Denizens of goth and industrial communities are preparing to descend upon Dallas this weekend. A seminal goth festival, Convergence, is being hosted here for the first time in its 23-year history.
The Convergence festival got its start on online forums in the early '90s, enabling members of the subculture to foster a wider sense of community. In 1995, two longtime members of these forums decided the interactions should be face-to-face and organized the first Convergence in Chicago. Since then, Convergence has been in a different city every year. Proposals are drafted and submitted to a festival committee, which selects finalists to be voted on by the public.
Arlington couple Ciaran Main and Bella Kurai spearheaded the campaign to get Convergence to come to Dallas. “When we saw the chance to bid on the festival, we thought, 'Hey, why not? Let’s try it and see what happens,'” Kurai says. "We’re in a good position right now. We both work and own our own business, so we felt like we could back this and make it work.”
Kurai and Main wanted Convergence to come here because they wanted to show others that Dallas is a hub for alternative culture. “We’re big supporters of the local goth community," Main says. "For years, we’ve tried to do whatever we can to support the scene."
Once a host city is named, a local committee is responsible for organizing the event. Main and Kurai are the primary financial backers and serve as co-chairs of the Dallas Convergence 23 Committee.
To help them, they enlisted local DJ and musician Joe Virus; DJ and model Missy Morgan; and promoter Lucy Roman, who chaired Convergence when it was in Austin four years ago.
This weekend's festivities will take place across five Deep Ellum venues: The Church, The Nines, Reno’s, Curtain Club and Panoptikon. Live music will be the main focus, with more than 40 bands and DJs on the lineup, representing a broad swath of goth and industrial music.
Joe Virus was primarily responsible for selecting the performers.
“I wanted to make sure we booked a diverse group of artist[s] so that all genres and subgenres in the scene are represented,” he says. “We have a lot of good bands and DJs coming. The scene here is Dallas has been strong for a long time, so it’s really cool for us to be the host city. I love that this event promotes unity amongst goths; I’m really excited. I get goosebumps thinking about this weekend.”
Missy Morgan has worked closely with Virus as a talent liaison. She believes the theme of togetherness is what makes this event special.
“The primary purpose of C23 is to unify and strengthen the local and national goth scene. This festival brings together talent from all over the world, representing a vast array of musical styles within the goth scene,” Morgan says. “Artists who perform everything from death rock to EBM [electronic body music], synth-pop and aggrotech will be there."
Opening-night festivities will take place at Panoptikon and begin with the Dallas Renegade Fashion Show, produced by Angela Ryan, along with Main and Kurai. A commencement party will follow.
Panoptikon is a fitting venue for opening night since DJ and promoter Lord Byron's Friday-night residency there has been a focal point of the Dallas industrial community for the last 11 years.
“Our amazing Panoptikon staff is excited to host the opening party Friday night,” Lord Byron says. “We have 10 DJs performing in two rooms, and we’re looking forward to an awesome dance party.”
Day two of Convergence activities will include the Vendors Bazaar & Art Show hosted by The Church from noon to 5 p.m. Once the bazaar ends, bands will begin playing at Curtain Club, and another round of performances will tip off at Reno’s at 7:30 p.m. The Nines will also host a DJ night similar to Panoptikon's, with several artists booked to perform hourlong sets on the rooftop and in the main room.
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Sunday, The Church will be the hub for the Convergence 23 finale. Both DJs and bands will perform in the main room and video bar from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Many organizers and participants echo the fellowship that's at the forefront of this event.
“You come to Convergence and spend three days with the same group of people. In the beginning, you don’t know most of them, but by the end you become really good friends,” Main says. “By the time Sunday comes, you don’t want to say goodbye to each other, but it makes you look forward to doing it all over again the next year in a new city.”
Convergence 23, Friday-Sunday, multiple locations across Deep Ellum, $64.95 for weekend badges, visit altgothic.com/c23dfw.