Twenty-four years ago, two Gothic personalities from Leipzig, Germany, had an unusual idea: They did not wanted to create yet another dark music festival but rather a supra-regional gathering of like-minded fellows for an informal meeting, chatting and celebrating. When the 1st Wave Gotik Treffen took place in 1992 at the edge of Leipzig with about 2,000 visitors and just a handful of musical acts, it is unlikely that anyone imagined that within a few years the Wave Gotik Treffen would become the largest meeting of Gothic people in the world, taking possession of a whole city every year at Whitsun.
Now, the Wave Gotik Treffen has been around for a quarter-century, from May 13th to 16th again more than 20,000 Goths from all over the world came altogether once more to gather in Leipzig to celebrate the jubilee of Wave Gotik Treffen as the largest international conference of the dark family. To start this 25th Wave Gotik Treffen properly, there was be a grand opening party on Thursday, May 12th, 1026 which began at 20:00. It took place at Belantis, Das Abenteuerreich – an amusement park in the south of Leipzig. DJs were inviting visitors to dance at various locations in the arena, among them veterans of the early days of Leipzig’s dark scene like the founders of Wave Gotik Treffen, Michael Brunner and Sandro Standhaft as DJ-team Moonchild. All fairground rides of the large amusement park were to be open until midnight.
All over the city nearly two hundred acts were performing, projects and single artists covering the whole broad range of Gothic music: from Electro-Pop to Goth-Metal, from EBM to Neofolk, from medieval music to Post Punk. Apart from well-known acts of the scene, everyone was invited to discover new talent too with several less-known real underground acts and artists from the edge of the Gothic music universe.
The concerts and events took place at more than fifty venues spread throughout Leipzig, for instance in the vaults of the Moritzbastei, in the splendid neo-antique cupola hall of the Volkspalast, and in the green round of the open-air Parkbühne, as well as some great concert halls. The Wave Gotik Treffen program also introduced beautiful classical music once more, such as operas or choral and chamber music.
From its beginning the Wave Gotik Treffen has been much more than a music festival: its attendees may step back to the romantic atmosphere of ancient times at the ancient marketplace at the Pagan Village (Heidnisches Dorf). They have presented public readings from authors and great theatre; cinematic performances were held as well as a big live action role play. People in period clothing gathered in the park for a Victorian Picnic, accompanied by live chamber music. For four days a large hall at the Agra-Messepark was converted into the biggest Gothic-wares marketplace in the world.
In numerous clubs, DJs from all over the world invited attendees to dance until dawn. There was also the largest fetish party where the entrance was only possible by following a strict voluptuous dress code. A stroll through the winding passages of the city centre of Leipzig with its historic buildings of the Renaissance, Baroque and Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) eras is especially worthwhile for art and culture lovers: the entrance to several of Leipzig’s museums was candid for Wave Gotik Treffen attendees. Affordable and entertaining accommodation was made possible available at the vast Wave Gotik Treffen camping ground. To enter, attendees needed a special ticket (called Obsorgekarte) which also included the extensive Wave Gotik Treffen schedule book. Public transport in the city was open to all Wave Gotik Treffen attendees from Friday morning until noontime Tuesday.
The inhabitants of Leipzig have become familiar with the Wave Gotik Treffen over the last two decades – there are no longer any prejudices and the Gothic attendees are very welcome there. A fascinating aspect of the Wave Gotik Treffen is surely its unique magical atmosphere that engulfs the whole city. Goths from all over the world celebrate their gathering in a peacefully relaxed manner, turning Leipzig into a diverse wave of black. Once a year about twenty thousand Goths come home: to the Wave Gotik Treffen.
The Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig presents an exhibition of about twenty-five years of Wave Gotik Treffen, this eerily beautiful part of Leipzig’s history, as well as about the scene with its dubious reputation to the public. Extravagant fashion, multi-faceted music genres, spectacular accessories and most of all fascinating people is the main focus of the dazzlingly black show. Attendees and organisers openly speak about their experiences and adventures around the Wave Gotik Treffen and about their self-conception of being goth. Guided tours in English were offered on Wave Gotik Treffen on Saturday and Sunday.
Apart from famous acts of the scene, the Wave Gotik Treffen program once again included hidden treasures whose names are maybe not known to everybody, but which will surely perform outstanding concerts. As always, before visiting the Wave Gotik Treffen, it is worthwhile to take a closer look into the program and to listen to some sample tracks from the artists one may not know.
Finally an interesting special event that took place within the Wave Gotik Treffen program turned out as one of the highlights of the festival and one to look out for in the future. On Saturday, there was the Long Reger’s Organ Night where fine Organ music by Max Reger was played in the six churches of Leipzig’s city centre. Surely it was a great possibility for attendees to find some fulfilling rest between all the scene concerts and other Wave Gotik Treffen events.
Have you been to this year’s Wave Gotik Treffen or a previous edition?