Monday, April 13, 2015

On Cybergoths, ADHD & Distraction

There is always one inciting moment that sends me off on an Internet safari of discovery. Most days I can pinpoint the moment and say, “Aha! There’s where I went astray!” On mornings like today, however, neck deep in distractions with multiple tabs opened on no less than three different devices, I have no idea when my “get up and get busy” became “get down and get funky”, but I sure had fun.

There is no tip for you today beyond the importance of not beating yourself up when your mind strays. Sometimes our adult ADHD minds need to spin without focus—to return to their natural state before we whip them back into shape. What I like to do in these instances is turn my distractions into something productive. So this is me turning my distraction into a writing exercise.

That’s it. Lesson over.

Can I share my trip down the rabbit hole with you now? This is probably the most off-topic, self-indulgent article I have ever written here, but I had so much fun putting it together. It features a lot of YouTube videos, but I have no guarantee that the videos will still be up for you when you discover this article, so I’ve labeled them. Maybe you can find them again if they go missing.

I was listening to VNV Nation on SoundCloud this morning. They sound a bit like Apoptygma Berzerk had Depeche Mode over for tea, then wrote music without the rage nozzle. It’s not boring, but feels derivative to me because I’ve been a music geek for over three decades, and I’ve heard it all before. Singing in a virtual 5-note tonal range similar to Apoptygma Berzerk doesn’t help either, but that may be a stylistic aspect of darkwave/industrial.

VNV Nation - Tomorrow Never Comes

I had come across them because of an earlier, but related distraction. I had discovered cybergoths.

Pris looks hot, but menacing.

Their look was so extreme—so radical—that I was instantly fascinated. They looked like something straight out of a Science Fiction movie. Not even Pris in Blade Runner looked as wild, though there were certainly similarities. Somehow I missed this trend, but not living in Europe can excuse me a bit, right? At any rate, there was even a Wikihow How to be a Cybergoth page. It contained every step I needed to take to embrace this new lifestyle, not that I would know where they hung out in Utah.

The page claimed you had to be familiar with VNV Nation and Icon of Coil if you wanted to be a legit cybergoth, or they’d think you were a poser. I wouldn’t want that! I’d want Pris to take me seriously if I tried to start up a conversation with her. Then I thought, "Waitaminute! I have Icon of Coil in my music library from ages ago. That makes me a cybergoth!! All I need is some dayglo cyber lox, a Bane mask, some goggles perched cutely askew on my head, and a youtube video of me using my tecktonik moves beneath an overpass, and I’ll be totes authentic. My day was all planned out now.

Dance trends fascinate me because my brother and I used to teach ourselves how to pop & breakdance just by watching Friday Night Videos in 1983. We didn’t have cable, and we didn’t have a VCR, but we had bundles of ADHD. We’d intensely watch the R&B videos, memorize every detail, then immediately try to mimic what we saw. We got quite good. I focused on poppin‘, and he focused on breaking’. Then we’d teach each other what we learned. I still remember the Eureka! moment when I discovered the secret to the wave was isolation of the previous joint. That opened up everything. I competitive danced in college after that. Fun times.

From this point on, I am simply going to share with you the videos I found that delighted & impressed me with a few comments here and there. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

I mentioned “tecktonik” before. It was a music and dance style that raged through rave culture in France in the late Aughts. I’d show you dance crew SMDB in action, but their best videos have been pulled, the bums. French corporations kinda killed tecktonik when they trademarked the name. This video shows a group of kids jumping on the tecktonik Youtube craze of 2009, so it gives you a great feel for the peak of the style. Those kids really knew how to rock the Asian mullet:

Tck Music by Tothdanny – March 2009

I knew at the time that Tecktonik had crossed over into Germany, but I had no idea how it had been transformed by cybergoth rave culture. They called it Industrial Dance instead. The dance moves are so similar that it makes me wonder if both styles evolved from an earlier common style. I’m only piecing things together from thousands of miles away through YouTube like some lame online dance anthropologist. What do I know, really? I did find this video from the same time period. It’s clever, but very far out there, especially compared to the kids in France. Cybergoths were wearing gas masks and fake dreads at the time. It’s a wild look:

Eisenfunk – Pong – November 2009

It seems that Industrial Dance took off whereas Tecktonik died when corporate interests tried to monetize it. However, just like Tecktonik the dancers took to YouTube to show off their skills. They follow the same pattern, too. Early videos show off technique, then later videos feature a fictional narrative that ends in a dance-off. This guy here shows how serious these kids took their subculture. He has serious skill, too. My out-of-shape, forty-eight year old self is quite jealous of that skill:

Bio Sektor industrial Dance STUDIO -X SPEED – August 2011

You’ve probably seen this next video openly mocked because the kids spent more effort on their outfits than their dancing skills. They also chose a song with a variable tempo to dance to. Not a smart choice. It’s two years after the French kids video above. The dance styles are similar, but the Industrial style, not Asian mullets, stuck. Also, they’ve added dayglo & rave accouterments. These goths are meant to glow in the dark. Try to watch this original video without the goofy dubbed tracks in your mind that you’ve probably seen on Vine and Facebook. Most of these dancers aren’t very good, but they’re extremely serious because it takes a great deal of practice and effort to carry off all those moves rapidly and to the beat:

Cybergoth Dance Party – September 2011

The bright, furry moonboots matched with poofy dread falls and gas masks look that I affectionately call “Death Muppet” was the characteristic cybergoth style, but in 2012 Steampunk started to make some inroads. This video is a compilation all of the female dancer bits from Eisenfunk’s less-than-interesting CG video for “Pentafunk”, remixed to the beat. I believe it is the same girl from the “Pong” video because of her (likely) tattooed eye makeup:

Cyber Goth Queen Pentafunk Jenny – July 2012

Still, cybergoths loved dancing in run down buildings while wearing gas masks. The more derelict, the better. Their video skills were improving along with their dance moves:

Industrial dance – October 2012

It was around this time that Industrial Dance spawned YouTube stars—usually pretty girls—who looked fabulous in gas masks and fluorescent green hair. Most of them seemed to focus on their costumes more than their dance skills, but it’s still interesting to see the style evolving. Some of these dancers treat Industrial Dance not as a fad, but as a performance art. This girl looks great even if her dance moves aren’t the most crisp (Slow start. Picks up at 0:58 mark…). Also of note, this video had over one million views:

Industrial Dance – God is in the Rain – Suicide Commando – Pitite Oudy Cyber Goth – December 2012

A year later and the face masks are gone except for wannabe videos popping up in other countries. I believe we are witnessing the last of the Death Muppet look:

Industrial Dance // Princess Chaos // Nachtmahr - Mörder – May 2013

UPDATE: I found this video after I posted this article. It's Bio Sektor from above, two years later and phenomenal. I think this is my favorite video by far. This guy has taken SMDB crew's Milky Way style and blended it with American popping & German Industrial Dance into his own amazing style. In the middle of the video you'll see him speeding up and slowing down his arm wave to the beat. My mouth dropped.

Bio Sektor Industrial Dance X-RX Activate The Machinez – August 2013

One more rotation around the sun and the styles are less BIG and more convenient, which is usually how fashions go. Also, dancing is hot, so there were less clothes, too. I'm sure it has nothing to do with being sexy. Interestingly, the dance moves remain the same, although stylistically they are more sensual and Tecktonik than Industrial. That could be because of these particular dancers, however. Again, I'm commenting from years and miles away. YouTube isn't necessarily a true lens to study this movement through:

Industrial dance V.Cordis and =BusteT= Sleetgrout – Dance Like Joke – April 2014

Then just the other day, this posted:

Industrial Dance - Riot Rebellion - Binary Division - Ciwana Black – April 2015

At last we have come to the bottom of the rabbit hole. What do you think? Fascinating, yes? I never in my wildest dreams imagined such bizarre fashion, though the makeup & vibe is sure close to what Pris from Blade Runner was sporting in the 80s. At any rate, my addiction for NEW has been sated. I think all of this is rather cool, and if my back supported me, I would be out there trying to learn their moves.

Considering how little sleep I had last night, it was not realistic that I would get much done on my list today, but at least I didn’t spend the day binge watching something on Netflix. Still, I haven’t spelunked down a rabbit hole this deep in a while. I’m not sure if anything I “researched” today can be put to use, but the process was helpful, so I don’t regret it. Somewhere out there somebody will find this blog entry and appreciate all the weird and wonderful videos I gathered. The world can be weird, but there is a beauty to how humans express themselves. I just have this worry that the lyrics to the songs in German aren’t unsafe for work or furry woodland critters.

Lastly, I finally remembered the inciting incident that began this trip to Wonderland. This is the moment my attention was mislaid, resplendent in all its goofy glory. I'm sure the reason the video was posted on Twitter was not so I could ignore the goofy soundtrack and admire the dancing. I saw outlandishly dressed kids using Tecktonik moves. I had to know the story behind it, so I tracked the original video down and began my afternoon of Industrial Dance discovery. If you made it this far, leave a comment below. Let me know what you thought of the ADHD ride I took you on.:

Cybergoths Dance to Thomas the Tank Engine – November 2014

LAST UPDATE, I PROMISE: I'm posting this a few weeks later. I found this video soon after I posted this blog. If you thought that Cyber Goths were a small subculture, this hour long video comprised of various YouTube clips done to the same songs should show you how widespread the movement was in Germany. The videos cover a two year period. It is definitely NOT SAFE FOR WORK, however. There are a few songs and sequences in there that are eyebrow raising (Almost anything by Centhron.). I share it because it is a great snapshot of how wild things got in the Industrial Dance scene. It's still a subculture, however. My daughter in Germany claims this music isn't played on the radio at all.

Das Klub Industrial Dance Megamix – December 2013