Celeste took me dancing and I went home with a scaffolder called Adam.
‘Two mistakes in one night; not too clever;’ my friends said.
But I liked her. She was ‘from’ the city, always lived here, her patch. She had big hair, wore neon tights and was into Duran Duran but had never seen Barbarella.
‘The trouble with you is, you’re wet behind the ears, duck,’ she said.
Celeste was real, a world away from the disengagement of the university; brittle, and insincere. They only dance as Nietzsche would. Soooo ironic.
Celeste shuddered, picking her way through a throng of shit-faced Dip.Eds. doing tequila slammers, braying like asses, the chosen ones, inheritors of the earth. She steered me to the ladies to fix my make-up. I tried to explain about Jane Fonda and the orgasmatron, but she said shut up while she did lip-liner.
‘Kiss,’ she ordered, holding a piece of toilet-paper to blot.
‘Drink?’ I asked.
‘Not here duck,’ she said, recoiling like I had suggested we drink straight out of the toilet bowl. ‘Come on, I know a place.’
Arm in arm we sashayed through the sodium glare of the night city.
She took me to a club, the sort none of us ever went to. Down a warren of back-streets, up a fire escape. Celeste knew the doormen.
‘Gary B and Gaz the spaz; don’t call him that to his face,’ she hissed.
‘Alright Celeste. Long time,’ said Gary B, drinking her in. ‘Is she cool – your mate?’
‘Yeah, course. But she’s new, so give her the spiel.’
He hesitated. ‘Student?’
‘Noooo. Works with me at the wine-bar.’
Garry nodded. He stamped our wrists, handed us paper plates and waved towards a trestle-table with peanuts, chicken drumsticks, and bowls of rice salad.
‘Due to unfavourable conditions on our liquor licence we are serving a buffet supper. If the law comes, and the music stops, you make sure you got food on your plate.’ He grinned, showing gold-capped teeth. ‘Comprendez?’
Celeste winked and patted his arm.
It was early; the room barely quarter full, a mobile disco pumping out obscure dance tracks. The veteran floor thrummed. I went to the bar; spritzer for her, lager for me. Steadily the place filled. Working people, strutting in, greeting, jostling. Friday night. After forty or fifty hours serving, stamping, checking, fixing, cutting, typing, shovelling, pressing-the-button and screwing-the-bobbin, they had clocked off and dressed up. Out to spend brass, on the razz, here to dance, make a night of it, an all-nighter. Pools of light formed and dissolved, strobe and ultra violet, can you feel it, so loud, non-stop, pulsing, lip-read, feel-the-force, feels like heaven, spinning, spinning, feet on fire, feel no pain, dance the night away, dance, and devil-may-care, dance like no one is watching, dance yourself dizzee. By midnight, we were drinking warm chardonnay, and the place was heaving and sweaty with dancing queens. Rice salad glistened under the spinning lights.