The Wave-Gothic-Meeting in Leipzig (short: WGT) attracts around 20’000 visitors from all around the world each year. As festival for the “dark arts” and “black music” it is one of the largest Goth-and-Steam-Punk-Events worldwide. Even though I just arrived in Germany two days ago, I decided yesterday to visit the festival. With big black plateau-boots, black leather-pants, a short green velvet dress and an elegant black gothic hat I was already on my way to the festival at 9 am – excited about my day among the “black and beautiful mass” in Leipzig.
The WGT was first established in Potsdam, near Berlin, in 1987. However, under the rule of the GDR, who was generally against any subcultures in East-Germany, the WGT was an illegal event and therefore was only visited by few people. Till today, the festival has grown to an enormous dimension and the variety of events offered attracts more people every year: fetish parties, viking markets, movie nights (this year with Nosferatu), literature readings and of course music concerts are offered all over the city. The music ranges from mid-age classics over modern bands like Project Pitchfork to opera stars – this year the famous Spanish opera singer Monserat Caballé sang in the opera of Leipzig. Many WGT-visitors went to listen to her, and you could see a big black mass of people standing in front of the opera, waiting to get in.
The biggest attraction for the locals of Leipzig is still the pure appearance of the Goths and Steam-Punks, wandering around in the streets of their city. Despite 25°C, latex and leather, gigantic black skirts and black umbrellas are worn with pride, and even though some, who consider themselves “pure Goths”, criticize the ones, who obviously only dress up to be photographed in the streets, it is a pleasure for everyone to see the black mass occupying the city. In the biggest shopping street in Leipzig one can actually see grandmas and grandpas with their grandchildren, with their mobile phones and cameras at hand, taking pictures of the bizarre people walking by. The variety of outfits is indescribable – but of course all is black ;)
What everybody – Goths and grandmas – found incredibly cute, were the Goth children. Not few parents had brought their kids to the WGT, and so miniature Goths with black tulle skirts, studded collars and dark mascara were walking around – always close to their parents though.
As I was not only interested in the people walking around, I also visited the headquarter of the former “Ministry for State Security” (short: Stasi) in Leipzig, which I needed to do for my Extended Essay anyway – therefore I could combine the WGT and my EE very well ;) The Stasi had spied upon the citizens of the GDR in a manner, that is today considered and described as “disgusting” – basically they wanted to know everything about everything, and in order to achieve that, every method was fine for them. Today, several Stasi criminals have been prosecuted. We walked around the main quarter for a while, always surrounded by “black people”. Most of them were old, and had already been part of the Goth scene back in the 1980s, as students. Many were surprised at how the Stasi had infiltrated their subculture with spies, and how the Stasi described their appearance and behaviour. As our guide read out, what kind of music they were supposed to listen to, and how they did their make-up, many of the attending goths laughed out loud, finding such description utmost hilarious.
The city of Leipzig and its citizens welcome the visitors of WGT every year in the warmest possible way: everything is dedicated to the black color. And if I say everything, I mean it: the store windows are full of black shoes, black dresses, the sale tables are full of dark and long clothes – even black ice-cream, with a “bloody kiss” of raspberries is sold at the most popular street in Leipzig, and stores like Douglas have tables with “dark perfumes” extra close to their entrances.
The day was a full success, and lots of fun. Before we drove home, we visited the “Graveyard of the South” of Leipzig – a beautiful, old and big graveyard quite far from the hustle in the city center. Wonderful, old graves stood between big pink and purple rhododendron bushes, benches, that must have stood there for decades, slowly lost their color in the sun, and at the grave halls, there was an assembly of Goths, enjoying a picnic at the stairs to the grave halls. We sat down between the trees and listened to the singing of the birds, and after the hectic rush through Leipzig all day it now seemed that the world had sunken into silence. The people at the grave halls were happily dining, and a man dressed in steam-punk fought with wooden swords with a small boy, dressed-up in a mid-age costume, who seemed to be his son. Further at the stairs, a young women in black looked around the graveyard area, enjoying the coolness of the shadow of the grave hall building. It was a nice and calm ending for an amazing day.
The WGT is in Leipzig every year, at around this time and its number of international visitors grows every year. In the streets I met goths from Japan, Australia, Latinamerica and Asia! – Whoever is fascinated by the Goth subculture, is welcome to join the “black mass” in the streets of Leipzig. Many people camp outside the city during the four days and some events are open to the public and therefore even accessible without a four-day-ticket. More information about the WGT 2012 can be found here: http://www.wave-gotik-treffen.de/english/