I was feeling homesick for the event while it was happening
– Douglas Coupland, Generation X
Daintily, a faun-like figure stole across the cluttered room, pirouetting over the bottles and ashtrays that littered the splattered floorboards. She was the first to notice, having been awakened by a muffled squishy sound as of manifold foreskins peeled back in unison.
Fanny sat up and fumbled for her cigarettes, which she dimly recalled leaving beside a dog-eared magazine. She pouted outrageously, mimicking Nina Hagen on the glossy cover, but feeling more like Mme Pompidou gone feral. Not that anyone could see her, of course; nor she anyone. Except when she sparked up and caught a glimpse of the other partygoers who had crashed on the rugs. The expensive Persian rugs with their expansive mindfuck designs: it was all coming back now.
Guy Debord in hot pursuit of a statuesque demi-mondaine modelling a lampshade hat. That fucking twat, with his sweater knotted around his neck, whose inanities were still audible above the UK Subs. Astrid surrounded by livid creatures of indeterminate gender lapping up the dark glamour of a voluptuous runaway terrorist. The lead singer with a pretentious Parisian band reclining on a Moroccan pouffe drinking champagne from a shiny boot of leather. An amazon (with a blonde beehive and the blank expression of a blow-up doll) fellating an oversize banana in some dark (dank?) corner. Jacques Lacan doing the twist to Martha and The Muffins: rather tentatively at first, then letting rip. Some obscure artist (with an impressive pompadour and an unresolved mother fixation) showing off his collection of individually-numbered potato prints. A boy who looked like a girl almost kissing a girl who looked like a boy before recoiling in sheer horror. Astrid astride an up-and-coming Post-Structuralist who kept neighing and bucking bronco-fashion. Malcolm McLaren describing his new film project as Blake Edwards meets Russ Meyer. A statuesque demi-mondaine modelling a lampshade hat in hot pursuit of Guy Debord…
…At some point, there had been a blackout. Matches were struck, candles were lit, she could remember that distinctly.
Probing eyes, disembodied, unblinking and bloodshot, trained on her, boring through. Bleeding gashes in the cloak of night.
Writhing couples, vertical, horizontal or higgledy-piggledy, their serpentine hips suddenly illuminated like quattrocento manuscripts. A torch flashed into the deepest recess.
Astrid, bent over a Formica table, Jackie O hairdo in disarray, retro ski pants concertinaed around her ankles, emitting unmistakably teutonic grunts while a rolly-polly Pataphysician with a twirly moustache bobbed up and down behind her in slo-mo.
Wall-to-wall hip young gunslingers, no worse looking than Johnny Thunders, every one a Sex Pistol.
Pointillist ponces in pointy shoes atomised under the strobe light: lithe, lank youths, all floppy fringes and flailing arms, moonstomping to the B-52’s like there was no tomorrow, although tomorrow was today.
Today was tomorrow when Fanny’s angelic features were bathed in gold, her halo melting like fondue cheese, and sparkling fruit carved in dewdrops dangled lasciviously from chandeliers like overripe testes.
How could she ever forget what it was like?
He had pounced out of nowhere and pinned her by the arms to the soft furnishings, his breath as fresh as a lungful of menthol, his greedy fingers foraging deep and she had put up a feeble show of resistance like a heroine in some cheap novel and the only time he ever smiled was when he slapped her and it only made her wetter still and she was confused because her mum was a feminist and The Buggles were on the stereo and she closed her eyes as soul surrendered to body and the world melted all around.
“You can only take so much beauty,” he said blowing a plume of smoke at the plaster putti on the ceiling, “before you hit the bottle.” Up close, he looked even more like Paul Simonon. Same fragile strength. Same studied abandon. A panther in a tonic suit. A pugilist cherub after a few rounds.
Later on that night, Fanny pictured him whizzing by at the speed of light on his shiny Lambretta, pork-pie hat cockily at half-cock, skinny tie flailing the air, high on hormones, bent on being. He was just wind in her hair now. A dot in the distance, merging with the background, at one with the cosmos. Pure life force. …Just wind in her hair. …She closed her eyes, but the world did not melt like it had the first time.
How could she ever forget what it was like? What it was like would never be forgotten, but what it was like was not what it was.
Yet her head still pounded to yesterday’s pogobeat. Someone said: Nobody has ever been this young, whereupon Astrid and her fawning retinue repaired to a dodgy sheesha bar near Les Bains Douches. In the metro, they mingled with the vanguard of the rush hour. Overground, daylight was competing with sodium. Several other revellers had woken up to the dinky farting sound of the faun darting around. As their eyes adjusted to the semi-obscurity, it transpired that he had been dipped, stark naked, in silver greasepaint. It also dawned on them that he was stealing everything his slender frame could carry. They all looked on, entranced, as if he were a cross between Vaslav Nijinsky and Arsène Lupin. A smattering of applause accompanied his final exit while tears rolled down Fanny’s eyes. In that instant, she sensed she had lost something she had never found.
Her heart still pounds to the Burundi rhythm of yesteryear.