Category Archive for Nightcrawling
Goths on the beach. Even in bright sunlight, Yukiro and I maintain our vampire attitude!
Karisma Hotels invited us to spend a day at El Dorado Maroma, their boutique oceanfront resort. It turned out to be our favorite property. We loved relaxing on this private beach so much that we delayed our leave by several hours!
(My pentacle top is this exact one by Rat Baby, a dark / alt clothing brand.)
Located in the Riviera Maya, El Dorado Maroma is for adults only, and cultivates a laid-back feeling. The grounds are filled with tall palm trees, giving the impression that you’ve stumbled upon a beach paradise.
Yukiro and I had our own mega-suite, with sliding doors that opened into our private terrace, and a quiet swimming pool.
Shop for Gothic swimwear and dresses below:
Things got a little crazy when the staff delivered two “Coco Locos” — a tropical cocktail of coconut, banana, rum and magic.
To top it off, they decorated the coconut shell like a monkey’s face!
I’ve never had a better welcome drink than this one. At Karisma El Dorado resorts, all food and drink are inclusive — so you can order a dozen Coco Locos if you pleased.
Strike a pose, vogue.
El Dorado Maroma is the only property with thatch-roofed overwater bungalows (similar to the 5-star huts found in the Maldives and Bora Bora).
We had our very own palapa beach bed, so we didn’t have to worry about other guests taking our prime spot by the ocean.
A staff member came around and offered sunscreen and margaritas. Yes to both.
We got to preview El Dorado Maroma’s new overwater bungalows — perfect for a romantic honeymoon.
As you can see, the sand and waters were pristine. I was a happy girl, wading in the ocean.
(Closeup on the criss-cross straps of my Gothic swimsuit. Shop more styles with a click):
Meal time! Karisma Hotels are known as “gourmet inclusives” because they put great care into their restaurants.
We hit it off with our cheerful server, who insisted that we try his grandmother’s special coffee (dark, with a brush of cinnamon). He then brought us green and red chilaquiles, a layered tortilla dish known as a hangover cure.
This kitty-cat was pleased with the authentic Mexican dish. It was one of our favorite meals of the entire trip.
After, we walked down the long private beach. There’s nothing like listening to the sounds of the ocean, and looking out at the horizon…
… and making friends with pelicans.
El Dorado Maroma is a quiet and exclusive space. Perfect for those who want a true beach getaway.
The resort will soon be home to 58 new “palafitos”, or over the water suites. If you’re dreaming of visiting Tulum, it’s good timing for a stay at El Dorado Maroma, a beachfront resort, by Karisma.
Paulina said we would love Le Lotus Rouge bar — and once again, she was spot on. (Address: 35th Avenue & Calle 2, Playa del Carmen, Mexico)
The Red Lotus is run by a French lady, who decorated the rooms to reflect her love of the arts. From the moment we stepped in, we felt at home in this eccentric, fabulous and slightly creepy space.
Le Lotus Rouge is infamous for its karaoke nights. Anyone can choose a song from the computer, and belt it out on microphones.
I have to say… Yukiro and I tore down the house, with our rendition of the 1980s Styx hit, Mr Roboto!
Glowing with lanterns and secret spaces, the Red Lotus one magical spot.
Playa del Carmen and Cancun tend have touristy nightlife — which is why we were pleasantly surprised to find this artistic bar, frequented by locals. The cocktails and food are also wonderful here.
There are multiple theme rooms, each decorated with whimsy. This one has a tribal theme.
Disco dreams come true, when Yukiro is around.
Boudoir furniture and skeletons are found all throughout Le Lotus Rouge.
I hope these photos show you an unexpected side of Playa del Carmen, which is typically associated with tourists and spring breakers.
Gracias to Loco Gringo for the insider tour of Tulum. More photos to come, including a visit to a cemetery and Day of the Dead art gallery.
Until then, you can check out all my Mexico travel guides here. Have you been to Riviera Maya before?
Meow — time for an updated guide to Goth New York! NYC is known as Gotham City for a reason: there’s a wealth of alternative clubs, bars and fashion to be found here.
This year, I rang in New Year’s Eve in the Lower East Side. My friends and I taste-tested the new Lovecraft Bar, dedicated to the horror author and his Old Gods. We then danced to Industrial / Synth / EDM at Defcon, a weekly party at Pyramid Club.
Read on for our spooky reviews — and for more tips, check out my NYC Goth travel guides from over the years!
Yukiro and I were excited to visit the recently-opened Lovecraft Bar NYC. The theme restaurant / lounge honors H.P. Lovecraft and his dark, cosmic literary works.
(Address: 50 Ave B, Lower East Side, New York, NY)
The spacious bar has two floors, including a performance space in the basement. The decor pays homage to the Lovecraftian universe; all of the artwork and materials are elegantly curated. (I’m wearing this exact Disturbia top with the Lovecraft gate symbol on it. It also comes in this grey version.)
If you’ve read Lovecraft’s stories, such as his Necronomicon collection, you’ll recognize his occult symbols on this mural. Pyramids, tentacles and fear: our favorite combination!
Upstairs, there is a fully stocked bar. The tattooed bartender prepared the favorite drink of the Goths — absinthe — and lit it on fire.
The New York Lovecraft bar is haunted by his evil deities, particulary Cthulhu. Part octopus, man and dragon, he lies in wait at the bottom of this fish tank. “Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn!”
HP Lovecraft has a cult following, and my friends and I love his works. If you haven’t read his books before, I recommend starting with “Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales.”
The Lovecraft bar has an extensive food and drink menu. We had a hard time choosing from the craft cocktails, with delectable names like Tesla’s Blood, Mythos Margarita, Dagon’s Bite (named after the sea deity in one of his early tales).
The bartender also makes his own infused spirits, with unusual ingredients like carrots and chai. The pumpkin spice was tangy perfection.
At theme restaurants, the food is often an afterthought. Thankfully, this is not the case at Lovecraft NY.
The very first dish was possibly our favorite: a martini glass of watermelon, avocado and tuna ceviche.
In honor of the octopus god Cthulhu, we ordered this fresh salad with tentacles.
Lovecraft introduced this malevolent being in one of his most famous stories, 1928’s “The Call of Cthulhu” (found in the Necronomicon collection). The Elder God is hibernating in an underwater city, causing ripples of subconscious anxiety in our minds.
His worshippers chant: “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.” (“In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”)
Chef Shapan Karmaker brought us a wide selection of stand-out dishes, including crab cakes with homemade sauces, and other Western-fusion creations. The chef has cooked at restaurants of different genres for over a decade, and brings his expertise to the Lovecraftian menu.
The Lovecraft‘s dark interior design, drinks and cuisine are an impeccable tribute to the author. We encourage you to visit Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and dine in a space full of mystical wonder and terror.
(Photography by Joey Wong.)
In the same neighborhood, you’ll find one of the best alternative venues in the city. The Pyramid Club is a New York institution. It opened in 1979 and was a center of Goth, drag and LGBT gatherings in the 1980s.
I first went Goth clubbing at Pyramid while at university in NYC. Today, the dark dance parties are still going strong. (Address: 101 Avenue A #1, NYC)
Every Saturday, Defcon rages in the basement of the Pyramid. DJ Mike Stalagmike (above) and his crew serve up an epic playlist of electronic body music, Industrial, New Beat, synth, electro, dark disco. Instead of flipping through the usual “Goth club” favorites, the DJs go for more obscure tracks and let them play out.
As you know, I’ve been to a hell of a lot of Gothic parties worldwide (chronicled here). If you’re in it for the music — Defcon delivers. We couldn’t have picked a better place for our New Year’s Eve “final countdown.”
The dance floor is also a perfect balance of underground and welcoming. The DJs are friendly and came up to introduce themselves, and all the club-goers were spooky types (you won’t see tourists here). Eccentricity is welcomed, and yet everyone is respectful of your personal space.
Defcon goes down every Saturday at Pyramid Club. Kudos to the organizers for maintaining one of most authentic Goth parties in NYC (check out their Facebook for event announcements and more).
New York is also one of the best US cities to experience J-pop culture. My friends and I had dinner at Hanamizuki, an adorable Japanese cafe that recently hosted a Sailor Moon pop-up event.
(Address: 143 West 29th Street, between 6th and 7th Aves, New York, NY)
Jenny delighted me with this creepy-cute portrait of me and Basil Farrow! (Also pictured are illustrations of my cat by Lili Chin and Naomi Rubin).
Jenny’s shirt and choker were to die for. (More eerie fashion below):
Hanamizuki’s mission is to serve simple yet scrumptious Japanese favorites, made with the healthiest ingredients. New Yorkers can live a stressful lifestyle, and the cafe aims to be a Zen-like environment where they can chill out and feel good.
The airy Midtown location is filled with plants and natural materials. On the wood shelves, I browsed organic teas and cute gifts.
Hanamizuki’s signature dish is onigiri, or rice balls. Here, these snacks are anything but basic.
The cafe serves dozens of varieties, including vegetarian options stuffed with ingredients like seaweed, yukari (dried red shiso leaf) and several types of pickles. I also couldn’t resist getting seconds of the unagi (eel) and ume (plum) o-musubi.
We tried several varieties of miso soup, made with fresh and clean ingredients. Hanamizuki isn’t afraid to innovate with fusion rice balls, such as Hawaiian teriyaki-spam, semi dried tomato and chili wrapped in nori-seaweed.
A photo is worth a thousand words — you can tell guess how much we loved this octopus and veggies bowl.
Simple flavors, with offbeat execution. Everything we tried tasted like it was made with love.
Happiness is a round of desserts to share. Organic cookies, chiffon cake and mousses made us smile.
With it cool design and homestyle menu, Hanamizuki is a New York gem. I had the loveliest dinner here with friends, and we couldn’t resist getting more rice balls to take home with us.
Yukiro and I hope your 2016 is going devilishly so far! We’re thankful we got to reunite with friends in one of the world’s greatest cities.
If you’re planning a trip to New York, I hope you find my NYC alternative travel guides helpful. These include tips for where to buy clothing (St Marks, vintage), eat, party and sleep.
Are you a Lovecraft fan? Have you heard of Pyramid Club, or the Sailor Moon theme cafe that Hanamizuki hosted?
Cambodia was one of the most inspiring countries I’ve visited.
I’ve long been fascinated by Angkor Wat — and the mysterious temple more than lived up to my expectations.
However, there’s more to see in Siem Reap than just the archaeological ruins. I’ll give you a glimpse of the nightlife of Pub Street, where you’ll find bars like “Angkor What?” (Couldn’t resist taking this photo!)
You also must stop by my favorite craft cocktail bar, innovative restaurant and Phare, the Cambodian circus… read on to find out why!
I’m not a morning person, but it’s worth it to wake up at 5am to see the sunrise over the reflective pool at Angkor Wat. (I’ll show you more photos in an upcoming post.)
After the sun rises, many tourists go on to explore the main buildings of Angkor Wat. However, to avoid the crush, I recommend seeing other temples in the morning and early afternoon — and coming back later, when it’s less busy.
Angkor Wat’s lighting conditions are also better in the afternoon. You can capture dramatic light and shadow-play such as above (in this long hallway that feels like an infinite portal).
We loved incorporating the ancient architecture of Angkor Wat into our photography. This image is by Ken Yuen, who didn’t realize until too late that Sniper Chau was in the frame!
Angkor Wat is one of the world’s most mysterious archaeological sites. There were rumors of a great Khmer stone city, but the West was unaware of its existence until the late 19th century.
Shop more nu-Goth fashion below:
Can you imagine how French explorer Henri Mouhot must have felt in 1860, when he stumbled upon this view? There are over a thousand temples here, filled with images from Hindu mythology and Cambodian legends.
The unusual architecture made my imagination run wild. I imagined that this thin, rectangular door was a portal into an alien universe.
Inside the central sanctuary, we saw a monk offering blessings to visitors.
The 12th century temple design reflects Hindu conceptions of the universe. We were glad to have our guide (provided by Le Meridien Hotel) with us, to answer questions about this fascinating place.
Visitors are free to climb and explore most of the temples. I went up this stepped terrace in the main Angkor Wat hall.
We walked down the long covered galleries, which were decorated with exquisite bas-reliefs. Most of these carvings depict the Hindu epic tales, Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Our guide also pointed out depictions of hell tortures, elephant warriors, martial artists, and much more.
An outside view of one of the long galleries, which surrounds the central sanctuary. My pose was inspired by the carvings of apsaras (celestial dancers).
Of course, there is much more to see at Angkor Wat. We wished we had more time to see the outer-lying temples, such as Banteay Srei (dedicated to the god Shiva).
On the way to an elephant gate topped by a Buddha, we saw this row of Buddha and demon statues. Some had been restored, hence the different conditions of the faces.
In the previous post, I showed you the famous “tree roots Tomb Raider” temple, Ta Prohm.
We also stopped by Bayon, the richly decorated structure that is famous for its serene, smiling rock faces.
These depict the Buddha, or King Jayavarman VII — or perhaps both.
Similar to the temples in Bali, there is a lot of flow between Buddhism and Hinduism. Angkor Wat was originally dedicated to Hindu god Vishnu, but later became a Buddhist holy ground.
An ancient civilization, hiding in the jungle… Angkor Wat truly captured my imagination.
A closeup of my Disturbia UK long sleeve shirt with mesh cut outs. The symbol is the Necronomicon gate symbol, from the Lovecraft mythology.
There’s more to see in Siem Reap, Cambodia than the legendary temple. At night, the city center comes alive with night markets, street food and bars.
We crossed this bridge, lit up with X-lights, and John found a stuffed crocodile to take home.
Pub Street is the center of the nightlife (including the Angkor What? pub that you saw above). It’s a cacophony of tuk tuks, partiers and bars, many of which are geared towards foreigners.
So many bars, so little time…
Pub Street was fun to walk through, but these tourist-oriented bars and shops aren’t our type of scene.
Fortunately, we found a place where we felt we belonged: Miss Wong. This retro Shanghai-themed bar is located a little off the main roads, tucked away from the crowds. Look for these glowing red lanterns at the entrance.
(Address: The-Lane, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia)
Inside, the decor is ravishing: elegant red walls and vintage Chinese art. Dean (the owner who is originally from New Zealand) gave us the warmest welcome. We could sense that he runs Miss Wong with passion, always taking the time to make his visitors feel at home.
Miss Wong is known as the best cocktail bar in Siem Reap. It deserves this accolade: the rose petal and mocha martinis were as amazing as they sound, and look.
We were impressed by how Miss Wong infuses spirits with Asian flavors. The Lemongrass Collins, made from vodka heated with fresh lemongrass, was one of the best drinks I’ve had all year. We were also wowed by the black pepper infused vodka, delightful on its own or as a Bloody Mary.
Miss Wong also serves Chinese dim sum bites, and has a top selection of liqueurs from around the world.
If you’re all about handcrafted cocktails and a classic, relaxing atmosphere, Miss Wong Siem Reap is a gem. You can’t miss out on this bar; tell Dean that we sent you, when you visit!
We had a wonderful set-menu dinner at Cuisine Wat Damnak, a restaurant that merges Cambodian flavors with French culinary techniques. It is on my cousin’s list of top 50 restaurants in Asia (we are trying to go to each one).
(Address: Wat Damnak village, Sala Kamreuk Commune, Siem Reap 17000)
The open kitchen and lush dining area set the mood for this special meal. Chef Joannès Rivière changes his six-course menu every week, focusing on seasonal ingredients sourced from local farms and foragers.
The unusual ingredients and creative preparations — like frog legs with Cambodian spices — were magnificent. The chef does an outstanding job of balancing modern and traditional, French and Khmer.
Six sophisticated plates for under $30 US — only in Cambodia! Be sure to make a reservation in advance for Cuisine Wat Damnak, since this restaurant is often booked up.
Finally, you can’t leave Siem Reap without seeing the Phare, the Cambodian Circus. Inside a big top, we saw young Cambodian performers tumble, leap, juggle, balance, dance and clown — while wearing the biggest smiles on their faces.
The show drew upon Cambodian folk storytelling, and pushed it forward with avantgarde antics and sky-high acrobatics. We watched these young performers tell a narrative that took us from primordial times to colonial conquest and beyond.
Phare is more than just entertainment: it has the social mission of educating Cambodian youth (through their NGO school), helping them find employment, and furthering the Cambodian arts.
The crowd could sense the passion and determination of the young artists, who all overcame difficult socio-economic backgrounds.
Phare, the Cambodian Circus has performances daily; you can find out more on their site. We loved watching these young talents, especially knowing that it was in support of Phare’s meaningful programs.
Cheers to Cambodia! From Angkor Wat to the bars, restaurants and circus, I had a blast here.
I leave you with a sunset shot. Cambodians are known as some of the friendliest people, and I’d have to agree. (Photography by Sniper Chau and Ken Yuen)
Are you as fascinated by the “Tomb Raider” temples as I am? Coming up soon — I’ll unveil the photoshoot we did amidst the archaeological ruins!
I’m pleased you enjoyed my first report from Whitby Goth Weekend 2015! It was my first time at this massive British alt music and culture festival, and the entire town was filled with dark inspiration.
Let’s continue this WGW series with style snaps of attendees, a browse through the fashion bazaars…
(Find Goth corsets, boots and more below)
… and a review of the Goth and Glam musical performances.
Whitby is a seaside town in Yorkshire (northern England). At first, this seems to be a bizarre location for a Goth music and culture festival.
However, when you witness the dramatic skies, crashing waves and Dracula abbey on the horizon, it all makes sense.
Photographer Joey Wong spotted this appropriately black cat, giving us the evil eye.
We were glad to have a quaint, comfortable place to relax between the various Goth concerts and activities.
Staying with Sykes Cottages meant we got to experience “country living,” yet stay within walking distance to the center of Whitby. And we weren’t at all “roughing it” — the cottage rental had several bathrooms and a fully stocked modern kitchen.
I recommending finding accommodations through their site, if you’re coming to Whitby Goth Weekend. If only my ghost could linger here longer!
We spent most of our time at the Spa Pavilion, where the live music takes place. The Spa also has a cafeteria and multiple halls filled with vendors.
As I noted before, you’ll have to climb a steep flight of stairs to reach the Spa, so wear appropriate footwear…
The Spa is also the best place to people-watch. We were stunned by this gentleman’s DIY steampunk suit. Those clockwork gears and details!
He even rigged the outfit so that at the press of a button, steam emanated from the top of his headpiece.
We saw an enormous variety of fashion at WGW — carnival, cyber, Goth, deathrock, Victorian, pin-up.
Many attendees wore elaborate clothing that they made themselves, out of materials like feathers.
We recommend getting passes in advance via the Whitby Goth Weekend website, since early birds get discounts. The next event is in October, so you can plan ahead.
The organizers graciously gave us press passes. All of the staff was knowledgeable and well-prepared, and happy to answer questions.
Bring British pounds with you, as there are at least three different locations for vendor markets. These independent sellers set up booth, and sell one-of-a-kind alternative accessories, sweets, clothing, you name it.
This is what the scene looked like, in just one of the halls… As you can imagine, it gets overwhelming! I suggest briskly looking through everything first, and then coming back to narrow down what you want to purchase.
Steampunk is one of the most popular aesthetics at Whitby Goth Weekend. You can complete your outfit with a top hat or brass pocket-watch.
I’m loving this Goth wedding cake, which looks like a weathered book.
It was Whitby Goth Weekend’s 21st anniversary, so they prepared a chocolate skull cake! There were also bat lollies and absinthe chocolates for sale.
The bazaar had lots of spooky-cute designs, like these coffin earrings and Victorian cameo necklaces.
(Below are some Steampunk items for sale.)
I gave the giant stuffed bat a squeeze. There are gifts for all ages, from kawaii-Goth pillows to toddler t-shirts.
Now, let’s take a closer look at people’s personal style at the festival. There was no set dress code — you’ll come across all ages, all aesthetics.
The only overall link was “dark creativity,” as exemplified in this apocalyptic gasmask and steampunk explorer.
My friend Nyx wears Dracula Clothing — love her vampiric collar and collection of silver rings.
We saw a fair number of baby-Goths and children at the event. This one loved posing for photos, and rocked her pink cyber locks.
Very cool to see how Goths from the 80s and 90s now have families, who all take part in the lifestyle.
The Spa also holds the “Bring and Buy,” where you can sell and purchase used clothing at discount prices.
Be sure to arrive early, since all the vending bazaars close around 5pm. After, only wristband-wearers (who bought passes) are allowed into the venue to watch the concerts.
Joey and I got to see the bands from the photography area, just inches from the performers. We began the evening with The Last Dance, a Goth rock band that has been releasing consistently strong albums since they formed in California in 1990.
Vocalist Jeff Diehm sang a few songs with female guest Velvet Shadow. The band’s category-defying dark synth sound, coupled with a joyous stage presence, made for one of the most enjoyable performances of WGW.
The Last Dance ended with a raucous cover of “Dead Man’s Banter.” You couldn’t help but smile when Jeff and guest Ed Banshee linked arms and swayed together on stage.
Whitby Goth Weekend’s concert hall has impressive acoustics. The space has an intimate feeling, perhaps since everyone in the audience traveled a long way to come to this festival.
For every band, there were fans leaning over the railing, singing along to every song.
Next, it was glitter-punk decadence with Sigue Sigue Sputnik! Mohawks, sequined tops, horse tails, and codpieces took over the stage, and we knew we were in for a wild ride.
The band tore through glam rock numbers from the 1980s to the recent “Electronic” incarnation. The outfits and shenanigans took center stage, but each members had the musical chops to back up this visual candy.
Martin Degville looked like a dystopian punk, with his fishnet mask and salacious gestures. Near the end of the set, he launched into a cover of David Bowie’s “Jean Genie,” to the delight of the crowd.
Last but not least, we have Bella Morte. Joey’s image captures the pure, visceral energy from frontman Andy Deane. He leapt all over the stage — sometimes veering dangerously close to the equipment and ledge — and kept everyone in rapt attention.
The group’s name means “beautiful death,” and it fits their music: sometimes hard and dark, but always beautiful. Bella Morte’s latest album, “Exorcisms,” encapsulates the feeling of watching them raw and live on stage.
After the last set, the Spa turned into the ultimate Goth party! The DJs’ playlist veered towards old school Gothic, New Wave and post-punk tracks, which I personally love to hear.
The dancefloor looked like a coven of witches, swaying in their long black gowns.
See these bands and dancers in action, in the video above and on VideofyMe.
I leave you with the ominous Whitby Abbey… Later, I’ll show you an editorial magazine cover photoshoot that we did right against the church ruins.
Isn’t it wonderful to see dark, alternative bands and fashion thriving, at Whitby Goth Weekend? Perhaps you’ll make the trip out for the next WGW during Halloween 2015!