony is a Monday night scene, which started at the Paradise Café but has now moved to The Spot (formerly Quest). Ceremony is run by Sean, who has no intention to dominate the scene. He likes the intimate setting of The Spot’s dungeon (although he hopes to get access to the roof deck in the summer), and he feels that he can interact better with the crowd that way. He decided to start Ceremony because he felt that the scene “needed another outlet.” In addition to the dance floor, where they often spin CDs from local bands like You Shriek, Women of Sodom, and One of Us, there’s usually open mic poetry earlier in the evening, and local artists often display their works on the walls (granted, this needs some work, as the club is typically dark). Bands have also play there on a fairly regular basis because “I’m into supporting great bands that should get more noteriety that they currently have. Bands that should get to play larger venues. Bands like The Dirge Carolers, Incus, and Infinity Times Zero. The Goth/Industrial scene has been like an ‘armed camp’ for so long, the scene wasn’t really happening. Nobody seemed to be working with each other.” He decided to be a Monday night club because “Moday’s work. It initially was the only night available, but it creates a good balance for the scene.” This is true: On Mondays you can go to Ceremony, either Hexx or Man Ray on Wednesdays, Man Ray on Friday, and Hexx on Saturday. He doesn’t see any competition, either. “It’s needed, and it helps clubs work harder and better. We’re not trying to beat anyone but ourselves.”
Hexx doesn’t want to be seen as the enemy. The man who runs it is Rice, who was the manager at Man Ray for two years. Even though their nights are Saturday and Wednesday, which seems in direct competition with Man Ray, and though they have an interactive dungeon monitored by a professional Mistress, Rice doesn’t feel like he’s competing. “I think there’s a lack in Boston for these kind of dance clubs. All it was for a long time was Man Ray, and they’ve got a distinctive style.” Rice wants to expand into heavier Industrial formats. He wants to “go further” because “I think there’s an industrial crowd that hasn’t been tapped yet. There’s a lot of cyber-punks out there, who can’t go anywhere in Boston.” He’s not looking to dominate the scene, he wants to open Hexx up to a wider audience, to people who haven’t heard what they have wanted in clubs yet. He’s planning on bringing in guest DJs from around the country and Europe to spin, and although the past few nights there have been a few complaints of song unrecognizablity, he says that there will be more of a mix between well known and relatively obscure (yet still excellent) songs. Being in the Theatre District, Rice has found a solution to the biggest problem of Hexx: Parking. He has made a deal with the Radison Hotel Parking garage (located behind Hexx on Stuart Street, next to 57 Cinemas) where you can validate your ticket for only $5, rather that the $13 you would normally spend.
Personally, I don’t feel as though there’s a problem with these clubs springing up. There is a distinct difference between the three, all of them have their own personality, be it the festival quality of Man Ray, the “in a living room with 200 of your best friends” feel of Ceremony, or the NYC ambience of Hexx. No one will abandon one club for another. Given the opportunity to actually be in a comfortable Gothic environment four nights out of the week, I feel the Boston Goth scene won’t let one club go under, because that would mean one less night to enjoy good music, black lights, and people who like dressing up as much as they do.