Jeffrey Delannoy, May 9 2005

Way back when in 1987, while Mtv was pushing bands like Motley Crüe, and other glam rock, poser rock “Kings of the Eighties”...I saw my first Goth. Actually, they were three. They were standing in the last seated row of a Depeche Mode concert, before the grass (standing room only) section, and they scared the hell out of me.

I was sixteen years old and had been photographing for about one year at this time. I used to take my friends out to cemeteries and bunkers and practice shooting band portraits with them. Although no-one actually was in a band, my friends, through my direction, started to resemble European rock stars. Little did I know then, but I was emulating the famous band photographer Anton Corbijn who has worked with Joy Division, Bauhaus, Nick Cave, and countless others.

I went to several concerts during this time, and spent about the same amount of time studying people as watching the actual concert. The three Gothics were wearing what today could be almost considered mandatory for a Gothic, a white foundation, and had spider webs painted on there faces.

About the same time in Potsdam, Germany which is located in the former Eastern (DDR) Germany, a group of Gothics and Wavers gathered at Belvedere castle and threw a party. Many more people showed up than were expected and eventually the party was broken up and some of the party goers were arrested.

One must realize that before the wall came down in 1989, the East wasn't exactly the best place to express oneself in a way that did not comply to the mindset of the masses, which basically was the mindset of the government.

Despite what had come to pass at the first party, the underground parties at Belvedere continued to thrive, and the numbers continued to grow into what became a mini-festival. This was also a brilliant achievement, because in those days, bands from the East had to wait something like five to seven years to get a hold of a guitar and an amp, and were forced to pay exorbitant amounts of money in order to partake in the pleasure of making music.

At the same time demonstrations and rallies were starting to become more common in the East as the majority of Germans wanted to reunite. This culminated in the Gothic scene as well, with the Goths, eventual uprising for liberation, coming to pass in the form of organized marches. The Gothic sector in this process was known as “The Black Block” which must have been a surreal picture, a group of black dressed marchers amid the grey architecture of the former DDR.

In the fall of 1988 I went into the city, (Boston) on a date with a gothic girl, to see Siouxsie and the Banshees. Needless to say, this time she wasn't the only one. The music was dark, the girl was hot, and I was feeling pretty much in love with them both... I left the concert and we went across the street and rolled around in the park, in the dark... for a few hours.

During the summers of '86, '87, and '88 I was able to see concerts from New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen, U2, The Cult, The Cure, Jesus and Mary Chain, O.M.D. and several other bands that were forefathers to the Gothic Scene. I also caught some Punk bands such as Suicidal Tendencies, Black Flag, and New Model Army, and I also saw some musicians that were at the time not so easily categorized such as Wire, Big Black, and Pere Ubu. I went to one festival in America, during those years; for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). It was the only festival that I ever heard about in the era of pre Lollapalooza, excluding Woodstock.

In 1992 the Wave Gothic Treffen (Meeting) or WGT, officially began, at a bar called the Eiskeller (Ice Cellar), which judging from the name and how Germans are so literal, probably was indeed an ice cellar. 2,000 Gothics showed up that year to partake in the festival. Little did they know that they were building the foundation for one of the most culturally unique festivals in the world.

If there were a city besides Transylvania that I would consider fitting for a Gothic festival, I would have to say that Leipzig would be that city. Leipzig is located in the East of Germany about 120 kilometers south of Berlin. Since the fall of the Berlin wall, most all of the cities in the East of Germany have lost about half of their inhabitants, to Berlin, therefore these cities have a “wasteland” feel about them. Before 1989 Leipzig had over a million inhabitants, while today Leipzig has around 600,000 people living there. The city is still a center for art in Germany, but at the same time large hotels and old government buildings were left abandoned. Walking the streets in Leipzig feels like being on a surreal movie set.

The Wave Gothic Treffen is the biggest Gothic meeting in the World, annually taking place over Passover. Today, over 170 bands annually play on 8 (possibly more) different stages, located all over the city, including the main hall, the Opera house, several cellar type venues, such as the Völkerschlachtdenkmal, a famous monument of the battle of 1813, old movie theaters converted into concert halls, and a beautiful Shakespearean style amphitheater (Park Buhne) set in the middle of a giant park with majestic large trees. Many of the festival goers opt to camp on the main premises of the fairground, meaning that in the morning one will see thousands of Gothics fixing their make-up by a tree in the morning light, a pretty funny scene. There is also a Middle aged market on the premises of the main area, where one can experience all the facets of medieval food, drink, and culture. The Middle age (Mittlealter) market also has two stages running throughout the entire festival with musicians, as well as, knights jousting, and other performance art. On the second night of the festival, the now overground, annual Fetish Party takes place, which originally may or may not have stemmed from the Carlos Perron, (former Yello) “Les Salles” Fetisch Party. It is possibly the biggest party to take place over the course of the festival. There is a dress code that one must comply too, typical leather and lack is the minimum expected of the guests. There is also a black room, with many methods of torture. If BDSM is your thing, one will find an audience at this party. The movie theaters in Leipzig also take part in the Festival, showing film material from underground moviemakers in the scene, throughout the entire Festival, as well as premiering DVD's from bands such as Oswald Henkes` Goethes Erben, who has headlined the WGT twice already, and has played on several stages with other projects such as Artwork, and Erblast. When one possesses a ticket to the WGT, one can enter all these events, as well as ride public transportation to and from the events for free.

The Wave Gothic Treffen, is now entering it's thirteenth official year, but not without growing pains. The WGT, stemming from the underground, miraculously managed to survive for about ten years, while being managed like a festival from the underground. In 2,000 disaster struck. Because of mismanagement, apparently the concert promoters took off with the money, hundreds of bands and several venues, and about 20,000 fans were left basically without any hope of the festival continuing. Security left the premises and the festival at this point was left in total chaos... Until, some of the bands, such as Das Ich, and many others took a stand and decided to play anyway. All the bands traded sound technicians, and back liners and successfully kept the festival alive. During, these days, what is possibly, the single most important occurrence to take place, is that although the entire festival ran without security, not a single incident of violence occurred. Proving to the Gothic community, the city of Leipzig, and the world, that the Gothic philosophy, is a much more intellectual way of being in comparison, to other genres which would grasp an opportunity like the one in Leipzig to tear the stage apart. It is rumoured that, after the festival the mayor of Leipzig stepped in, and declared the festival an important event in the city, and that he made up for the money lost by the bands and other festival participants.

I've had the luck of being able to attend the last three WGT's, where I've filmed Dvd's for the Likes of Goethes Erben, Crüxshadows, and Ikon, photographed album covers, and made several band interviews. Including some that I'd like to forget, Lydia Lunch manhandeled me on one occasion. Despite, Lydias' flirtatious ways, I have never seen a festival that manages to bring in so many subgenres of music together in one place, including EBM, Future Pop, Industrial, Gothic Rock, Middle Aged, Avante Garde, Neofolk, Gothic Metal, and Electro Pop, without any attitude. Backstage, is a place for bands to make new friends and celebrate. All the bands are walking around the city enjoying themselves without the least bit of pretention. In fact, on the last night of the festival, there is always a party at the MoritzBastei, which is an old vault, and one of the main, smaller stages of the festival. At this party, I've seen the likes of Ikon , Clan of Xymox, The Fair Sex, and the Dreamside, having fun, talking to fans, and simply taking the festival in, in the same way the paying audience does.

Eighteen years have gone by since I first experienced the beginnings of the Gothic scene. I guess that makes me officially, a thrillseeker, who only feels comfortable in an avante garde atmosphere. Regardless, of who I've become, I have to say, if you are this same type of person, then there is no place in the world that one can experience such an event, and no place better to be then at the Wave Gothic Treffen in Leipzig, during these four days in May. If you take a chance, I assure you will go home with new friends, and with an experience you will never forget. Warning... after being on this island, you probably will have to adjust your eyes, and your mind, because coming back into the colourful real world always takes some getting adjusted to...

Confirmed bands as of May 9, 2005:

18 Summers (D) *accoustic - Accessory (D) - Actus (H) first time in Germany
- Aesthetic Perfection (USA) - Aeternitas (D) - Ah Cama-Sotz (B) - Ain Soph
(I) - And Also The Trees (UK) - Angel Theory (AUS) - Angels & Agony (NL) - Angelzoom (D) - Anne Clark (UK) *acoustic* - Apoptygma Berzerk (N) - Arcana Obscura (D) - ASP (D) - Astrovamps (USA) European premiere - Atargatis (D) - Atrocity (D) "Werk 80" - Autumnblaze (D) - Axel Thielmann & Tilo Augsten & Claudia Gräf (D) Horror reading - Baal Müller (D) - Beseech (S) - Bloody, Dead & Sexy (D) - Chamber (D) - Client (UK) - Coinside (D) - Collection D 'Arnell Andrea (F) - Conetik (N) - D'Arcadia (D) - D'Archangel (PL) - Dance Or Die (D) - Dark Suns (D) - Darkseed (D) - Darkwell (A) - Darkwood (D) - Darzamat (PL) - Das Ich (D) - Desert & Fortune (D) - Despair (J) - Diary Of Dreams (D) - Die Krupps (D) - Disillusion (D) - Distorted Reality (D/USA) - Dive (B) - Down Below (D) - Echorausch (D) Premiere - Elane (D) - Ensemble Wolfenmond (D) - Entwine (FIN) - Escape With Romeo (D) - Estampie (D) - Eva O. (USA) - F.O.D. (D) - FAQ (CH) - Faun (D) - Fictional (D) - Fiddlers Green (D) - Flint Glass (F) - Flowing Tears (D) - Frank The Baptist (USA) exclusive in Germany - Girls Under Glass (D) - Golden Apes (D) - Graumahd
(A) - Greyhound (D) - Haujobb (D) - Hekate (D) - Helmut Krauss (D) reads H.R.Giger "Vampiric" - Herbst 9 (D) - Hocico (MEX) - Human Disease (I) - I, Synthesist (USA) - IAMX (UK) - Ikon (AUS) - In My Rosary (D) - Inade (D) - Inner Glory (I) - Ionic Vision (B) - Iris (USA) - KAT (D) - Kiew (D) - Klimt 1918 (I) - LAB (FIN) - Lake of Tears (S) - Legacy Of Music (D) - Lights Of Euphoria (D) - Love Is Colder Than Death (D) - LP (RUS) - Massiv In Mensch
(D) - Mechanical Moth (D) - Melotron (D) - Merlons Lichter (D) - Midnattsol
(N/D) - Milu (D) - Mona Mur (D) - Mono Inc. (D) - Mono No Aware (D) - Mordorn (D) - More Machine than Man (USA) - Morthem Vlade Art (F) - Mortiis
(N) - MS Gentur (D) - Mystigma (D) - Nebelhexe (N) - Nebelung (D) - Neuroticfish (D) - NFD (UK) - Nik Page & The Sacrifight Army (D) - Novakill
(AUS) - Novalis (D) - Oil 10 (F) - Omnia (NL) - On The Floor (D) - Oswald Henke (D) reading - Other Day (D) - Patty Moon (D) - Paul Roland (UK) - Penumbra (F) - Pirsch & Balz (D) - Potentia Animi (D) - Predominance (D) - Proceed (D) - Psyche (D) - Psyclon Nine (USA) - Punish Yourself (F) - Qntal (D) - Ravenous (D) - Regicide (D) - Scary Bitches (UK) - Schloß Tegal (USA)
- Scream Silence (D) - Seize (UK) - SHNARPH (D) - Siddharta (SLO) - Silent Pain (D) - Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy (CZ) - Sleeping Children (F) - Sol Invictus (UK) - Sonne Hagal (D) - Spetsnaz (S) - Staubkind (D) - Steril (D) premiere on stage - Stoa (D) - Subsonic Symphonee (AUS) european premiere - Subway To Sally (D) - Swans of Avon (D) - Tanzwut (D) - The Beautiful Disease (D) - The Groupies (D) - The Human League (UK) exclusive gig - The Invincible Sex (D) - The Last Days Of Jesus (SK) - The Skeletal Family (UK)
- The Wounded (NL) - This Morn' Omina (B) - Thora (D) - Tiamat (S) - Transit Poetry (D) - Trümmerwelten (D) - Tristania (N) - Trobar De Morte (E) - Tyske Ludder (D) - Umbra Et Imago (D) - Underwater Pilots (D) - Van Langen (D) - Visage (UK) - Visions Of Atlantis (A) - Voodoo Church (USA) European premiere - Voxus Imp (D) - Welle:Erdball (D) - Wissmut (D) - Xotox (D) - Xylonite Ivy (D) - Zeraphine (D) - Zeromancer (N) -