From the outside, the squat was really no different from all the other houses that Janine and Edie had passed as they made their way from the tube station through the North London streets to the address they had been given. Perhaps it was slightly more dilapidated, but in the early evening dusk every house had a general air of dinginess, not improved by the rubbish blown along by the autumn breezes and the battered cars parked badly on the kerbside. But the evident proof that this was where the party was being held came from the thundering sound of drum and bass that echoed down the street and shook the glass in the windowpanes.
Janine and Edie were a little worried that they'd be turned away. After all, they hadn't been invited and they weren't at all sure they'd meet anyone they knew there, but there was no one guarding the partly open front door, so the bottle of cheap white wine that they'd bought (much against Janine's preference for wine with the proper certification of appelation controlée) wasn't actually needed as the all-important entry requirement. They pushed the door open to enter a long wide hallway where many other young people were lined against the peeling wallpaper, drinking from beer cans and passing around joints. Without showing any hesitation, they strode down the hallway beyond the staircase in the middle. Then, now well past anyone who might have seen their arrival, they too leaned against the wall to roll some tobacco in their rizlas and to take in the party at more leisure. The hard, thumping sounds of Dillinja boomed in their stomachs and ears, a tortuous driving beat that made them feel sharp and nasty almost immediately.
"Cool!" exclaimed Edie.
"Ouai. Cool!" echoed Janine. "Ça marche bien. Where's the wine? I want a drink. And I want it now."
"Yeah," agreed Edie. "But, you know, just cool it. See what's going round." She gestured at a large fat seven skinner that was being passed from one toking guest to another. "If that ain't worth waiting for, I don't know what is."
Janine smelt the sweet odour as it wafted around her, the very smell already making her feel a little more languid and relaxed. It was so different in here from the wind-swept, lamplit streets outside, and she knew that after one toke that world would seem as distant as her own distant ville. And then, it was passed to her by a lanky mec with straggling hair over his face and to his collar, wearing a baggy dark brown tee shirt and small tinted steel frame glasses. She had been around enough to know that she didn't really want to taste the saliva that dampened the tip of the roach, so she cupped her fist and breathed deep through the cooling space it contained. It was strong stuff. Not black. Not resin at all. Probably skank. And it hit her instantly: a rush of that familiar taste tingling her cheeks and clicking her brain into gear. Merde! This was going to be a vachement cool gig: she could see that.
When Edie and Janine finally found their way into the dingy kitchen, at the back of the house, where all the alcohol was and where they could drop off the bottle they'd brought with them, what waiting for them was a real disappointment after the quite decent skank. The English really knew rien about alcohol. Their beer was too warm and too weak, and they had absolutely no idea about wine at all. Janine regarded the bottles lined up with growing disdain. Clearly cheapness, not qualité had been uppermost in the mind of whoever had bought all this shit. And not a decent French wine amongst them. Some New World stuff and some German Riesling. But so much beer, mostly in cans, only a few bottles, and most of these were lagers and bitters. Reluctantly, Janine poured a glass of piss-poor Chardonnay into a plastic cup and joined Edie as she floated out of the kitchen on her high-heel pumps with a can of McEwans in one hand and a rollie in the other. All the while, the sound of drum and bass shifted gear into some hard thumping pumping techno, with a wicked rhythm that almost curled up Janine's toes at every fourth emphatic beat.
Edie regarded Janine's expression as she looked disdainfully at the glass of wine she'd poured. She leaned over her friend, put an arm around her long thin neck, ran her fingers through her short raffish dark brown hair, and placed a kiss on her bright red lipsticked lips. Janine smiled back at Edie, whose dyed blonde hair was cut into a kind of bob and contrasted sharply with her dark eyebrows and deep brown eyes. Both girls were very thin and dressed similarly in a strange combination of the utilitarian - boots, baggy jackets and tights - and the fanciful - skirts, necklaces and tee shirts with the most plunging neckline that was legal. The cut of their tops was high enough to let the light catch the studs that shone on their hard, smooth bellies: a perfect compliment to the studs pierced through their labia lips.
"What you need, sweetie," remarked Edie, peppering her face with a multitude of soft kisses, "is something a lot better than Supermarket plonk. And, if I'm not mistaken, I think there might be someone here who can give us both just that."
Janine smiled conspiratorially, as Edie took her metal-bangled wrist in her hand and dragged her out of the kitchen, past the temptations of another roving joint, into the main room where the music was coming from. Merde Alors! These old Victorian houses had such enormous rooms. What use had they ever had for all that space? Now, of course, it made a very satisfactory dance floor, the ancient floorboards still able to support the weight of dozens of thumping feet, belonging to silhouetted figures illuminated by the lights the DJ had brought round for the gig. Behind the turntables and framed by the speaker stacks, the DJ was fumbling around in his boxes for twelve inch discs, while the lead from the pair of headphones attached to his ears looped toward his decks. When he stood up, spinning the vinyl in his fingers before placing it onto the rubber and then dropping the needle into its grooves, he briefly gazed around at the crowd, a broad manic smile on his face, while the techno beats pounded and thundered around him.
Super! That smile was a sign. The faces lit up in the crowd of stomping dancers were even better evidence. Chemical bliss. Even with only a few sips of vin de Kwik-Save, the message of bliss was coming through the Progressive House pulse beats and Janine was already feeling more than ready. But, as usual, it was Edie who was the one to find the source of the wellspring and to partake of its flowing treasures. And in this case, the source was a young guy with hair so short it was almost blue and a capacious jacket with as many pockets as were humanly feasible. Including pockets hidden inside pockets. And then there were the set of pockets on his brown baggy, cotton trousers. Unlike everyone else in the room, he was sitting on a chair by the corner, about as far from the speakers as he could be, only occasionally tapping a foot to the frenetic beats, a smile of deep joy spread over his face, but with eyes as hard and sharp as a pair of knives. As usual, it was Edie, bolder than brass and twice as shiny, who zoomed straight onto this mec while Janine put a toe into the flowing water of driving beats. It was difficult to keep her steps restrained as the music swooped and dived around her, pulsating rhythms thundering into her stomach and pumping up her thighs. A strobe caught her in mid-glide, blue and orange and green against the peeling wallpaper, and then swooped down to catch Edie who was returning with a handful of goodies in little sealed-seam plastic bags.
"It's a bit of mix and match!" Edie yelled into Janine's ear, as she froze in mid-step to pick up the chemical delights. "Got some good stuff. Bit of speed and some Es. A tab if the mood takes you. And here," she tapped a pocket, "I've got some pure grade A skank. And all for not much outlay." She sighed. "These men they'll fucking give everything for a promise of a promise or a glimpse of a glimpse. But there ain't no stopping us now. Dive in for the start of the drip feed."
With that, she opened her mouth and dropped a few pills, not even bothering to check what they were. Janice kissed Edie on the cheek and followed suit, leaving half the stuff for later. This could be a lo-ong night ahead!
A brief peck was not enough. Janine took Edie's face in her hands and pushed it to her lips, her tongue slotted into Edie's mouth, and for a few ecstatic, liquid moments, the two of them kissed fully and slobberily, as the beat pushed up and up into the pit of their stomachs. Finally, building up enough tension to push the two girls apart. And then off with their inappropriately heavy jackets, the plastic bags and rolling tobacco transferred to the huge side-pockets of their trousers, and, then, with a whoop of excitement, the two of them were boogying and stomping and jumping and pumping to the pounding rhythms, two-stepping and jockeying to the shifting beats, sweat erupting from their foreheads and the top of the breasts. And then they communicated with facial expressions twisted and torn to the same shapes as the beats that carried their feet. C'est bonne! C'est sympa! C'est large!
.... There is more of this story ...