A man who knows how to drink and exercises this knowledge frequently sits alone in a bar on a Friday night. Swaying to the music being pumped at full bass through the red lighted underground room – filling the hollow space with more life than the seven bodies within it warrant – he is oblivious to all but the beat and the tobacco he fingers. After dark is his time. The time when his sickness becomes that of the nation. When streets turn to the bottle and the glass and the plastic cup of temporary freedom and movement and forgetfulness.
The dusky, artificially lit streets echo with laughter and shouts. People dance. People dance badly. People fall in love for a night. The night offers the daytime characters the chance to loosen the ties that act like nooses during the glare hours. Eyes that cannot meet at noon without social awkwardness – that king of action, dictator of behaviour – now lock and latch on. Flirting and fancies are obligatory not just granted. The homeless are befriended at this time.
After dark is the realm of the uncanny. Joy and looseness abide with tension. The dancing underground offers a refuge, a place out of time and out of rules, but it escapes from the harshness also present in the black. The swaying drinker – the first to the rapidly pulsating party – is a step away from smashed glasses and vomit and the exchange of beats from a speaker for beats from a fist. The city comes alive after dark. The monsters under the bed become real. All is moving. Dance and drama and life. Life. It is life I see on my night walks, my night crawls into bars and cellar spaces. The feeling of life, of abandon that is created in the darkness – on the streets and in the hidden corners of the city, the corners that gather dust by day – it may not last long, but it is real. There is movement in this world and it is glorious. We crave the let go, the allowance, the go ahead. We crave the sway of the lonely drinker. by dark. Then the sun rises on the streets filled with takeaway boxes and the feet that burned with the moves that flew across the tiled floors are blistered and painful. the tie is tightened. The blinkers are removed, or enforced perhaps… Light and recognition is regained. Until the red light is turned back on and the speakers once again begin to summon my fellow street stalkers. Calling for the sway that means, for now at least, rules and constraints and judgements are merely words. Social Acceptability Royal is momentarily toppled; replaced by the force of flashing light and the feeling of the bass in your guts.