Illegal gathering? Don’t care. Even before the re-unification of Germany, the Wave Gotik Treffen (WGT) made its first appearance in 1987 in Potsdam, no matter what the GDR had to say. Eventually relocated to Leipzig and held annually over Pentecost (Pfingsten) weekend, the gathering is known for being one of the biggest, oldest Goth festivals in the world. In the name of all that is dark and unholy, Nothing But Hope And Passion hopped the train to Leipzig on Sunday morning and was instantly greeted at the main train station by a plethora of intricately designed costumes ranging from the controversially sexy military Goth to steam punks adorned in clock gears and lacey busty renaissance queens. When your morning includes a dark unicorn and someone wearing a Doberman head (all clad in black rubber) led by normal people in shirts advertising a pet store, you know it’s going to be a special day.
This showcase for “dark music” is a costume and lifestyle fest, where the streets of this mid-size university city are flooded with everything: punk Goths, Vikings, Victorian-era romantic Goths, wood sprites, medieval knights, Cybergoths, and plenty of other variations on the sub-culture. The beauty of Goths and the participants at this festival is the completely sincere openness: participants meander, saunter, crawl or are lead by golden leashes around town and gladly stand for photographs, praise, questions and general ogling from the “norms,” also know as us.
We relaxed in the sun in the Heidnisches Dorf, right next to the camping grounds for festival attendees, begging the question “how does one camp and yet look so fabulous?” After enjoying wine from a flask labeled Hexenblut (Witches Blood), we realized we should have been drinking mead out of horn like everyone else. We watched a swordfight with wooden swords and fountains of fake blood. We tried on eye-patches. We saw Goths buying potato chips and beer and using ATMs, just like us. We ended our tour of Goth-ness by walking through the gently wooded and peaceful Sudfriedhof (cemetery), glimpsing Goths strolling among the tombstones, twirling black parasols and smiling at us behind layers of black eye makeup and iris-obscuring contact lenses. It transforms the city, and it could transform you. So pick out your favorite black on black outfit, book out next year’s long weekend, for the little (or big) dark part of yourself. See you at next year’s WGT in Leipzig!
WGT 2013 photo gallery
article by Amanda Gray & Kika Jonsson
all photos by Julien Barrat