Yes, it's fun to roller-skate to disco/funk songs such as "Brick House" and "Got to Be Real," but what about when you're in the mood for Joy Division's "She's Lost Control" or Ministry's "Every Day is Halloween"? Whatever can you do when you feel like tugging on the patent-leather pants or your new corset and skating around the big oval?
The answer arrives at a rare event held several times a year at South City's Skatium, Postmortem Production's Death on Wheelz. This may be your only chance to have a few drinks and turn circles with the goths in the roller rink.
Crammed tight between the industrial strip along the riverfront and a community of modest homes with gravel driveways on South Broadway, the Skatium is normally closed during the witching hour. But the Death on Wheelz sessions last from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. and come with another bonus: they're BYOB.
At the third and most recent DoW, a Friday the 13th in September, everyone was playing dress-up. Amidst the de rigueur black clothing, you might have seen Judas Priest-style metal-studded belts and a butch collar or two. Those representin' by way of T-shirts advertised their fondness for Black Sabbath, the Dead Kennedys and the X-Men. One magnificently bald fellow circled the rink in a long black skirt as a blue-Mohawked youngster shot by. One girl wore one of those light-up rave necklaces with a blinking-skull pendant.
A woman showed off an iguana tattoo skittering across the top of a breast, and a man had freshly shaved his head to reveal cryptic tattoos on the sides of his skull. Most of the women (and a few of the men) wore gobs of makeup, and, strangely, it was impossible to breathe in the men's room for the clouds of Aqua-Net.
A local goth DJ played mood music by such acts as the Stone Roses, the Cure, David Bowie and Morrissey -- not exactly the same stuff you'd hear at Fetish Night at the Galaxy but a sort of "goth lite" that mixed well with skating. Under the spinning colored lights, the hard-driving and melancholy darkwave music scored a macabre fashion show on wheels.
Sponsor Postmortem Productions is actually goth power couple Sheryl "Rose Mortem" and Steven "Admortem" Archer. Rose designs stunningly morbid eveningwear that could stop a prom cold; her husband DJs. Together they've promoted darkwave CD-release parties, concerts, art and fashion shows and dance parties in Denver, Atlanta and their current stop, St. Louis.
"I think what everybody likes about Death on Wheelz is that it brings everybody together as a goth community and doesn't divide us up by age," says Rose. "It's very noncliquish; everybody's there on roller skates. It really gets beyond the stereotypes of the goth scene and just brings everybody together as an underground community." She adds, "It's late at night, it's smoky and it's loud."
Then, too, there's the possibility that this could evolve into something more: Anyone for goth Roller Derby?