One night, two weeks ago…

August 21, 2013

One night

 

Back from the Islands.. I am still tired, lost, it’s so hot. I walked all the way from the ferry in Kabatas and arrived at the Chillout.

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I have to get ready as I am about to play with Eren, at Leyla Teras. I feel some nerves. There are always nerves when I play in bars as I am not really a bar musician and there is pressure to make people drink and that is not really what I do, but I am purposeful and excited to play with Eren. He is an unorthodox drummer… sometimes I am fully unhorsed by his playing, sometimes it is a grand voyage, he is a mix of mad scientist and elf, whimsical, original, unpredictable.

 

I make my way towards Taksim. Istiklal is packed. It is hard to conceive of such crowds when you are a Canadian. There never is that many people on a street. Guitar on my shoulder I cut through the throng. The street lights in the night…everything is lit up, alive, thumping, living. Up the stairs, 6 floors up of a narrow winding staircase of dark dirtied granite, I am glad I don’t have to carry an amplifier up there. I am first there. I talk to the guys, Ali the bar tender and the other guy who is also a musician, meek, brooding brow guy with delicate features. When Eren arrives I help him bring up his drums, which are one floor down, on one of those abandoned floors in this ancient building. Those floors are dark, abandoned black holes where the windows make contrasting splashes of blue night light that make them seem even darker. We set up, we play. The sound system is up and running this time. The last time I had played through my mini amp and that was not great at all. But this time it sounds good. It feels good. We have a great time.

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I try to pick the right songs. Keep the momentum happening. I think we’re doing good.

 

Second set. Then the end. It seems everyone is happy with the night. The waiters, the bartender, the owner. We did good. We hang out a bit. Eren introduces me to two of his friends who came to see us, Guvenc and Mica.

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The canned music starts again and two young guys are dancing. One tall skinny one of about 20 years old and a short guy, about the same age, curly hair, big eyes… He is dancing as if mad. His eyes bulge out of his head and he moves like a broken puppet over the rhythms. I am amazed at such abandon and madness, I laugh. At one point he grabs my hand and roughly pulls me to dance with him.

 

“I don’t know how to dance this music.” Says the polite Canadian girl…

 

 

To be honest I should have said “Thanks but no thanks dude.” this music is sort of two time square stuff and I really don’t feel that kind of music, and I really can’t stand the violent pulling as he swings hard on my hand and twirls me around with all his strength. If it is supposed to charm me, it is closer to pain…

 

 

“Just be me.” Says the master dancer..

 

Hmm hmm, be you… I think… I try to enjoy this but after a few violent twirls and back bends I decided to stop there. The tall skinny one comes to talk to me, he says he is a musician. I am starting to feel like I am being corralled between two contenders and seek refuge near Eren who is hanging with his friends.

 

The little man came to me saying : “He’s not your friend!” Speaking of Eren,

 

“Yes he is my friend.”

 

“No he is not…”

 

I figure he means “boyfriend” which he is not but a girl hangs on to what she can… this circus keeps going and I am longing to exit this place…

 

A bit later I say : “Lets go!” and Eren and I exit the club. At this point it’s past 3 AM. We headed out, down the 6 flights of stairs, out into the street, on a party night in Beyoglu into another club, up more stairs we go and into a room with two Djs playing reggae music. I usually am not sold on Reggae but what is playing here is really cool. I started to dance. And dance… I have not danced in so, so, long. But this music is carrying me gently, moving my limbs, freeing my head.

 

These musings came to an end when the two guys from Leyla Teras show up again… The little mad man… He is bound on conquest. I keep going away but he keeps pursuing. He grabs my hand again and forces me into a pirouette and I finally got mad saying “NO! HAYIR!!”

 

He looks at me uncomprehendingly.

 

“Why?”

 

“Because this is not my pace! Because I don’t want to!”

 

He tries obstinately again to grab my arm completely ignoring what I just said…

 

“NO!!”

 

His face now shows anger… I think it is some sort of game. They go out and have some sort of counter and timer ticking. “must find female before end of night.” is the general goal. My saying no means that the night may bring nigh and frustration rises. I move away and try to enjoy myself as best as I could. A bit later, Eren left the room going to the bathroom.

 

The little man came back…

 

“Your friend is gone!” There is a victorious vibe to his words. As if the floor had been cleared for him. At this point I am getting really, really aggravated. It is obvious that this guy is not going to take no for an answer. It feels incredibly stupid and weird as I could easily be his mother… and I tower over him with at least 7 inches… which adds to the motherly thing.. the level of misunderstanding is way up.

 

“No, he went to the bathroom.”

 

“No! He left, your friend is gone!” He says this as he approaches me like a predator.

 

“Fuck”… I think to myself.

 

Eren comes back. The little man is very angry. I stick with Eren for a while. Finally the little man left the club. Oh relief.

 

The music goes on and on. I dance and dance. I laugh and laugh. How good that feels. How much I love to dance… How little I have danced since God knows how many years…

 

I go to the bathroom. This other man I had noticed standing alone all night nursing a beer at the back of the club also comes downstairs behind me. I’m looking for the bathroom, he indicates a direction, I go there. When I come out he is still there… standing there… He says something that I don’t understand verbally but I get a creepy feeling. He had been standing at the back of the club all night eying everyone… was he watching me? I hurry back upstairs…

 

The light of day starts to appear in the shades of the night sky. A slight discoloration. It must be so late…. so early at this point. The DJ’s wind down. Eren and I leave the club. Down at the door I try to open it but cannot find the knob and push the door shut. I started to laugh.

 

“Turkish doors” he says as he reaches down to find the latch and the door opens for our escape.

 

We walk out in the night, the streets are filthy. You cannot imagine. Bottles, detritus, every possible thing that could be spilled has been spilled and trashed and abandoned to the cobble stones. The last desperate vultures walk the streets hoping for a last second adventure. I must not look at them. I buy a simit and head home. Music, dance, a blue sky, the wildness of this place and all this life around.

 

Istanbul.

 

 

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