22nd WGT 2013: Alice's Adventures in W(GT)onderland

By Tama&Sena

This is a story about girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy WGT world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures.

(Source: Lewis Carroll:" Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," The Millennium Fulcrum Edition 3.0)



Chapter One – Down the Rabbit Hole
There was nothing so very remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so very much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself, `Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!' ...... she ran across the field after it, and fortunately was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.)

It was a change in the last minute of the game. I went to WGT unprepared for the role of the press member, which assumes that you make a list of “must-see” concerts as well as arrange interviews in advance. For most of the visitors, the first part is actually normal preparation, as soon as the line up is published on web (few days before the event) . However, for me it meant a drastic change to the usual routine, as I prefer to enjoy the festival in more relaxed manner. This means showing up late, usually round 11 pm, sometimes catching just the end of the concert... then hopping from club to club all night long to dance and discover new spots and DJs oriented on music and rhythms that suit my mood for that night... being still wide awake when the clubs close, and finishing the WGT-day out with breakfast and some accompanying activities... finally, going to sleep in the late afternoon. It means remembering WGT by new acquaintances, newly discovered DJs or music sub-genres, being endlessly photographed in the worst versions of that day's appearance and going home with the sun scorching my skin (once during the breakfast I even got a sunburn in the pattern of my fishnet stockings – an idea for a new form of body modification!)  It means receiving tips on the way back home from the fresh people ready to start a new WGT day - which for me essentially meant info which concerts I would sleep on...
So first task for the new role was to try to change the clock and stop screaming "I'm late! I'm late! I'm late!"


She finds a small key (=press card)  to a door too small for her to fit through, but through it she sees an attractive garden: (Soon her eye fell on a little glass box that was lying under the table: she opened it, and found in it a very small cake, on which the words `EAT ME' were beautifully marked in currants. `Well, I'll eat it,' said Alice, `and if it makes me grow larger, I can reach the key; and if it makes me grow smaller, I can creep under the door; so either way I'll get into the garden, and I don't care which happens!'

Secondly, I had some challenges to accommodate to new circumstances.  Some reviling questions were asked during the accreditation procedure ("You look too beautiful for this Austrian name, are you sure?", “Should we communicate in German or English? (although prior communication was already in German)). Apart from baffling me as a human being, those questions also spawned some ideas for potential WGT research on topic of ethnic and subculture crossover at WGT - with theses such as ”Are the French people more into cyber and Austrian into neo-folk?” or “How much is the international adjective relevant for concept of this festival?”. It also made me confident in the decision to write this article in English.

Chapter Two – The Pool of Tears: `I'm sure I'm not Ada,' she said, `for her hair goes in such long ringlets, and mine doesn't go in ringlets at all; and I'm sure I can't be Mabel, for I know all sorts of things, and she, oh! she knows such a very little! Besides, she's she, and I'm I, and--oh dear, how puzzling it all is! I'll try if I know all the things I used to know.
...`Speak English!' said the Eaglet. `I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and, what's more, I don't believe you do either!' And the Eaglet bent down its head to hide a smile: some of the other birds tittered audibly.

Throughout its long history, WGT achieved reputation of being "the largest gothic festival on this planet "  " world festival for "dark" music and arts "   and certainly has a very unique festival atmosphere. However, it still keeps that DIY feeling and fights the pressure to succumb to commercialization (typically conducted by record labels). On the one hand, this means lack of user-friendly organization that could attract broader spectrum of visitors, but on the other hand, it forces people to be more involved in discovering festival by themselves, which is enjoyable at certain level.   From the perspective of city manager, it is certainly not the type of event that first comes to mind as a vehicle for renewing and branding the city image. Nevertheless, with its estimated 21000 visitors WGT is definitely the event that books all city capacities and annually boosts local economy. This year brought even larger crowds, creating longer ticket queues than ever, even starting the (false) rumors that tickets were sold out. With its dozen-or-more venues all over town WGT has also an advantage of being called a bona fide city festival, as same as once upon a time gothic was the style for the medieval sacral architecture exclusive for cities. That is why it would be more accurate to have a market place or market town rather then a non-urban (= non-goth) pagan village (Heidnisches Dorf) 

Chapter Three – The Caucus Race and a Long Tale: They were indeed a queer-looking party that assembled on the bank--the birds with draggled feathers, the animals with their fur clinging close to them, and all dripping wet, cross, and uncomfortable.

This year was the year of Wagner, and the town of Leipzig had celebrated this occasion with the program named "Richard Wagner Festtage". WGT also tried to contribute by incorporating Wagner's silhouette in its logo, but it unfortunately had the counter-effect of visitors repeatedly wondering aloud "Who's that guy?" Grand opening was also announced to include parts from “Parsifal” which was supposed to take place next to Völkerschlachtdenkmal, but at the end, event was either cancelled or moved (to this day I'm not sure which, thanks to the wonders of (my ;)festival organization).

Chapter Seven – A Mad Tea-Party: The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it: `No room! No room!' they cried out when they saw Alice coming. `There's PLENTY of room!' said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.

My personal impressions of this year's festival must start with the charming event called:“Victorian picnic in Clara Zetkin Park (Das Viktorianische Picknick im Clara-Park)”. This picnic confirmed that steampunk has become mainstream to the point that this word began to appear regularly in "normal media".  I find it a great welcoming event where you have opportunity to both catch up with friends from far away and meet new kids on the block.. Moreover, all of it under the broad daylight! Another good thing about picnic is the lack of strict dress code.  Basically it is just "dress to impress" which over the years evolved into the new motto “just be crazy” (this would include my all-time favorite, The Hello Kitty Man). To quote my dear fashion-sensitive friend "Thank Goth, the picnic developed astonishly from fat ladies in expensive dresses and Victorian moral!"

Chapter Eight – The Queen's Croquet Ground: `You'd better not talk!' said Five. `I heard the Queen say only yesterday you deserved to be beheaded!'

Second highlight would be the inevitable fetish side of WGT. Saturday night in Volkspalast Kuppelhalle was reserved for  „Obsession Bizarr“ - Die Fetisch- & SM-Party   a.k.a.the Gothic-Fetish party. As much as I am aware of disagreements inside Goth community on the subject of “purity” of fetish "genre" and its connections to Goth subculture, this event is what makes WGT unique comparing to other similar festivals. For those remembering "better days" or more extravagant days, there are some points to consider regarding the development of this particular event. WGT has a movable schedule aligned with the holidays and gothic-fetish party was moved from Sunday to Saturday. So several years ago, this caused overlapping with the German Fetish Ball Weekend (GFB in Berlin), and contributing to great schism of the scene to fetish-goth fraction which chose Berlin, and the goth-fetish fraction which chose WGT fetish party.

There are still notable exceptions that try to achieve the perilous task of visiting both events, including latex-clad car driving exhibitions. This meant the decrease in extravagant and active fetish party visitors, but on the other hand, it made the event more open to “general population” of Goth people. There is also the ongoing discussion of making the dress code more rigorous. CYBERESQUE  had the main performance and fashion show at the party this year.

`I see!' said the Queen, who had meanwhile been examining the roses. `Off with their heads!' and the procession moved on.


Chapter Eleven – Who Stole the Tarts? And that's the jury-box,' thought Alice, `and those twelve creatures,' (she was obliged to say `creatures,' you see, because some of them were animals, and some were birds,) `I suppose they are the jurors.'
`They're putting down their names,' the Gryphon whispered in reply, `for fear they should forget them before the end of the trial.'

Music and miscellany:

As I tried to pay more attention to music acts, that meant making some sacrifices – for instance, running away from the peak of Victorian Picnic to catch Gitane Demone and Sex Gang Children in Parkbuehne. I also managed to catch some program before the fetish party at WERK 2 where the Passion Play and Skeletal Family (GB), had very intensive and good performance. The Mescaline Babies (IT) were playing too early for me.This year WERK 2 was again host of my favorite "When we were young" party. DJ line up offered great dancing opportunity for all old bats of goth community. Werk 2 had another interesting offer known as "food meeting point" so you could eat and drink while sitting comfortably on the floor. By accident, I discovered an art exhibition in basement of Kulturfabrik Leipzig Werk 2, Katakombe named "Un_frei_wilig" by Incestum .

She Past Away (TR) was in Anker - it's the name you should try to catch, as they are great live band (as dear friend said "We have to bring them to Vienna!").Sunday in Moritzbastei was reserved for "rising star band" Grausame Töchter (D) that gathered a lot of attention over short time thanks to her unique performance and sharp lyrics. As expected, the venue was so full that most of the people who wanted to attend the concert were left outside. Nevertheless the question remains - whether her intimate performance would be that effective on a larger stage. Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing her (them?) again in Vienna this autumn.

The massive AGRA fairground halls were full and this year with my new “daily” clock I finally found out you can actually shop there. For rare items, it's recommended to visit at the beginning (Black Friday for Goths?)  and Monday is reserved for "sale". 
The usual breakfast in Sixtina, had this year second option at Sixtina 2 (announcement for the new location). Anyhow, it was the last time of WGT at Sixtina in the center, as the current location is planned for redevelopment (read: gentrification) in the next year.

This year visitors could again visit the exhibition „Kinder der Nacht – unangepaßt und
überwacht - Schwarze Szene in der DDR" in  Runde Ecke.

In my opinion, it is one uncurated exhibition based on the way the material is presented - raw. Still it gives an interesting perspective on different subcultures in DDR and their representation. The downside was that exhibition could be followed only in German language, with no handouts.
The end concert in Agra this WGT Monday was VNV Nation (GB). The traditional good-bye party with „Global Noise Movement” this year at Moritz was missing some DJs but Industrial music was there. At the end one can say, "Hey you Goth or more - anywhere in the world - see you next year at WGT!"


Chapter Twelve – Alice's Evidence: `Here!' cried Alice, quite forgetting in the flurry of the moment how large she had grown in the last few minutes, and she jumped up in such a hurry that she tipped over the jury-box with the edge of her skirt, upsetting all the jurymen on to the heads of the crowd below, and there they lay sprawling about, reminding her very much of a globe of goldfish she had accidentally upset the week before.

Life after WGT: Back home during first weeks after WGT, you can catch up the rest of content you missed over the internet:

Wake up, Alice dear!' said her sister; `Why, what a long sleep you've had!'`Oh, I've had such a curious dream!' said Alice, and she told her sister, as well as she could remember them, all these strange Adventures of hers that you have just been reading about; and when she had finished, her sister kissed her, and said, `It was a curious dream, dear, certainly: but now run in to your tea; it's getting late.' So Alice got up and ran off, thinking while she ran, as well she might, what a wonderful dream it had been.