If only I had access to my 14 year old self’s wardrobe, I wouldn’t have felt so much like a Morris Dancer in a mosh pit as I walked alone into the Liberty Bounds pub near Tower Hill last Saturday afternoon. These days I don’t own a lot of black, or anything that looks remotely Gothic. I settled on some purple jeans and a black silk shirt, thinking I could make up for it with heaps of black eyeliner and some of my recently procured Sci-Fi jewellery. Needless to say, it didn’t make up for it. I was surrounded by some of the most impressive costumes I had ever seen; full Edwardian suits, velvet cloaks, top-hats, fangs, canes, wigs, skulls, lace, corsets and leather masks from wall to wall.
This was probably the letter I was most apprehensive about; my research suggested that modern day Vampires remain partial to drinking each others blood, and that in order to enter into the community you are required to pass an HIV test and an interview with a group of ‘Vampire Elder’s’. Not so. It turns out that all I had to do was to buy a ticket to “WRECKED, The Gothic Boat Cruise” and I would have instant access to hundreds of them!
I quickly learnt that modern day vampires fall into two general categories; those who have a passion for vampire literature, film, folklore and fashion – who make up the vast majority; and those who genuinely believe they are vampires; that they are sensitive to sunlight, have ancient souls and a varying capacity for Vampire ‘Magick’, honed over countless lifetimes. Either they feed on the blood of willing victims or they feed on ‘psychic energy’ (Chi, Ka, or Prana).
“Energy Vampirism is on the up”, Christian – the vampire with the ironic name – informed me, “because it’s a lot safer than drinking blood”. He must’ve read my sceptical expression because he immediately retorted with his trump card; “I once saw a vampire put someone into a coma!”
The boat cruise up and down the Thames lasted for five hours and was over far too quickly. I was surrounded by so many fascinating people with varying levels of belief and commitment to the genre, I felt like a kid in a sweetshop. Despite their often-disturbing appearance, the vast majority of people were very welcoming and engaging, introducing me to their fellow vampires and plying me with rum.
I learnt all about the master fang makers of our generation, Father Sabastiaan being the most famous, closely followed by ‘Fangtasia’ and Robbie Drake. A decent set of fangs that are moulded to your own teeth can cost you anywhere from £75 to £500, the only downside being that you can’t eat with them in, “but you can do everything else” the young and mischievous Ali assures me with a wink.
After docking at 1am we ended up in a North London club, which will remain anonymous because it isn’t really known outside of the Goth community and I think it should stay that way. What a place. Boiler suits, gas masks, unisex toilets, horror movies screenings, lots of different rooms filled with smoke, heavy metal and latex. “Look around you” says Lee, my new ‘Steampunk’ friend, “pretty much all of these people didn’t fit in at school and most of them were probably bullied, this is a safe place where they can meet to express themselves and have fun in the company of like minded people”. I didn’t feel that safe.
I had a blast, that’s for sure, but one day and night in this world was nowhere near enough and my thirst for knowledge of all things Vampire rages on unquenched. My next task is to find some genuine bloodsuckers. I just hope they don’t find me first…