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Alice was beginning to get very tired of listening to the Sisters at the club, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had stepped onto the industrial floor, but it had no lyrics or melodies in it, `and what is the use of a song,' thought Alice `without lyrics or melodies?'
So she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for the alcohol made her feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making some origami would be worth the trouble of getting up and finding the flyers, when suddenly a White Rabbit in a pink PVC mini ran close by her.
Either the song was very long, or she danced very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she moved about to look about her and to wonder what was going to play next. First, she tried to look around and make out what the DJ was doing, but it was too dark and smoky to see anything; then she looked at the other dancers, and noticed that they were dressed in delicate and outlandish attire; here and there she saw lace and velvet mixed with leather and PVC. She grabbed a bottle from a nearby table as she passed; it was labelled `SAINSBURY'S VODKA', but to her great disappointment it was empty: she did not like to drop the bottle for fear of it breaking, so managed to put it on top of a speaker as she danced past it.
`Well!' thought Alice to herself, `after such a dance as this, I shall think nothing of dancing to "This Corrosion"! How energetic they'll all think me at home! Why, I wouldn't say anything about it, even if I danced to an entire CD!' (Which was very likely true.)
On and on and on and on. Would the song never come to an end! `I wonder how long I've been dancing by now?' she said aloud. `It must be getting somewhere near 4am. Let me see: that would be four more hours until the tube starts in the morning, I think--' (for, you see, Alice had learnt several things of this sort since moving to London, and though this was not a very good opportunity for showing off her knowledge, as no one could hear her, still it was good practice to say it over). `--yes, that's probably the right time--but then I wonder if the song's reached the Bridge or Refrain yet?' (Alice had no idea what Bridge was, or Refrain either, but thought they were nice grand words to say.)
Presently she began again. `I wonder if I shall dance right through the night! How funny it'll seem to come out in the daylight among those people that go to church on Sundays! A Conflagration, I think--' (she was rather glad there was no one listening, this time, as it didn't sound at all the right word) `--but I shall have to ask them where the nearest tube station is, you know. Please, Ma'am, is this the Northern or Piccidily line?' (and she tried to curtsey as she spoke--fancy curtseying as you're dancing! Do you think you could manage it?) `And what an ignorant little girl she'll think me for asking! No, it'll never do to ask: perhaps I shall see it written up somewhere.'
There seemed to be no use in waiting by the coke machine, so she went back to the table, half hoping she might find some lost change on it. This time she found a two litre bottle on it, (`which certainly was not here before,' said Alice,) and on the side of the bottle was a label written on masking tape, with the words `DRINK' hastily scrawled on it in large letters.
It was all very well to say `Drink,' but the wise little Alice was not going to do that in a hurry. `No, I'll look first,' she said, `and see whether it's marked "alcohol" or not'; for she had read several nice little histories about people who had got drunk, and woken up in bed with strange people, all because they would not remember the simple rules their friends had taught them: such as, that a mosh pit will hurt you if you try to do the goth three step in the middle; and that if you hold your hair too long in a crimping iron, it usually burns; and she had never forgotten that, if you drink too much from a bottle marked `alcohol,' it is almost certain to make you do something regrettable, sooner or later.
However, this bottle was not marked `alcohol,' so Alice ventured to taste it, and finding it very nice, (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of Cherry Brandy, Hooch, Pernod, Scotch Whisky, coffee, and Caffeine Free Diet Coke,) she very soon finished it off.
`Mine is a long and a sad tale!' said the Mouse, turning to Alice, and sighing.
`It IS a long tail, certainly,' said Alice, looking with wonder at the long braid in the Mouse's hair `but why do you call it sad?' And she kept on puzzling about it while the Mouse was speaking, so that her idea of the tale was something like this:-- `Fury started
a clove, that
The goth boy was the first to speak.
`How do you want to look?' he asked.
`Oh, I'm not particular as to my appearance,' Alice hastily replied; `only one doesn't like changing it so often, you know.'
`I don't know,' said the boy.
Alice said nothing: she had never been so much contradicted in her life before, and she felt that she was losing her temper.
`Are you content now?' said the goth boy.
`Well, I should like to have a little more foundation, sir, if you wouldn't mind,' said Alice: `an olive tone is such a wretched complexion to have.'
`It is a very good complexion indeed!' said the boy angrily, moving himself into the light as he spoke (he had a fine olive skin tone).
`But I'm not used to it!' pleaded poor Alice in a piteous tone. And she thought of herself, `I wish these goths wouldn't be so easily offended!'
`You'll get used to it in time,' said the boy; and picked his clove out of the ash tray and began smoking again.
This time Alice waited patiently until he chose to speak again. In a minute or two the tall goth boy took the clove out of his mouth and blew a smoke ring, and put on his coat. Then he got up out of the booth, and walked away in the crowd, merely remarking as he went, `One look will make you cuter, and the other look will make you tartier.'
`One look of what? The other look of what?' thought Alice to herself.
`Of your makeup,' said the boy, just as if she had asked it aloud; and in another moment he was out of sight.
Alice remained looking thoughtfully at the lunchbox he left on the table, trying to make out what to do with it; it was packed to the rim with blush, hairspray, eyeliners, and whatnot, she found this a very difficult question. However, at last she grabbed the whole thing and carried it off with her to the loo.
`And now what to do?' she said to herself, and drew a little line of blush on her right-hand cheek to try the effect: the next moment she felt a rather surprised when she looked in the mirror: it looked like a nasty bruise! She was a good deal frightened by this very sudden change, but she felt that there was no time to be lost; so she set to work at once with some of the other cosmetics. Her cheekbones looked so deeply sunken, that she was hardly able to bring them out; but she did it at last, and managed to start work on teasing her hair.
`Come, my hair's fine at last!' said Alice in a tone of delight, which changed into alarm in another moment, when she found that her cleavage was nowhere to be found: all she could see, when she looked down, was an immense length of neck, which seemed to dive straight into the top of her corset.
`What can all those spikey bits be for?' said Alice clasping a collar around her neck. `And what is up with this corset? And oh, my poor chest, how is it I can't see you?' She was readjusting her top as she spoke, but no result seemed to follow, except a little bulging here and there.
As there seemed to be no chance of getting her eyes to be accented, so, she tried to comb her hair down over them, and was delighted to find that her teased hair would stay put in just about any position. She had just succeeded in getting her hair to stay put, and was pouncing up to the bar for a drink, as it was last call and soon she would have to be off, when a sharp hiss made her draw back in a hurry: a Yuppie in a smart suit was standing in her face, and was stammering at her violently.
`Goth!' screamed the Yuppie.
`I'm not a goth!' said Alice indignantly. `Let me alone!'
`Goth, I say again!' repeated the Yuppie, but in a more subdued tone, and added with a kind of sob, `I've tried everything, and I can't get away from them!'
`I haven't the least idea what you're talking about,' said Alice.
`I've tried the Docklands, and I've tried Angel, and I've tried Highgate,' the Yuppie went on, without attending to her; `but those goths! They're all over!'
Alice was more and more puzzled, but she thought there was no use in saying anything more till the Yuppie had finished.
`As if it wasn't trouble enough finding a nice place,' said the Yuppie; `but I must be on the look-out for goths in the neighborhood! Why, I haven't felt safe walking home for weeks!'
`I'm very sorry you've been annoyed,' said Alice, who was beginning to see his meaning.
`And just as I'd taken the most expensive flat I could find,' continued the Yuppie, raising its voice to a shriek, `and just as I was thinking I should be free of them at last, they just pop into my local! Ugh, Goths!'
`But I'm not a goth, I tell you!' said Alice. `I'm a--I'm a--'
`Well! what are you?' said the Yuppie. `I can see you're trying to invent something!'
`I--I'm just a normal girl,' said Alice, rather doubtfully, and trying very hard to deny everything.
`A likely story indeed!' said the Yuppie in a tone of the deepest contempt. `I've seen a good many girls in my time, but never one with such a spiked collar like that! No, no! You're a goth; and there's no use denying it. I suppose you'll be telling me next that you never been to a club!'
`I have been to a club, certainly,' said Alice, who was very truthful; `but normal girls go cubbing quite as much as goths do, you know.'
`I don't believe it,' said the Yuppie; `but if they do, why then they're a kind of goth, that's all I can say.' This was such a new idea to Alice, that she was quite silent for a minute or two, which gave the Yuppie the opportunity of adding, `You're looking for trouble, I know that well enough; and what does it matter to me whether you're a girl or a goth?'
`It matters a good deal to me,' said Alice hastily; `but I'm not looking for trouble, as it happens; and if I was, I shouldn't be here: I just want a pint.'
`Well, be off, then!' said the Yuppie in a sulky tone, as it settled down into a booth. Alice sat down on a bar stool as well as she could, for her short skirt made it hard to ballance, and every now and then she had to stand up and readjust herself. After a while she remembered that she still held the lipstick and eyeliner in her hands, and she set to work very carefully, dabbing first at her lips and then at her eyes, and growing sometimes cuter and sometimes tartier, until she had succeeded in bringing herself back to her usual appearance.
Alice went timidly up to the door, and knocked.
`There's no sort of use in knocking,' said the Bouncer, `and that for two reasons. First, because I'm on the same side of the door as you are; secondly, because the music is so loud inside, no one could possibly hear you.' And certainly there was a most extraordinary noise going on within--a constant howling and drum beat, and every now and then a great crash, as if a bottle had been broken to pieces.
`Please, then,' said Alice, `how am I to get in?'
`There might be some sense in you knocking,' the Bouncer went on without attending to her, `if you knew someone inside. For instance, if you were on the guestlist, you might knock, and I could let in, you know.' He was looking down at her chest all the time he was speaking, and this Alice thought decidedly uncivil. `But perhaps he can't help it,' she said to herself; `he is a bloke after all. But at any rate he might answer questions.--How am I to get in?' she repeated, aloud.
`I shall stand here,' the Bouncer remarked, `till tomorrow--'
At this moment the door of the club opened, and a skinny punk came running out, straight at the Bouncer: it just glanced off him, and fell into a heap on the pavement behind him.
`--or next day, maybe,' the Bouncer continued in the same tone, exactly as if nothing had happened.
`How am I to get in?' asked Alice again, in a louder tone.
`Are you to get in at all?' said the Bouncer. `That's the first question, you know.'
It was, no doubt: only Alice did not like to be told so.
`But what am I to do?' said Alice.
`Anything you like' said the Bouncer, and lit a cigarette.
`Oh, there's no use in talking to him,' said Alice desperately: `he's perfectly idiotic!' And she opened the door and went in.
The door led right into a packed dancefloor, which was full of smoke from one end to the other: The owner was sitting on a small sofa near the edge, doing the club's accounting; the DJ was leaning over the turntable, playing a large LP which seemed to be full of whiney lyrics.
`There's certainly too much smoke in here!' Alice said to herself, as well as she could for coughing.
There was certainly too much of it in the air. Even the owner coughed occasionally; and as for dancers, they were coughing and howling alternately without a moment's pause. The only things on the dancefloor that did not cough, were the DJ, and a large cat which was sitting on the speaker, its hair in bunches and grinning from ear to ear.
`Please would you tell me,' said Alice, a little timidly, for she was not quite sure whether it was good manners for her to speak first, `why your cat grins like that?'
`It's a perky goth,' said the owner, `and that's why.'
I didn't know that perky goths always grinned; in fact, I didn't know that goths could grin.'
`They all can,' said the owner; `and most of 'em do.'
`I don't know of any that do,' Alice said very politely, feeling quite pleased to have got into a conversation.
`You don't know much,' said the owner; `and that's a fact.'
Alice did not at all like the tone of this remark, and thought it would be as well to introduce some other subject of conversation. While she was trying to fix on one, the DJ took the LP off the turntable, and at once set to work throwing everything within his reach at the owner and the dancers--the headphones came first; then followed a shower of 45s, LPs, and CDs. The owner took no notice of them even when they hit her; and the dancers were howling so much already, that it was quite impossible to say whether the blows hurt them or not.
`Oh, please mind what you're doing!' cried Alice, jumping up and down in an agony of terror.
`If everybody minded their own business,' the owner said in a hoarse growl, `goth music would be a deal more creative than it is.'
`Which is not necessarily true,' said Alice, who felt very glad to get an opportunity of showing off a little of her knowledge. `Just think of all the early punks who played in each others groups! You see Robert Smith used to play in Souixie and the Banshees, but he didn't stay with the band--'
`Talking of banned,' said the owner, `throw her out!'
Alice glanced rather anxiously at the DJ, to see if he meant to take the hint; but the DJ was busily taking requests, and seemed not to be listening, so she went on again: `Souixie and the Banshees, I think; or was it the Creatures? I--'
`Oh, don't bother me,' said the owner; `I never could abide the Cure!' And with that she went back to the accounting book again, singing a sort of lullaby as she did so, and giving it a violent shake at the end of every line:
`I feel the bite, I feel the beat,
I see the dancing feet;
I feel the light I feel the heat,
I see the new elite.'
(In which everyone on the dancefloor joined):--
`Goth! goth! goth!'
While the owner sang the second verse of the song, she kept tossing the book violently up and down, and all the dancers howled so, that Alice could hardly hear the words:--
`I see the final floorshow,
I see the western dream,
I see the faces glow and
I see the bodies steam!'
`Goth! goth! goth!'
`Here! you may do the accounting for a bit, if you like!' the owner said to Alice, flinging the book at her as she spoke. `I must go and get ready to go to the pub with the Queen,' and she hurried out of the room. The DJ threw a picture disk after her as she went out, but it just missed her.
Alice caught the book with some difficulty, as it was a queer little book, with pages and pages of handwritten numbers with notes in the margins. The words on the page started wiggling and shaking when she caught it, and kept twisting themselves into pictures and then back again, she was so startled that, for the first minute or two, it was as much as she could do to hold it.
As soon as she had made out the proper way of reading it, (which was to flatten out the pages, and then focus very closely on the words, so as to prevent them from turning into something else) she carried it out into the hallway. `If I don't take this book away with me,' thought Alice, `they're sure to lose it in a day or two: wouldn't it be silly to leave it behind?' As she said the last words out loud, the numbers on the page turned into a long-winded review of an Los Angeles goth club. `Don't do that,' said Alice; `that's not at all a proper way of expressing yourself.'
Another page of numbers turned in typeset text, and Alice looked very anxiously at it to see what was the matter with it. There could be no doubt that the marginal notes looked remarkably human shaped, much more like an androgyne clad in leather than a hastily scrawled reminder; also the pages were getting extremely glossy for an accounting book: altogether Alice did not like the look of the thing at all. `But perhaps it was the lighting,' she thought, and looked at the pages again, to see if they were really photos.
No, they were real and now covered with black and white photos of people in graveyards. `If you're going to turn into a magazine, my dear,' said Alice, seriously, `I'll have nothing more to do with you. Mind now!' And they went on for some while in silence.
Alice was just beginning to think to herself, `Now, what am I to do with this book when I get it home?' when it suddenly felt much lighter and thinner. She looked down at the cover in some alarm. This time there could be no mistake about it: it had become an issue of Propaganda, and she felt that it would be quite absurd for her to carry it further.
So she set the magazine down, and felt quite relieved to see it picked up by a passing goth. `If the owner had kept it,' she said to herself, `it would have made a dreadfully poor accounting book: but it makes rather a handsome magazine, I think.' And she began thinking over other books she knew, that might do very well with photos of scantily-clad goths moping in graveyards, and was just saying to herself, `if one only knew the right way to print them--' when she was a little startled by seeing the Cat sitting on the edge of a table a few yards off.
The Cat only grinned when it saw Alice. It looked good-natured, she thought: still it had very big boots and a great black corset, so she felt that it ought to be treated with respect.
`Top mum,' she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know whether it would like the name: however, it only grinned a little wider. `Come, it's pleased so far,' thought Alice, and she went on. `Would you tell me, please, which floor I ought to go from here?'
`That depends a good deal on what you want to listen to,' said the Cat.
`I don't much care what--' said Alice.
`Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.
`--so long as I hear something good,' Alice added as an explanation.
`Oh, you're sure to do that,' said the Cat, `if you only wait long enough.'
Alice felt that this was somewhat dubious, so she tried another question. `What sort of people come to this club?'
`In that direction,' the Cat said, waving its right paw round, `is aPony: and in that direction,' waving the other paw, `is a Punk. Visit either you like: they're both goths.'
`But I don't want to go among gothic people,' Alice remarked.
`Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat: `we're all goths here. I'm a goth. You're a goth.'
`How do you know I'm a goth?' said Alice.
`You must be,' said the Cat, `or you wouldn't have come here.'
Alice didn't think that proved it at all; however, she went on `And how do you know that you're a goth?'
`To begin with,' said the Cat, `a casual's not gothic. You grant that?'
`I suppose so,' said Alice.
`Well, then,' the Cat went on, `you see, a casual hits it's friends when it's mopey, and gets piss drunk when it's perky. Now I hit my friends when I'm perky, and get piss drunk when I'm mopey. Therefore I'm a goth.'
`I call it moshing, not hitting,' said Alice.
`Call it what you like,' said the Cat. `Will you go to the pub with the Queen to-day?'
`I should like it very much,' said Alice, `but I haven't been invited yet.'
`You'll see me there,' said the Cat, and vanished.
Alice was not much surprised at this, she was getting so used to queer things happening. While she was looking at the place where it had been, it suddenly appeared again.
`By-the-bye, what became of the accounting book?' said the Cat. `I'd nearly forgotten to ask.'
`It turned into an issue of Propaganda,' Alice quietly said, just as if it had come back in a natural way.
`I thought it would,' said the Cat, and vanished again.
Alice waited a little, half expecting to see it again, but it did not appear, and after a minute or two she walked on in the direction in which the Pony was said to be. `I've seen punks before,' she said to herself; `the Pony will be much the most interesting.' As she said this, she looked up, and there was the Cat again, sitting on a cigarette machine.
`Did you say Propaganda, or prophylactic ?' said the Cat.
`I said Propaganda,' replied Alice; `and I wish you wouldn't keep appearing and vanishing so suddenly: you make one quite giddy.'
`All right,' said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with its knee-high boots, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.
`Well! I've often seen a goth without a grin,' thought Alice; `but a grin without a goth! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!'