Huddled together for warmth but mostly pressing closer to the excitement - we wait, for patrons to be used up and expelled - granting us permission to indulge the cycle.
The air electric with the magnetism of a freak show.
Pre-gamed gawkers ready to feel something they would forget the next day;
Save for the vague, alcohol soaked, broad strokes.
I handed the man $10 apiece for me and my girl.
He pried it from my reluctant grasp.
Inside the air hung with a light but pervasive cloud of smoke adding an ethereal element to the atmosphere.
Pounding music shook the crowded dance floor as a large middle aged woman shook her bare breasts on stage behind the bar.
I tried not to stare.
Most people didn't look,
They were there to feel.
I tried to pretend I wasn't there, couldn't feel.
It was humanity.
Life at its grittiest.
Squeezing the lemons for every drop.
Alchemists turning misogyny and self loathing into evaporating gold.
Grasping at the ghostly presence of power and affirmation,
Unable to permanently attain.
Observers who with their gawking pay homage to the spectacle, secretly accepting you while acknowledging their own humanity through you.
It was sad, lonely, broken.
A mirror held up to life, unflattering yet honest - a glimpse into who we really are.
My horror receded as I realized we are all the same: I was one of them on a different stage, working out the routine of my own salvation.