The Dark Unity festival makes its debut in Dayton at Club Aquarius
By Gary Spencer
Gothic and industrial music culture has been a much maligned and misunderstood one in the history of contemporary music. In more instances than not, goth/industrial culture and lifestyle has been relegated to the fringes or pushed so far underground that most people don’t even know it exists – especially if you’re not living in the big city where supposed “freak” culture is taken for granted as par for the course. Dayton, surprisingly, has a well documented history of association with goth and industrial music through the lengthy run of well attended goth/industrial nights at 1470 West that were populated by people from all walks of life at both its Kettering and downtown Dayton locations. That is, until the club closed down for good in the mid-2000s. Since then, the Dayton goth/industrial scene virtually vanished for a short while, but in the last couple of years things have been slowly turning around for the Gem City goth community thanks to the weekly Friday night goth/industrial dance party Syn at Club Vex that later splintered into a competing goth night, Repent at Club Aquarius. While the goth/industrial community now appears to be somewhat divided among these two weekly parties, the Dark Unity festival this coming Friday seeks to, well, unite the gothic tribes at least for one night, not just in Dayton but across the entire Midwestern part of the country.
The Dark Unity festival is the brainchild of Indianapolis-based promoter Gretchen Banning. She is best known as DJ Copper Top who has traveled the world performing as a DJ from Dayton Ohio to touring Europe with her rock ‘em, sock ‘em, high energy style of EBM and industrial dance set lists. She has also staged live music events, art and fashion shows along with her DJ sets for right around 20 years now, and she is getting set to present the fifth edition of her now yearly Midwest-based goth/industrial mega party. According to Banning, the reasoning behind doing a Midwest-centric goth/industrial event of its magnitude was due to some of the negative aspects and politics that all too often clutter underground music communities.
“I feel like the biggest setback to dark music and art culture is the petty fighting and drama,” Gretchen elaborates. “The best ‘scenes’ are the ones where the community is led by a united group who are ‘in it’ for the love of the culture rather than individual attention or glory. When people feel united for a certain culture or cause, they are generally happier and have a greater sense of fulfillment from such activity. Dark Unity was conceived to celebrate that attitude in (our) culture.”
The Dark Unity event has certainly grown since its modest beginnings, stemming from the first Dark Unity that was held in Indianapolis in 2008. While the first event attracted about 100 goth/industrial revelers, since then Dark Unity has been growing in popularity, attracting a few hundred party people at subsequent events that have taken place in both Cincinnati and Columbus. But this year for the first time since its inception, Dark Unity will be taking place right here in Dayton, hosted by the Repent goth night that takes place in its own right every Friday night at Club Aquarius and will feature national touring live goth/industrial music by Aesthetic Perfection, Blackopz and X-RX. According to Banning, the timing of the live bands’ tour with the now annual Dark Unity festival and having a central location of Dayton for it all seemed like a perfect fit.
“This years’ Dark Unity event is being held in Dayton because it is really the center of a pretty big multi-million population consisting of Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Louisville,” Gretchen reasons. “We (also) had the opportunity to bring in this tour at the same time. The tour is not playing any of these other cities. I approached (DJ) Matt Freeman and the crew at Repent to see if they wanted to host the event and tour. Having this party at a regular weekly goth/industrial night like Repent helps give more to the regular patrons and helps to spread the word as well. We expect many people from the whole (Midwestern) region.”
So what exactly will be going at this year’s Dark Unity festival? Alongside the touring acts one can expect lots of EBM, goth and industrial dance music courtesy of a DJ crew from all over the Midwestern region that will be taking over both floors of the club playing a mix of gothic, industrial and EBM plus go-go dancers, food, vendors and a silent art and music auction. In other words, it seems like there’s something for everyone at this party. And while such an event may come off as primarily designed for the goth/industrial diehards from all over the Midwest, Banning says that anybody and everybody with an open mind should check out Dark Unity in its first appearance in the Gem City.
“Everybody is invited – if you’ve ever wanted to see what the gothic/industrial scene is all about this IS the event to do it at,” Gretchen declares. “I can’t imagine people not having fun at a party like D.U. even if it’s not what they normally get into. This is going to be a HUGE party and we hope to see people from as many as five states. (And) it’s on July 4th weekend – the perfect time for an event like this.”
The Dark Unity festival will be held this coming Friday, July 6 at Club Aquarius, 135 East 2nd Street in downtown Dayton. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. For more information, visit (937) 223-4388.
Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at Gary Spencer@DaytonCityPaper.com.