Let me tell you the story of the second time I did acid. The first time was in college and it was just a hazy mess of drinking and god only knows if it was good or real, but the second time… the phone call letting me know “uncle sid” was in town, the drive to Scottsdale, the five sugar cubes with their off-colored spots on all faces, divided carefully. The decision to not drop until it was just dusk, the Annoying Girl Who Could Not Identify Planes, the birthday party, the memories of that second time are rock solid. It’s not happened in a long time but if I concentrate just right… I can be back there any time – that many hits pretty much clips your third eye open and gives it the Clockwork Orange treatment for the better part of a day. But this is not the time to talk about my psychedelic awakening, this is time to talk about the dance.
That evening, unlike every single other evening of my life in Phoenix, AZ, ended at The Mason Jar in Tempe, on Goth night (when it became… THE KILLING JAR). Since I fit in at a goth club like Dita Von Teese fits in at Christmas mass, my activities were… limited. I sweated out petrochemical derivatives and got hit with a giant pixie-stick, ground my teeth a lot and watched the dancers dance. And as I squatted in the corner of the darkened bar, spacetime unfolding itself endlessly into my midbrain, I came to some conclusions about dancing. I am not a talented dancer. I have neither the grace nor poise to truly master any physical activity, and my self-censoring prevents me from that kind of attention-inspiring behavior. Like singing, lovemaking, or cooking, one must first be unafraid of failure, then unafraid of work, then finally unafraid of attention in order to do it properly. Needless to say, it terrifies me.
All dance clubs are fundamentally the same: keep the music loud enough to dissuade conversation and the booze cheap enough to attract single women. Dancers at a goth club are _similar_ to dancers at other clubs. They are typically single with a high ratio of dancing females to akwardly stationary males, but unlike other club scenarios, there is an incredibly low percentage of dancer-coupling. There’s no “freak” or “waltz” or “hop” for this crowd, no slowdancing couple fingerfucking their way toward the front door or back corner, part of the mystique of this crowd is individuality, specifically loneliness, so the dancing is incredibly solitary, reed like onyx-clad bodies writhing seductively to nobody in particular. In the occasional flash of dance floor illumination, a crowd of late teens and twenty somethings move and react spastically, utterly without rhythm, without cohesion, eyes closed. And I watched this for two songs. Three. An hour. And I began to pick out individuals to watch in this mess, to see what they did, what their rhythm was, to see what kept them going in this apparently unselfconscious undulation.
And that’s when I saw it. I focused on a girl. Not a woman, mind you — a girl, she was young enough for girl. As the music moved her, she whooped and whirled her body, straight black hair waving over skin tight shirt, rings on fingers and chains on neck, eyes shut. And as the music swelled, the beeps and blorps of the fourty minute club mix winding down from its cilia-slaughtering peak, she performed a beautiful flourish. So in time with the music, so utterly crisp and perfect that my breath caught in my throat, a simple move, natural, so evocative of the beat. It showed off her every curve, the flow of her waist to the hip, the concavity between neck and shoulder, taut abdomen under gossamer top, her nipples brought to stark relief by strobing light. I was transfixed. So gorgeous she was, so lovely, and so unaware of it! I watched her and all other people disappeared from the earth for thirty glorious seconds, it was just her blind undulation and my hungry eyes. And then she did it again. It broke me out of the moment, just slightly, to listen for a queue in the music. Another flourish without a musical swell, and another. I watched as her once-perfect flourish dissolved into something she did two or three times per song, and her eyes, far from meditatively closed, were instead clamped hard, concentrating, and I could see at once what she was doing. Trying sooo hard to look cool. Trying to make each motion of her dance grand and final, like at one point she’d do it just right and the whole world would pause the scene, fade to black, and roll credits. It took me out of my reverie and I looked at the whole mass of skinny black jeans and buckles, each of them alone on that floor. Eyes clamped shut. Trying so hard, every song, to get that flourish right. And it at once went from looking like a crowd of seekers experiencing music physically to a floor of desperate, lonely people, trying hard to time their next grand flourish so it looks like it was effortless. Not practicing to perfect their dance, just trying over and over to FINISH it.
I told someone earlier today some pretty harsh stuff, because they are trying to live their life from grand flourish to grand flourish, like somehow the little shit will just get tied up without any work as long as you’ve exhausted yourself with the ridiculous and outlandish. Life isn’t a sprint. It’s not a movie. It’s not a mini series. It’s not dancing. It’s an ultramarathon of indeterminate length. There are no mile markers and there’s no rest stops, no finish line and no competitors, just an endless road that you must travel at your own speed. And if you are to make progress, you must work at it, you cannot simply close your eyes, stretch your arms and hope that today is the day you find the finish line.