When I was in high school, there was an upscale (well, as upscale as you can get in small town America), art-deco style nightclub in town called Nightmoves. Or maybe it was Nitemoves or Night Moves, which would be more “catchy” I suppose. Sunday night was teen night, and it was always packed, with lines around the building of teenagers waiting to get in. We were desperate for things to do.
It was the 80s. My girlfriends and I would wear our brightest neon clothes and bows in our hair and fingerless gloves and sit in the parking lot before getting in line, drinking screwdrivers and smoking Marlboro Lights, listening to Cyndi Lauper and The Cure and hoping to meet a cute boy. The club was full of smoke, both the cigarette kind and the fake-smog type, which was blasted out repeatedly from various points around the multi-level stage. It was a small town, mashup version of Soul Train and American Bandstand and a great place to meet and mingle with guys from other schools since the guys from our school were Ugh! So Boring! And Also, Not Interested In Us!
We almost never missed a Sunday, whether it was freezing or raining or blazing hot, we stood outside dutifully waiting for the doors to open, and everyone would rush in. Since it was the 80s, we actually all talked to each other instead of looking at our phones, and made requests of the DJ, who would usually nod his head and then never play what you wanted. But we shook our booties to Adam Ant and Simple Minds and tried to look tragically hip.
One week, I met a really cute boy from another school and we spent most of the evening together at the club. He was, in 50s parlance, “dreamy,” a very good dancer and good looking. We made a date for the following Sunday there. I got my Mom to buy me a new outfit for the occasion, which was no small feat as we were fucking broke as hell. Every once and awhile she would crack under the pressure and actually pull out a credit card and buy something; she was very selective about that, which I now respect. I got this awesome oversized Betty Boop t-shirt and a pair of bright pink leggings to go underneath, and a bright yellow pair of shorts with a matching tank top that was black and yellow with a black tank underneath for layering. And new white Keds. I was so excited, I didn’t know what to wear, but I wore the yellow, thinking it played up my tan a little. My friends and I were excited about my new guy and my girlfriend did my hair and makeup for me.
When we pulled into the packed lot, there was already a long line of kids. I scanned the line as we drove by slowly, looking for the guy I had met. I saw him, and my blood froze. He was talking to an ex-boyfriend of mine, the one who had abused me physically. The one who had moved to Georgia. But was apparently back. And went to the same school as this guy. He saw me as we went by, my face practically pressed to the glass, and sneered at me.
I wanted to go home but my girlfriends wouldn’t hear of it. I said I was sick, which I was, suddenly, very, very sick, but they said I’d feel better after a drink, so we all had a drink and then got in line. My new dude and my ex had already gone inside. They were at capacity immediately so we had to wait for some people to leave before we could go in, which wasn’t a long wait. A friend of mine who was older and in college (another ex, Ned,) was tending bar so I went right to his bar and he gave me a Coke. I looked around but didn’t know where my girlfriends were and didn’t see the guy I planned to meet. Suddenly, there was a hand on the back of my neck. It was my ex. He grabbed hold a little too tightly and leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. “Well, well, well,” he said, an amused grin on his face, “Did you miss me?” I could barely speak. I said I thought he moved away with his Dad and he said I did, but now I’m back. He sat down next to me and I got up to move away and he grabbed my arm and slammed me back down into my seat, hissing into my ear that I wasn’t going anywhere, I belonged to him, and he’d already let the other guy know it, and that the new guy had gone home. He tried to kiss me on the mouth but I turned my head.
Ned came over and asked if there was a problem and the guy said no, no problem, just saying hi, and he got up and moseyed away, giving me that sickening grin. Tears rolled down my face and Ned, who knew my history, asked who the guy was and I just said his name. Ned knew what that meant, and though he wasn’t a violent guy, he was strong. He lurched over the bar in one move and went over to the adjacent bar and grabbed his friend Darren and whispered in his ear, pointing at my ex. Darren and Ned moved quickly through the crowd, Darren grabbing another guy along the way, and I saw them grab my ex’s arm and move him towards the back of the club.
They took him out back and gave him a talking to, let’s say. I only ever saw him one other time, when I was with my Dad at the mall, and he completely acted like he didn’t see me, which was fine by me. There are some good guys out there, for sure. Ned and Darren are just a couple I have been lucky enough to know.
Class consciousness largely disappeared at the club. I remember fast dancing with a guy I vaguely knew from another school who was from a well-off family. We danced our asses off and were sweating and then suddenly the fog machines came in strong and heavy and the DJ started playing “Crazy For You” by Madonna. We stood awkwardly looking at each other, shuffling our feet for a few seconds, and I said thanks for the dance and went to leave. He caught my arm and pulled me back into him, and we slow danced, still slightly out of breath, both of our bodies warm and wet under our clothes and that weird, sweet smell of the fake smoke falling over us. His long hair fell into his face and I brushed it back, and he put his head into my neck and we danced like Fonzie and one of his babes next to a jukebox. We separated after the song and I never talked to him again. It was just like that at Night Moves.