December Issue 2003
Saturday, today, started out like any other. I awoke to the hum of a tubelight, bathed in a pool of sweat. The harsh afternoon glare that confronted me upon drawing the curtain confirmed that half the day was gone.
Fatigue and throbbing temples were accompanied by a vague uneasiness — but that was standard fare the morning after a big night. Friday had been the usual: bingeing with the guys. And the evidence was all over the room — empty cans of Heineken, near depleted bottle of Smirnoff, shreds of tobacco, rizla paper, overflowing ashtrays… God knows what all we talked about, but I have a hazy recollection of a usually composed Faris crying. I think the girlfriend leaving for college got to him and, of course, the booze helped. They say the most honest moments in a man’s life are while under the influence and after he’s blown his load.
After the morning rituals and a last swig of the two drops of vodka left in the bottle, I was out on the town. First stop, petrol, a pack of bennys and then on to Festy’s where the gang was already gathered, glued to Friends on the dvd. Nobody felt very energetic, so we watched Ross, Rachel, Phoebe and co. and imagined they were us close buds hanging out.
Then Raptor barged in, wearing his trademark three stripe Addidas parachute pants and bug-eyed sunglasses, holding five shiny pieces of card-sized metal. “Guys, are we gonna party, or are we gonna party?” he declared triumphantly. Raptor had been promising to get us into one of those big raves that were the current buzz. He’d been hanging around with a bunch of his older brothers’ friends, back from colleges in the US, UK and Canada, bringing with them tales of newer, more mind-boggling substances and other world highs. And now it was all happening here. Raptor, courtesy them, had found us a way ‘in’. All of us so blase, had long known that hash was kiddy, passÃ©, booze was well, been there, done that. A new high was definitely in order. It was settled then. We would all do the bash at the beach that night, and anything else that came our way. The invitation card was certainly intriguing. Carved in big bold letters on a thin piece of card-sized metal, the words ‘Conscious dreams.’ So we dreamed.
A stint at the Sheesha Lounge and some coffe at DÃ©ja Vu later, we were on our way. The pot-holed roads, the suspiciously new, improvised ‘toll tax booths’, the endless drive — none of it mattered, anticipation was all.
As we drove up to the hut where the festivities were to take place, Raptor turned down the hip hop music we’d heard all the way, and asked us all to hand over any money we had. No-one argued. Walking to the hut, Raptor introduced us to his ‘cool’ new friends who had come out to get us past the bouncer. “This is Shamoo, Ali’s friend from Mcgill. He was a bartender,’ Raptor told us. Saying that, he put his arm through Shamoo’s and took off, leaving us to our own devices. Inside the party was in full swing. I noticed everybody was already on the floor grooving to ’50 cent.’ Looking around, I realised my friends had joined the dancers. Feeling a little alone, and a little awkward, I shifted around pretending to be ‘chill.’ As that was wearing thin, Raptor showed up, sunglasses and all, with a can of Red Bull in one hand and something else clutched in the other. Literally sticking his hand into my mouth he said ‘Swallow this,’ and before I had time to consider, I swallowed. ‘It’s E, he told me, and man are you gonna trip.’ ‘This is ‘northern lights,’ the latest shit from Hollywood,’ he went on, ‘cost us a bundle but hey!’. Suddenly I was nervous, nasty Bill o’ Relly’s words (of Fox fame) ringing in my ears… “today another young man on acid died of an overdose…”
“C’mon, lets rock,” said Raptor, yanking me out of my reverie. Uncertain though I was, the music was getting to me. So I marched in with Raptor who, sensing my unease, said ‘Nothing’s going to happen if you don’t stop thinking.’
And so, I began to submit to the senses, the throbbing house music matched the beat of my heart, and everywhere I turned I made good-vibe eye contact. Suddenly I felt a huge connection, felt welcome. It was a baptism into the surreal.
Lots of touching, instant bonding with strangers united by a common thread of consciousness. I couldn’t stop moving, didn’t ever want to stop dancing.
In my mind’s eye I sensed someone watching me, warmth radiating towards me. She was 30-something, slightly detached from the rest of the crowd. We caught each other’s eyes and the stare held for what seemed like hours. I silently mouthed to her “Please dance with me.” She silently mouthed back, “I already am.”
“Time lost meaning, and yet, alongside there was an an extreme consciousness of the ordinary: lights, colours, the vibration of the bass, even the grainy feel of sand on my palms. And I didn’t feel out of control.
Thoughts tripped — as I did — through my mind — life, love, sexuality, pain, the state of the world, my grandmother’s wrinkled hands, Carl Jung’s theory on the collective unconscious.
In time for the approaching climax, I was uncontrollably tossing my wand of energized fairy dust over everyone around me. It was the most beautiful example of community I have ever been a part of — Did I waste it? Not so much I couldn’t taste it. Life should be fragrant, rooftop to the basement.