Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Nightclub and Decent into Darkness

We pile back into the elevator and head to the first floor of the hotel. We can all hear music thrumming in the background, that sort of off-dance techno base rhythm that makes a body full of booze want to move. We exit the hotel and it only takes us in our inebriated states about five minutes to figure out how to get to the nightclub in the basement of the hotel.

We walk in and head to another elevator, this one leading us downstairs. At this point Alice has nothing on us. We enter into a maze with Korean men in black suits running around everywhere. The servers all have earphones plugged in for wireless communication between them. The dance floor on the upper deck is full, but we are pushed and prodded down and down into the blue-lit neon-flashing spaces to land on red velvet couches.

We pack in and our Korean hosts tell us to order anything. “Anything you want, it’s not problem.” The menu is taken up, people order a bottle of Jack Daniels, and assorted beers and we sit and wait for a moment until finally the Russians decide that they want to dance. The dance floor as they move toward it is very crowded, but almost as soon as they step onto the floor, the music changes and as if by some signal all the girls who had been on the dance floor suddenly rush and sit down.

At this point most of the artists and my friends have gone up to dance now alone on the dance floor, their images being projected across several dozen small screens and one large screen into the bar. I’m sitting next to the Artist and lean in to scream and whisper into his ear “I’m an exhibitionist, but not quite that much of one.”

“Yeah, me neither.”

So I pull back out the bottle of tequila, while he fixes himself a Jack and coke and we watch the nightclub together. He asks me after a minute “What is with the girls?”

It’s at that point that it dawns on my just what kind of nightclub we are in. As we watch men in suits shuffle around to different tables. They grab two or three girls tightly by the wrists and drag them away. Occasionally they drag them to tables nearby and sit them down with two or three guys who are sitting, up to that point, sans female company.

“Ah,” I say, “it’s booking.”

I have to explain: booking is essentially what happens in a high-price, supposedly high-class nightclub. Girls dress up with their friends and go to the club for free. They put their name on the booking list. During the night, at any time, they are grabbed and dragged to a table of two or three hapless and lonely strangers. Once at the table they are expected to sit, drink, and generally make merry with each other. There is not real promise of sex, these are usually good girls, college students or girls out for the night who don’t want to pay much money. For the guys it’s a way to meet girls outside their social circle. However there is always an undercurrent of flesh for sale in these sorts of clubs. Especially the way the girls are getting dragged around, tossed, changed and exchange whenever they are not satisfactory to the male clientele.

The music changes, our group returns, and some drinking happens. I realize that I am nearing the end of my bottle of tequila, but not quite yet. However I am now feeling much more like dancing. And so is the Artist. Which results on us joining the group to dance on the dance floor. We also join Koreans, which I suddenly realize as I'm trying to dance are all standing lined up along the floor across from each other and mostly making an attempt at shaking but not really anything like dancing.

It dawns on me then through my haze that there really is some sort of magic button that requires girls to dance at a specific time, and that the dance requirement is generally fulfilled by girls standing across from each other on the dance floor and shaking awkwardly. This is quite in contrast to our gangle of people, who are all thrashing around, moving, shaking and truly enjoying themselves, or at least the amount of alcohol in the blood stream.

The Artist moves with the smooth sophistication you would suspect of someone coming from the German techno scene. The Misters Kim dance like Korean guys, creating a circle and dragging people in. The Irish is a combination of skill, understanding of what he is doing, and the completely wrong place to show of his swing-dancing moves. The Trainee....uh, the Trainee is beyond description. Perhaps one might say that it is the gyrating thrust of an overexcited and recently escaped inhabitant of a mental institution, but mostly I think it was just a bad case of White Guy.

The Korean Stepford-bots continue with their dance moves and eventually we march off with them at the next bell ring, poor more booze down ourselves, and repeat this pattern for goodness knows how long. Finally, the Trainee calls it quits and exits stage left or right. The Ukrainians and the Russian and Japanese artist have gone. I'm sitting next to the Artist when I realize pretty much everyone I know has left. And in this looking around it is then that I discover the Irish.

He is dancing with wild abandon on the dance floor, spinning, jumping, hopping about. He moves with the music, careless of everything around him, a moment of intense happiness, drunken revelry, and complete abandon. He is totally alone on the dance floor, dancing with himself to be sure. And also being broadcast on every screen in the nightclub. Including the large screen TV that I'm watching. I take a few minutes to try to figure that out before suddenly the song ends, the Irish bows.

At this point I figure I should probably figure out where people have gone or are going. Of course it is at this point that things start to get even vauger, but eventually I make my exit up the stairs and into the hall of never ending mystery that is the upper floor of the dance club. The space is a mixed up maze and in my drunkenness I'm even more mixed up. And somewhere in there the mixing becomes a state of being. There is nothing but memories swallowed by darkness, a slow suffication of thought, pulsation, rippling, rhythm of music and night and alcohol, and then quiet, and sleep, and nothing.

When I woke up the next morning my head soundly disagreed with me. It suggested through it's steady banging cadence that I might have considered stopping my adventure half-way through the bottle of tequila. Awaking again later on the couch to the ringing of my phone I answer to have the Irish ask "So, when are we meeting?"

"Didn't we have this conversation yesterday?"

"Yes, but now we need to get together to figure out what happened."

"We had an adventure."

"Yeah, but neither of us can remember all of it."

"You think I'm going to help. I lost my bottle of tequila."

"No, you drank your bottle of tequila."

"That explains so much."

I give him a time and roll back on my couch and wonder just how many details they can fill in. It was, to be sure, an adventurous weekend.

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