The music flows into my ears
It travels through my mind
My soul is lifted through the roof
I leave the world behind
I feel the rhythm in my veins
The beat controls my heart
My body is possessed by dance
Now we can never part
I'm walking quickly towards the open double doors. I'm walking so quickly, that I'm almost running. I can feel the hairs on my arms rising up. My whole body is covered in goose bumps. The bitter wind whips around my legs, sending chills up my back, freezing my neck and causing my teeth to chatter. But I don't care about the cold. I don't care that my short, flimsy skirt and midriff top are not the kind of thing a young girl should be wearing on a cold night, in a dark car park, on the side of a lonely road, in the middle of nowhere. All I care about is getting through those doors!
I can see the rectangle of brilliant light shining out into the still, black night. I can hear the throbbing bass pumping out of the walls of the grotty, dilapidated building. I can feel the monstrous beating of the dangerously overloaded speakers, pulsing beneath the ground I walk on. The rhythm is pulling me in like a magnet. I can't fight it. I won't fight it. I want to run. I want to be inside!
I'm there. I'm at the entrance. Familiar faces greet me. Familiar voices call to me. "It's Smiler…. Hi Smiler…. Have a good night Smiler!" I pay my specially reduced members fee, then hold out my trembling hand to be stamped. I hurry up the ramp in my favourite knee high boots. My friends are close behind me, but I don't see them, I don't hear them. All I want to hear is the music. I push open the rickety, wooden door and become immediately enveloped in a blanket of sound.
As I float through the mass of bodies, all moving to the same rhythm, I feel like I have come home. Every way I turn, everywhere I look, a smile beams back at me. A smile from a good friend, a smile from a new friend, a smile from someone I have never seen before. There are no strangers here. Everyone belongs. I have never experienced such an overwhelming sense of belonging as this.
I begin to dance before I've finished walking. My friends appear beside me and we dance like the possessed. For that is what we are! The DJ mixes in another track. He starts with just a hint. A teasing taste of what is coming next. My heartbeat pounds in time to the beat. I begin to sing the next song before it even starts. I beam in the direction of my best friend and she returns the gesture. We both know what is coming. It's one of our favourite tunes. They're all our favourite tunes.
By now my smile has replaced my face. My cheeks are aching, I feel like my mouth won't ever return to its former shape. But still, I can't stop myself. It's contagious. Everywhere I direct my face, another smile breaks out. Such genuine pleasure aroused by such a simple act. I feel loved! As silly as that sounds, it's how I feel. Not one disparaging glance is thrown at me, not one disdainful comment, not one. Just pure and powerful happiness. It bounces from person to person around the dingy room. For that's all this place is. A large oddly shaped room, crudely attached to a smaller room and some cramped and leaky toilets. But the building doesn't matter; it's the people inside. We are one. We are music and movement and emotion. We are the perfect atmosphere.
I lift my head to gaze at the darting lights above me. The strobe, first white, then pink, then blue, illuminating the faces of the crowd below. I raise my hands and pound the beat into the air around me. I follow the light, entranced by its beauty. My fingers reach towards it as though they could touch its source. I cannot look away. It holds me in a hypnotic state. My only escape is to close my eyes. Once again the music flows through me, lifting my soul through the roof.
When I finally awaken from my lyrical trance, I see a face I know well. Another smiling member of this fascinating club. We hug, as is the custom here and try to talk, though words are hard to find in such a place. Then my friends return, before I realise they had gone and tell me that the night is nearly over.
The DJ announces the last song, though it never is the last! At once the masses chant in unison, "ONE MORE, ONE MORE" and our plea is answered. We dance again, praying for the clocks to stop their ticking, to join instead our soulful beat. But no! The music dies, the lights flash on too brightly and reality floods back into the hearts and minds of every one of us. We gaze drowsily at our new surroundings as though waking from a heavy sleep, then slowly we drift towards those double doors, reluctant to leave, lingering to say our goodbyes, to find our friends and to take one last look around at the now empty, silent, dance floor, before we must brave the chill of the early morning air and the eerie quiet of the new dawning day.
Walking towards our cars across the potholed car park, grudgingly leaving behind our perfect night, a strange hush falls over us. What is it that we have just experienced? What is that strange and beautiful sensation that is still rushing through our bodies? There is only one word worthy to describe it. One word….JOI (joy).