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Old 02-11-2013, 03:57 PM   #1
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Anything At All, Chapter 3

There's a few textual notes about the music and such at the end. I'm having so much fun writing these characters; hope you like it too.

Edge paused beside Adam at the top of the stairs, halted by the throbbing electronic bass lines. He squinted into the flashing strobe lights, trying to make sense of the heaving, symetrical pit of motion. Somewhere up front someone was laying down loops on a synthesized acoustic guitar- two, then three, and the fourth, a beat pounded out on its side.

"Edge, what sort of mad Valhalla have you brought me to?"

"I don't know, I can't tell yet." Solvieg was right; this was like a very badly mannered ceili dance. In fact, it looked as though his grandmother's ceili had taken a couple hits of MDMA and gone to a rave. In the erratic flashes of light, he discerned the crowd packed elbow to elbow on forms of double lines that met and split in swirling figures of four, two and eight. A word from a caller rang out now and then to change the figures, but unlike any dance he'd ever walked by in Ireland the crowded bodies were young, beautiful and very slightly dressed. Nearest them one couple took a tortuously long chord rotation to grind before linking hands for, as the disembodied caller said, a "star left." Adam gained the salient point at once.

"Does it look like you take a turn to touch every woman on the floor by the end of the song?"

Edge felt his mental eyeborws go up as the same girl twirled away to stop up against a new man. "Yes. Yes, it does."

"And where's your girl?"

"There." He pointed toward the front, where her shining head gleamed just visible over the dancers.

'Well, if you're set for a bit I can see that I have some business to attend to...." Adam said. Bemused, Edge watched him find a strange girl and lead her out onto the floor in about thirty seconds, head tilted close to hear her and looking perfectly at his ease. Smooth bastard, he thought, and began to thread his way to the front.

He stopped well back of the low stage to survey the scene. A skinny boy with an enormous white-man's afro stood working the mixing console, shouting a call into the microphone now and then. At the front sat Solvieg and a young man like a bear, each with a hand built pedal board at their feet. Edge was seized with immediate, unreasoning jealousy. The young bear was big enough to dwarf the neck of the tricked out acoustic guitar in his hands, and Edge didn't care for the laughing look he gave to Solvieg at all.

She drummed her feet against the floor, her whole body moving with a suppressed energy as her fingers moved across the fingerboard of her instrument. It was a kind of thing that Edge hadn't seen before; narrow and nearly solid bodied, making far too much noise for what he could see her doing. He counted carefully. There were at least four layers of sound there- percussive pops, rhythmic vamps and eight bar loops over which she played a distorted melody. He could have kissed her right there for her little round toes, the mark of concentration between her brows, the straight fall of her hair to her chin. But- she slid another look toward her partner, a signal of some sort. No, Edge was quite sure that he didn't like the elated look on his face a bit.

Edge watched as he laid one loop over another, a heavy 6/8 stamp pattern onto a wooden board on the floor wired for sound, then an 8 bar vamp and a bassy rhythm line. Edge had never seen fiddle tunes played this way, and he was torn between twin desires to watch it happen and to give up and dance. The young bear resolved his dilemma by setting down his guitar. He carefully checked his levels and then flung himself off the stage into the dance, raising cheers from the crowded floor.

Now Solvieg moved further into the light. The dj kicked up the tempo and the music began to rise. She was standing now, stamping her sturdy little foot, leaning into the music. Edge recognized the look on her face from having worn it himself a hundred times: blind trance, sheer transport. He knew she wouldn't know him or anyone else now; she was in that other place and was going to take them all with her. He moved closer. She threw back her head and yelled, a long rising whoop that brought an answering roar from the crowd and the young bear tearing back from their midst. He flung himself back into his chair and settled a long, twisted, tubular thing on a stand in front of him.

As he began to blow into it, Solvieg flipped off her loops one by one. There was only the repetitive thump of the dj and a deep steady nasal drone from the long thing. Edge searched his memory. A digeridoo, from Australia. He mentally chalked up a point to traditional music for innovation.

The stamps of the dancers were still increasing as the bear began to build up a driving rhythmic guitar line, still maintaining the buss of the digeridoo. Edge saw that Solvieg had seen him now. She flashed a quick, distracted grin without breaking the thrum of her body and began to stroke a steady pop on the lower strings, marking time. She looked at the bear and they shifted tunes seamlessly, and the dancers shouted in approval. Edge knew that fiddle tunes were played in sets of three, but why did he recognize this one? He didn't know any fiddle tunes. The rest of the club knew it too, many of them shouting along as they circled, whirled and swung. It couldn't be...but it was. Solvieg was playing Smells Like Teen Spirit retrofitted as some sort of crazy grandmother dance reel- and she was about to lift the roof with it. It was becoming impossible to stand still. Edge caught a glimpse of Adam, circling around the strange girl, foreheads pressed together and gazes locked. The whole scene was rife with a turbocharged eroticism, moves that might have passed unnoticed in an ordinary club amplified to near indecency when repeated a hundred times in unison. He recognized that the critical moment had been reached when a good show passes over into the ecstatic, and he gave himself up to it.

Edge was dizzy, breathless and faintly confused when the music finally ended. The whole room roared applause at the musicians, who stood and cheered back. The lights came up a little and an ordinary club song came on. He waited a moment to catch his breath before pushing his way over to where Solvieg was carefully packing her fiddle away. He gazed at her for a minute before she saw him there and came down from the stage.

"That was incredible."

"Thanks." She seemed unaccountably more shy than earlier. "It's a lot of fun. It's not Boston Garden or anything, but this is always a really great room for us." She trailed off. "Let me introduce you to the guys. That's Jordy, our very own Mixmaster Mike, and this is Ivor." She waved at the young bear, who came stepping over rolls of cords, stands and boxes to stand in front of Edge. "My partner in crime and getaway driver, both."

Edge couldn't help prickling a little. This bastard was five inches taller than him at the least and had a lot of hair, not to mention a disarmingly open expression. Edge tucked his resentment carefully behind his eyes. He was a wealthy and successful man, for God's sake, not the new kid in the play yard.

Ivor held out his hand with a grin. "Hey, nice to meet you. I hear you're a guitar player too. What do you play, acoustic?"

"No, em... I play in a rock and roll band. I have a Gibson Explorer I like to use a lot."

Solvieg broke in. "Ivor, are you okay doing the load out tonight?"

"Sure thing. We'll catch up later in the week." Ivor began to pack up the cords into cases. Edge and Solvieg were left looking at each other a little awkwardly.

"Em. I don't know much about Boston. Where would you like to go?"

"I have a few ideas," she said. "I was thinking of a little food and not too loud first, if that works for you."

"Sure." He should be up front with her. Or at least he thought he should. "Is Ivor your.. Are you together?"

She laughed. Thank God, she laughed. "No! Ivor's a great musician and very fun, but it would be kind of like dating a basketful of puppies; just too much. But he always drives the equipment to gigs and he doesn't drag his groupies to rehearsal, so it works out fine. I was just going to change before we go, if that's all right. I get a little sweaty up there."

He laid his hand on her back in sheer relief. "Wow, I guess so. Don't go out like that; you'll catch your death."

"I'm sorry.” She rumpled the wet ends of her hair self consciously. “That's probably not very feminine."

He stepped in close to inhale the scent of sweat from her neck, very light and warm and faintly musky.

"That," he said, "might be the most feminine thing I've ever encountered. Go on and change, and I'll buy you a beer."

Techno-contra is a real genre of music, but it didn't exist in 1992 and doesn't exist yet, as far as I know, in the way that I describe it. Hopefully maybe music is like porn- if someone makes a wish that it exists on the internet, then someone will make it. Solvieg and her band are musically inspired by these guys

who you can see in action at an ordinary contra dance here (skip in about 4 minutes for everybody to get warmed up)

and the club scene is inspired by this

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Old 02-18-2013, 03:30 PM   #2
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Wow, what detail! I had to read the story again once I saw the videos! I was really able to see the club. Love Solvieg playing Smells Like Teen Spirit in the context of this musical genre.

Love the line: Ivor held out his hand with a grin. "Hey, nice to meet you. I hear you're a guitar player too. What do you play, acoustic?"

"No, em... I play in a rock and roll band. I have a Gibson Explorer I like to use a lot."

It's priceless! Poor Edge. Poor Ivor had no clue as to whom he was talking to!

The music in that first video is awesome. I love the sounds of the the different instruments. I never really thought of violin with delays and effects (similiar to what Edge has created on stage) but it sounds great! The whole dance thing looks like a lot of fun. Have you done cross over contra dance? (I hope that's what it's called).

Well done! And thank you for introducing me to a new style of music!

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Old 02-18-2013, 05:21 PM   #3
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Thanks! I really wanted to communicate the energy and feel of the scene, but I wasn't sure if it could be done for a reader who had no background in it.

I have not done crossover contra. It seems to live in urban areas and college towns where there are more cool young people than we have where I live. I am going to see Perpetual e-motion this weekend though! This is their home area but they only play here about once a year and spend most of their time on the road. I'm sure it's going to be a little wild.

And I love Ivor. He may get his own story some day. I wish I had a photo of the contra dancer that inspired him!
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