the return

March 30, 2007

I can feel the music beginning to surge through my body. It enters my ears through the large DJ-esque headphones that causes shivers to run down my spine as the memories come flying back to me.

I remember the dark club I attended. Walking down the dimly lit streets with the cars whizzing past me, there was no foot traffic, until I turned the corner and saw the blue lights shining out of a doorway. The young people were in silhouettes as they queued up on the street corner, long cigarettes dangling from their lips glowing red. It was a sea of blue and small lit dots, nothing being recognizable until I approached closer.

It was still quiet as I neared the entranceway, me being nervous about what to expect inside. It was my first venture of any sort to a club. The bars at University hardly counted in my opinion, and the word “rave” was as exotic and mysterious as the worlds presented to people in National Geographic. There was no such thing as a rave at my University, and if there was, it was even more underground than when they first started. It was a taboo word for them, the students preferring their country and alternative rock from the radio. Dance was dead.

But not here. Not in Hartford, Connecticut.

The block was called the Municipal Cafe, with the strange mix of restaurant and club living side-by-side. With the record store up above littered with its CDs and raving outfits, the lobby for the club was tucked away into a corner. I barely recognized the entrance to this underground world- fitting for an underground scene. Walking past all the young kids, I felt old.

I was barely 21.

They were all dressed up, and I don’t mean in the dresses-and-crisp-clean-cut-shirts-way either. I mean in the cliche and predictable manner of club kids, the candy kids as they were called. Glowsticks hanging off of their necks, brightly coloured shirts, jeans patched up with the latest Hello Kitty figures. It was a no-holds barred of cuteness. I pressed onwards to see what else there was to experience. I felt encouraged by the pounding beats of music echoing through the narrow stairwell now. I paid my money, picked up a bottle of water, then passed down the stairs, turning the corner and entering the dungeon-like confines of the club.

Spiritual Emporium.

Fuck was it loud. The bass bins must have been packed to the ceiling, meaning at least eight feet of pounding beats. People swarmed the floor, shaking their tight bodies to no particular beat, just moving for the sake of moving. A bar lined the back of the room. No alcohol was being served, however, as the club was an all-ages extravaganza. I took note of it as I would be returning to it later.

I meandered my way past the floor mat which the breakdancers were using. No one dared step foot into that sacred box, home of the acrobatic flips and gyrations of the wild worms. The threat of being hit in the head by a flying foot had too strong of a presence to ignore. I moved passed them and went down another corridor.

This hallway was slightly quieter than the main dance area, blocked by a few walls that extended outwards, and the piles of bodies resting against the walls. A couch was thrown up against one of them, and a group of kids were settled into it. It held too many than it was designed for, but no one was complaining about being up against the sweaty body of their neighbour. They were grateful for the chance to have something soft underneath them while sharing a crystal clear water bottle between them.

Water is like diamonds to the ravers. If the opportunity arises to take a quick sip of it, to quench their thirst, refusal is not an option. It is irresistible to them, and they seek it out like a bum looking to get a fix off of the butts on the street. Seeing them devour their water reminded me of my own uncracked bottle of the stuff. I opened it up and took a deep chug. Nice and fresh, I say to myself, a fool like the rest of them.

The remainder of the space was nothing interesting, so I returned to a spot up against the bar. It was nearly impossible to get a hold of the people working the bar, so I leaned back to look at the cramped DJ booth- a hole in the wall, literally. My foot started tapping, my head bobbed, and within minutes I was swept away into that awesome head-space only a dancer can reach. A remix of a classic song came on, Faithless’ “Insomnia.” It blew the dance-floor away and even more people crowded down onto it. While I was in my state of bliss over this song, a girl sitting on top of the bar to my left asked if I was going to go dance. I thought about it, but then decided it against it. I still had a three mile hike to get home, and had to work the next day. Dancing was going to kill my body and it wasn’t the right time to do that. She flashed me a smile, probably thinking of me as an idiot for not wanting to dance when obviously I was enjoying the music, and we went back to doing our thing. I tapped my foot; she thought of the moron Canadian while listening to the music.

When the remix shifted to another song, I knew it was my cue to leave. I grabbed another bottle of water for my walk home, made my way up the stairs past the crowds of people heading down, and back onto the street to join the pack of cigarette smokers.

As I threw on my own headphones to play a trance mix that I had picked up a few days earlier, I said to myself that I’d probably never forget this moment.

Six years later, I still haven’t.

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