Imagine your favorite Tim Burton film and you'll get a good idea of the visual atmosphere at Leipzig's annual Wave-Gotik-Treffen, or Wave-Gothic Festival. Known for its history of as hotbed for classical music composers, the Saxon city now welcomes approximately 30,000 members of the Goth subculture to its cobbled streets, making it the largest such festival worldwide.
Now in its 17th year, the Wave-Gothic Festival over the long Pentecost weekend featured an array of events from classical music performances and medieval fairs to dark electronic and rock band shows, and even a Victorian picnic. Attendees at the fest were as diverse as their choices of music, but what brings them together every year is the chance to be part of a Goth majority.
For Anouschka van Manen, who traveled from Holland for the meet, being a Goth is about respect and acceptance into a group that society often rejects or misunderstands.
“Goths are some of the nicest, most intelligent people you'll meet,” she said.
Gothic – or Gruffi as it's widely known in German – fashion takes on many forms beyond wearing lots of black.
Today the subculture has grown to include those donning Victorian-era and Japanese-inspired Visual Kei and Harajuku styles, which are often brightly coloured and comic-inspired creations.
Felicitas Heckman and Andres Trujillo from the Ruhr Valley region in western Germany brought as many as six different outfits for the weekend. Both emphasised the importance of personal style to belong to the self-proclaimed elite of the Goth community.
They preferred platform shoes, hair adorned with long neon springs and neo-Romantic ball gowns over the stereotypical black-clad Goths of yore.
“We match all of our outfits and have day wear and evening wear,” said Trujillo. “We tend to dress more simply at night.”