Friday 27 April 2012

Goths and Bats: A Match Made in . . . Whitby!

On the first day of Whitby Goth Weekend, our resident goth Jess Barker explores the affinity between goths and bats.

Since the birth of goth in the London Bat Cave club thirty years ago, goths and bats have tended to roost together. A quick google shows the mass of goth-targeted bat gear out there, from tights, jewellery, skirts and bags, to the more unusual bat carnival outfit and odd bat doll... thing...

Inexperienced young goths are called 'baby bats', elder goths are sometimes ‘batcavers’, and the most goth of all are said to poop bats! Both species frequent trees, and while only goths don their finery, some fruit bats do rather appear to be wearing leather trench coats. We’re also both somewhat misunderstood groups – far more friendly and fluffy than expected when you get to know us!

BCT volunteer Shirley Thompson discusses bats with goths at Whitby Goth Weekend in 2009

Then there’s the Whitby link. Bram Stoker’s Dracula was partially written in the North Yorkshire town – now home to the major biannual goth gathering, Whitby Gothic Weekend. Stoker found the name ‘Dracula’ in the town’s Public Library, and scenes in the book feature Drac first arriving in England during a ship wreck off the Whitby coast. The novel was made an early link between bats and vampires, and was the first to establish the myth of vamp to bat shapeshifting. These days, visitors can stay at the Bats and Broomsticks Guesthouse, or buy a Whitby Jet keepsake in the shape of a bat.

A child meets a tiny bat at Whitby Goth Weekend in 2009

For all intents and purposes, I can be considered a goth (although accurate classification within this subculture is complex). Like goth music, I was born in the early 80s. By 16 I had grown into a ‘baby bat’, in 2000 I stayed in the Bram Stoker building in the Royal Crescent for my first Whitby Goth Weekend, and last year I got the most goth job ever – working on the Bat Helpline for Bat Conservation Trust!

I’d seen the bat stall at the Whitby Goth Weekend market, but it was only when I started working for BCT that I became aware of how much goths do for bats. Since 1995, Whitby goths have, via raffles, bring and buy sales and bat merchandise, raised over £30,000 for bat conservation. At the November 2011 event, they brought in a grand total of £1888.22 - everyone at BCT would like to say a big thank you for that fantastic achievement!

Having become a BCT volunteer and membership secretary of the London Bat Group after finishing my seasonal work on the Bat Helpline, I was in a good position to find other goth events to fundraise at.

Jess selling bat pins at London club Reptile in 2012

Inspired by the lovely goths at Nottingham goth night Batronic, who used a combination of fundraising techniques to collect in aid of BCT at their launch night in January, I have now sold pins at London club Reptile for the last two months. There’s been a great response to the little metal brown long-eared badges, and I’ve enjoyed answering bat questions. Very few people realise that there are so many British species, and I generally get an ‘awwww!’ at the news that bats purr! Fortunately for me, Reptile has a good outside area, as making my bat spiel heard over the music inside can be tricky! I’ve also been experimenting with information signs and posters inside the club. Last month word had got around and some of the goths approached me to ask for a pin, often making donations greater than the suggested £1. Not long before I become known as Bat Girl, I suspect!

A BCT bat pin featuring the brown long-eared bat

BCT will soon have the new Bechstein’s bat design and more of the Lesser Horseshoe bat badges in stock. If you would like to sell bat badges at your local goth event visit our pin badges web page, or contact Teph Ballard on

Have a great Whitby Goth Weekend!

1 comment:

  1. :)) !! by bat lover!.. never knew ppl liked bats as much as i do!..