In what could be the most ironic move of 2016, Whitby Goth Weekend has announced that American steampunk band Abney Park are to play in April 2017.
You may remember after the last Goth Weekend, I reported on an article which was in the Guardian. The newspaper covered the event but angered a few Goths because it showcased mainly steampunks. There was some upset about this from some mouthpieces of the Goth community who feel that steampunks are taking over the festival. Whitby Goth Weekend has been operating in the North Yorkshire coastal town for over 20 years and has grown exponentially since it’s inception as a small gathering of Goths who wanted to meet friends and listen to bands.
The history of the town (the Abbey was featured in Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel) and its picturesque setting eventually made it an appealing visit for steampunks. Now several years on, a steampunk contingent has taken over the Rifle Club and the market has a good helping of steampunk stalls. The vast majority of visitors; steampunk, Goth and tourist alike, enjoy the array of items on sale. A small number of people believe steampunks aren’t welcome at WGW (Whitby Goth Weekend) though and should stop going. Especially now there’s a Whitby Steampunk Weekend starting in February 2017.
Given the thing that certain Goths are most annoyed about is the presence of the steampunks at “their festival”, it must be a massive blow for them to have one of steampunk’s largest bands playing there. Historically Abney Park were a Goth band, but changed their image to steampunk in 2005. It was 2009 when they first appeared at WGW though. Then they appeared again in 2011 and more recently in 2015. I don’t recall any Goths complaining about a Goth-turned-steampunk band playing for them at those times.
Cause and effect
What will those Goths do? Will they boycott the event? Try and shout louder until the steampunks give up and leave? This isn’t the doing of the steampunks, this is the organisers booking acts that they think will sell tickets. Getting a large, well-known band like this is a boon and will draw in the crowds. One thing the anti-steampunks complained about was that steampunks don’t go for the music and it’s essentially a music festival. Having Abney Park there will likely mean a lot of steampunks will attend the evening events. Super organised steampunks will then snap up the tickets leaving some Goths without. Just like they do with hotel rooms; another issue with the anti-steampunks. At least it will give them something else to complain about.
The April WGW is going to be very interesting to attend, or at least watch for any fall out after.