A couple of Saturdays ago, I went to a nightclub at 101 Flinders Lane. My friend Anna and I were let in at once by the door dick – who didn’t give me a second glance, though I was older by some years than everyone else in that street, never mind the club. I think he saw female and that gave us the automatic nod.
The place was full of enticing levels and corners – a place to eat, a place to dance, a place to chat and drink, with stairs and gangways connecting them in a vaguely Esscher-like way. Anna and I met up with her sister and their friends, and Anna gave her mobile number to the woman guarding the stairway that led down to the dance basement. The idea was that the Janissary in heels would call Anna when people left the dance basement, making room for us to go down there. I wondered how it would work out when the music was too loud to make a phone call audible.
Young men and women came and went from the dance basement. The women all wore heels and walked in a tightly cautious way because of it. Every single man who descended the stairs bounced. It didn’t matter whether he was tall and athletic or short and chubby, he bounded. That’s what you can do when you wear flats.
Eventually, we made our way down to the dance basement. Young men and women danced between the one-legged tables and the bar. Ironically, 80s and 90s music played over the speakers – ironic because that was when I used to go clubbing. I felt horribly inhibited – this middle-aged style maven trying to climb inside the music and unable to because of my awareness of how out of place I was. Even though nobody paid the smallest attention to me. I was stuck in my own spotlighted self-consciousness and couldn’t get out.
I recalled back when I was young and went to clubs two or three nights a week how middle-aged men would come in with their street girls – these girls barely out of childhood, dressed in threadbare clothes, carrying around them an aura of unwashed recklessness and defiance. I wished I could get close enough to find out more – fascinated and bothered. If possible paths in life can branch into different dimensions in time, each one with a version of the self pursuing it to its conclusion, then one of my paths was very like that of these street girls. I didn’t choose that path. But I have often felt that a part of me did and lived that untamed life.
There were no middle-aged men and their street girls in the nightclub at Flinders Lane. As far as I know, middle-aged women don’t pick up street boys and go to clubs.
thinking of those lives branching into other dimensions.