Goth Goes Global

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Young Kenyans are “less concerned with tribal loyalty than their parents” and “looking to forge a new, contemporary identities,” Rowan Emslie reports. One result: Nairobi now boasts a sizable goth community:

I meet [David Lith] at The Goth Shop, a clothing store and tattoo parlor housed in a mall in the affluent Westlands neighborhood of Nairobi. The very existence of this shop is noteworthy – it is fairly unusual to hear rock music in bars or shops in East Africa, much less experience anything related to goth culture. For some, old Dolly Parton and Jim Reeves cassettes in supermarkets remain the closest thing to even “rock culture” available in the mainstream. David is acting as my guide, taking me on a tour of the awkward little tattoo parlors, shops and bars that occasionally host the itinerant goth population of East Africa’s regional hub. …

[I]nterest in goth culture came about shortly after tattoos were popularized in the early 2000s through MTV and other Western music channels. Across the several parlors [I] visited, most had at least one goth-influenced artist on staff. Thanks to the launch of a rock-heavy radio station, XFM, and an increasingly popular metal DJ called Van Doom, the number of young Kenyans partaking in goth culture seems likely to expand in the near future.

A 2011 estimate put the Nairobi’s goth community at 300, but The Goth Shop has nearly 1,000 fans on Facebook and Oh My Goth Designs has more than 2,000. Check out more fantastic photos on the latter’s fan page.