Descending into the bowels of the pub, a black room unfolds itself before me. Tubes of lights swirl on the walls round painted cartoon characters. At one end of the room, opposite the bar, there is a small corner lined with books, tempting you to sit and indulge. If it wasn’t trapped behind a table of mixers, laptop and other foreign looking music equipment. Two black speakers stand to attention at each end, their large round O’s vibrating with the music. An eerie glow from the computer screen lights a man’s face. His hair is hidden under a large cat hat, it’s glass eyes unblinking as they stare across the dance floor. Cat man’s hands move in slow motion, plucking sounds seemingly from the ether. Aware of my stare, his black eyes glance up and catch mine, his smile lit by the electronic glow, before they fall back to chase and catch the music.
On the dance-floor, the people move in time, their jerky movements remind me of something that I can’t quite put my finger on. Turning back to the bar, a small bartender just about clears the high surface. I’m the only one ordering but it still takes me some time to catch her attention. That glass really needs cleaning.
All fades as I am consumed by her ear, the lobe stretched round a large black O, a miniature of the centre of the speakers. As her head jerks round, the lobe moves slowly, a pendulum on the side of her head. The absence of flesh mesmerising. Eventually the glass is clean and she leans towards me, eyebrow raised, chin jerks up. Do her lips move? On tiptoe, I lean as close as I can, the top of the bar biting into my sternum, I shout my order over the music. She nods and quickly produces the glass, complete with straw. After I’ve paid, I make my way back to the dancers.
Standing on the edge amongst all the black, the music pounds through the air, resonating through my body. They are all wearing pigeon masks with black eye-holes and have co-ordinated their dance movements to mimic the distinctive bird. Cat man is leading them, the music coos and calls to them. Slowly they all stop and turn to stare, their heads cocked to one side. The music changes, Cat Man talks to his pigeon army. The edge of the masks are harder to define. Were does the paper stop and the person start?
They advance slowly.
Turning, I move quickly, clutching my glass and straw, taking the stairs two at a time. With each step, pigeon music fades and the jazz music upstairs grows stronger, at one point in clashing balance. Emerging from the depths, I’m among glaring lights, buzzing conversation and people laughing. Below me I can hear the patter of feet and fluttering of wings? Pulling my coat tighter round me, I abandon my drink and plunge out into the night. The bouncer holds the door open and pulls a grey fluffy feather off my shoulder. Examining it between his fingers, he laughs “You been playing with birds?”
“If only you knew” I mutter before hurrying away.