It's late, even by the standards of the industrial club scene. This place, being technically a speakeasy and not a club, is open later than everywhere else and is still packed as dawn approaches. This is the time of night when the place is filled with tourists. All the mainstream establishments have closed and small cadres of mundane folk, not content to end their night at last call, wander in here by accident or design. Some don't know what they're coming to, only that the single, unadorned door in an otherwise faceless downtown building will open if knocked upon. Others have heard of the place and come to it as if to a carnival sideshow. Most can't handle it. Like a haunted house in late October, gaggles of college kids dare each other to see how much further into the den of iniquity they are willing to venture, some slight and trembling girls make it all the way to the end and find it's not so bad while some burly beta males can't make it through the front hallway.
I'm sitting under the big canopy, have been all night. I rarely dance. I haven't touched a drink in weeks and most of the venue's other attractions don't interest me tonight. I'm perfectly happy to sit, chat with friends and watch the freakshow, of which I'm only a casual member, stroll by. I didn't watch any of the shows tonight. The performance art in my community has gotten pretty watered down the past few years. The whole scene needs an infusion of new ideas because we've all seen these shows before. The only people that watch the performances these days are the tourists and the friends of the performers and right now, the former outnumber the latter at least five to one.
My group of friends is poised to leave as the last show ends. We're standing by the door to the dance hall waiting for our last to return from the restroom. At the same time the audience from the last show starts filing out of the big room. The scene's veterans look disappointed and most of the tourists look baffled, distressed even.
Suddenly a trio of gentlemen, by the looks of them, all members of a Greek letter organization and all dressed in clothes that only their parents could afford come stumbling, tripping over themselves, out of the hall. They're all tall and broad of shoulder, athletes for certain, the type that are used to being the biggest and most respected ones in a room. Tonight, tonight they're a bit out of sorts.
"A'ight, we're going," calls one to his friends as they walk with great urgency towards the door, encumbered by the crowd exiting the hall.
"We don't need to talk about this. Ain't nobody seen nothing," says the second as he catches up to his more rapidly fleeing companion, dodging his eyes about as if being pursued.
They grab a third, more reserved, friend and jostle their way to the front door, feeling very out of place and probably quite outnumbered.
I laugh out loud for a long moment. They stare at me like I'm insane but all quickly look away when I try to make eye contact.
"Nobody gonna talk about this," says the tallest as he ushers the quiet one out, "Nobody needs to know that we were ever here." I wonder if the quiet one will ever be back.
Such fuss. Like I said, some folks can't handle it.