The shirt on the patron seated with friends at the table read, “Old goths do not dye we just fade to grey”. The group was one of a few huddled around tables catching up at Noir, a dance party specializing in goth, synth pop, post punk and industrial music. A late December edition of the event took place at midtowns B. Bar and the theme was paying tribute to a stalwart of dark electronic music, New Order.
I arrived at the event at its 9PM start time and the dj, Cemetery Gates, was playing eighties synth pop hits and new wave deep cuts to one lone dancer as another patron put candy and chips on tables. Soon after, small waves of college aged persons entered the venue and filled the dance floor singing along to songs from The Human League, the B-52’s and of course New Order.
Two weeks later a frigid Saturday night in January found another Noir event taking place at The Verdict in downtown Omaha. This one was aptly titled Desolate Winter and featured Cemetery Gates and DJ Sado_Naut. The event at The Verdict featured industrial music and deeper cuts of goth, synth and post punk, which is the more standard playlist for these events.
The large lighting rig remained wisely unused for this type of dance party and a screen behind the DJ’s showed old school goths partying in the longform video The Height Of Goth: 1984 Xclusiv NightClub: Batley, West Yorkshire UK.
The bar was a mix of well-dressed theater patrons looking for a drink after attending a performance of Six The Musical at The Orpheum and Noir devotees in elegant goth wear, leather, plastic and Nine Inch Nails and KMFDM t-shirts. The bar is set up so the theatre goers could discuss the performance at the back and Noir attendees could dance and sing along loudly to “Sex On Wheels” from My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult. Neither seemed to mind each other.
In 2012, Noir Omaha started as and remains a Facebook group that serves as a hub for those interested in Omaha’s dark nightlife. In 2015 Cemetery Gates took things offline. Jeff Gates is his name when not performing and we met up for coffee to talk about Noir. He explained the origin of the parties.
“The Facebook page started in 2012 and was put together by a few other gentlemen who are still behind the scenes, but not involved as much. They started the page, and it was more of a hub to find out what is going on in the goth community. There wasn’t a lot of activity at that time. I came on board as a DJ probably about 2015 with another guy and we started doing shows at House Of Loom. We had many very successful nights there.”
In 2018 Gates moved to Kansas City, MO and Noir was down to one DJ and House of Loom closed. The other DJ tried to keep the night going at Lookout Lounge, but stopped when Covid shut venues down.
“That was when I moved back to Omaha and started building back what we had,” Gates said. “During that time, I think we had 1000 Facebook followers that we picked up. It goes back to Jeremy Eckhart, he started out doing a cyber goth night back in the early 2000’s at Club Roxbury. That was my first experience when I moved here. I brought him in with Noir when I lost a DJ as he has a great following.”
The dance party spent some time residing at the now defunct Berkely venue and now they seem to be settling into The Verdict with pop up’s happening at other venues who would like to host events.
“We are trying to find a perfect venue where people can also have conversations without having to scream. A lot of our dance nights we have had, it is loud and some of our community want to talk and mingle,” Gates said, “I feel like The Verdict is more so that way as they have that area where you can talk without it being too loud and so it is the best of both worlds.”
I asked Gates what he hopes to see in the crowd when he is playing music. He said, “I like to see old faces, but when I see a young college kid come up to me and ask for Human League it’s like ‘woah’-you are connected more than I thought. It helps me read the crowd a little bit better. I have learned that you can’t judge a book by its cover. We are in a day and age when the goth look doesn’t necessarily mean that they listen to whatever goth music might be defined to you. And I don’t like that goth label, I think it is more of a scene and culture of people coming together. You can look at them and think you know, but you don’t know.”
Cemetery Gates sets include more of the classic synth pop and post punk sound from artists of the past, but also newer artists such as Boy Harsher. He alternates sets with DJ Sado_Naut whose specialty is industrial music. Gates talks about the difference in styles,
“A lot of industrial fans are not so much into synth pop and new wave, especially the older stuff so it’s a real challenge for us. What makes it fun for us is trying to bring all those genre’s together on a night. They can trust that within 15 minutes it is going to abruptly go in another direction, and it can be harsh EDM or whatever. I think it all stems from the same tree. It is all dark electronic/dark wave. It is amazing at how you can easily mix a band like Erasure with Front 242. It just comes together really well, and you realize that while you are DJ’ing.”
To keep up with Noir events and other goings on in the Omaha dark nightlife join Noir Omaha’s Facebook group or follow them on Instagram. The next event will happen on February 11th at The Verdict and is a Valentines event called Evol Love.