We didn’t have lots of time before the rave, so I quickly dashed off to do some outfit shopping. I also texted Amy and asked her to come along to watch me, and to bring Steve. I felt ready to have my friends there. I met Toby at the Shoreditch private art gallery where the rave was taking place. As we took a tour of the building, I wasn’t sure how I felt about performing in such a space. It still had a warehouse feel, as the main gallery room was enormous, with very high ceilings, and the walls were roughly plastered, but the art pieces gave it another kind of vibe. It was modern art at its most extreme. Dolls and cuddly toys were painted to look like zombies and strewn across the floor and stuck on the walls in a haphazard fashion, as though an explosion had cast these unfortunate creatures into their current positions. On the bottom wall there was a giant, psychedelic foam mural. Toby sensed my surprise at the venue and assured me the ravers would be no different from those at the other gigs. Maybe he thought I was anticipating art world snobs to be in attendance.
Any reservations I may have had melted away when the night began. The place was jam-packed, so the art works were no longer even visible. I did wonder what would happen if the ravers inadvertently damaged any of the pieces; but then again, the gallery owners wouldn’t have opened their doors to us if they’d shared similar concerns.
Presiding over the crowd, I felt good and in control. I was wearing black hotpants and a white T-shirt, an outfit that looked great but still felt like me. I was still very far from the tattooed, pierced look and probably always would be. As soon as I began to play the music, I found I was segueing smoothly, without any hiccups at all. I didn’t even feel worried that I might mess up. I was in the flow. For my next song I chose a tune that I knew would send the crowds wild. As I guessed, the dancers seemed to swell, their energy electric. I jumped to the beat, gesturing towards them, working them up into a frenzy as the song reached its climax. As I was dancing I spotted Amy, smiling proudly at me. This is great, I thought, and I felt as though this was what I was meant to be doing in life. It all felt so right.
The next song was deliberately designed to mellow the atmosphere a little, so as to provide a breather for the revellers. It was then that I noticed Steve, but he wasn’t looking towards me. He seemed to be captivated by something or someone across the gallery space. I followed his gaze and saw none other than Christian! Now that the mellow song had come on, the dance floor had thinned out a bit and it was easy to spot Christian dancing on his own. I then returned my gaze to Steve, who made a few tentative steps towards Christian. But he hadn’t even got midway when someone – a guy – joined Christian. Judging by the intimate way in which they were dancing, it was safe to assume they were a couple.
Feeling for Steve, I saw that Amy had witnessed the whole situation, too, and was now trying to comfort him, but he was clearly too upset and stormed out. Christian was completely oblivious to all of this. I wished that this could have been a better night for Steve, but I couldn’t afford to allow his romantic troubles take up too much of my attention, as I had to stay focussed on the music. After selecting one more mellow song, I planned to bring all the ravers back onto the dance floor with the next tune.
It was just coming up to six in the morning and Toby and I were walking down Brick Lane. We stopped at the 24-hour bagel bakery, where a few other nocturnal souls with the munchies were waiting to be served. I was shattered but elated. A nice way to be.
‘It was like they were with me, you know? I could feel their vibration.’ I was speaking very fast, the adrenaline still coursing through my body.
‘I think that’s what they call “rocking da house”,’ Toby smiled, looking just as happy.
I felt the urge to give him a hug. And to my own surprise, I acted upon it. Toby responded and it was only when the woman working behind the bakery counter asked us for our order that we separated.
‘Two salt beef bagels, please,’ Toby called out.
I liked the way he had ordered for me, too. Some girls might have thought it presumptuous, but to me it felt like he knew I’d like it, so he was confident enough to go ahead without checking with me.
‘Thanks for coming,’ I said, as this breakfast trip had been my suggestion. ‘I don’t think I would have been able to sleep.’
‘Sleep, are you mad? After a night like this? We have to celebrate.’ Toby then turned to the bakery woman. ‘You wouldn’t happen to have any champagne, would you?’
‘Yeah, it’s called fizzy water. Champagne of the east’ she deadpanned, not very amused by us.
‘In that case, we’ll have two Cokes.’
Toby was about to take out his wallet, but I put my hand on his, stopping him.
‘Please, let me. I insist.’
‘Don’t forget that today I got my first paycheque.’
‘Okay, then. Thanks,’ he accepted, amused.
We grabbed the bagels and headed outside. There was a bench nearby so we parked ourselves on it, sitting on the backrest part of it. I bit into the bagel hungrily. My appetite was huge after all the DJ-ing and dancing for almost the entire night. I never got these kinds of hunger pangs after playing the piano. And I had never tasted a bagel that was so amazing.