When Goths Go to Disneyland
|Bats Day: When the goths go Disney|
See also: *5 Artsy Things to Do in L.A. This Week
If you go to Disneyland on Sunday, May 5, and find yourself surrounded by kids of all shades of pale, looking as sinister as the Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, don't be alarmed. It's just Bats Day in the Fun Park, the annual Magic Kingdom gathering of goths and their punk/metal/steampunk brethren, which has been confusing tourists since 1999.
It sounds chuckle-worthy: goths — the mostly black-clad subculture you day-dwellers unfairly characterize as gloomy gusses — at the Happiest Place on Earth. And, OK, watching them spinning in the Tea Cups is a total hoot.
But Bats Day is the one day of the year at the park when combat boots, fishnets and vinyl are as ubiquitous as Mickey Mouse ears, shorts and flip-flops. And goths go to have fun just like everyone else, eagerly taking pictures with Mickey, biting into giant turkey legs and waiting in endless lines for two-minute rides while shielding themselves from the sun. Spooking the "normies" is just an added bonus.
Noah Korda, a 41-year-old graphic and toy-packaging designer, has presided over Bats Day since its first year. He'd been running the now-defunct goth club night Absynthe in West Hollywood when he and regulars from another club in Long Beach decided to team up and make a casual trek to Disneyland.
Over the years, that meet-up with 90 people has grown into an annual three-day convention, which, though not officially sanctioned by Disneyland, attracts nearly 5,000 attendees and now includes an art show, marketplace and a costume-only "wake." (Last year's party included David J of goth godfathers Bauhaus.) Local hearse clubs even lead hearse processions to the park.
"It wasn't until the realization that I had a lot of people coming from outside California and the country that I started adding all of these events," Korda says. "It was word-of-mouth and MySpace."
He doesn't do it alone. Last month, on a fittingly chilly night, Korda, sporting a relaxed mohawk, gathered five volunteers (including his 63-year-old mother, Venida, a LAUSD teacher) at his Van Nuys apartment, which he shares with his wife, Melissa, and their young daughter. Their living room features all manner of Disney decorations and original artwork, including framed embroidery reading "Tomb Sweet Tomb," inspired by the Haunted Mansion.
"Decorations?" Korda jokingly balks. "It's a way of life! What are you talking about?"