Tipsiness bobbed and weaved its way through the crowd. Every few people were bestowed with the release of inhibitions. Those on the balcony above me chittered and chattered and tried to keep their beers in their cups. It took about a second for any spillage to meet it’s end on someone’s shoulder, so I avoided the balcony at all costs. I was transfixed by the blanket of smoke around me. Excitement overcame me, and any anxieties I had dissipated with an ease that resembled what I so curiously desired. On the floor, however, all walks of life sauntered through the cigarette scented doors of the Culture Room. It was dignified.A lanky boy with a head of red hair leaned against a wall to the left of me. His hands were crossed coolly over his chest, but for reasons unknown, it struck me as an insecurity. He had no wristband, so I assumed he was under 21. Since we both had an apparent interest in the band and our ages were relatively close in proximity, I deemed it acceptable to place myself in scenarios with him by my side. I wondered how he liked his coffee and if he played any instruments. He looked like a guitarist.
That’s the thing about Rock and Roll; it unites. God himself was in the room with us. Maybe he was the six-foot-tall biker with hair like tinsel? Maybe he was a she, and she was the woman with the crack-head makeup and a toupee on her ponytail. Or maybe it was me? Maybe I’m the omnipotent motherfucker who turns a blind eye to those who cry for help.
The opening act, My Jerusalem, informed those who were unaware that Ft. Lauderdale would be the closing show of the tour. Being the last city in a tour can go one of two ways:
1. You feel cheated. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you can tell that the group is tired. Tired of living a travel sized life; tired of the constant stream of screaming unfamiliar faces; tired of airline travel and tour bus travel and travel in general. Tired of booze and drunken conversations with strangers. Just tired.
2. The intensity of the show morphs the group into something that isn’t even human anymore. This carnal state of being is enough to reinstate someone’s will to live; to really fucking live. They drain themselves dry and still give some in order to be absolved of any potential regrets, and you do too. You find yourself talking to people and looking at people and you no longer feel self conscious about dancing because the moment sweeps you off your feet and before you know it, you’re singing along and sweating and you’re sharing a religious fucking experience with these people, these strangers around you, and they stop looking like strangers and more like old friends, and that alone is enough.
This instance was the latter.
The first time I saw the sleaze ball of my dreams, he looked out at the audience with a look I still cannot bring myself to comprehend. It would be a disservice to try to compress it into a word. Then again, he could’ve just been drunk.
His eyes were half shut and glazed over. I stared at him with a ferocity I’ve never experienced, and that was when he looked up at the audience. I saw something dark and brooding in them, as if in that moment his sober self was trying to claw out of those drunken glazed eyes. I saw something so broken that it almost drove me to look away. Almost. Now what I did not expect was to be inexplicably drawn to him. His careless demeanor could have been a ruse to keep up an idealized rock star image, nonetheless I was hooked.
Everything was hazy, yet I’d never felt clearer. My limbs grew heavy and I had no choice but to surrender to this release from monotony. Dancing to his deep, breathy, sleazy voice was the only way to dispose of the weight of my past. I threw my head back and let it consume me.
Eventually, the intimacy of the venue overcame him and he sang his way into the crowd. Down the steps and stumbling through the masses, he was heading straight for me. Lust cemented me in place and my thoughts swarmed. Did he look at me while he was onstage? Would he slug his arm over my shoulder and scream into the microphone? Would I give myself over to such freedom? Absolutely. At the last moment, he staggered into an all too eager, older woman. I didn’t mind. Mania and Euphoria had not yet left my body—and would not for days after.
As people drifted to the bar under the balcony, I squeezed in between my fellow brothers and sisters to give myself to the music. Had I seen them anywhere else, I would have thought them to be the scum of the Earth. Maybe it was the multicolored lights or the faint smell of dope in the air, but they all looked like family. At this moment, I was no longer human, but a part of something bigger than anything anyone could ever imagine.