Fourteen years old or fifteen maybe, and you know you're not like the other kids. This is one of the great myths of adolescence, the kid who's not like the other kids, when really all the kids are exactly alike in their alienation and utter difference from one another. None of the kids are like the other kids.
But while a lot of the other kids have figured out ways to hide their difference, their secret shame, you haven't. Not savvy enough, not socially apt, unable to conceal or dissemble. And the other kids can spot it. They can smell it on you, the porous boundaries, the absence of a tough outer carapace to keep the world out. So they fuck with you, because it's easy, and because it's kind of fun, and because it takes all the pressure off them. Why would anyone bother to suss out their weirdness when yours shines out for everyone to see. You're an easy target, and it sucks. You learn to hide, to disappear, to avoid getting fucked with, which means spending a lot time with yourself.
And in your solitude you find the music. It had already started in Junior High or Middle School. You went off the beaten path looking for music that wasn't like what they listened to, and you found strange flowers of song growing in the rocks. Now that you're able to explore you find vistas of music opening up, populated by weirdos like you. Whole scenes, people who, like you, strayed from the path, or threw themselves off it deliberately, or who never walked the main road to begin with. People who can't help feeling things, who aren't athletic or pretty in the conventional way, people who read and write and think and aren't afraid to talk about it.
You find your people, even if, because of the accelerated rate of change in the adolescent world, they're only your people for a few weeks, a few months, even just a semester or a year.
In Tucson, in 1985, they wore black eyeliner, and flowy clothes, or heavy chains and leather, or pale white pancake makeup. Their clothes imitated bondage gear, cock rings and dog collars and safety pins, leather-daddy hats. They loved roses, and darkness, and cemeteries, skulls and blood, drugs, Baudelaire and Bauhaus. Some of them were gay, the first gay people you ever met.
And in Tucson, in 1985, they went to The Fineline. The Fineline was a club down near Miracle Mile, where the porn shops and the prostitutes hawked their wares. Once a week, on, if I remember correctly, Wednesdays, they had an all-ages night. I would go with my friends, the ones that could drive, and dance to Joy Division, to The Cure, to Bauhaus, to Siouxsie and the Banshees, to Sisters of Mercy. It was a dark and scary place, and being the good little Christian boy I had been raised to be, I found it thrilling. It was brooding, the music was mournful, the blacklights made everything ghostly.
This is where it started. Nights hanging out in graveyards while my friends made out on tombstones. Reams of overwrought poetry. Funny looks from the kids at school when I wore jewelry and eyeliner.
The Fineline was heaven. It was my first time experiencing a scene. I felt home, for a little while.
This song captures it as well as anything not actually from that era. The chorus, "No one knows when the Batcave closed," references the seminal club in the London goth scene. In Tucson, The Fineline was our Batcave. Enjoy.
Despite the title of this post, there' s a very nice article about the closing of The Fineline here.