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Sweat and Stars

By , San Ramon, CA
Cold air seeps between my toes as I kick off my heavy black shoes. The night is fresh, clean, and I take a moment to breathe in before the madness begins. I know that I will soon be intoxicated, and enjoy my last few moments of freedom just standing there, in the dim orange glow from the street lamps, with droplets of water flaking from the sky to tickle my skin. The old alley smells of sweet rain.



I feel a warm hand grasp mine, and I follow my friend inside. Stepping through the doors, my world is suddenly inverted. Lights, lights everywhere floating through the air, bouncing from floor to roof, ricocheting in every which way in a fantastic explosion of color. Noise, blaring through the large room, screaming, laughing, and pounding of feet shaking the dance floor. The beat of the music seems offensively loud and obnoxious; why is everyone so into it? STOP! My brain yells, unheard.



“Come on, let’s dance!” I hear over the cacophony and we push our way into the crowd. There she is, dancing and whirling, jumping and fist pumping, rocking to the rhythm that has seized the world. Ad all I can do is stand there. Who’s looking at me? Oh god, is HE here? I look like and idiot. And then, Why am I here?



She takes my hand again and pulls me deeper into the crowd. Now bodies bump into each other, there is no personal space—we press together, hands touching, hair whipping back and forth, jostling so violent that it’s a miracle no one falls. Heat radiates, we are eggs in a frying pan, tossed and yellow with sweat. “Come on, Kathy, dance!” she yells, her white teeth flashing a smile and her hair already dripping. It’s impossible to not move in the bustling crowd, being thrown to and fro, but finally, I give in and allow myself to move.



It’s slow at first. The music rocks out at a tempo I don’t bother to match, slowly swinging back and forth. But the same drug that keeps the others in a frenzy slowly seeps into me as well, until we are all one—flowing and whipping and shaking and yelling and working into a craze that cannot be halted. Hell has unleashed, and we are dancing.



I remember little else of that night, apart from the sticky air and salty skin, my calves aching from the low dips and thighs burning from shaking hips; I remember little from that night until it ended, and I looked up and saw the stars.





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