Europe Echelon: Amsterdam – Nightlife

This post is not suitable for the conservative and the traditional.

I’ve made contact.

It’s frightening, yet amazing rolled into one – this idea that an app connects kindred souls whom without it, might never have their destinies intertwined. I arrange to meet one, and propose to hang out at the venue which I arranged to meet the other – the plan was foolproof. Perfect, really, as I identify my escape routes. I return to the capital: armed with little, and dressed for action. I pictured a good night out, but as they say, nothing ever goes according to plan.

We’ve arranged to meet at a predetermined spot at a predetermined time. He doesn’t show up. The mercury plunges with the minutes, and even a minute’s wait is unrelentingly bone chilling. I wait for fifteen, and still, my cell stays black – cold, silent in its comatose state. It’s a busy street, and I make attempts to identify my acquaintance amongst the jet sett but to no avail. I send a text – simple, concise and straight to the point: “Where are you?” In those words I sent and vent my frustration. An apology could’ve softened the absence. At the half hour, I concede, resigned that people can stand me up. No longer fixated on waiting, the general crowds across the road catch my eye – that demeanor alien yet familiar in its character seduced my attention. Stylized in their get-up, with a confidence that no sane hetero would in their right mind possess, I was charmed. It never hurt to be curious.

The dark lane had an air of mystery and suspiciousness. This is wrong, my conscience reasons. With the weather expected under freezing, the municipality saw fit to re-activate the underground pedestrian heating on this wintry evening. The plumes of steam, regular in their consistency and calming in their warmth, like a curtain, masking the evils that laid ahead. I walk, hands in my coat, a beam of white light from behind – the scene of a music video, really, I reassure myself. The lane takes a bend, and the dark, steamy and creepy lane gives way to pigeonholes of vice, indulgence, and what could be escape and freedom. And as with all of Amsterdam, the now recognizable aroma of weed never roaming too far off. I had read about the fading gay and lesbian scene, but never did I imagine that the Mecca of European gay nightlife surmounting to nothing more than a handful of clubs no more numerous than Singapore’s. Why the exodus, I wondered. Why the exodus, I wondered. Was it a reflection of a more discriminatory society? Did the street purges annihilate, or was it simply misdirection? The handful of establishments stand in defiance to the moving tides – the transparent displays of the young and the restless in their euphoric orgasms.

I gravitate to the brightest and most happening, coincidentally where I’m supposed to meet my second correspondence. I’m greeted and am consumed by the dainty mix of cigarettes, alcohol, and other substances (I can only assume) – a myriad of scents: one’s familiar, the others foreign but equally inviting. The fluidity of the beats – the omniscient pumping of the bass, fusing the audio into one’s own rhythmic pulse, the sensation as it was, was out of this world. It’s loud, but you can’t hear. It’s bright and it’s dark, but you cannot see. Flashing strobes, illuminating expressions, but where mouths move, there is no voice. Is it the music, or is it just happening all inside me, I can’t tell. Somebody attempts to make sense of my presence. I shout, but no words come out, no words I can here. Still the drink comes. The starting price jolts me out of it. I down my poison, and out of the club, for the station.

It’s by a tram and a thread that I make the last train. The locomotives run through the night, but never frequent, and the services, different. The arriving suburban serving my stop is a welcome sight, and the view of my hotel, a relief.

Once in the welcoming respite of my room, the juice of life that is the Wi-Fi reanimates my device. Four words, “Where r you?”, “U shit”, from my first correspondent, nearly two hours after our prearranged time. His anger is pleasurable, a turn on even, but the nagging sense of my emptiness croaked to be desperately filled. The iPhone vibrates.

“Wanna join a party?”

I hesitate, looking away, before replying a firm positive.


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