Back in Black

Did these people just fail to outgrow a teenaged phase? Or is it about dancing to sexy '80s music?

The whole place was starting to feel like a creepy, sexy high school cafeteria, where everyone was trying to lurk in a corner, anonymous and misunderstood. The lights were low, it was smoky and sinister, and tonight these people were just electric, kinky versions of their daytime alter egos. They came to shun mainstream music, shun mainstream wear, and, at the end of the night (hopefully?), shun mainstream sex for something a little more exciting. Paul put it to me straight: "I like being dominated by beautiful women."

I caught a glimpse of a cowboy-hat-wearing silhouette out on the dance floor. Men wore rubber pants, and their suspenders hung limply at their sides. A hefty woman's plus-size cleavage was spilling out of a lacy white corset. I could have caught a school of marlins with all the fishnet present. It was all there, from renfest wear to studded boots, from plastic bras to BDSM gear.

Purgatory implies waiting. There's a damned good reason I don't paint my nails black anymore: Shreds of maturity start to stick eventually, and you realize employers aren't big on the maybe-I-do-drugs-or-maybe-I-just-look-like-it style. What about the denizens of Purgatory? You have to wonder if these people are waiting to outgrow a phase or if they missed the boat completely, or maybe they just really like dressing up and dancing to sexified '80s music.

Music: Paul called the music EBM, electronic body music — a blend of dark trance, electric '80s, European goth, and pretty much all the great shit that other clubs aren't playing. DJs spun everything from David Bowie to Depeche Mode. I heard Lacrimosa, Marilyn Manson, Dead or Alive, and the Killers.

Gloria grabbed me at the bar around 1 a.m. After lamenting that she felt too "old" to be here (she told me she was 52, though I'd have guessed 35) but that she usually "dresses freakier," George cropped up, and the two of them pulled me off to meet Aldo, AKA DJ 16 Bit, one of the three DJs at the party. In the DJ booth, Aldo, over 40, said he'd been in this scene since he was a teenager, and apparently he never bothered to leave it. For Aldo, the scene was about the music. Gothwear? What gothwear? It's all about rockin' out to some prime Depeche. Come on home, kids.

Later, Paul was on the dance floor with a chick in stilettos and blood-red hair. She towered over him, but he raised his drink to the ceiling and got down as best he could in his skirt. There it was — the Purgatory version of warm and fuzzy. I sure hope Paul got dominated later that night. And, Mom, I know it won't stop you from showing those angst-inducing photos at my wedding, but I want you to know that my passive-aggressive teen rebellion could have been not only never-ending but also way kinkier.

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