Sites and scenes

goth woman in high platform boots, bright tights and a tight dress with lace sleeves, playing guitar with her bright red hair flying into the air

© iStockphoto.com/Ecaterina Veclova

Perhaps more than any other art form, popular music often flourishes within a 'scene'. Scenes arise when people who share similar musical interests come together and participate in some form of musical activity around that interest, whether it be performing, listening, dancing, collecting, running fan clubs, or combinations of these.

Scenes often arise around a musical style (for example, a salsa scene) but can also be based around the activities of an ethnic, religious or social group, or even attendance at an event - the Glastonbury Festival is a scene in its own right.

Scenes typically involve a range of activities, often of an informal type. The goth scene, for example, brings together musicians, fans and organisations interested in certain types of punk-influenced music. Bands connected to the early development of goth include Killing Joke and the Sex Gang Children but goth music has changed and become more varied over the years. Goths typically dress in black and wear certain types of jewellery and make-up. Their activities and interests are supported by organisations that specialise in goth music, including goth clubs, fanzines, websites, festivals, record shops and record labels.

People make music scenes, but they also need places in which to make them. Some scenes are associated with particular geographical locations. In the case of goth, Leeds has a particularly strong goth scene. The growth of a scene in a particular place can depend on a variety of factors. Some are obvious, such as the existence of venues favouring particular styles of music. Others are less obvious, such as the social make-up of an area, the people that pass through it. Or it could be the availability of practical facilities, such as rooms for rehearsal.

Once a scene has emerged, it might remain a local or regional phenomenon, or it might spread. Goth emerged in the UK but some now refer to a global goth scene. Whether local, regional or international, a scene is likely to be picked up by the media. It is also likely to be affected by the attitude of the authorities and regulated in some way. This is not so much because authorities want to stop the scene (though they may) but because activities within the scene (such as live public performance) may trigger a set of legal processes or require policing in some way.

This section looks at several specific aspects of scenes: