Surprisingly, hearing the Reputation album played in a club full of Taylor Swift lovers wasn’t the only highlight of my Saturday night.
The rave was a last minute event hosted by one of the coolest clubs in the coolest part of town. The tickets went live Friday morning, almost the exact same time I put my phone on Do Not Disturb, my headphones, and threw six issues for international trade. Now I haven’t seen calls and texts from my friends telling me to buy a spot on the list. As I was not on the club’s list, there was no question of me joining the club. So when I arrived in the underground tunnel at 10 p.m. Saturday night, I was there to line up and pray to our Lord Savior, Taylor Swift.
Even though my friends all had spots on the roster, we were able to stay together until the club opened. They still weren’t guaranteed a place in the club but had higher priority entry than me. However, when the bouncers started opening the club, we had to part ways. Although that left me alone in the basement, a graffiti-filled tunnel filled with much cooler skaters than me… being stuck led to the most exquisite masterpiece of a new limited edition Madrid Experience .
So there I was, standing alone in the dull, rainy evening when I spotted a group of three boys walking towards the line. They were all wearing outrageously cool outfits (one of which featured a floor-length pink and blue fur coat) and all simply intoxicated by their love for Taylor Swift. Before I could admire their outfits from afar, they were in front of me, complimenting my own clothes. I obviously returned the compliment and pulled out my camera to photograph them. The moment I asked, “puedo tomar una foto?” they fell in love with the little American. It was the start of a beautiful friendship.
I told them I was alone at the moment because I wasn’t on the list, and they laughed happily at my slow Spanish and thick American accent. However, when he started expecting me to wait alone for as long as it took to fully open the club, they were absolutely appalled. They quickly adopted me as one of their own.
“Girls, gays and others – we all need to stick together.”
I expected that to mean they would cut the line and wait with me, but they didn’t come here to wait in line. These three guys I had just met and instantly befriended were also friends with the DJ, which meant I was also friends with the DJ, by proximity. So they took me out of the queue and paraded me to the doors where they talked to the bouncer, we all paid $10 instead of $24 for a ticket and we were the very first people in the building.
We walked into the DJ playing “Delicate” with absolutely no one else on the dance floor, and the doors aren’t even open to those with the highest priority yet. I texted my friends that I was inside and to let me know when they entered. What I got back was a lot of “what the fuck”.
“I have to check my coat!” I told them. It was raining and freezing cold in Madrid that day, but I could already tell it would be very hot in the small club.
Again, they had other plans. “You can’t pay 5 euros to check your coat! We’re going to put it behind the DJ booth!”
And just like that, they took off my coat and hung it behind the DJ, who in turn asked me what my favorite Taylor Swift song was. I could definitely get used to this celebrity treatment. (It seems important to note here that the DJ was actually a straight man, and also very, very attractive.)
Before other people started pouring in, we had the whole dance floor to ourselves with a personal Dj playing all of our favorite songs. Not yet having alcohol inhibiting our brains, it was just pure joy that kept us moving on that dance floor. A feeling that can only be tied to dancing in your living room with your best friends at a slumber party.
Between songs, I realized that only an hour earlier I was in line and had come to the conclusion in my mind that I wouldn’t mind if I had to be turned away at the club entrance. I had two midterms on Monday morning and didn’t want to sleep late on Sunday because I had a lot of studying to do. Now, looking back, I don’t even want to think about the experience I would have missed had I decided to stay home and study. A decision my 17-year-old self would have made in the blink of an eye – putting school above everything else. But I have no hard feelings towards her and those decisions because those choices she made allowed me to be where I am right now.
Twenty minutes later, after the club had filled a substantial amount, my friends walked in and found me in a large group of people. These boys weren’t just friendly to me, but to anyone else who could recite Taylor’s words like it was an Olympic sport.
We drifted apart a bit more during the night as I reconnected with more and more of my friends, but we continued to meet periodically throughout the night to shake hands, jump up and down, and sing. lyrics to any Taylor Swift song. was playing – we all knew them.
Finally, it was almost 4 am, which is usually the ceiling for Naia, Alaska, Aubrey and me, since neither of us wants to sleep until the evening of the next day.
“I have to get my coat,” I told them, and assuming I had also checked my coat in the same place as them, they said we could all go together.
“No, no, my coat is not in control. I’ll be right back.”
They started watching me go all the way up front, go around the barricade, kiss the DJ and say goodbye, then grab my coat from the coat rack. That’s when they realized the enormity of my new limited edition Madrid Experience. Since we live in very different parts of town, tonight wouldn’t be the night to say so, so I started walking home as they tried to hail a cab.
The walk back to my house takes 20 minutes, but I live in the city center so it’s still very crowded at all times. The odder the hours, the more you have to worry about occasional thieves. Once Sevyn was walking home and someone just grabbed her phone and ran away. There is usually no violence, but there are a lot of pickpockets.
Even though Naia thought I was crazy for wanting to walk home, it’s one of my favorite things to do. The club is so hot and stuffy and as soon as you walk through those doors it’s quite the opposite. Clean, crisp air, a light breeze, and the ability to move around without bumping into five different people.
I also tend to have the best existential thoughts when I get home at four in the morning. I walk around a big city, I look at the tall buildings that still shine with life, I notice other young people stumbling on the sidewalks or kissing in the middle of the street and the only thing that goes through my head is , I did it.
The exhaustion of being out so late calms my brain. The certain part of my consciousness that’s always spinning in circles, telling me I need to check off more items on my to-do list, study more, email more people – it’s completely turned off. All I have left are my inner thoughts, which are no longer clouded by external factors. And tonight, I think back to 17-year-old Calihan (someone I come back to too often).
If you were to show a clip of me walking home as a high school senior, she wouldn’t believe I was really the same girl. At that age, I didn’t think I would one day be able to leave my parents’ house or even go to university, let alone Madrid.
Yet I live in Spain as a junior with only nine classes to get a bachelor’s degree in economics, art studio, and Spanish.
I was dead once, but now I’m so alive. And that makes me feel absolutely invincible.