To say that I'm not proud of this one would be an understatement, but it was a little bit of self-motivated pastiche was fun to toss together, even though the result fell far short of what I was aiming for
It's the early autumn, 1989 and it's all coming together for the first time. Four, maybe five nights a week and my drug of choice is going mainstream. No, it's not X, although I get that a lot. To keep my stamina where I need it, I drink a quart of orange juice before getting started and I don't touch alcohol because it derails me at just the wrong time. It's a thousand times better than being drunk anyway. I've never been in better physical shape, just over six feet and so thin I have to cinch my jeans around my waist to keep them up.
I'm not wearing jeans tonight. I'm wearing Cavariccis with those pointless buckles across the crotch. Boots from the Wild Pair, with steel on the toe and shank. I've replaced the heels twice at this point and will do again twice more. Girbaud shirt which buttons diagonally across my chest, long sleeves, never rolled up no matter how hot it gets. A bolo tie, one of a half dozen I own, this one a relic from Mardi Gras with a lapis pull in the shape of an apostrophe. Sunglasses by MTV, but sold at JC Penney back in the day, with metal sidepieces sort of like Sting's which only function to kill my peripheral vision. And, of course, look cool, which is the whole point. Everything's black, of course. I do two loads of laundry: Black and non-black. It's not necessary, of course, but it puts me in the right frame of mind.
Back when I started, I'd get there early, but I know better by now. The early hours are for the happy hour crowd, tourists, people who want to say they're part of it but don't want to actually do it. Not judging, but that's the truth of it. Their money's as good as mine, so no one minds much, but there's no need for me to show up until ten or later. Local station broadcasts the whole thing starting at ten, so I listen as drive, hoping I don't miss anything, but I almost never do. The DJ's save the good stuff for later.
So I show up, pay my cover, go inside, and just feel the bass for a little wile before getting into it. I'm long since over my fear of getting on the floor, but the right song, or at least a right song, helps get me started. Some kitschy thing is playing, and that is most definitely not what I need, so I lurk and grab some water because I'm going to need it at some point. Next up is the Bolshoi and that'll do. I make my way to my favorite spot, third level, right underneath the fog machine nozzle. I close my eyes.
It's not about seeing, or being seen. It's about the music, moving to it. I've have guys tap me on the shoulder and tell me to "dance right," but if they're watching me instead, they're missing the whole point. It's too loud to talk, to dark to flirt, and to amazing to ignore. A weird techno-industrial "New York New York" followed by Love and Rockets' cover of "Ball of Confusion." I'm just coasting now, not really in to it, but ready for whatever is next. Book of Love "I Touch Roses," and for this DJ, like a nervous tick, he follows it with the Cure's "Fascination Street" and I'm completely gone now. I may flail into people, I don't know and most definitely don't care.
Three track in a row with massive hooks in the chorus. I'm going to need to get my boots fixed again because of it. Spin on my heels four beats until the chorus. It's getting serious now. The Thrill Kill Kult's "The Devil Does Drugs," which got exactly zero radio play but everyone in the room knows it and goes nuts. We kind of coast through Men Without Hats' "Safety Dance" which isn't really a great song for the club. My rule is that if the song has to mention dancing in the title or implore you to dance in the lyrics, it's not a great dance song.
And then it happens.
Bass way too deep even for the ridiculous cones at the club, vocal samples as percussion, and a weird, clicky beat instead of a snare. You see, it's 1989 and, while we know our industrial and I have more Wax Trax records than any other label and we've even had Pop Will It Itself's "Def Con One" in heavy rotation for four months, we've never heard anything remotely like Nine Inch Nails. It's not really industrial, it's not disco as some people who have no sense of these things have suggested, it's just Nine Inch Nails and it's changing everything. We're still months away from Pretty Hate Machine, but "Down In It" is already everywhere and we're not inoculated against it yet.
It's as close to rapture as I'm every likely to get.
The rest of the night is memorable. I feel like I already have electric sparks shooting from my fingertips when they play Shriekback's "Nemesis." It was old even then, and it was maybe the fourth or fifth best song on Oil & Gold, but that just means that Oil & Gold was one for the ages. Then a huge blast of neopsychodelia makes me glad I camp under the fog machine. I've lost several pounds to sweat and the dry ice cools me off even if breathing it probably isn't helping anything.
It's getting late and they finally play Front 242's "Welcome to Paradise" because, in 1989, you couldn't not play it. Next up, there's the delay loop guitar of "How Soon Is Now," and everyone who was in the dark corners of the club makes their way out on to the floor. We're still a year before the release of "Hippychick," so no one has to hold their breath waiting for the drums to make sure. The DJ plays a chunk of Sisters of Mercy's "This Corrosion" because playing the whole thing would be cruel, and then closer songs, the same ones every night, back to back: Malcolm McLaren's "Madame Butterfly" followed without irony by PiL's "The Order of Death."
The lights come up, and no one wants to be seen in those lights, and we're gone.
It's 2:30 now. Four hours without a break and I feel amazing. I could run a marathon. I could climb Denali. I could read the bible backwards in Aramaic. I could do anything, but first things first. Four hours on the floor and we're starving. I was there with my friends, you see, but I didn't see them the whole time. It's not about dancing with anyone. We go to any 24/7 place that isn't Denny's or IHOP and drink coffee and eat anything with carbs, usually fried potatoes, and recount our stories from the night. We were all there, in the same place, doing the same thing, at the same time, but all of our stories are different. We're describing something more like alien abduction, what happened to us as much as what we did.
I get home around 5:00 and realize I have a meeting in two hours. Our monthly staff meeting outside of our open hours. No point trying to sleep, or even trying to change clothes. I show up in the same getup I wore to the club, even the ridiculous sunglasses, and I'm grinning like a wolf. What did all you people do last night? I had the time of my life.
And I'm going to do it again tomorrow.
HIDDEN BONUS TRACK:
Oh my lord, I need to do some editing, don't I?