It’s a cold Friday night in early December at the stroke of midnight and after all these years I find myself again where it all began as a time machine brought me back to Albany in the ’80s. The first time I ever walked through the door of the Qe2 (Now The Fuzebox) was all the way back in 1988 when I had shoulder-length long hair, an old leather biker jacket, ripped jeans, and earrings in both ears. And now? I’ve returned to the place where my love for a certain kind of music; Goth music, still lives. Where dancing and going out for a night on the town still exists and where my crowd of old friends wear more black than Johnny Cash ever did when he was actually alive.

The club, The Fuze Box that sadly closed down to our disappointment over a year ago has recently been bought and resurrected – reopened by our old friend Trag (Tragedy) Yager. And he is bringing back what was lost and now helping to create and encourage what is new for both the younger crowd and the older crowd who still love going out dancing and listening to a music that has never died and that will never grow old. The night is appropriately called ” HEX” and is what I would call “A Legacy” to the club and revolves around the dark dance post punk style of goth music that has been played since the form began.

Trag (top right) and The Fuze Box team.
Photo by Leif Zurmuhlen

It’s one of the only places, few nights in this area where you can still come out and hear The Damned, Bauhaus, Ministry, Sisters of Mercy and the music of many other bands from the era and enjoy yourself. The DJs for the night’s entertainment are DJ Strange & Stygian (Lee & Rachel Martin) who, on this December evening are throwing a special event called ” Krampus” which is named after and celebrates a horned, anthropomorphic figure in Alpine folklore who, during the Christmas season, scares children who have misbehaved. Assisting Saint Nicholas, the pair visit children on the night of December 5th with Saint Nicholas rewarding the well-behaved children with gifts such as oranges, dried fruit, and chocolate, whilst the badly behaved ones only receive punishment from Krampus instead of just a lump of coal in their stocking. But all in good fun, Krampus has decided to throw a bash at The Fuze Box & HEX tonight and dance a lot instead.

Photo by Leif Zurmuhlen

I’ve known Lee and Rachel for many years and Lee has also previously DJ’d many other such events in the past. But why start up a new all-inclusive goth event now? Lee Martin’s answer was simple. “Everyone was unhappy about not really having an old school goth night. And I thought, “Well, I used to do this. Why not?” For a long time, there were always nights, at the QE2, The Power Company, and The Fuze Box where it was a very comfortable even “Home” for the odds and ends of society. A night that you knew would be cool, where you could dress up (or not) and where everyone was friendly, and there was little pretension. Ok, so there was some pretension, but you felt like people wanted you there and something like that is pretty powerful. Being welcome means being special. And on those nights we all were. And people will come from wherever they are to be a part of something like that where the music matters the most”

The history of the goth music scene in Albany goes well back near some forty years ago (Yes, 40 years) from the time Char Shortsleeve owned and ran the QE2 and still continues now. Just ask artist/sculptor & writer Jeff Brower who has been one of the long-standing members and part of the scene for almost an eternity and who created all of the incredible & amazing nightmarish figures that still hang from the ceiling in the club like the giant bat skeleton he made almost quarter of a century ago that now hangs directly above the bar. “As for history – when I am feeling immodest, I say that Char and I invented Goth. 🙂

Char Shortsleeve
Photo by Leif Zurmuhlen

But it was a thing in England even before us. Joe Lee, who ran and owned The 288, started Goth in Albany before there was any such thing. And of course, Char originally worked as Joe’s booking agent. Joe had a very macabre streak, and 288 was filled with funerary art and Addams family style stuff like a two-headed giant tortoise. I did a scary sculpture for Joe before the QE2. And in all honesty, when I think back on it, the first Goth DJ I can remember at QE2 was Lee himself. So how do I feel about Lee and Rachel starting a new Goth night? I think it’s great! I can’t imagine anyone better to carry on the tradition. But I think they face a challenge to keep it relevant to younger audiences. I don’t believe a Goth night has to be just nostalgia. The Goth scene has constantly evolved and absorbed other scenes – fetish, industrial, darkwave, emo, trance, EDM, and on and on. I also reject the notion that Goths are people who only want to listen to “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” every night for the rest of their lives. I want new Goth. I want there to be new Goth – music that embraces the macabre and the elegant but is also fresh and speaks to younger audiences and I have a feeling Lee is up to that challenge. Back when he was spinning at QE2, he was constantly giving us new stuff to listen and dance to.”

And in the opinion of Ian Herrick, another longtime friend to the scene for near to 32 years Ian states “If I admit Goth is a lifestyle, I lose my Goth card. That’s just how it works. It is supremely important for the goth scene to continue in Albany. So far Hex has done just that and I’m rather passionate about the event, sharing it out to as many people who will listen. I’m hoping to attract some more of the old crowd back and really hope to see some new blood as well. Having a younger, even college age crowd is vital to success. There’s a great cross section of ages and I hope they will be a part of it in the future as well.”

QE2, circa 1995
Photo by Leif Zurmuhlen

There’s a beautiful tapestry in the large Fuzebox window of our lost friend Jimmy who passed away just a few short years ago and the names of others written upon the walls inside who have now traveled on to the afterlife also. Like a shrine. A little before midnight people, friends from the past and a good number of new people come shuffling into the club. Moody is at the bar, smiles and starts taking drink orders. It’s very much like a reunion of souls. Something once lost and found again. Then the dance floor becomes crowded. Lee is upstairs in the DJ booth playing a song by the Psychedelic Furs.

“There’s an army on the dance floor
It’s a fashion with a gun, my love
In a room without a door
A kiss is not enough
Love My Way
It’s A New Road”

So let us begin.

There’s a saying that life is short and that while we are here we should enjoy the moments we have. It really doesn’t matter, will never matter what age you are or be yourself. And to HEX? Lee & Rachel Martin? Everyone both young or old are always welcome to come out and have a beautiful time. HEX Goth Night is about and for those who love the music & who still live for the music itself. Why? Because Goth Never Dies.

So put on your black clothing.
(Maybe even some mascara)
And come out to dance.

Photo Gallery by Leif Zurmuhlen

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