The Batcave was a nightclub in London, England at Meard Street, Soho. It is considered to be the birthplace of the English goth subculture. As one of the most famous meeting points for early goths, it lent its name to the term Batcaver, used to describe fans of the original gothic rock music. The term Batcave is also still used by Europeans to refer to Gothic music with a prominent Post-Punk sound and spooky atmospheres.
The club opened in July 1982. Originally specialising in New Wave and Glam rock, it later focused on Gothic rock. Ollie Wisdom, the lead singer in the house band, Specimen, ran the club with Specimen's Jon Klein as Art Director, and initially with the assistance of production manager Hugh Jones. Famous regulars at the Batcave included musicians such as Robert Smith, Siouxsie Sioux, Steve Severin, Foetus, Marc Almond and Nick Cave.
A diverse array of bands would play at the club, backed up by their resident DJs Hamish 'the paranoid' McDonald and Annie Hogan (Marc Almond band member). The bands involved included electronic leading act Alien Sex Fiend. The host's band Specimen, who took ample influence from 1970s glam rock and Sex Gang Children, is a group that would go on to prove influential in the gothic rock, dark cabaret and deathrock movements. The club also showed 8mm movies in the old theatre and occasionally featured unusual cabaret such as Mr Swing the fakir. Much of the image and fashion used by the subculture can be traced back to the bands who played at the Batcave.
In 1983, a vinyl record entitled The Bat Cave, Young Limbs & Numb Hymns was released on the London recording label. The compilation included Specimen ("Dead Mans Autochop"), Sexbeat ("Sex Beat"), Test Dept. ("Shockwork"), Patti Palladin ("The Nuns New Clothes"), James T. Pursey ("Eyes Shine Killidiscope"), Meat of Youth ("Meat of Youth"), Brilliant ("oming Up For The Downstroke"), Alien Sex Fiend ("R.I.P."), and The Venomettes ("The Dance of Death"). The inside notes:
"Look past the slow black rain of a chill night in Soho; Ignore the lures of a thousand neon fire-flies, fall deft to the sighs of street corner sirens — come walk with me between heaven and hell. Here there is a club lost in its own feverish limbo, where sin becomes salvation and only the dark angels tread. For here is a BATCAVE. This screaming legend of blasphemy, Lechery, and Blood persists in the face of adversity. For some the Batcave has become an icon, but for those that know it is an iconoclast, it is the avenging spirit of nightlife's badlands — its shadow looms large over London's demi-Monde: It is a challenge to the false Idol. It Will Endure."
In 2008 Specimen played live at a 25th Anniversary Batcave party hosted by Club Antichrist in London. The show was recorded as a live album Specimen Alive at the Batcave and released on Eyeswideshut/Metropolis records. In 2009 Specimen's Jonny Slut and Jon Klein appeared at New Yorks Fashion Institute of Technology following the exhibition 'Gothic Dark Glamour', which featured Jon Klein's 1983 'Pigeon Shit' DIY stage outfit alongside high fashion designers such as Christian Dior and Alexander McQueen. The Fashion Symposium acknowledged the Batcave as a major influence on current high fashion.