“Black Tourism”: Christine Dyer from TikTok at Highgate Cemetery

During the day Christina Dyer works in banking, but at night she edits TikTok videos in which she explores some of the world’s most famous cemeteries – a hobby she calls “wandering the graves.”

Two weeks ago Christina drove an hour and a half from her home in Northamptonshire to Highgate Cemetery, the start of her attempt to check off all the places from Loren Rhoads’ book 199 Cemeteries To See Before You Die.

Although Highgate Cemetery has long been a local attraction, drawing visitors in with tours of its western cemetery, Christina’s interests in the cemetery are part of an emerging social media trend called ‘black tourism’.

Black tourism videos have racked up over 7.2 million views on TikTok, showing people documenting creepy cemeteries and buildings all over the world.

Christina is part of a growing community of cemetery wanderers who make it their way of life to visit famous burial sites. In the span of seven years, she walked through over 100 British cemeteries and even traveled to Paris to visit its famous catacombs in 2016.

The 182-year-old Highgate Cemetery was particularly popular with Christina, who said: “I felt like it was going to take me two days to cover everything. It was so wonderful. There is so much history there, so much unique tombstones and angels that you don’t get in your standard church graveyard, it’s just unreal.

She said that the story of West Highgate Cemetery in the 19th century attracts great interest on TikTok as the Victorian era and Gothic become more and more fashionable.

“When I was 13, I used to sit alone in cemeteries,” she said. “Now I have found a whole Gothic community on social media.

“More and more horror TV shows are hitting mainstream audiences, like American Horror Story. There are more Youtube channels of people exploring graves and haunted houses.

“We have the impression that people are accepting us more and more. We like to have something that makes us unique, just like everyone else.

Highgate Cemetery
– Credit: Christina Dyer

Although the 31-year-old influencer admits to having rather niche interests, on a 9 to 5 she says she feels pressure to blend in with the crowd.

“In my 11 years in banking, I have never met someone who likes the same things as me. I don’t think people expect a banker to be a goth, ”she said.

“I wouldn’t even say I have the stereotypical gothic personality. I am bubbly and friendly, and I like to dress comfortably. But in terms of what I love to do, the dark and scary stuff is what I absolutely love and live for.

Before starting her dark sightseeing trip, Christina had few people to share her guilty pleasure with. Even her husband, who travels with her and helps her with videos, has no interest in bones or burials himself.

Christina said: “My friends have completely shut me off when I talk about my travels. It’s just not something the average Joe wants to know.

“Through social media I made a best friend in Canada and met people from the spooky community of America.”

Angels at Highgate Cemetery

An angel at Highgate Cemetery
– Credit: Christina Dyer

She said the Gothic aesthetic is particularly popular in the United States, and during the pandemic, TikTok allowed her to give those in other countries a virtual tour of England’s largest cemeteries.

“I like to give people an eye on these places because they can’t go there themselves because of Covid.”

Earlier this year, Christina broadcast live from Highgate Cemetery to allow people to visit the burial site in a pandemic-friendly manner.

Next on her cemetery visit list is Kensal Green Cemetery, which she will be visiting in October. She says she is particularly excited about it because she was inspired by one of her most treasured cemeteries, the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

Highgate and Kensal Green Cemetery are two of the so-called “Magnificent Seven”, a term for the great private cemeteries of 19th century London.

Of course, Christina admits that not everyone will appreciate her macabre interest. Yet this remains a point of deeply personal importance.

“For me it’s a moment of peace, a moment of contentment to know that the people you are with are in eternal loneliness,” she said.

“When you walk past people, smile at them and hear the birds singing, it’s just wonderful.”

Follow Christina on TikTok @the ghoul house

Christina in a cemetery near her home in Northamptonshire www.tiktok.com/@thedyerghoulhouse

Christina in a cemetery near her Northamptonshire home
– Credit: Christina Dyer

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