Bass Bins

I’m continuing my series of sections that were omitted from the published version of Themis: Part one. This section features Sarah going to a nightclub with Henry and Fiona to watch Danny DJ, where she witnesses his ‘Godlike’ skills. Hope you enjoy:

Sarah felt the music before she heard it. The car rumbled from the sound waves that bounced inside the metal and oozed through the specialized bulletproof glass. The car could stop high caliber rounds and explosive devices, but apparently not bass.
They were parked in an alleyway by the back entrance of what used to be a clothing mill, then a warehouse, and now the infamous nightclub called Subland. Rave parties were not Sarah’s idea of a night out, preferring the wispy melodies of folk music to loud repetitive beats. Her perception was that it was seedy and she’d been reluctant to attend, but Danny was the DJ, and Henry had begged her to come. He was still under the illusion that she would fall prey to his irresistible charms, but the more she got to know him the less likely that became. He was attractive and charming in an over confident childish way, but she couldn’t help but think that he could fix those charms on someone else at any moment.
Fiona sat opposite in the back of the limo looking radiant in her clubland-meets-the-catwalk slinky black dress with sports shoes and a silver wrap in her long hair. Sarah had felt pretty good about the way she looked in her silk dress, but Fiona possessed a supernatural beauty that made everyone else appear dull in comparison.
Except Henry, who sat next to Sarah and squeezed her hand as they pulled in near the entrance. He was casually dressed, but possessed a similar quality to his sister, as if an air of heightened reality surrounded them, and a film crew continuously followed them around to witness the display of perfection. It was the same with all the siblings. There was something different, something difficult to quantify. They were a thrill to be around, and Sarah noticed that they had the same effect on everyone they interacted with.
They were ushered in through the back door by their Israeli bodyguards and greeted by club officials, who predictably fawned over Fiona and Henry, and ignored her. They climbed a dark stairway into a room that overlooked a large and packed dance floor.
“At least there’s no paparazzi,” Fiona said, as she sipped on a glass of champagne.
Sarah tasted her own glass of free, expensive bubbles. “It’s not as loud as I thought it would be.”
“It will be when we go down. Oh, wow, I have to say hello to someone.” Fiona walked over to a group of bald men, all identically dressed in black. Sarah noticed that nearly everyone was dressed in black.
Henry walked her to the glass wall that overlooked the dance floor. The VIP room they stood in contained various tribes of people. One corner contained the fashion group, and she recognized a few well-known models and designers. Sarah also recognized a film actor with his entourage. The rest of the room was filled with industry types: DJ’s, promoters, music producers, even journalists like her.
The dance floor itself was a cavernous room that had retained the structure of its industrial origin. The ceiling was constructed from steel-beams that stretched the length and width of the room. Huge colourful globes hung from them with pulsating lights, like planets floating in space. Giant banners were draped over the walls with a single word plastered over them in neon orange letters: Themis. The room they watched from must have been a monitoring station for whatever industry had last existed here, as it offered a perfect view of the entire complex.
“They call him God you know.” Henry pointed to a raised area where Danny fiddled behind banks of equipment.
She laughed. “Excuse me.”
“In the dance music press they’ve started calling him God, because of his supernatural ability behind the turntables. It started out as a bit of a joke, but now they’ve started to actually bill him as God. Danny gets a huge kick out of it, gives his tender ego a little boost.”
Sarah rolled her eyes. “Yes, his ego really needs a boost. Is he that good?”
“Well, he’s a genius composer, so he applies the same ear and feel for the music to his DJ’ing, and people seem to feel it.”
“Yeah, but isn’t he just playing records?”
“Danny loves his vinyl, goes on for hours about timbre and compression, puts me to sleep. But he also mixes it with his own music from digital files or cd’s. I’ve seen him create something original on the spot and then mix three separate vinyl records into it at the same time. And as you can see, they do love him.” Henry pointed to the dance floor and she saw something close to rapture on the faces of the dancers.
“But aren’t they all just on drugs anyway?” she asked, as she stared at the pulsating dance floor.
“Not here. Danny’s anti-drugs, and he attracts like-minded people, though he does love his wine.”
“I’ve been working for you for a month and I still have no real idea what Themis is.” Sarah nodded at the flashing orange banners.
Henry frowned. “We’ve told you, it’s a foundation we run, a charity thing, that’s all.”
Sarah shook her head. “Sooner or later you’re going to have to tell me. Sooner is better, or I’m out.”
Fiona put a hand on each of their shoulders. “Let’s dance.”
“I don’t know, it looks packed.” Sarah felt edgy and not at all like dancing.
Henry shook his head and Fiona laughed. “I think they’ll make room for us.” They took Sarah’s hands and pulled her towards a door. Hand in hand they walked down the staircase, followed by one of the bodyguards, and then through another door that bounced in its hinges from the bass.
It was loud, but a different kind of loud than at a rock concert. You could still talk and hear people, but the sound was full and it soaked everything in rich, textured layers. She knew the bass would be powerful, but it had become part of her. The sound was like nothing she’d ever experienced. Exciting, sexy, cool, dangerous. She couldn’t think of enough adjectives to describe it. She needed new words. Clean and yet dirty. Crisp and yet blurry. It was juxtapositions and contrasts, and slower than she’d imagined. Sarah thought of dance music as fast, but this was slower than most pop music, which made it sultry and seductive.
She hadn’t planned to dance, just hang out and watch, but right away she experienced an uncontrollable desire to move. She couldn’t resist the music that stuck to her limbs and moved them, at first in isolation from her will, then by choice, and then with full and total commitment. The music owned her and she allowed herself to be owned by it. The bass moved everything with a gentle rolling step. The beats were crisp, syncopated, and rhythmic. They were simple and minimal with chunks of space between them that emphasized their depth and clarity. On the off beats clicks and taps carved out a relentless train of rhythm. A church organ stabbed through the layers along with the occasional undecipherable word sung in a gospel voice. Above it all, an unusual sound bounced and weaved. A strange tone with an acidic quality that soared high then low, then high again.
Henry danced close and smiled, his eyes locked to hers. Fiona was lost to it and moved with total abandon and gleamed and shimmered on the dance floor like some angelic creature. Sarah looked around and watched the other dancers. They didn’t dance in couples, or even small tight groups like she’d seen at the nightclubs she’d been dragged to at University. The ones that played terrible music and that were little more than meat markets. This dance floor was like a giant organism sharing one mind and moved as if each person was a limb on a massive, undulating creature. People danced alone but at the same time together, as if they participated in a singular experience, which they clearly did.
Themis flashed on banners with other words overlaid by lasers. Justice, equality, balance, harmony and love, were superimposed over the orange letters.
Time passed in a vacuum for a while. The music would change incrementally, but kept its essence. It was hot, but she didn’t care. The idea of leaving the dance floor was abhorrent to her, as if she would miss something vital. At one point the beats and bass fell away and only a high string remained, which rose through chords in a melancholic melody that exuded emotion. A handclap sounded, then another, until it became the beat, and when the bass finally dropped back in, it was so powerful that everyone cheered. For a moment, the room dissolved away and she had a vision of dancing in a field filled with flowers and people in tableaus of ecstasy. It was a kind of beautiful madness and then she was back, the hallucination gone.
Sarah saw Danny as he put on another record and manipulated the equipment whilst he smiled at the crowd and made eye contact with the dancers. He nodded and laughed at their enjoyment, and they looked back in reverence. Yes, she could see why they called him God. He was being worshipped, and he looked down as a benevolent being unleashing rapture from thin air and bestowing it on his followers. Sarah turned to face Henry and Fiona who pulled her into an embrace. The music, the people who shared it, the three of them together.
Never had she felt so alive, and so loved.

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