Goths vamp it up in Drac-by-the-sea

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The Independent Online
It is a town historically accommodated to invasions, and yesterday it happened all over again, writes John Gilbert. More than 1,000 New Age Goths poured in to Whitby, on the North Yorkshire coast.

With their pale faces and black funereal garb, the melancholy members of the style sub-culture took over the fishing port which has seen Romans, Saxons and Vikings come and go. This weekend's influx came mainly from London and the Home Counties, but also from as far afield as Mexico.

They were drawn by Whitby's links with Bram Stoker, the Victorian civil servant and author of the Dracula, first published in 1897 and never since out of print. Partly set in Whitby, the story gave new life to the 17th-century vampire myth.

It is a seminal work for the new Goth, but Whitby anticipates no Dionysian excess - and certainly no attacks on local young women by men in black cloaks, although cloaks are one of the present-day Goth's hallmarks.

One, Dene Carter, 27, a video games creator from Guildford, said: "Although most of us have read Dracula, we're not into vampirism. Some of us are pagans, but basically we're just slightly anarchistic and into a melancholy, romantic view of the world. Dressing up is part of the sub-culture. We're devoted to the darkly elegant."

Yesterday the assembledhordes took over the town's main streets, the Spa Pavilion and a town centre pub called the Elsinore. Further midnight activities were planned in the grounds of the 13th-century ruined abbey and a neighbouring graveyard surrounding the cliff-top parish church.

Local churchgoers warned they would be standing by in the precincts of St Mary's - warily on guard after last year's Goth invasion left many gravestonessplattered with black candle wax.

But a spokeswoman at the Whitby tourist office didn't think there would be a problem. "These Goths," she said, "are really nice people."