Ceremony: The Upstage, 2005

Photo by astrangegirl on Flickr. Click through for source.

Photo by astrangegirl on Flickr. Click through for source.

The night is cold, and our black tank tops, mini-skirts, fishnet stockings, and knee-high boots provide no protection. But the club is only a block away, and we don’t want to pay the $3 to check our coats.

At the door the bouncer checks our IDs, puts a big black X on each hand—we can dance but we can’t drink. Inside it smells like clove cigarettes. The lights are low and the music is loud, but no one’s on the dance floor yet. It’s too early.

We stand at a table, giggling to ourselves about nothing and everything. The regulars are already here: two middle-aged goths who look regal with their long black hair and simple black button-up shirts and jeans, a few punks with mohawks and ripped jean jackets decorated with safety pins, a woman in a gothic lolita dress and brightly colored dreadlocks who sways to the music while she puffs on her cigarette.

Slowly the place fills. The music doesn’t change, but the atmosphere intensifies. An energy builds as more people crowd around the bar and few tables. The woman with the dreadlocks is the first to go out on the floor. She sways, swinging her hips, dipping low and coming back up, her six-inch platform shoes never leaving the ground.

We don’t know how to dance, but we know how to move our bodies. Emboldened by our pioneer, we step out onto the checkerboard tile. We stomp our feet and spin around, wave our arms wildly in the air.

We dance until our legs cramp and our throats feel dry and raw. We retreat to our table and watch the punks dance together, a single entity of frenzied movement. Smoke swirls around as people move. We can hardly hear each other speak, but it doesn’t matter.

When we catch our breath, we go back onto the floor. Dancing, we don’t look graceful or beautiful, but we shine.

What do you think?