Dominic Amerena

Nu Disco

It’s sometime on Saturday and they’re playing Nu Disco and everybody is dancing. The vague chemical smell of dry ice wafts around the room, mixing with the sweat and fake tan. It’s dark enough that anybody is kissable.
               A girl comes up to me. She is wearing a black leather jacket, and a black skirt and black glasses with no lenses in them. There is something wrong with her face. It’s melting. Her eyes are half closed, the lids fluttering wildly, as if trying to break free from her skull. Her mouth sags down, a gash of lipstick groping the air. She’s trying to say something. Her lips are writhing around the words, shoving them between her teeth in one long slur. Those five magic words. ‘Scushe me, got any bics?’
               The track playing is the DFA remix of The Revenge’s remix of Hot Chocolate’s Heaven’s In The Backseat of My Cadillac. It’s from the 70’s. The main chorus, “Heaven’s in the backseat of my Cadillac/Let me take you there/Oh yeah,” is repeated over and over and over. A single synth chord clamours for attention in the background. It is musical necrophilia/Necrophilia/Oh yeah.
               The girl is still eating me with her eyes. I shake my head again and she grabs me by the arm ‘C’mon d’know anyone. I jusht need another halfa ta keep me goin.’
               Her voice has the keening edge of a veteran pillhead. A wheedling, desperate whine which grows higher as the night grows later, and a comedown begins to rear its head. The pupils rolling around her eye sockets are big enough to sublet. They hold a vampiric fear of the daylight outside. I shake my head again and she trudges on, a forced march across the wilderness of the dance floor.
               My friend is dancing next to me. His black jeans must be cutting off his circulation, because his face is bright red. He attaches his mouth to my ear and shouts ‘I fucking love this song.’
               We dance for a while and one song changes into another. And then we dance for a little longer and one song changes into another. I’m finding it hard to tell the changes, so seamless is the mixing of the DJ, whose name escapes me but sounds like a virulent tropical STD. Quite how he managed to weave together Mock and Toof’s remix of Hot Chip’s mashup of Hold On and Touch Too Much with Mock and Toof’s remix of The Juan Maclean’s remix of the classic 70’s hit Love Is In The Air completely escapes me. All I do know is that when the chorus comes on everyone puts their hands in the air and sings along, and wonders why they never noticed just how cool a song it was when they heard it the first few dozen times on Gold 104. Meanwhile my friend sniffs from a little bottle, first in one nostril, then the other, and his face goes even redder. He shouts ‘I fucking love this song.’

Friday morning batters insistently against the upstairs windows of our house while the speakers are playing a Nu Disco track; a tinny cluster of horns and cowbells and a girl speaking in French. It’s a new track. So new it’s newer than Nu Disco. It’s Nü Disco. The umlaut denotes newness. The human dregs scraped from the night before, those restless ones who don’t want to go home or have no home to go, are sprawled in various states of disrepair around the living room.
               The one slumped against the bookcase is Jill, a scenester from Geelong who supplements her income as a nurse selling prescription drugs to Melbourne’s more discerning connoisseurs. She’s wearing a delightfully ironic T-shirt with the slogan “don’t tech drugs, tech house” and is crouched in the foetal position, though from what ungodly womb I shudder to think. ‘I think I’m going to spew,’ she coughs, and tries to get up.
               Unfortunately for her, the potent cocktail of downers including Ketamine, Xanax and Quaaludes have somewhat impeded her motor skills and she becomes entangled in the clotheshorse by the stairs. Her limbs flop limply among the cardigans and jackets like a school of dying fish, her mouth lolling plaintively.
               I find a bucket, half full of someone else’s vomit and put it beside her head. Jill has not eaten for two days, so her vomit is a thick bilious black and smells of car batteries. It’s more stomach lining than liquid. When she has finished it cakes her upper lip, and is mushed in her hair. She is smiling though, a toothy smile of achievement, like she has just helped an old lady across the road. She crawls to her handbag and eats another pill, ‘Just to get the taste out of me mouth.’
               The song breaks down. One bass note and one bass drum, the woman’s voice chanting over the top. ‘C’est la vie. C’est la vie. C’est la vie.’
               Jack looks uncomfortable. He’s moving around his chair like its on fire, crossing and uncrossing his legs, stretching his back, hitching up his pants. You’d look uncomfortable too if you’d just shafted a pill.
               ‘I had to go three knuckles deep,’ he confides in a breathless whisper, ‘I didn’t have a condom so I used conditioner to get it over the shelf. My fucking arsehole’s on fire though.’
               He lights a cigarette and draws his hand back sharply, ‘Fuck my fingers smell like shit. Worth it though, gets you way more fucked.’
               Five minutes later he’s jumping up and down on the bed, smoking cigarette after cigarette, the ash cascading down his skinny black jeans. It’s midday outside. People are on their lunch breaks, walking their dogs, playing at school and Jack is interplanetary. ‘C’est la vie. C’est la vie. C’est la vie’
               ‘I fucking love this song!’ He shouts.

Some club sometime somewhere in the city. James is sitting with me in the booth, legs crossed angularly, his black patent leather boots on the table. He’s barely on drugs, just a pill or two and a few bracing bumps of K. He’s talking too.
               ‘I hate this Nu Disco shit. I mean it’s just like so fucking repetitive. It’s essentially like the same composition repeated. Bass, drums, cow bells. It’s so, like, derivative.’ He speaks in a stylised drawl, dragging his vowels interminably and clipping the consonants off sharply. He sounds permanently bored.
               Between sips of his gin and tonic he continues, ‘Take this track man. It’s a 70’s pop song by the sisters fucking Sledge. They just speed up the tempo a bit, throw in a bass line and all these idiots will dance to it. These scenesters man, they’re fucking cattle in skinny jeans.’
               I must have nodded, though I don’t recall it, because he’s grabbing me hard.
               ‘I know you like get what I mean. It’s not just the googs talking, like you know, we totally get each other. We don’t just go out to get fucked, we, you know, like, are taking our minds to other places. It’s like totally so much more of an experience for us. Like, you know what I mean?’
               As he talks his hands keep contracting into claws, his fingernails pressing into his palms, the muscles stretched tight. He’s got cottonmouth and keeps running his tongue over his lips, searching for moisture. He’s grinding his teeth too. Hard, gritty grinds, crushing them into a fine white powder which collects around the corners of his mouth. It’s actually audible over the music, which is now Heaven’s In The Backseat of My Cadillac.
               ‘Hey man have you got any chewie?’ Grind, grind, grind. ‘These googs are really smacky.’ Grind, grind, grind. ‘Fuck man, are you like feeling it? This is so intense.’ Grind, grind, grind.
               His legs are shaking bad so he stands and walks out of the booth ‘Catch you later man, I’m having a dance, I fucking love this song.’

Back here again. A Nu Disco DJ from Europe is playing and the dance floor is packed full of flesh. There is a particularly wet strip of flesh right next to me. It is a portion of Jean. I’m unsure which. Arm, leg, face? It’s all dripping with sweat. Big, pregnant beads of sweat, which dangle precariously for a second, then fall, racing towards the ground, as far away from that skin as they can get. She has a pump bottle full of water in each hand and is drinking too quickly, so it dribbles down her chin. She tried to talk before but she sounded submerged.
               The Nu Disco DJ from Europe is playing a Nu Disco track shipped over from Germany, shrink wrapped and water resistant, canonised by the holiest of holy online blogs. It consists of a three note bass line and a man’s voice slowly counting backwards from ten in German. When the countdown reaches zero I expect something terrible to happen but predictably I’m still adrift on an ironic ocean of black.
               The songs ebb and flow together and I expect to feel water around my ankles. So this is what drowning feels like; in the darkness, with dry ice shoved up your nostrils. I can’t tread water forever. So I grit my teeth and dance all night, and all I see is black, and all I hear is Nu Disco and then someone comes up to me and shouts ‘I fucking love this song.’

Dominic Amerena is a 20 year old writer from Melbourne, Australia. This is his first published story.

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