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Thread: Dance Hall

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    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    Sep 2009
    San Diego Calif.
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    Dance Hall

    Dance Hall

    It was Thursday night and the place was crowded. There were a number of students of the various
    faculties, but most of the men were clerks or assistants in shops; they
    wore their everyday clothes, ready-made tweeds or queer tail-coats, and
    their hats, for they had brought them in with them, and when they danced
    there was no place to put them but their heads. Some of the women looked
    like servant-girls, and some were painted hussies, but for the most part
    they were shop-girls. They were poorly-dressed in cheap imitation of the
    fashions on the other side of the river. The hussies were got up to
    resemble the music-hall artiste or the dancer who enjoyed notoriety at the
    moment; their eyes were heavy with black and their cheeks impudently
    scarlet. The hall was lit by great white lights, low down, which
    emphasised the shadows on the faces; all the lines seemed to harden under
    it, and the colours were most crude. It was a sordid scene.

    Philip leaned over the rail, staring down, and he ceased to hear the music. They danced
    furiously. They danced round the room, slowly, talking very little, with
    all their attention given to the dance. The room was hot, and their faces
    shone with sweat. It seemed to Philip that they had thrown off the guard
    which people wear on their expression, the homage to convention, and he
    saw them now as they really were. In that moment of abandon they were
    strangely animal: some were foxy and some were wolf-like; and others had
    the long, foolish face of sheep. Their skins were sallow from the
    unhealthy life they led and the poor food they ate. Their features were
    blunted by mean interests, and their little eyes were shifty and cunning.

    There was nothing of nobility in their bearing, and you felt that for all
    of them life was a long succession of petty concerns and sordid thoughts.
    The air was heavy with the musty smell of humanity. But they danced
    furiously as though impelled by some strange power within them, and it
    seemed to Philip that they were driven forward by a rage for enjoyment.
    They were seeking desperately to escape from a world of horror. The desire
    for pleasure which Cronshaw said was the only motive of human action urged
    them blindly on, and the very vehemence of the desire seemed to rob it of
    all pleasure. They were hurried on by a great wind, helplessly, they knew
    not why and they knew not whither. Fate seemed to tower above them, and
    they danced as though everlasting darkness were beneath their feet. Their
    silence was vaguely alarming. It was as if life terrified them and robbed
    them of power of speech so that the shriek which was in their hearts died
    at their throats. Their eyes were haggard and grim; and notwithstanding
    the beastly lust that disfigured them, and the meanness of their faces,
    and the cruelty, notwithstanding the stupidness which was worst of all,
    the anguish of those fixed eyes made all that crowd terrible and pathetic.
    Philip loathed them, and yet his heart ached with the infinite pity which
    filled him.

    He took his coat from the cloak-room and went out into the bitter coldness
    of the night.

    Once they walked through the door, past the guard, and down the stairs to the cellar, they felt the beat thump against their bodies. The room smelled like stale perfume, cigarette smoke, sex and sweat. There was a bar at one end, a dance floor, and tables at the other. A deejay with headphones bent over a console of shiny knobs with wires running away like twisted coils of black snakes. The ceiling was blue with smoke and in the center dangled a mirrored ball like in the 30’s with a spotlight beamed straight at it.

    The crowd on the dance floor was one writhing body with dozens of hands like an exotic Nataraja. Its arms and hands and fingers extended in obeisance to the god of Rhythm and Dance. Heads nodded and bobbed with dilated eyes like a cadre of cannibals anticipating a feast. Eddie's brain went electric the moment he saw money flashing in sweaty hands, both giving and getting, everywhere he looked. In the Babylon, bling bobbed on the surface of gritty reality like great gobs of fat on a restless ocean, suspended by greed and avarice, fueled by a constant craving for acceptance that never gave up. With an unlimited desire for flesh and more flesh, they defined themselves as fine young cannibals, easily drunk on a small coconut shell of kava or a jigger of sweet success. They couldn't take the harder stuff, and left that to the commissars and politicians who holed up in Zagreb.

    Many of the female gay young things from the country wore vanilla extract behind their ears like their mothers. A few of the young bucks, imitating their fathers, had been smoking corn-silk behind the barn, or attempting to distill Slivovitz from plums and sugar stolen from their mother’s pantries, poisoning their little brothers in the process. Now that they were old enough to drink at a club, their problems had grown like mutated spider’s webs.

    Pamela took deeper note of faces and expressions. Since the music was upbeat, she expected more smiles. But these faces were seriously busy at work. Some on the hunt. Still others were studied and posing. Many resembled copies of Barbie dolls dancing with copies of Ken. Their identities under the make-up and clothing could not be revealed by cursory examination alone. That would take talk, and with only a few weeks of Serbo-Croatian under their belts, talk was sure to provide a challenge and language a thorny barrier.

    I love this video, and to post it again just rang my bell. The first description is from a novel I'm rereading and set in Paris, part of Of Human Bondage. The second is set in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Until I reread Maugham, I thought the other one was good. But it was weak, very very weak. I'm deciding whether or not to get depressed and sink into a blue funk. The Black Hole of Calcutta might be just right. But you know what? I'm not fishing for sympathy points here. But if you're gonna measure yourself against someone, measure yourself against a master craftsman. You don't feel so bad when you come up short. Just figuring this out makes me feel better. That's writing for ya, a process of discovery. I love it. Tonight in Babylon Loverrush UK ft. Bryan Adams
    Last edited by Steven Hunley; 12-22-2016 at 05:23 PM.

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