Magazine article The Spectator

The Other Club

Magazine article The Spectator

The Other Club

Article excerpt

'Do you want a dance?' she said. She stood there smiling at me with her hand held out invitingly. I'd already decided I wasn't going to get caught up in the dancing. But this woman - well, you should have seen her. She was about 19; as full of health, life and potential fecundity as point-of-lay pullet. And yet a vulnerability in her smile gave the impression that she'd had to pluck up the courage to ask. I said to my friend, and my friend's friend - we'd been deep in conversation about the perilous state of a football club dear to our hearts - how could I possibly refuse and would they excuse me for a moment? They nodded curtly and returned to their football and I offered her my hand. She grasped it firmly and hauled me away.

She led me across the bar, through a swing door at the far end, down a staircase and into a small theatre with a knee-high stage and four or five rows of seats, from which about 20 or 30 young men were watching a woman with no clothes on at all and unusually pale skin lying on her back at the front of the stage and opening and closing her legs like a pair of scissors.

In the aisle behind these seats we joined a queue of other waiting couples. 'What's the queue for?' I said. 'For cubicle, ' she said.

She was east European. 'Cubicle?' I said.

'For dance, ' she said.

She was unperturbed by the queue.

Perhaps it was only when there was a queue that her conscience, or the house rules, would allow her to relax for a moment and watch the show, such as it was. Still holding my hand she settled her lovely back against the wall and wordlessly - via hand pressure and thigh contact - invited me to do the same. My immediate reaction was that it seemed a bit ridiculous to be queuing for a dance in a cubicle when I could have been upstairs with a bottle of Peroni talking to my friend about football, and I thought about abandoning her right there. Sensing rebellion, she asked me to stay. She did this by squeezing my hand in what seemed to me the most loving, humble and intimate manner. And then she pulled my hand down by her side and kept it there, secretly and possessively, and looked with happy interest at the show, as though we were a united couple out celebrating a wedding anniversary. …

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