The night that followed at Chaos, was everything I had so desperately dreamed and hoped it would be. We jumped off the bus in Belfield Park and hurried down to the part of the high street that had been pedestrianized, taking the second left as Jaime had instructed me to do. There was a kebab place on the corner, and when I saw this I whooped loudly and declared we were close. We followed the road down to its dead end, and then took a right which led down a narrow lane, already bustling and crowded with people. At the end of the lane stood a tall, three-storey, grubbily white washed Victorian building. It loomed up out of the darkness before us, almost church like in its height and grace and mystery. Break On Through by The Doors was pumping out onto the street. People pushed and milled and lunged to get through the doors. I turned to my friends and jumped up and down on the pavement. “This is it!” I declared excitedly, emotionally, gripping a wide-eyed Billy by the lapels of his shirt and spinning him around in a circle. “This is the place!”
We followed the crowd, we merged into the flock, we grinned and slapped hands and hugged each other, and we didn’t even need the fake I.D’s. We shoved our money into the hands on the doors that reached for it, and there was no real queue, just a disorderly crowd of revellers who surged towards the opening. We found ourselves swept up in among them, piling down some stairs to the lower floor, where there was no natural light, and the walls were painted a dark and disturbing yellow. We paused at the bottom of the stairs, while people flowed past us on either sides. The bar curved around to the left, the floors wooden and scarred, battered red and black sofas stuffed into the corners. Mismatched tables and chairs, and stools, were arranged around the edge of a large dance floor, complete with stage at one end. The floor was already full. I grinned. I wanted to run onto it and jump up and down and throw my hair about. The crowd looked young and wild and hungry. “Everyone looks like us!” Billy said beside me, his hand curling around my arm. I looked into his face and beamed.
“I know,” I said, looking at each of them in turn, at their flushed cheeks and their stretched and amazed smiles of recognition. “I told you didn’t I?” Just then the music changed and I immediately started leaping about, wrapping my arms around Billy’s neck and taking him with me. “Up In The Sky!! Hey you! Up in the sky! Learning to fly!” We bounced around like that, all four of us, until we were on the dance floor, going mental.
“Tell me how high do you think you’ll go?” Billy was bellowing into my ear. “Before you start faaaaaaaaling!”
“Our music!” I was screaming back at him. “They play our music!”
Jake went to get the drinks in. I had given him the money earlier. He was the tallest by far, and looked older than he was. We bounced around until the song ended and then flung ourselves at the nearest table when Jake came back with the drinks. He placed four whiskey and cokes on the table and we hovered around the edges, as there were no spare chairs. Sonic Youth’s Sugar Cane had just come on. I picked up my drink and had a hard time getting it down me, my grin was so huge. Billy came to my side. His eyes were big and solemn, and he touched my arm and looked like he was in shock. “Danny,” he said. “This is the best fucking place in the Universe. I never want to go home ever. But we have to drink up quick and dance and do it all quick, ‘cause they’ll take it away from us when they realize we’re underage! I swear to god they will!” He looked desperately panicked at the very thought. I laughed at him, nodding along to the music.
“Don’t be stupid Bill, they can’t kick us out now we’re in and we’ve paid. Look around mate, does it look like anyone gives a shit? Relax!”
We drank the whiskeys, so Jake went back and got bottles of beer next. “That’s it,” he said, handing me the change. “Out of money.”
“Doesn’t matter,” I shrugged. “Who needs booze when the music is this good?”
With the drink stoking my belly and the music setting my brain on fire, a short while later I nudged Michael and told him to come to the toilets with me. He nodded without question and followed me across the dance floor, both of us gaping in wonder at the rock chicks and indie girls who swayed as we passed them, pint glasses in hand. Michael punched me in the back as we pushed into the mens toilets. They were painted black, and the strip light on the ceiling flickered ominously as we walked in. They were crowded too; I had never seen so many interesting hairstyles and tattoos on display in one place. “Amazing,” he kept saying to me, over and over. “Amazing Danny, so amazing, best place ever!”
I was laughing helplessly as I shoved Michael into a cubicle and piled in after him. I had a quick piss, throwing my head back and hooting when Blur’s For Tomorrow started to play. I moved back so Michael could take his turn, and while he was at it, I took out the wrap of speed Jaime had given me. I had cigarette papers in my other pockets and made us both a speed bomb. I held one out to Michael when he had done up his flies and turned around. “You want to?”
He stared at it, his mouth falling open in surprise and then closing again slowly. He made a sort of awkward face and shrugged his shoulders at me. I was about to withdraw my hand and leave him out of it after all, when he suddenly snorted laughter through his nose and snatched it from my hand. “Oh why the fuck not? You fucking crazy bastard!”
We didn’t need any more drinks after that. We bounced back out onto the dance floor, and when Supersonic kicked off, we dragged Jake and Billy out with us, and that was it. “I need to be myself!” We sang at the top of our lungs, slinging our arms around each other, roaring out the words. “I can’t be no one else!” And all that followed after that was endless dancing and the worship of the music we loved. The music jumped from one genre to the next, playing Nirvana’s Come As You Are, behind Suedes Animal Nitrate, and followed by The Clash, Should I Stay Or Should I Go? Of course I thought I was going to die with happiness when they played I Am The Resurrection. As soon as that long drum intro started, I just stood still, my eyes bulging from my face, my face and hair slick with sweat, and then they all grabbed me and threw me about, knowing how much I loved it, how much it meant to me, and fuck, did I scream out those lyrics! I thought the music couldn’t get any better, but I was wrong again and again and when Smells Like Teen Spirit started, we were like a bomb had gone off inside of us! It wasn’t just us either. It was the whole place! The dance floor was like this unified thing, an animal, twisting, leaping, shoving, moving, and the floor was being pounded, and the vibrations shook up and down my body.
After that Billy and Jake seemed to be fading fast. They scraped enough money off the floor to buy themselves a coke to share and slunk back to the table with it. Michael and I continued to go off like rockets. We thought of Anthony when Primal Scream’s Movin’ On Up started, and Michael bellowed into my ear that he would drag him along next time. I soon worked out that although the DJ had been well and truly in control at the beginning of the night, he was now operating a request system. I watched the line of people winding slowly up the black spiral staircase to reach him. I dragged Michael with me, gripping the thrumming hand rail with sweat slicked hands, damp hair in my eyes, and my blood hurtling through my veins at breakneck speed. The DJ was a tall guy in his late twenties with long black hair and he grinned and nodded when I reeled off my list of requests. By the time we had descended the stairs again, Panic by The Smiths was already playing, and I started laughing, and just couldn’t stop. I knew I was as high as a kite, as happy as it was possible to get, as full of life and love as I would probably ever be. I felt on top of the world, bigger and stronger than ever, in control and I didn’t want it to ever end. That was the only bad thing, the only thing that caused my mood and spirit to flag; the thought of it all coming to an end. “Burn down the disco!” I grabbed Michael and sang into his shining face. “Hang the blessed DJ! Because the music that they constantly play, it says nothing to me about my life!”
Song after song, after song. “Not one bad one! Not one shitty song! Not one single one!” I repeated it like a broken record all the way home. I couldn’t keep still on the bus, I wanted to be dancing and jumping, with the music vibrating all over me. I wanted my head to be permanently full of it. I didn’t want it to ever be turned down, or turned off. “Not one bad song,” I said it again and again. “Not even one!”
Back at Michael’s, we entertained a skeptical looking Anthony with our run down of the most amazing night we had ever experienced, while Billy and Jake sunk onto either end of the sofa, asleep before their heads hit the cushions. I could remember every single song that had been played, a fact which astonished and mesmerized Michael. I babbled on for a few more hours, talking so fast that Anthony had to keep holding his hand up and telling me to slow down, to calm down. He listened, but regarded me with a sombre and suspicious eye. Eventually he declared he was off to bed, and dropped a load of blankets on top of where we lay on the lounge floor. When he was gone I took out the pills from Jaime and passed one under the blankets to Michael. “What’s this?” he whispered, his face pale and clammy, his pupils like specks of dust in his massive brown eyes.
“It’s so you don’t feel crappy tomorrow,” I told him, still smiling endlessly with the warm and fuzzy feeling that had captured me. “So Anthony won’t notice anything.” He looked impressed and took the pill. We lay on our bellies beside each other, kicking our legs up and down under the blankets.
“Fucking good night,” Michael said softly, turning his face to the side to grin at me. “The best ever.”
I smiled back, this huge dopey smile, and I felt like the love and the light and all of everything that was pure and good, was alive and living inside my brain, shining out at him from behind my eyes. I was sure of it. I believed in it totally and utterly. “You deserve it,” he told me then. “You deserve a good time.”
“There’s a lot of joy…in a lot of things, isn’t there?” I said to him, before the pills took hold. I think it was the last thing I said to him, but I’m not sure. In my dreams I carried on talking all night long. Listing the songs, clinging on to the feeling.