Desiree Albee has hosted her music-and-fetish night, Repent, for nearly two years, but she’s always known that the event represented only one flavor of Denver's goth scene. In a flash of inspiration, she conceived of an event that would bring together the city's various goth-themed nights and include as many expressions of the subculture as possible: the Goth Prom.
“I really wanted to do a huge community project that brought together every single goth promoter in Denver,” says Albee. “I didn’t come up with an idea until the beginning of this year, and it just hit me: Goth Prom. Everyone felt awkward at their own prom and wants to do it over again, and why not?”
She thought back to her own high-school days: She’d been a cheerleader and was not overtly goth, but she loved the subculture’s fashion aspect and appreciated how one could wear black a thousand different ways. She was also drawn to goth music, which seemed to express something strong and genuine. Later, she spent more than ten years in Los Angeles, where, after completing her degree in fashion design and marketing, she was a dancer at well-known goth club Bar Sinister. Albee moved back to Denver to care for her parents. At that time, she says, “I wanted to do a side project and offer the community something, and I started Repent.”
While establishing Repent and working as a bartender at several popular Denver nightclubs, Albee got to know many of the like-minded heads of other goth and goth-related nights, including DJs at Milk and the Church and DJ Ritual, who is one of the heads of monthly alternative dance party Ominous. It was to Ritual that Albee first proposed the idea of the Goth Prom, and his enthusiasm was immediate.
Recognizing that the goth subculture is not monolithic, she and Ritual thought that a so-called Goth Prom involving all the major goth nights in Denver could — in the way that a more traditional or mainstream prom sometimes can — provide a way for members of the community to interact with and learn from each other.
But neither Albee nor Ritual ever wanted the Goth Prom to be just about their vision, and they have planned it so that other involved parties, including Dark Tuesdays, Milk Bar, Caligula’s, Bleak Boys, Ominous, Denver Hearse Association, Denver Gothnic, ADSR, Totentanz and Wake the Dead, will put their distinctive stamps on the event. The party promises to be a sensory extravaganza, with fire performers, aerialists and other visual-performance elements alongside go-go dancers from Bleak Boys and Ru Entertainment. In addition to DJs Mudwulf, Ritual, Tower and Feline IX, well-known EBM artist Aesthetic Perfection will perform live and also deejay an after-party at Fusion Factory. At midnight, there will be a crowning of Goth Prom king and queen, naturally. Longtime Ominous stage and performer manager Alexia Rhodes will be on hand to make sure all of the various elements run smoothly.
As is often the case with prom night, organizers have high hopes for the impact the event will have.
“Everyone was so calm, and they want to talk to you,” Albee explains about why she first embraced goth culture. “They say hello and how are you and mean it. Some people feel like the goth scene can be really catty or really high-school, but I think that’s any scene.... I feel like I see people speaking to each other more in the goth scene and actually welcoming each other. You see the same people over and over because it’s a giant family. Maybe some of the family members don’t get along together, but ultimately they all still want to see each other.”
“People are going to squash all the drama and all the nonsense to create something big,” concludes Ritual. “You don’t see the new generation of goth anymore, and we want to reach out to more people to keep the subculture going. We all need to work together to make that happen, because that’s the only way we’re going to be able to do it.”
Denver’s First Annual Goth Prom
8 p.m. doors, Saturday, May 28, $20/$50 VIP, Exdo Event Center, 18+, tickets and information at ominousdenver.com.
Goth Prom After-Party
1:30 to 6 a.m. Sunday, May 29, $10, Fusion Factory, 21+, BYOB.