Health Goth, Soft Leather and Kode9 in Charlotte, life is too short to be boring

A Preview of Soft Leather CLT Party with Kode9

By CLTure

September 22, 2016

Johnny Love, a Chicago area electronic DJ who goes by the moniker Deathface, will bring his uniquely original underground pansexual dance party to Charlotte this week. Soft Leather is a counterculture party that provides a safe space for eccentric free-thinking dance music enthusiasts. Love, who is also heavily embedded in the Health Goth fashion aesthetic and movement describes the initiative to be a culture for outcasts. The event on Friday night at The Station in Plaza Midwood will also bring out renowned London-based electronic DJ and producer, Kode9. We recently caught up with Johnny Love to find out more about the Soft Leather party.

Johnny Love

CLTure: Can you tell us about the health goth movement and how you initially got involved?

Johnny Love: Health Goth started as a Tumblr meme that I decided fit exactly what I was doing as a “goth” dude who had recently become concerned with his own health, eating right and working out. I was around for the genesis of seapunk… but as the internet tends to do, it cherry-picked only the aesthetic aspects of it and because of that I watched it die on the vine. I wanted to prevent that from happening with health goth and am pretty proud to say that it’s still a very active movement that I am still reaping the benefits from. There’s a Red Bull mini documentary coming out about me in November and I’m currently working at Gold’s Gym in LA as a personal trainer due to my involvement with health goth.

CLTure: How was your Soft Leather party originally created? Can you tell us more about the experience and vibe?

Johnny Love: I had actually gotten the idea of doing Soft Leather while I lived in Charlotte for a year. I’ve thrown parties most of my life and was well known in Chicago for throwing parties in my loft where people came either dressed up or UNDRESSED up. During the zenith of my party-throwing career in Chicago I was compared to Michael Alig because every event I did was a multi-faceted experience where debauchery and self-expression was encouraged. When I moved to Charlotte, I tried to find a venue that would allow me to recreate a version of it and had recruited some of the kids who I’m very excited to say are part of Soft Leather CLT now… Unfortunately, even with my extensive nightlife resume, [I] found no club willing to take a chance on a “weird gay party.” …After a year of searching and finding nothing I decided to give Chicago a try again and retool the formula, which was actually just what I had done years prior: cultivate a space where people feel safe enough to express themselves and come as dressed or as undressed as they want, and [to] make sure the soundtrack was fun, underground dance music. I called it Soft Leather and it was a success immediately. Here we are a little over two years later and we’re on pace to be in a dozen cities by the end of the year.

CLTure: What do you know about Charlotte’s nightlife and party scene? What have you learned from touring with Soft Leather about the differences in each city’s style and vibe?

Johnny Love: I don’t know the particulars of Charlotte’s scene but that’s why I recruit locals to run the event. My main intention with Soft Leather is to help local promoters cultivate a scene in their own city to help rebuild the network that existed before EDM and festival culture killed off local DIY parties. There’s an entire generation of party goers who have never been exposed to anything but cheesey EDM and have no concept of club culture. I want to help bridge the gap by introducing people to music that is fun, not pretentious, and still “underground” while at the same time connecting every city together to create an international network of likeminded people.


CLTure: What is the local independent music and dance scene like in Chicago compared to other cities?

Johnny Love: A lot of the people who run venues and who are in positions of power in Chicago are people who coudn’t make it in other cities, which means they are very protective of their fiefdom and very nepotistic. That said, Soft Leather was born there and has thrived, thankfully.

CLTure: What should we expect, and how should one dress to the Soft Leather party?

Johnny Love: What you everyone should expect is to come with an open mind. We encourage everyone to come dressed exactly how they want. The more outrageous the better, life is too short to be boring.

Soft Leather is happening on Friday, September 23 at The Station with Kode9.

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