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Columns > John Zinkand - Improvise

Published: 2009/03/27
by John Zinkand

Set Break

Intense. Just when I thought my mind would surely implode in a wash of purples and pinks! The sound rumbled, quaked, and exploded like a plane crashfollowed by silence and blackness, but only for a few seconds. Now I hear the sound of thousands of cheers all around me, engulfing me. The house lights come up and hands and heads bob and weave out into the distance as far as I can see. Life is a sea of bulging eyes and red faces as sweaty bodies push up against and slide by one another while chattering excitedly. I gain my bearings and realize Im on the floor somewhere near the back right. How I got here is a blur, but where Im going is notor at least not yet.

The PA music is light and soothing, not the intense, all-encompassing power of only a few minutes ago. It helps to ground me and gives a soundtrack to my mission. Pushing in to the crowd and wedging myself up the stairs, (a shoehorn would be nice) I squeeze through and am now an ant in the line scurrying along. The light shines out of the holes that lead to sustenance and refreshment, and one of these beacons is my short-term goal. Im almost there when a pack of loud young men crashes into me from a stair case above. Theres a chorus of, Sorry, bro coming from them as I regain my footing and dive into the brightly lit hole and down into the chute.

Now Im one of many cattle being herded through the alleyway on my way to the trough. Is that Bessie? I scream hello across a swirling chaos of people, color, and motion. How will she notice me amidst this raucous scene? But somehow she does and I see her inch her way through the cacophonic masses, smiling and greeting others, until she finally gets to me. We embrace and smile, chat of old times, and then she confirms my mission and the location of our friends up in their seats to the left of the stage. A few parting moos and then Im spinning and grinning as I somehow make my way to the bathroom.

Im another farm animal in yet another line and there are wild shouts and screams in here. People are excitedly talking about the first set, their expectations for the second one, and a million other things. Everything feels like its in fast motion (except the damn line), but after a few minutes of random conversation and very interesting people watching, I find myself relieved and ready to continue on my quest.

Its another fight to get out into the hallway, but I eventually emerge victorious. Is that a beer line or a line to see the Pope?? Luckily, some more familiar sheeple are near the front of the line and I manage to squish in near them and extend my arm over a few heads to give a 10 spot to my buddy. I then ride the people-current downstream to where the folks exiting the beer line are deposited like churning water at the bottom of a waterfall and wait patiently. Long-hair and smiling faces greet me as their own missions have been accomplished and they head back to their home bases with refreshments in hand. The next face coming out is attached to my buddy who hands me my tall, cold, beverage.

After a delicious slug from my newly acquired beer, I have the energy to dive headlong into the swirling madness. There are smilers, frowners, big people, little people, older folks, and younger folks all scurrying here and there or just standing and trying to digest all the crazy commotion. Theres clapping and chanting, smoke rising from somewhere, and some seriously tasty smells wafting up from behind the counters. I put my head down and push through a particularly clogged people-artery until I find myself at the base of the large and moving metal stairs.

They gnash their teeth at me, but I am able to tame the beast and am now one of many minions rising higher and higher, upwards on the mighty escalator. It thins out a bit on this level, but not much. I race around the corner and smack dab into another friend. We talk excitedly, but both agree that only very limited time remains. We wish each other fun times in the set to come, and then continue on our respective paths. I climb higher and higher until I am at my destination. I navigate down the well-lit tunnel towards the darkness at the other end. I pop back into the arena and the vast space I can see before me gives a momentary tinge of vertigo. I crane my head around to see my posse sitting and chatting happily. They spy me and cheers go up all around. Hugs, happiness, and positive energy radiates off of us. Theres an open seat for me and just as I get into place and check out my great sight lines to the stage, the lights go off. The cheers are deafening and huge smile instantly emerges on my face. Here we go again

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