Monday, April 6, 2015

Part Three: The Haunted Nightclub

     I am not a superstitious person.  I don't throw salt over my shoulder, I don't walk around poles (although there were a few Hungarians I avoided), tarot reading is nothing more than entertainment, psychics are lying swindlers, those that claim to be in contact with the dead are cruel shysters who deserve jail time, and Uri Geller is a fraud, and not a very good one.

     But I'll be damned if 924 wasn't haunted.  Anyone who has spent the night there alone will back me up on this.

     The chairs were the worst.  I'd be sitting in the office reading and there would suddenly be a loud crash.  A chair that had been unfolded would fold itself up and fall over, out of the blue.  I'd grab my bat and check the club: nothing.  The conversations were bad, too.  You could hear people talking in the bathrooms, in a club I knew to be empty.  I'd look for them, and.... nothing.  And it wasn't my imagination.
     The stage lights would turn themselves on; turning them off meant climbing into the loft.  Half an hour later I'd have to make the climb again.  I had the techs check them out, to no avail.  Same with the PA system, which would fire up with a buzz.
     Getting to sleep at night meant getting shit-faced drunk, and not even that worked some nights.  I took to giving up on sleeping at night, waiting until the liquor store opened and buying a forty, getting a good buzz, and finally sleeping.... Until the bookers came in.  They would write me off as a lazy bastard, which was a crock 'cos: since I couldn't sleep, I worked.... cleaning the bathrooms, sweeping the floors, mopping the store (our name for the concession stand, which had its own room), sorting recycling (after I no longer had the working girls there, my source of income), vacuuming the stage, and other general acts of tidiness.  I also sorted the phone messages and took phone messages for the bookers that rang through in the morning.

     I explained about the supernatural noises that were prevalent and was laughed at.... And dared them to spend the night, alone, in the building.  Most still lived at home; one guy who shared an apartment agreed to swapping places for the night.  He lived a few blocks away, and gave me permission to use his shower (always a luxury).  I went down to the club around nine a.m..... And he was rather freaked.  "There's too much noisy shit in there, man, I barely slept!  Chairs kept falling over for no reason, and I kept hearing voices!"
     "What'd I tell you?" I asked.  "The place is fucking haunted."
     "There's a reasonable explanation, there's got to be."
     "You find one.  Until then, I sleep during the day and work at night.  You gotta admit, I get the place nice and clean at night.  Turn on the sound system and blast music until the sun comes up."
     The worst was that it only happened if you were by yourself.  If a few crusties crashed on the floor, no noise.... So the disbelief  flooded in.

     One person who did believe me was my friend Jesse, my source of twice-weekly showers; he lived at Sixth and Gilman, an easy walk away.  He even had an explanation.
     "My own thought?  Think about all the cathartic energy that's built up inside that place over the years, all the hyperactive energy.  What you're experiencing is that energy being released : it's just all the teenage hyperactivity that has stored itself up and releases itself  in all the weird ways you experience.  There's nothing threatening about it at all.  You're hearing the sounds of tens of thousands of misfit kids  dispersing itself.  It's cathartic power manifesting itself in a physical manner.  The club is literally alive, man.  Don't be afraid, it's just a show happening late at night, expending the energy that's built up over the days and weeks and months and years."
     "Still, damn distracting, though."
     "C'mon, I've seen you nap through bands  practicing.  Treat it the same way.  An expulsion of energy."
     "I wish I could talk to them or something, that would make me a little more relaxed."
     "Except this is not a single entity, but the collective energy of thousands of people.  Tell me, when you hear the voices, do they make sense, or is it collective muttering?"
     "Well.... Muttering, I guess."
     "Exactly.  All those tens of thousands of conversations just.... Pouring out, in no order, so it's babble.  If the place was haunted, you'd hear individual conversations.  But the club isn't haunted, it's just stored to the brim with cathartic energy
     "So don't be afraid of it.  It's not haunting, it's just a storehouse of energy."
     "Sounds like fucking haunting to me."
     "Not at all.  A haunting would be a single entity, and this is more of a cloud."

     Ultimately, it was simpler to stay up all night and get drunk in the morning.

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