Passover is very goth: plenty of high drama and gnashing of teeth, plagues, suffering and blood. The Egyptians play "Master and Servant" with the Hebrews, and Pharaoh's daughter wears lots of eye makeup and ankh necklaces.
Pittsburgh's goth scene experienced an Exodus of its own when it was driven forth from its Oakland temple, the now-defunct Upstage, where worshippers of dark music had been approaching the altar of the DJ booth for nigh on 10 years in the weekly Saturday ritual called Ceremony. But their wilderness sojourn was averted when Downtown gay bar Pegasus offered them a night. The catch? It was Wednesdays, and the ebon-clad congregation dropped from an average of 150 celebrants to less than 50 most nights.
"It was a universal feeling that a weekend was preferred," says Tara Tempalski, who handles publicity for Ceremony and its DJ collective, the Night Shift. "We had told Pegasus that our night had been on Saturdays for a long time, and that we intended to eventually obtain a Saturday night somewhere."
Like Moses advocating for the slaves, Pegasus manager Scott Noxxon came to the rescue, offering a switch to Saturdays, beginning April 7. It certainly didn't hurt that he'd witnessed 300 excited youths at Crüxshadows' recent Pegasus concert. "We can handle smaller shows and keep the Ceremony DJs working, bringing things from outside the city that people wouldn't normally see," Noxxon says. "It can be just as good as the Upstage was, if not even better."
To that end, Noxxon has replaced a 30-year-old lighting system, upgraded the DJ booth and sound system, and updated the dance floor. He's also trying not to compete with himself: He already has a successful Saturday gay night at his other bar, The Eagle.
"I want to make Pegasus more of a metrosexual venue," Noxxon says. "I mean, I give more than any other bar to the gay community, but that's just a small segment of total business that can widen. And it looks like about 30 percent of the goth community is gay. There's no discrimination down here, you can just be yourself."
"[The Crüxshadows show] helped show the owner that there was enough potential for a more successful night," adds Tempalski. "The scene is far less underground than it was originally -- it's a strange amalgam of genres that includes Hot Topic rockers, and more accessible stuff that overlaps with mainstream radio. We're still scratching our heads, trying to figure out what the kids want. So hopefully moving to a weekend will give us better insight."
And bring the gathering of gothic tribes that much closer to their Promised Land.