by Stephen J. Herron

The girl walked alone into the crowded nightclub. She was young, perhaps only twenty years old. Her eyes were old, and she gazed around the bar with an unreadable expression. She was attractive, by anyone's standards, slight and lithe in her short black dress, which clung tantalisingly to her body, enhancing what it touched. Men smiled hopefully in her direction, but both their smiles and their gazes slid off her as she walked on by, ignoring them.

The crowd was young tonight, but well dressed. There would be little in the way of the mindless rave that some clubs played- more likely mainstream dance. That suited her fine. She had been practising. The Belfast nightclubs had that familiar feel to them, the sense of being home. That would help, tonight. The girl hadn't been to this particular club in some time. She had been to others, of course, but it felt nice to return here. The crowd was full of almost strangers, the faces that one can never place. She sought faces out, nodded at the ones she knew well, smiled mysteriously at the ones she knew a little less. She was taking bearings, sizing the crowd up.

She ordered a drink, her voice soft but clear. She exchanged money with the barman, and took the glass in her hand, holding it as if it was just another accessory. She sipped from the glass, savouring the sour tang of the vodka and tonic, and smiling gently at the way it glowed in the ultraviolet light. She drifted like a rumour through the nightclub, until she found her place.

The low light of the dance floor silhouetted her face as she watched the dance floor. The pulse of the music was like a heartbeat, and could not be ignored. She felt each beat deep within, as if that heartbeat was inside her. It made her blood race, and her breath quicken. Her foot tapped out the beat of the music, and she desired more than anything to get up and dance, to show them how to really dance.

Strobe lights flickered for a moment, the illusion freezing the motion of the heaving mass of people of the floor. The dance remix of a recent hit began, slower than the previous music. The dancer knew that it was her turn.

She stood gracefully, and walked like a catwalk model into the centre of the dance floor. Though she was surrounded by dozens of people, she felt alone- solo.

The girl began to move. Slowly, at first, as if she were a tap opening, letting the movement out gradually, increasing the flow steadily. Her body was a precision instrument, interpreting the music, the rhythm and the emotion in the song.

She let her eyes close, the pleasure of movement filling her completely. It was a sexual energy, but one which required no other partner than the music. The rhythm touched her more tenderly than a lover ever could. The beat, as it began to quicken, became more and more passionate, and she moved herself around the floor, the embrace of the song guiding her.

The girl remembered her past lovers, the men who fumbled with her, treating her body like a machine- press the right button, get the right response. She felt sorry for them. They really had no idea. It was their loss. Those men never understood how a woman worked, what a woman needed. They did not know how best to touch and caress, or how to use words instead of hands. Most of all, they didn't know how to listen, or ask. They would never earn the reward of knowing that they gave real pleasure. Most of her lovers, however, wouldn't have cared either way, selfish in their loving, more interested in their own completion, at any cost. That was the reason they found her dancing so intimidating. She was taking pleasure. She was responsible for her own satisfaction in a way that men were so unused to in a woman, yet did themselves, all the time.

More than one man watched her now. She was completely aware of her body, her every muscle and feeling. To them she seemed defiant, in touch with her sexuality. It was arousing to watch, and so very rare. In the midst of the hip-swinging, foot-tapping throng, she seemed like a flower, a goddess. Her uniqueness was her beauty, her selfish sensuality. She took pleasure alone, and needed no other, while she could dance.

The song built up to a climax- so did she. Her movements became wilder, yet utterly controlled, in that only a true dancer can muster. Her mouth opened slightly, her lips moist, and every man who watched her fell in love. She turned the climax of the song into a orgasm of dance, and when the lights fell with the music, so did she.

People clapped, and shook their heads, but she stood, and walked off the dance floor wearing a slight smile. She could still hear the rush of her blood, and the glow of pleasure that the dance left her with. The adrenaline that filled her veins made her want to run, to dance, to leap. It took all her will to walk calmly and serenely- she felt like she was trying to hold back the oceans from crashing on the shore.

She walked back to the bar, and noted with dry amusement how the men now looked at her. She caught the gaze of one man, sitting with his girlfriend. He had been watching her on the dance floor. He looked away after a few moments, troubled by her strength, ashamed at his thoughts. He, like the others, had probably never seen a woman truly dancing before. They might never again, but for now, she was satisfied. She walked out of the nightclub, and into the arms of the city.