Unknown Pleasures

On Saturday night, a strange experience. I found myself on the first floor of Dempseys in Cardiff, sitting in a corner near the bar. It was music night Twisted by Design, and there were people dancing everywhere. Many were regulars: young, hip, indie types. Blazers, badges, Converse sneakers, the works. But a Madonna concert ending just an hour before had left thousands of fans in search of a night out in the city, and a surprising number of them found their way to this particular dancefloor.

Many of the newcomers looked unfamiliar but happy with the music selections, and seemed fairly comfortable dancing to upbeat indie and alternative music. No doubt alcohol helped to swell their enthusiasm, and perhaps allowed them to throw caution to the wind - along with their arms and legs. And it was nice to see two such disparate social groups moving in relative harmony. Who says music doesn't bring people together?

I spent most of the night sitting with a friend, making idle chit-chat and wishing that I was back at home: the phrase 'nice hot coffee, nice warm bed' had become a makeshift mantra over the past few hours. I had endured enough youthful debauchery for one weekend, and was still recovering from what was now a mild hangover. My friend was in the same predicament. But, never one to pass up an opportunity, I went along regardless. We all have our motivations for such outwardly peculiar behaviour, and I'm no exception: a heady mix of curiosity, restlessness and loneliness does it every time. So here I was.

As I looked out onto the dance-floor, still thinking about a good book waiting back home, the most peculiar thing happened. The first beats of Joy Division's Transmission fired up. Out of nowhere came a threat. Half of the crowd moved with comfortable recognition, and went through their motions. The other half suddenly looked alienated and self-conscious, but only for a few seconds. It was remarkable. The bass-line suddenly leapt up and Martin Hannett's ethereal production added a guitar-line. The atmosphere (no pun intended) was electrical.

So here I was, sitting with a quiet drink and rubbing my eyes in disbelief. Could it be true? Joy Division were the soundtrack to all my quiet adolescent frustrations, and now I could see rugby players, indie kids, and girls in miniskirts all dancing together. It was absurd and exhilarating at the same time.

After just a few minutes the fire died down and the song came to an end. Just like that. The DJ faded into another song, and everyone continued dancing. I don't know why, but I felt deep down that it was time to leave. I said my goodbyes, took my coat off the chair, and walked out into the rain.