Persephone's



So I was just at this club, called Penelope's, and it was really something else. I've never really been to any place like it before, and I couldn't really describe it, so here is a short almost non-fiction account of what happened at Penelope's, everything there is basically true, save for one or two tiny details adjusted for effect. We've all known a place like that, that genuinely seems like you've entered the gates of Hell

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If you go down to Persephone’s, the little barely-seen club attached to the top floor of the cinema, be sure to leave your coat or jacket at home. There isn’t a cloak room and you certainly can’t trust either client or the furniture to leave it anywhere. You really have to keep it on, but the temperature inside is really like no other place. It builds up as you descend the many flights of stairs, and you can’t quite turn around because there are people behind you, all trying to get in. There is quite an exciting build-up, people are very eager to be inside, the walls are painted red and black and the walls as you descend littered with framed drawings you can’t quite identify. The music gets louder with each flight you descend and finally hits you, Guns and Roses, blaring as you enter the main room. The heat is already too much.
   But you decide to take a look around. You’re here, and everyone you know is too and they all seem to be enjoying themselves. Maybe you’re a bit too dressed up for it, now you definitely know the jacket was a bad idea. You begin to notice something strange about the clientele here. Namely that they all look so … different. No one really seems to be interacting with one another. The people you’re with have all split into small pairs almost out of sight. To your left, two elderly women who look like they’re having the time of their lives, to your right a young man who seem to like the beverage in his hand at all. And you find out why when you try the beer. It’s like something they dragged out of the basement when everything else was gone. Problem is it seems the only other thing on offer is alcoholic ginger ale.

You turn to the only friend who seems to be still around, and a woman with brown side braids passes in front of you, in what appears to be a white nightgown from at least a hundred years ago.
   The heat starts to get to you, it’s difficult to breathe. You try to speak, maybe enjoy the music (at this stage it’s become Edwin Starr’s War) but it’s almost impossible. Smoke is filling your eyes, from a table far away in the corner, illuminated by two red glass snooker lights. There is a man watching a snooker game between two very confused-looking men, he is wearing an expensive grey suit and his hair is a slicked back salt-and-pepper do. He isn’t smoking, yet it’s coming from around him, and it’s filling the room.
   The music seems to be growing louder, and everything feels wrong, like you’ve dropped some serious acid. Although that would probably make your experience there a lot better. Maybe the weird white art on those black and red walls would make sense.
   It becomes all too much. You take one last look around the tiny, loud, red club and see everyone thrashing their limbs about in a weird almost ritualistic dance, and some friends even tried to get you to join in, but no one looks like they’re having any fun.
   It’s time to go. You take the few friends you can find: they seem happy to have found someone else who wants to go.
   You climb up the many flights of stairs, the heaviness in your head easing up as you climb. The music grows dim and the air gets colder.
   And suddenly you’re outside again. And you notice just how many people are outside, all looking just as relieved as you. You take some air and feel life seep back into you.
   Maybe you should go back for the people you left behind except when you try to get back inside, the bouncer stops you.
   You’re not allowed back in, he says. We’ve closed, and we’re not letting anyone inside.
   You thank heavens briefly for not having to go back inside, but a little concerned for the others.
   But you shrug the thought away. The night was over before Persephone’s, and you’re just too hungry now.