Chapter 2. CLUB SCENE
Nothing is more boisterous or attention-catching than 30 tipsy study abroad students, a mix of all ethnicities, arriving at a club in Shanghai.
We are all connected with various promoters inside and can quickly cut the line. Sam's hand is in mine as we scan our IDs and wink at the hunky body guards that move aside to let us through.
Inside the club we enter an infinity mirror hallway reflecting laser lights off rotating disco balls hanging from the ceiling. The designs of foreign clubs are always "quirky", Shanghai club owners try to fashion them to appeal to Americans and Europeans so they end up just being a weird mishmash of attempted luxury and some sort of outdated décor.
We had taken separate cabs from Hunter, James and other boys, which is a relief for me. Talia is close behind us, reminding me of how she always goes for what I go for. I play along sweetly, maybe if I get her drunk enough, she'll leave me alone.
Once she got so drunk and desperate, that she grabbed Sam to make out with in front of a boy she was trying to attract. Ugh, trashy.
"Where's that guy Jack who's the promoter who totally wants to fuck you", I giggle with Talia.
"He's back here!" Talia shouts, and leads the way.
Our usual table is near the back right next to the main stage in the club. Promoters place attractive girls near the main stage to bring in male interest. It's kind of gross actually but I love being right next to pumping music and having a seat to watch drunk people in action.
We push through the crowd to our table.
"Hey Jack!" Talia yells and throws her arms around a tall kid from our grade.
"Hey guys, glad you could come!" he replies.
He's one of those kids who is usually quiet in school but turns loud and boisterous during parties, making him excellent promoter material. I like him, we had worked on a project in the beginning of the semester together.
I sidle up to him and smile nervously and flutter my lashes at strangers at our table.
"Hey Jack!" I give him a quick hug and he smooches my cheek. "Can I please have a cranberry vodka?"
It's not really that hard I would actually prefer to make it myself. The juices and alcohols are right in the middle of the table, but I have to ask. Jack fills a few glasses with ice cubes and finishes them off with a flourish.
I look around, some of strangers at our table look like students from other schools, one is a staff member from the club responsible for keeping up a steady supply of drinks, and others are locals who have befriended students. There is always, ALWAYS one weird old local guy who shouldn't be there but shuffles over quietly in an attempt to mingle.
"Here you go Jessie, extra cranberry!"
Jack hands me my drink and I sit down on plushy leather couch with Sam.
We giggle and survey the crowd, predicting which girls will get way too drunk and which guys will go for them.
In Shanghai, very often local men will stand in a ring around the club just watching their phones or other girls in a creepy way. I look around and see other club patrons taking photos of themselves being at a club but not actually doing anything. It's pathetic. I watch Talia sitting on the promoter's knee, giggling and befriending boys at the table. I down my drink and grab Sam to head for the glowing paneled dance floor. Like I said, retro.
Songs played in clubs in Asia are always from the early 2000s in the US, but I prefer it that way, that's when music was at its peak of wild fun. I bump and grind, swaying my hips with the music.
I love dancing and loosing myself in the music, another reason I love wearing comfortable grungy boots instead of high heels.
I hear them before I see them, a rush of boisterous boys coming from the entrance. James and his crew have arrived. I spot among them, a tall dirty blonde figure. He lost the hoodie and wore a simple white t-shirt that reflected the club lights, his flash tattoos shining. He was smiling and laughing.
My mouth waters a bit at the sight.
Alex detaches from the group and he saunters up to the us, "Hi baby!" Alex exclaims, grabbing Sam and twirling her. "Hey there you are! Ooh you look good let's get you a drink!"
I sit down on a leather plush seat next to our table. I'm not sweating yet, clubs are kept cold for a reason, but I want some alcohol to keep the buzz going.
As I lean over the table to shout my drink over the loud music, I have to hold my boobs in my dress to make sure they don't fall out. I feel a tap on my shoulder and I look up, still cupping my boobs.
Hunter stands over me, smirking, and leans down. I smell something sweet and spicy.
"We finally got here, they got drunk and started a rap battle with guys outside it was crazy!"
I laugh and shout back, "That sounds about right, wish I could have been there to see!"
When I laugh my boobs jiggle and his eyes dart down. Oops!
I realize and quickly stand up, dropping my arms. I look around and accept my drink.
"You want one?" I shout to him, pointing at my glass. "Here try it!"
He tries some and his face scrunches.
"The alcohol's not real, it's Chinese shit so mine is mostly cranberry juice! Well, it's not really real cranberry juice either..." I try to explain.
I don't really know where I'm going with this.
"What? I can't really hear you!" He gestures to his ear and waves his arms.
I smile and grab his arm, pointing to the bar. He nods and I pull him through the crowd.
It is always easy for me to get through crowds. In New York I have plenty of practice rushing to class around Washington Sq Park.
I smile sweetly, winding my way through the crowd, boobs first. I pull Hunter along behind me, feeling his warm skin and raised tattoos under my fingers. My mind wanters: what is he going to think when he finds my tattoos and realizes I'm more than just a pretty package. I imagine him kissing the dagger tattoo at the nape of my neck hidden by my hair, pulling up my dress, fingers tracing the fox tail winding up my hip, kissing the rose on my belly, heading south—nope don't go there!
I shake my head clear, it feels good to be in the lead.
We approach the bar where it's a lot quieter and pretty much empty apart from a bartender cleaning glasses. It is situated a bit higher from the club so you can view the main stage and activity at other tables.
The bar counter is a sleazy neon blue color with lights reflecting off an American Johnny Rockets retro diner counter top. It feels somewhat like home to be sitting in a retro-style bar. It actually reminds me of some bar in Atlantic City.
I like it, it's interesting that our skin reflects blue from the lights.
I sit down and smile at him, "I already have a drink, so what do you want?".
He smiles and replies, "No, I'll buy you a drink, a real one. That tastes like shit".
I laugh, "Yeah because it's fake alcohol. Oooh I would love a drink though, I don't really know what I want, um, where's the menu?"
I look around. There's really no menu per-say, just Chinese scribbles on paper glued to the counter that I can't really read.
I point randomly and exclaim, "I want this!"
Hunter plays along, grabs the attention of the bartender, and asks for two Mojitos.
"Wow how did you know, that's LITERALLY what I wanted!" I bat my eyes sweetly.
He laughs, "They're refreshing, I like them when I travel".
He settles into the bar stool next to me, our knees almost touch and I keep my legs crossed, scared to toe the line.
I glance at the mirror behind the counter and shake out my hair, trying to have it lie just the way I want. I do this as a nervous tick and a reset button but it helps me gain confidence.
I turn back to him, "I really do love trying random drinks though. In bars here I'll point at something and it will just be a surprise. It's fun for me!"
The bartender comes with our drinks and places napkins under the glasses. I raise my glass and and glance at Hunter.
"Cheers! For, um...a new adventure!"
He smiles back. "Hell yah, cheers!"
We both sip, and the mojitos are delicious and not made of fake alcohol.
"It's great to get a breather, that dance floor fills up real fast." I fan myself to make a statement.
"You looked like you were having a good time though, we're going to get back up there and put on a show later," he grins.
I start to blush "Oh I'm not really much of a dancer, I just feel a lot more confident when Sam is with me. She's like my best friend!" I try to explain.
"You guys look good together, you both got that long shiny hair and nice ass. I'm sure a lot of guys love watching you two dance together."
Here we go...
"You think I have a nice ass? How very forward of you." I smile and flip my hair, looking down at my drink, bashful.
"You can look but no touching", I add.
I love teasing but it's hard for me to accept compliments.
"Come on you know it's nice, much better than mine anyway." he replies.
"I mean I've never seen yours and you might be discounting yourself. I'll be the judge of it later." I smile.
"Plus, usually I don't really dress like this, it's just great to dance in. The sparkles in my dress light up under the lights and I wear boots so my feet don't hurt! It's all just strategy to have a great time. I just love dancing but I also love making other people dance, I like going to music festivals and stuff when I can and that's how I realized I love dancing so much..."
I start to blab like I do when I get nervous. His eyes are still intent on my face and I'm starting to feel like he sees right through me.
"Oh, you like music festivals huh? What are some you've gone to?"
"Yeah I go to them with a bestie, her name is Evie. I've gone to Electric Forest, Camp Bisco, um..., but I really can't wait for Lost Lands and Burning Man! I'll go after I get a job and can save up the money you know?" I am still rambling.
I sip my drink and glance at him trying to think of something worthy to say.
"Wow, I've always wanted to go to a music festival, my parents are huge musicians so we kind of put on shows of our own. They're for kids though, nothing as hard core as Electric Forest" he laughs.
My insides melt: He works with kids? His parents are musicians? I just, cannot.
"That's so sweet! In Texas right? What's it like down there by the way? I've always wanted to visit." I cock my head and swirl my drink.
I start to feel myself relax, I like talking to Hunter, he's quiet and humble and teases me every so often. I feel like he's holding back and being polite. I'm eager for more.
When I finish my drink I get up, my head spins.
"Woah" I mutter.
Hunter catches my arm.
"Need a minute?"
I blink a few times and glance up at him, not fair, he's already had 2 drinks and he looks steady as ever. His blue-grey eyes are sparkling and I notice his other hand around my waist, which makes my heart jump.
"Um, yeah yeah I'm fine!"
I laugh nervously and step back.
I stretch my arms above my head, grabbing my elbows, and take a deep breath. I know my cleavage is on full display but I learned to do this in yoga and it helps me clear my head. I also twist my arms to the left and right and behind my back.
"Stop staring at my boobs, god. Stretching just really helps me out."
I laugh, turning away from him.
"Hey! You said I could look, just no touching," he pouts.
I think he had paid for the drinks when I wasn't looking, I made a mental note to buy him food outside later.
I turn back to him.
"Oh I'm sorry you're right, you can look but not touch. You can only touch if you're a good boy tonight, and I like you enough." I smile sweetly, smoothing my dress.
"What a fucking little princess you are" He snorts.
Normally, that would piss me off, but his smirk makes my heart stop and I just manage a glare. I feel a lot better, my head feels clearer, and I point my finger to the stage and look over my shoulder.
I'm like, really nervous at this point. I can only dance when I'm not nervous so that's a problem. I know I need to find Sam, but it's also kind of pathetic that I need to find her.
I spot her in the crowd dancing on the main stage with some other girls from our class. In fact, most of our group is on the dance floor at this point.
I smile at him and grab his hand, his hand is warm and rough and his long fingers close around mine. They're making my knees very wobbly.
I lead him towards the main stage.
I'll be honest I have no idea how to dance with guys alone, I really only put on a show and feel comfortable around other girls so I have to be strategic about this. I stand so that I'm with Sam and the other girls with him not that far away. The music has switched from early 90s jams to darker, electronic house beats mixed in with a hint of other worldly sounds.
I'm happy it's dark so I don't have to hide my face. In the dark, I sway my hips and get lost in the music. Weed and alcohol mix very well with techno house music, and I swing my hair around happily.
It's probably around 1AM at this point and the club is at max capacity. I don't really like touching sweaty people so I make sure to keep the space around me, but as bodies start to crowd the dance floor I'm getting pushed up against people. It is impossible to dance without grinding up on someone so I decide that it is time. I look up at Hunter and of course, he's fucking smokin' a joint.
Where does he keep them?!
I raise my eyebrows at him and pout, he smirks and lowers the joint to my lips. I open my mouth to accept it, inhaling slowly and fully. I feel more relaxed when I give it back.
I keep my eyes on his as I raise a hand and place it tentatively on his shoulder. He responds by grabbing my waist gently and pulling me in.
I place my other hand around his neck and lean in. My nervousness starts to fade away, I just feel kind of numb and tingly, starting from down south up to my beating heart and into my forehead. My skin also tingles as light reflects off my skin from above. I can feel heavy base from the music in my body wherever blood pools.
I rest my forehead on his chest and feel his heartbeat and we sway to the music. I smile. Come on, are we at a high school dance?
After a few minutes I get the urge to touch something. My fingers start moving up to feel the back of his neck. I trace light circles and press down. I know it feels great to the muscle massaged there. His fingers wake in response, marking a trail lightly down my spine and hovering right above my ass, lightly skimming up and down.
I groan quietly and smile into his chest, breathing in fresh laundry and honey. I slip my hands from his neck to his shoulders and trail them down the front of his shirt. I'm curious and I find some lean hard muscle to press on. Inwardly I would be screaming but the pleasure in my head's just too intense, I'm lost in my little foggy world.
I trace my fingers back up to his neck and pull his head down. I'm such a coward I still can't do it. I want to kiss him but I'm too shy to raise my eyes.
"Hey no touchy." I whisper into his ear. He utters a low growl and pulls me closer.
Woah, something hard hits my stomach. I almost stumble and my hand comes down to catch myself, resting on what I realize is a very hard erection pressing into me.
I bite my lip, blink hard, and decide to lightly caress it with my hand. Actually, no this is too easy. I gain some confidence and look up at him and smile. I slowly turn around in a half circle and lean back into him. His hands move to my belly and hold me in place.
The beat is picking up and I find my rhythm, grinding my ass back on him. I have to stand up straight and strain a bit on tiptoe to reach but I feel his hands wander down my thighs as a reward. Looks like next time I'll actually need to wear heels to do the job properly. I make a mental note.
The beat is never-ending and I feel like a sexual goddess, swaying to the music, his hands roaming up and down. He's cute, he's not leaving my thighs though I know he would love something more. I wiggle my hips and catch Sam's eyes through the crowd.
She's dancing with Alex and she claps her hands to her face and mouths, "Oh my god!" to me through the crowd.
Her smile is huge and since she's so much shorter I know Hunter won't see her. I pretend to fan myself and I can't stop smiling. She raises her arms up and puts on a little show, moving her hips in circles and raising her arms up to sway seductively. I imitate her but with a bit more sass, and turn around to watch her over my shoulder. I put my arms on Hunter's shoulders and make a show of dragging them down his chest, looking like a sexy cougar. She starts to giggle.
Out of nowhere I feel a sharp slaps my ass.
I look up at Hunter, shocked, and shoot him a glare.
"Excuse me mister, what was that?" I ask incredulously.
Inside I can feel my blood pooling where he slapped and I can feel myself start to get wet, but I keep a straight face.
He lowers his head, "Look at you, putting on a show for everyone".
I gasp as he grabs my ass again, fingers digging in, and I'm speechless. I know Sam is probably dying with laughter behind me but I can't turn around.
I quickly put my hands back up around his neck and press myself up to him, trying to be cute and not get slapped. I squeak with a hand on his chest.
"I'm not putting on a show right now. If you feel teased that's your fault."
I press my cleavage up to him suggestively. I finally take the chance of looking up into his face, his eyes are stormy and glint, reflecting the occasional light beams from the stage. He looks so intense. I watch his eyes trying to process this new side of him, the slap echoing on repeat in my head.
Suddenly his lips are on mine, he's pressing me closer, and I gasp. He blows smoke into my mouth and I breathe it in obediently. I remember it's called shotgunning but somewhere in the back of my mind I just swallow the thought down, exhale, breathe, and keep letting him plunder my mouth.
Music and time stops, as I feel his lips moving, and all I know is that it feels good and I start to kiss him back. I'm insistent actually, everything I don't know how to say I put into my lips, head swaying to the music. I put my arms around his neck to pull him closer and I can feel myself on my tip toes trying to reach.
Music fades in and out of my consciousness, bringing life into my limbs and gives me the confidence to grind against him. I feel his tongue pushing back and he tastes amazing, we both taste like mint mojitos. His hands roaming over my backside.
I don't know when I started to whimper but I realize it when one of his hands slides down to my thigh and I'm quivering from standing on my tip toes for so long. He realizes this as well and starts to massage, bringing heat to the area and soothing my aching muscles. It makes me melt and I when I shift I feel wetness start to gather so I cling to his neck for dear life.
I'm no longer standing on my feet, kissing him and dancing to the music are keeping me afloat. He grabs my hand from my neck and places it on his straining erection.
I feel a little embarrassed and hesitate, I don't want other people seeing me stroke off someone in public. His hand travels up to my breast and starts kneading it gently. I feel amazing, skin tingly where I'm touched. I would float away if his hand wasn't on my waist keeping me steady.
I lean into him and kiss his neck, gasping for air. I decide to explore the bulge lightly. There's something so hot about denim, such a tough material that his erection was threatening to break through. My fingers wander over his belt and belt loops, memorizing them in the dark in case I need to undo them later.
My toes are starting to give out and I sink back to standing, bringing his face down with me, giving him light kisses on my way down. Was he humming? Was I humming? There was a buzzing feeling around me. I also feel the buzz down below, drugs, alcohol and music are weird like that.