Photo credit: Genessa Gutzait

Photo credit: Genessa Gutzait

I stand on the dance floor at Ophelia’s, watching the people around me—mostly guys in hip clothes trolling for girls in hip clothes and everyone bobbing to the beat. On stage a guy called Panda Say What is playing. He and my friends, who go on after him, are both releasing EPs tonight. I wondered how this crowd came to be here. None of them really seem to know any of the musicians. When Panda Say What’s set ends, he doesn’t jump into the crowd to meet his friends, they’re all hanging out on the side. Is that what I should be doing? Maybe this crowd comes to Ophelia’s every night.

When I get upstairs, I sit in a kind of gallery and look down on the stage and the people below me. From here, removed and nursing a gin, the crowd dynamics become far more apparent. When the acts switch, I watch little groups form like bubbles on a greasy film.

Social circles seem to crystallize and then kaleidoscope, breaking away and then reforming somewhere else. A drunk guy slides in next to a girl in the front row. She’s polite and says a few things to him before her friends come to the rescue. This much is clear—but in the back—I can see a group of people moving around waving to people, stopping then starting again, sipping their cheap beer. For me, socializing is like chess, some moves I understand and others I don’t.

After I finished my drink, my friends and I go out to smoke. Things made a lot more sense in the parking lot where people stand around dragging on Marlboros until they hear a big cheer from the basement that signals the music has begun again. 

On the dance floor, I stand nervously. One bad person can ruin the entire vibe. I watch the words go by in my mind. I try to shake the thought from my head and literally shake my neck around wildly. I catch myself. What am I doing? Be cool. Maybe if I do it to the beat no one will notice.

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