Happy People Nation

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"I saw God tonight" writes Brad Edelman, after returning from an Eric Clapton concert in Italy. I didn't see God last night, nor did I see Eric, but I saw Paul.

We started the evening at San Francisco's Blowfish Sushi, an upscale sushi place that serves its creations together with loud Techno music and Manga movies. Despite the ambiance, the sushi was excellent, and gave us sufficient power for what was to come.

At about 11:30pm we arrived at Ten15 (1015 Folsom) to join a line of Paul van Dyk devotees seemingly wrapping around the block multiple times. It took us over one hour of waiting in line until we finally got in. Once inside, we realized that the dance floor wasn't crowded at all---the delays were a result of heightened security.

Paul van Dyk is a popular German Techno DJ, and he was supposed to be on at midnight. Fortunately, he had waited for us and started out at around 1am, after we had found a nice dancing spot on the side, near the DJ table. We left the spot soon, however, when two thugs started thrashing around, their elbows flying and their feet stomping. I shortly played with them by directing them against each other but soon caught some bruises and figured it wasn't worth it. We found another spot on the gallery where we could listen and dance to the music as well and where it was less crowded.

The music was melodic trance and techno, that is, classic Paul. We quickly settled into the groove and got going. We didn't know it yet, but he played one long run of 3 hours rather than multiple shorter runs. While dancing, my mind drifted off to all things possible only to be brought back to the reality of the dance floor when someone hit me or my concentration lacked.

Dancing is an excellent opportunity for people watching.

At about half-time, I saw a super-muscular South-East Asian of unknown origin talk to Christiane. He was apparently worried that she didn't seem to be part of a larger Asian crowd and so he offered his company and protection. On his upper right arm, he had the letters HJ tattoed, so I dubbed him Hans-Jürgen ignoring whatever else you might think. Hans-Jürgen was not particularly smart, and it took Christiane multiple attempts to get rid of him. Finally he left, but only after a particularly strong rebuke, as I heard later.

About a few minutes later, a woman touched my arm signaling that she had to tell me something. When I bowed down she shouted into my ear that she liked the way I dance. Well, thank you. I smiled and danced for a while with her, until I turned away, seeing her smile resolve in disappointment. Sometimes, being a man makes life so much easier.

This was not an uncommon experience. Naturally, the sweating, the loud music, and the booze make it easy for people to hit on each other---not much conversation necessary or desired. For not too small a segment of the audience the primary purpose is to take someone home. But you can even be more direct: I saw a couple doing it like punchie, in the only toilet booth of the men's restroom. Quickly though, a security guard kicked them out. An enraged guest deprived of his hope for quick relief had called for help.

Later, Matthias told me that the restroom had a permanent visitor, a guy in a bright red Coca-Cola shirt with a punk's haircut. This guy was standing in front of always the same urinal, hands securely locked onto his private parts, grooving away to the sound of the music.

I saw droves of Asian people pass by in groups. From left to right, from right to left, in single file, with a guy leading, some women following, and a guy closing the file. I'm not sure what it is, but I find it hilarious to see the same group pass by repeatedly. Are they practicing their marching and crowd survival skills? I'd rather be dancing...

At around 3am the dance floor was getting less crowded. People either left or were sitting on the side, watching the remaining people dance. I had been dancing for 2 hours straight and was enjoying it. For a short vain moment I phantasized that it was my technique and endurance that kept me going while the kiddies fell by the wayside. Twenty minutes later Matthias remarked that Paul was about to hit the home stretch now and that it would be thirty more minutes.

Of course he was right. The beat and beat frequency had been intensifying with climactic highpoints followed by ever shorter pauses and periods of relaxation. Paul van Dyk is a master of driving his audience through a process of increasingly more ecstatic convulsions. Long gone was the slow beat and the slow dancing. Higher beat frequencies had taken over my and other peoples dancing. The feet were off the ground and flying, multiple frequencies were waving and weaving through my body, from the feet to my hands and fingers to my head.

Shortly before 4am we reached the highpoint of one virtuous finale. After it was over, I looked around and saw only happy and smiling faces among those who had gone all the way. Happy people nation, no need for drugs. Paul played one more happy tune but it was over already, and soon thereafter the next DJ took over. I didn't care, I was happy, and ready to go home.

Copyright (©) 2007 Dirk Riehle. Some rights reserved. (Creative Commons License BY-NC-SA.) Original Web Location: http://www.riehle.org