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The Art of Sigil Witchery
Sigils are magical symbols that are designed to influence ourselves and the world around us. Explore a fresh, innovative and intuitive approach to crafting your own designs with the author of the COVR gold award-winning book “Sigil Witchery.” Tracing through history, art, and culture, we’ll look at the basic elements that make up all symbols, consider meanings, and see how to safely and respectfully incorporate them into your own personal practice. Bring a writing implement and notebook.
Speaker: Laura Tempest Zakroff


Consent and Goth Culture: A Roundtable Discussion
How does the goth subculture compare to the mainstream in terms of addressing consent and dismantling rape culture? How do these topics apply specifically to our scene, and how can we make the scene safer for everyone? Con-goers are invited to join in this moderated discussion.
Moderators: Sydney Clifford; Julia O’Connell; Jade Luna


Dancing Darkly: THE Introduction to the Art of Gothic Bellydance
Gothic Belly Dance is the union of Middle Eastern Dance with the aesthetic, sound, and emotion of the Gothic subculture. More than just a look or a sojourn into alternative music, discover the theatrical elegance and drama that truly gives “Raks Gothique” its soul essence, from Tempest–creator of the Gothic Belly Dance Resource ( We’ll discuss and illustrate the concepts that create the necessary foundation for this dance, and focus on key technical elements for performance, including movement, attitude, aesthetic, and presentation. No experience needed.
Presented by Laura Tempest Zakroff


Dark Side Awakens – Morning Yoga (Hangover Relief)
You made it to the last day of the con! Start it off right with some conscious breathing & stretches. After the session you’ll feel rejuvenated, clear headed and ready to rage the day away. Dress to stretch and impress.
Presented by: Valerie Abbey of Abbey Death


“Fun” & Games Podcast Presents: Representations of Goth Culture in Video Games
The hosts of the “Fun” and Games Podcast will provide an in-depth chat about the variety of ways goth culture has been presented in video games with both excellent and terrible results.
Speakers: Stormageddon and Geoff Moonen


Ghouls, Grave Robbers, and Resurrection Men
In the nineteenth century, the study of medicine was growing at a rapid pace. But, doctors couldn’t learn from text alone, they needed hands on experience, they needed raw materials, they needed corpses. Enter the body snatchers or “Resurrection Men” as they were often called, if you needed a body, they could get you one as long as you had the money and promised not to ask too many questions where it came from. This presentation, hosted by Dr. J.R. Whitcomb and Gypsy of Karnevil, will educate you on the ins and outs of this ghoulish profession.
Speakers: Karnevil


Goth Fashion and Feminism: Controlling the Gaze through Dark Narrative
Kathleen Landy, founder of the Feminist Institute and Miss E, self-proclaimed Satan’s Seamstress, come together to bring you a focused discussion on the furtherance of sex-positive Goth fashion and the evolution of its presentation based on herstorical boundary-crushing innovations and depictions that have given voice to female designers, artists, musicians and social pioneers to shape today’s understanding of what it is to present the Goth aesthetic. With Kathy’s intimate knowledge of where we’ve come from and Miss E’s unconventional views on where we have yet to go, participants will gain unique perspective and insights into Goth apparel and attributes that will empower you to “Be Bold, Be Badass and Be Unapologetic” with your own one-of-a-kind take on what it means to authentically live the Goth lifestyle based on your own ideas rather than what the already limited media tells you to do. Don’t miss it!
Speakers: Kathleen Landy and Miss E


Identifying the Gothic in Literature and Film
When talking about literature and film, the term Gothic may conjure a vague image in your mind: dark stormy nights; creaky old houses; monsters lurking in the shadows; women in nightgowns fleeing into the night. But what exactly is the Gothic and how do you know if you’re reading, watching, or even writing an example of it? Julia O’Connell, the Gothic Librarian, will walk you through how to identify the Gothic in literature and film and go over some of its most common traits and tropes.
Speaker: Julia O’Connell, The Gothic Librarian


The Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe–drunk, drug-addled madman, maniac … or was he? Much of what we know today about the Master of the Macabre is based in misinformation and falsehood. Poe’s literary legacy and reputation was hijacked by his greatest nemesis, Rufus Wilmot Griswold. Griswold laid the foundation for many of the popular impressions of Poe and those legends linger to this day. Although Edgar Allan Poe’s life was riddled with tragedy, his contribution to literature is immense and often overlooked. This presentation will refute the common myths about the life of Edgar Allan Poe, and also explore the unsolved mystery of his death.
Speaker: Genevieve Andrews-Kelly


Live Bats Lecture
For over 20 years, a dark shadow has been educating the people of NJ and the tri-state area on the importance of nature’s most maligned and misunderstood mammal, the bat. And now, NJ’s bat-man is bringing his family friendly LIVE bat exhibit for the first time to Dark Side of the Con. Joseph D’Angeli is a State and Federally licensed bat specialist, educator, and exhibitor. His “Bat-Cave,” the Wildlife Conservation and Education Center, is the only facility specializing in, and centering on, bats and bat conservation in the NY/NJ area.
Presented by NJ Bat-man, Joe D’Angeli


Mental Health for Goths
First thing in the morning, we will sit on the floor comfy and cozy together and connect. Dealing with mental health is hard, but you’re not alone. Struggles with life and mental health are human and universal, but especially prevalent in the goth scene. Alternative culture tends to have reason or cost, and is often attractive to us because it heals something in us and helps us find community. Panelists will guide you through a relaxing time where we speak openly about some healthy coping mechanisms, finding your support system, when and how to get help, coming to terms with your struggles and more. *Note: We are not professionals and cannot diagnose or treat mental illness. *
Speakers: Chloe Alexis; Chloe Moxx; Lauren de Mew


Rope Bondage Workshop (18+)
Do you have an interest in rope bondage but don’t know where to start? Teacher Raina Sinclair will show you how to tie cuffs, limb restraints, and a basic body harness to set you off on your rope explorations. All participants will be provided with their own 30-ft piece of rope from Agreeable Agony.
*This event requires a separate ticket. The $25 Rope Bondage Workshop add-on can be purchased at checkout (see Tickets tab). Tickets are limited and may not be available at the door.*
Presented by Raina Sinclair


To Drink Coffee with a Ghost: Q&A with Poet Amanda Lovelace
Amanda Lovelace rocked the world of contemporary poetry when she published her debut collection, The Princess Saves Herself in This One, in 2016. In the short time since then, she’s come out with four more collections and won two Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Poetry. The books in her Women Are Some Kind of Magic series use female archetypes from fairytales to candidly discuss trauma, healing, and empowerment. More recently, Amanda explores toxic and complicated relationships through spooky imagery in her Things that H(a)unt duology. In this panel, Amanda will read from her newest collection, To Drink Coffee with a Ghost and answer questions about writing and publishing poetry.
Speaker: Amanda Lovelace; Moderated by Julia O’Connell


Tragic Doll Talks: Chronic Illness in the Goth Scene
Since 2000, Shirley Alvarez has battled a monstrous disease called Scleroderma which attacks her skin; hardening her body from the inside out. Diagnosed at 9 years old, she endured trauma throughout her childhood, but her resilience and lust for life gave her the strength to climb out of the hell hole as a strong yet sensitized woman. From a dancer to a wheelchair user, Shirley adapted to change, converteing her fear into fuel for her inner fire. She joined the goth scene in 2011 and is a familiar face at countless parties and concerts. She is a music enthusiast, a dancer in wheels with a fervor for dark glamour, the creepy and the grotesque. Shirley self directs her own photoshoot concepts and video content, and recently had the opportunity to share her story with Barcroft TV and Ripley’s Believe It or Not. But this panel at Dark Side of the Con will be her first public speech. Shirley will provide insight on coping mechanisms, how to transform pain into art, and ultimately how she became the Tragic Doll–an identity she birthed to communicate awareness, liberate her self-expression, and provide spiritual expansion within her physical entrapment. She will also discuss her adjustment into the adult world after childhood trauma and the positive effects the goth culture and lifestyle have had on her mental health. Come celebrate diversity and being a professional badass with Shirley, the Tragic Doll!
Speaker: Shirley Alvarez, The Tragic Doll


Victorian Parlour Games
How did the Victorians entertain their party guests after high tea? Come to this interactive activity and find out! Gypsy of Karnevil will present to you a wide variety of simple and fun parlour games from the traditional to the whimsical.
Presented by Karnevil


Write A Song With Bella Morte
The audience gives suggestions on song styles, lyrics and more as you collectively write a song with Bella Morte.
Speakers: Bella Morte


Your Spark Within: Using Your Creative Spirit to Overcome Obstacles
Are you struggling with self-doubt or other obstacles that are holding you back from who you really want to be? As a musician and writer, who also happens to be physically challenged, Joe Melluzzo of Night Spirit knows this feeling well. After a long and difficult fight, Joe realized that his greatest strength was inside himself all along: his spark of creativity could outshine the darkness. In this panel, Joe will discuss his experiences and what led to creating his album/comic book crossover. He will also give tips on how to find your own “spark,” use your own talents to improve your life, and make others inspired by what you do.
Speaker: Joe Melluzzo