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(On a Friday)


I catch a ride with really kind (much) older people, I start thinking of them as my old people.We stand outside the venue because it seems too loud. More like a club than a place where we'll be able to listen to a full-set of live music. One of my old people says to wait, and I'm an anxious sort of person so I welcome it. First I see a well-known poet and I remember she's the one hosting. I see a girl I used to know from the internet, her hair is big and lush. We've met before. We make eye contact and I'm sure she doesn't remember me.

My other old person is done with parking so we enter the venue. We queue toward the basement and get stickered. I know the woman passing the stickers so I show her my chest and she pastes a circle there. It could be red or orange. Briefly, I see -- and wave at -- the woman I -- along with my old people-- am there to see. As we walk down the steps to the basement I keep thinking about my head getting hit on something.

The "basement" has a cosy, well-lit stage with twinkle lights strewn about. There's a microphone, a keyboard and guitars. There are about four chairs in the whole room. There are already a few people here. I can still hear the groove upstairs. I steal the sound guy's chair so one of my old people can sit comfortably.

It hasn't started yet. The basement door is till open and we can hear music from the Friday night happening upstairs. People are still queueing upstairs to get stickered. Most of the people in the basement are on their phones. I'm jealous. I left my own where I stay in the charger because its battery is shitty. Two women are standing towards the wall and touching. Other couples are also standing closely together. I imagine what that sort of comfort feels like, not only having your cellphone as armour in public, but also having a person to buffer social things, the world. Your person.

I see a popular blogger. I see a beautiful television actress. My old person offers me a spare chair before the lights dim. She asks repeatedly if I won't need it. I say naaah. The hosting poet says those in the front must sit so to not obscure the view for those of us at the back. Most of them already were. It must be a thing done at these sorts of things.


When the first woman hits the stage, I'm sceptical. Later, I will tell anyone who even remotely expresses interest in my experience of her that I feared she'd have a tambourine. That she'd do some fake deep white hipster shit with a bloody tambourine. Nobody says anything substantial, they sort of smile and keep looking at me. Sparing my feelings, probably. But in the end I am pleasantly surprised.

Three songs in, I regret not taking that chair. As I'm thinking about all my regrets, the poet, who is standing beside me, sits down. As does her company. Beside them is a beautiful music man I know from the television. And facebook. I decide I should write this thing. I keep trying to describe the vibes I'm getting from him and his person in my head. It's like the, "we're fucking but one person is holding back and the other wants more. But we both want each other bad." I miss my phone.

By the 6th (I think it's the 6th) song I sit down on the floor. If the hosting poet can sit in her tulle skirt then I can sit in my never-before-worn cheap dress.The position is awkward. I don't want my white shoes to get too dirty. From the floor, I keep beaming vibrations to the popular accessories designer standing exactly across the room from me. Telling her it's OK to sit down. I did it. I'm not dying. In the dark, I see an old white man. I think of my old people. My old person in a chair was saying they were the odd ones out. I want to tell her there's a third.

The lights come up. It's been a lifetime. I go over to my old people and establish that my other old person is sitting on the bar and it's sturdy enuf to hold us both. I excuse myself because my nose is dry and my lipstick needs refreshing. Back upstairs, the beautiful actress and I are face to face. She backs away towards the sink. I say, "I'm coming there." I back away from the door and she exits.

My nose doesn't look disgusting. My lips need only two strokes. I get back down to the basement without tripping on my dress or bumping my head. I perch on the counter next my other old person, it's much better here. The lights go off again and the women -- the line up is just women -- sing a song. It sounds 90s. Everyone in the room seems to know it. Except for me. And my old people. Maybe the white people in the front too. It's a sing-along.

The second performer gets on stage, guitar strapped. I've been looking at her thighs all night. She sings some of her own songs and others belonging to people like Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar and, Lianna La Havas. During the "Swim Good" interlude, I scream, "Swim good, swim good, swim goood!" During "Swimming pools" I admired how fast she is going. I question whether the last time I really committed to learning a rap was with Superbass when I was 18/19.

I also decide that if this woman was my friend -- in my head I laugh at the unlikelihood of it for a bit -- I'd always beg her to sing all my favourite songs for me. Am I a vampire of sorts? Not quite energy vampire...but something. She does Outkast and something else, hers I'm guessing, before the lights come on again.

The woman we're there to see, my old people and I, comes over. We all ask if she's ready. I don't recall what she says. I again suggest she take her shoes off because they're being crap to her feet. I ask about her lipstick and we chat for a bit. She doesn't seem nervous at all, I admire that. The-cool-head-in-madness aura.

When the MC introduces her, I look at my old people and their big smiles. They take turns nodding vigorously. My heart can't handle it. In that moment, my heart feels too big and I forget I'm nervous for her. I forget I'm making notes in my head. I've even stopped wishing I had my Blackberry Curve on me.

The handsome musician from TV and the woman with him are sitting by the door next to me. It's closer to 22:00 than 21:00, some people have left because -- I think -- of the time and it's Friday night and it's Johannesburg. Momentarily, I feel bad for the woman we're here to see. Only momentarily. Her set is great. There are stories. There's an encore. I clap and yell a lot. When she does a call and answer, I get it wrong the first time. I get on my feet and I answer as she calls. The room is great, the vibes are the best. The people who left missed out.

                                            
When the lights come up, she hugs most of the people in the basement and thanks those who came out specifically to see her. She comes over with the poet and introduces her to my old people who are already on their feet. I shrink back. I'm taller and bigger than everyone but I do my best to fade away. I just smile. Happy. My old people say it's time to go, they want to take me back where I stay. I say catch a lift with the others. I tell  myself it's because they had a hard time finding me earlier and it's late now. I say they deserve to make it home quickly. I'm already eulogising our time as a trio. My one old person asks if I'm certain I don't want to go with them. I say, of course, of course.

Fifteen minutes after my old people leave the basement, we make our way up to the top. To the turn up. To the most beautiful sight of my life. I start remembering that I've barely eaten in days. But it's glorious above the basement.


Gig lewk.

Image: Miriam Makeba, Mama Africa, Johannesburg, 1955 (Jurgen Schadeberg)
.Gif: Pour it up video via tumblr