The vacant dance floor is echoing to the music. I’m watching carefully, but there’s no sign of her. Steady on, there’s plenty of time.
I have a clear and casual view to the doors, without looking desperate. Cool is the place to be, for us all.
My nose wrinkles at the heavy, sweet smell of the floor wax and the reflections of the disco lights show that someone has been busy during the afternoon.
I sip my coke more often than I need to. I’m tempted to bravely suck the lemon as I would at home, but perhaps not, I decide. I see another small group of excited faces laughing as they come in.
Still no sign of her.
“Should be some talent in tonight, you reckon?” Billy says to me, interrupting my thoughts. “Some little crackers.”
“Yea. Sure. Of course,” I’m irritated at his trivia, for I’m on a right old mission. Tonight’s the night for Gemma.
“…Calling out around the world
Are you ready for a brand new beat…”
I slurp my coke and embarrassingly hear myself hit bottom. Two other early-birds look at me and giggle. I feel my cheeks go red and realise it could be worse. It could have been in her earshot. And then I would have looked a right idiot.
I see two of her friends up at the top of the room where they are coming in thick and fast now. Not her smile yet though. The smile that travels with me wherever I am, night and day.
I’m disappointed again and start to ponder on my moves when she does show up.
Keep very cool. That’s my plan. Whatever I feel inside.
Billy farts loudly and laughs.
“Aw Billy. Piss off, you smelly git. Bloody grow up, won’t you?” I hold my breath and I step away a little. Distancing myself from more than just the pong.
Her friends have handed their coats in and are hovering up there. I start to prepare myself. I’m in my new brown cords and bright yellow shirt with the rounded collars. I’m pretty slick, I tell myself. And my jaw juts out just a little.
Then my heart flutters as I see her. Laughing, as she sees her mates and runs – totters rather – across that very shiny floor to greet them. I see it bounce slightly as she reaches them. It’s a good floor for dancing, is this one.
She is simply perfect.
From nowhere, except somewhere deep inside me, I’m reminded that her hair smells like those sweeties you can buy. Cherry Lips, I think they are. I can actually smell it. Right now.
I watch them from a distance, confident in my current invisibility. My heart still flutters though. It is actually fluttering in my chest.
They pass me as they go over to the bar. I think I see her look at me. In the eye too. I think Gemma noticed me. I play it cool as I wait till they settle and other eyes won’t be on me, before I look over.
As I do, she catches my eye this time, straight away and smiles. That smile.
“Wherever I hang my hat
That’s my home…”
No-one is dancing. Not yet. There’s a protocol in the timings. It’s very uncool to be seen dancing till gone eight.
Except for Billy, that is.
He’s going out there on the floor, starting his moves, all alone. I can feel him through my feet. He doesn’t care at all. He’s here for the dancing. And the talent, he says, every week.
“Come on Jimmy. Let’s dance,” he shouts over at me. Everyone’s watching me, not him. I don’t know what to do. I’m trying to be cool.
“Cherry Lips?” she says, right at my shoulder, offering me the sweeties from a little paper bag.
She smiles at me. Looks me right in the eyes. Proffers the bag again.
“Or do you want to go dance with him?” she laughs.
I’m red in the face and as I laugh too, it starts to fade and I take a few sweets.
“Nah. I think I’ll stay here. With you. If that’s OK?” I check.
Gemma slips her arm through mine, and smiles that smile again and puts her head on my shoulder.
I smell her hair.
And, in that moment, I’m transported to heaven.
“You’re all I ne-eed, to get by…”