Occasionally, around once a month, there is an 18+ goth night at the Metro nightclub in Chicago. This brings out a suprisingly large crowd of young blood, the kind that buy the single overpriced bottled water from the bar and refill it in the bathroom. The kind that dress up with the elaboration of romantic youth. The kind that dance to all the newest music, and do so completely sober.
In a way, it's very humbling to those of us who have been around for a while. Those of us who have much more elaborate outfits than the ones we're actually wearing, but can't muster the enthusiasm to put them on. Those of us who might listen to the new music, but rarely dance to it, and certainly not without a few vodka tonics or dirty martinis in us.
But as vital as they are, I can't help but feel sorry for these young people. They don't know what they're in for. And I don't just mean about "the scene", but about life in general. You see, these kids still believe in magic.
I don't mean like wicca, or astrology, or any of those sorts of things, even though I'm sure that many of them believe in those too. I'm talking about the magic of romance, that what they're doing is meaningful and adventurous. That their lives are special, and they are going to make a difference.
I still believe in that kind of magic too, a little bit. But there's precious little of it to go around, and so many of them are never going to experience it, not even once, before they run out of youth and hope, and resign themselves to an unenchanted life.
Let me give you an example. There is a lovely young woman who I've seen at a few of these all-ages nights. Let's call her "Emily". Emily is extremely attractive, dances quite well, has excellent fashion sense, and is one of the most natively intelligent people I've met in a long time. And she's got a fan club.
Over the course of each evening at the Metro, there is a constant stream of hopeful young men who come by to converse with her. She knows them all, at least a little bit. They all politely wait to take their turn, waiting until after each previous suitor leaves before approaching. Maybe there's a signup sheet, I don't know.
They're all hoping for a little bit of magic. In some subconscious way, I think they're all trying to play Sexton to Emily's Didi. To be carried off on an adventure where their lives become deep and meaningful and mythic. But Emily isn't Didi. She's just a pretty young woman, who has the misfortune of being a big fish in a small pond.
I'm just a member of the audience for this pavane. Emily and I talk quite a bit at these events. But I disrupt the flow of suitors. I hold up the line. So every so often I wander off and talk to other friends. But I keep an eye on the goings-on, because my heart really goes out to those young men, because ten years ago, I was one of them. I wish they could find the magic they are looking for. I haven't found it yet.