Tales from the Dark Side: Arizona’s Gothic Festival Debuts in Mesa
According to the Bauhaus’ iconic gothic anthem, “Bela Lugosi is dead.”
Yes, it’s true. The actor who gave a legendary portrayal of Dracula in the 1930s is long dead. Ruben Garcia Jr., however, is alive and ready to host Arizona’s first-ever Gothic Festival on Saturday, Feb. 5 at The Nile in Mesa.
This gloriously dark celebration kicks off at 5 p.m., and it’s a day that offers goth lovers plenty to do, from watching bands and DJs to browsing art and merch from numerous vendors.
The Arizona Goth Festival is organized by Garcia’s organization, The Arizona Goth Society. Lonely goths (ly) take note: this group allows you to meet and connect with goth peeps. Garcia created it in response to the pandemic.
“As far back as I can remember,” he says. Phoenix New Times, “I loved the black and the macabre. Even as a child, it was Disney movie villains – and their aesthetics – that appealed to me. In high school, I got into (the band) The Misfits and horror punk and became a laid back goth.
A penchant for bringing people together, along with the isolation caused by COVID-19, inspired him to invite people to come together online.
“It was October 2020, and I felt isolated and alone. I missed interacting with friends about our passions. Social media was overrun with negativity and despair. Facebook was my place to quench my social thirst, but there was so much talk about the virus and politics, so to change things up, I used the platform to create the group as a digital safe haven for people – it grew out of the need. “
Now, two years later, a live event is what Garcia considers a natural evolution.
Sellers will take over the Nile subsoil, according to Garcia. “They will be selling a variety of things – candles, taxidermy, soap, clothing and original artwork. Deadpale Art, Eternal Noir, Porcelain Wick, and Shadow Path Parlor are some of the businesses you’ll find underground.
Eternal Noir Jewelry – owned and operated by Michelle Sasonov, aka Mello Jello – is one of the vendors in attendance for the night. “I will be bringing my collection of unique sterling silver rings (sizes 4-14), handmade gothic necklaces, earrings, inverted cross rosaries and other items.”
Sasonov shares Garcia’s enthusiasm for this premiere. “I’m very excited because it’s the first ever gothic music festival – it’s always special. The DJ team involved is local, so they’re part of the community, and I’m proud of them. Selling alongside friends like Copper Crescent Botanicals and Echoes of Natura with their amazing products is another big part of this event. »
“The Nile is an excellent choice for the location,” she adds. “Downtown Mesa is becoming one of my favorite places to shop, enjoy the art, and partake in the local markets.”
Upstairs, it’s all about the music, according to Garcia. “We have local legends, The Limit Club, who mix psychobilly, punk rock and darkwave, as well as newcomers PyG, who do a dark-punk-metal-synth fusion.”
DJs will entertain between groups. “The main Nile room will change from a concert atmosphere to a dance hall, and we will have sets from a handful of local DJs – Apollynon, Mijito, Zander Buel and Hexmachine – they are the blood of local gothic dance scene.”
Garcia assures that the music will be diverse. “Whether you’re a fanatic of horror, psychobilly, like dark-punk-metal, like to dance to darkwave or you’re a pastel goth, we aim to have something for everyone to enjoy. .”
A presenting organization born in the midst of a global pandemic certainly has safety at heart.
“We want it to be as safe as possible. We need proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test to enter,” says Garcia. “Every participant is required to wear a mask covering both nose and mouth, and we have made it clear that anyone observed not following the rules will be asked to leave and will not receive a refund,” he adds. . QR codes for scanning tickets and disinfectant on each table are also part of the security plan.
If you want to donate money to a good cause, grab some raffle tickets that could win you prizes, including two tickets to see Ghost, Volbeat, and Twin Temple in March, gift cards, or items from select businesses local.
The Goth Festival raffle benefits The Trevor Project, a non-profit organization that has spent more than two decades focusing on suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQ+ youth.
Garcia’s main goal with this action-packed goth night is really to get some good vibes through all the attendees and attendees.
“I hope this event brings people together for a night of shared passions in uncertain times. With everything the company has had to deal with over the past two years, it has become easy to lose trust in each other. An event like this, a gathering of outcasts and misfits celebrating the things that bind us together is more important than ever.
Garcia puts her heart into this first annual event.
“I know it’s just a small local festival, but I hope people can take away the love, the fun and the feeling of being part of something bigger. Knowing that they belong to an incredible community of unique individuals, including themselves, and that no one is ever alone.”
The Arizona Gothic Festival. 5 p.m. Saturday, February 5. The Nile, 105 West Main Street, Mesa. Tickets are $20 to $25.