Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Maenads' Mantra

The tiny, dark, dive of a club is filled, even though it’s a Wednesday night. No one knows it exists, except for everyone who matters. It exists only for us. It is our home away from home. We know every corner of it, every doorman, bouncer, bartender, DJ, musician, artist, writer, eccentric. We know the taste of every bottle glowing out at us from the bar. We know who to talk to to get certain things that will lift us up in certain ways. We know who to avoid to keep us from getting down in certain ways. We know every record and CD that can spin in this world, and we know every emotion that lies behind ever live guitar riff. We feel every opening note, every shake of the bass, every swell of a bridge with our very souls. This place, it’s our escape, our true family. Our refuge of freaks, our inner landscape made corporeal, full of sound and desire and madness and movement. And in it, we are safe. Safe from the outside world, the stares, the disappointments, the normalcy, the mundanity, the cruelty.

Dina and I walk up to the bar, which is three-deep in people waiting for drinks, but which somehow parts for us as the bartender gestures. Men shift their bodies to let us through. And they watch us, the men. And we know. We can feel it, all the eyes, pressing in, but we’re choosing not to acknowledge it. We know they’re watching as the bartender walks past others with their $20s fully extended and waving, watching as he ignores them all in order to bring us two free glasses full of expensive, hard something-or-other. They’re watching as we look knowingly at each other and lift our chins up to the sky, extend our sleek throats and pour the fire into us. They watch as we look back down, faces flushed, smiling radiantly—but never at them, only at each other—as the bartender comes back with two pints of something-or-other else to let us smooth it all out inside.

And then the song starts up. We hear the first little-girl/grown-woman wail, like we’ve heard it so many times before.

And Dina grabs me and we run, following the girl’s voice to the dance floor. We push into our little spot, the one that always is there for us, and the girl/woman is singing:

feel it burn
you stick in the knife
and i feel it turn
but i will laugh
sooner or later it’ll pass

oh it makes
it makes no difference to me.

feel nothing at all
We sing with her, in our heads. We close our eyes and move our hips in sultry circles during the quieter verse parts. We don’t have to watch each other to know we’re there, to know what we’re doing. We’ve sung this song, done this dance, many, many times before.
how many times
do I have to say
this is not for you
i push and i shove
without a hint of love,
this is not for you.

We ready ourselves as the tension builds…

oh it makes
it makes no difference to me.

We start moving faster, our hips keeping up with the increasing rhythm as the chorus kicks in as the girl moans, the music gets louder, keeps building, keeps pushing toward the pause as the girl whisper/screams:
feel nothing at all.
And then we gyrate insanely, our hair flying around us as the music begins to thrash and wail. Raise our hands to the ceiling as it ends and gets quiet again and the boys watch, waiting to see what we’ll do next as we sway in time with the girl, saying:
i’m watching you
there’s good and bad in everyone
and what I see
it makes no difference to me
And it builds again and I can see through the spaces between my hair whipping around my face that Dina has become a beautiful madwoman, and she can see that I have, too. And we both have secrets, we both have problems, we’ve both been hurt, and we know that somewhere inside. It’s what brought us together. But we never talk about that. What we do is dance together, madly, temptingly, daring anyone to enter our little circle of understanding.

What we do is pretend the eyes aren’t there. What we do is pretend we’re safe and that the whole world is like it is in here, where if anyone tries to hurt us, an enormous bouncer will be at our side in an instant, throwing that asshole across the room and banning them from our lives forever.

In here the staring, the cruelty, the status quo, the things that have made us into the freaks we think we are…in here, none of it matters. In here, we burn and shine so hot, no one can look at us for long. In here, we are Maenads, beautiful and dangerous, the drink and the music and the dance filling our bodies with an ecstasy so fierce that any man who crosses our path will be ripped to shreds.

And so they watch; they can’t look away. But they dare not approach. And as long as we are in here, as long as we keep dancing and the music keeps going, we know we are untouchable. We are fierce and formidable, we love no one and no one can get in, get under, or get inside. We are safe here, and strong, in the dark.

And we are mouthing the words together as the singer chants with us…
feel nothing
feel nothing
feel nothing
feel nothing…
We dance like our souls depend on it. And we pretend we don’t hear the shouts for last call. We pretend we don’t know they’re going to turn the harsh overhead bulbs on sometime very soon.

(Photo credit: The Melody, by DanCentury)


Though this one may not be as immediately obvious as the others, this is post #3 in an ongoing series I'm writing during National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. For those interested in reading the other installments:

Post #1: All That You Can't Leave Behind

Post #2: I am She as You Are Me and She is Me and We Are All Together

For those who have survived a sexual assault, or think they may have, and need someone to talk to:

In the US:
National Sexual Assault Hotline - 1.800.656.HOPE. Free, confidential, and open 24/7.

In the UK:
Rape/Indecent Assault Crisis Counselling - 0800 735 0567

Samaritins - 08457 909090

Man2man (for male victims of abuse) - 0208 698 9649

Victim Supportline (Nationwide lo-call service, 9am–9pm Mon–Fri, 9am–7pm weekends and bank holidays from 9am–5pm; Provides information and support to victims of all reported and unreported crime, including sexual crimes, racial harassment and domestic violence) - 0845 30 30 900

Thanks to Jules for the UK hotline numbers. If people would like to share hotline numbers for other countries, please add to the comments on this post and I'll add them next time. Thanks.


Anonymous Kochanie said...

Powerful, Miss Syl. It takes courage to dance like that and courage to write like that. And as Maya Angelou said, if you don't have courage, you cannot practice any other virtue. You can't even love properly without courage.

Thank you.

4/19/2006 11:35 PM  
Blogger Cherrie said...

I have long felt that time heals all wounds, but perhaps with this sort of wound that isn't true.

And perhaps it's worse to feel no pain from the wound than to have it hurt you into the night, every night.

4/19/2006 11:56 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Kochanie: And thank YOU. :)

Cherrie: I think time and work heals most things, though sometimes scars still remain. But just to be clear, that's written about a moment in my past, a good number of years ago. It was a moment in time where I didn't necessarily even realize I was feeling pain. I thought I was where I wanted to be, and I even thought I was happy. It's more just pointing out some things I didn't know then that I can see now.

And it's also about missing an old friend, and an old place that is no longer.

But now, I'm not there, so no worries about that.

4/20/2006 11:43 AM  
Anonymous michelle said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4/20/2006 2:09 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Michelle: I've deleted your comment because I don't link to commercial sites in general, and I don't take kindly to people surreptitiously trying to put ads up on my blog, veiled as comments. Please don't try that again. I'll delete them every time.

The only exceptions I'm wiling to make in this arena:
1) If the link is to a service I use and like personally, and can vouch for, or if they include good sex-informative content along with selling product. (So far I've only got one of those--Good Vibrations.)
2) If the company sends me stuff to test out, view, read, whatever and I decide to write a review on my blog of it. In those cases I'll link to the site in the actual review post, not on my blogroll. If you'd like to sugest something from your site be reviewed, please contact me via the email listed in my user bio.

4/21/2006 10:45 AM  

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