Guangzhou subway picks fight with Chinese goth, because ‘horrifying’ - SupChina

Guangzhou subway picks fight with Chinese goth, because ‘horrifying’

A dark time for China's goths.

As a subculture that’s established itself as kind of a permanent outlier, goth is inherently at odds with the Chinese mainstream culture of constantly “blending in.” Long in the dark side of the public consciousness, China’s goth community (if there is one) recently found itself at the center of attention after a woman in full gothic attire was barred from taking the subway in Guangzhou because of her “horrifying” look.

According to the disgruntled goth (in Chinese), the incident happened on March 10 at a subway station in Guangzhou. When going through a security check, the woman was stopped by a subway staff member who asked her to remove her makeup because it was “problematic and horrifying.” The woman claimed that she didn’t possess any banned items and the rejection of entry was simply because of her look. Baffled and infuriated, she took to Weibo to complain about the unhappy encounter.

“As a Chinese citizen, I’m hoping to use this relatively public platform to challenge the authorities: What laws grant you the right to stop me and waste my time?” she wrote. “If you are able to cite one, I am willing to pay for a banner to hang at the subway station, which reads, ‘People wearing gothic lolita clothing are not allowed to ride subway.’”

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The woman also included two photos of the makeup she wore on that day in the post. Featuring dramatic eyeshadow and lips in dark berry shade, the makeup is clearly goth-inspired, but it’s far from what the subway employee described as “horrifying.”



The post quickly gained traction online (in Chinese) with Weibo users hotly debating whether Guangzhou subway had any grounds to deny the woman’s entry because of her gothic aesthetic. Those who stand on the woman’s side argued that subway passengers are entitled to dress however they like as long as they don’t harm or threaten others, and that what the Guangzhou subway did to the woman exemplified abuse of power. Meanwhile, commenters who disapproved of the woman’s style claimed that goth and its dark nature are too provocative for children and old people.

In response, the official Weibo account of Guangzhou subway delivered a half-hearted apology to the woman, saying that they were “sorry for the inconvenience” and had alerted relevant departments to the issue. But as the woman and many internet users pointed out, this is not the first time Guangzhou subway has picked fights with goths. In November 2018, a woman dressed in goth clothing was confronted (in Chinese) by a security guard when entering another subway station, where she was lambasted for wearing an “outlandish costume.”

Jiayun Feng

Jiayun was born in Shanghai, where she spent her first 20 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fudan University. Interested in writing for a global audience, she attended the NYU Graduate School of Journalism for its Global & Joint Program Studies, which allowed her to pursue a journalism career along with her interest in international relations. She has previously interned for Sixth Tone and Shanghai Daily.


  1. Alan Merrill Reply

    I have spent a week in Guangzhou and a total of ten weeks in China and I never seen one gothic dressed woman or man.

  2. Christopher Evans Reply

    It doesn’t matter how often one sees a person dressed in goth, punk, or whatever subculture it may happen to be. This is yet another reason to have nothing to do with that culture. They carry themselves as if they are still in the dynasties of B.C. times bu they are just dystopian trash now. If I ever have to be there I hope I end up getting in a fight with a cop over what I’m typing here.

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