Heavy double doors sung open, and Xander’s amber eyes were welcomed by a radiant silver star. It’s shimmering scaled dome was graced by comets racing around a dark crowded room. The disco ball’s passive display of radiance followed no rhythm but its own as it hovered high above the congested dance floor. Separate sets of lights swirled and cut through the crowd with various colors, going along with the music’s pulsing beat. A sweet scent of fog fluid tickled his nostrils. His short dark hair bristled from the cool shots of air pouring from the AC vent.
Tall speakers boomed from the fogged DJ’s booth and made Xander’s heart pump along with blasting rhythm of the bass. His adrenaline urged him to join in with the other dancers, but the young man resisted. He was new and didn’t want to quickly fall under a false sense of security with people he wasn’t acquainted with. While the pounding music kept him from hearing his own thoughts, something inside him told him to head to the disco ball.
Stepping across the smooth laminate floor, he pushed between folks getting in their fill of drinks and shouting into each other’s ears, between girls having a night out, and between singles looking to find a one-night stand or more. He held his breath a few times as he passed by musty bodies, doing his best to avoid touching their bare, sticky arms caused by all the body heat. There was no point in excusing himself because the music would only drown out his voice. His focus was to reach the disco ball. Its hypnotic twirl beckoned him and nothing was going to prevent him from doing so.
Away from the drunken bystanders and into the dancing crowd, Xander maneuvered around them with a little less ease. Some folks jumped together in a group and showed off moves to one another, each step threatening to hit his side. Others threw their arms around in the air lost to the rhythm with a drink in hand. A stray hand almost swatted him in the face, but he threw his head back before the long-nailed fingers could scrape his nose. Couples were pressed together in a locked grind or swayed with space between to avoid spilling their drinks. The protective partner made sure to pull their lover away from him, making it easier for him to weave right by and ignore their piercing gaze.
The rush of the fast-paced music filled his veins, and Xander’s heart pounded against his chest. Tiny rivulets of sweat formed on each side of his tan forehead, right below his dark hair line. He didn’t understand why he was nervous, but as the crowd began to dissipate towards the center, his feeling was validated. A space was formed right under the disco ball. As he avoided another impact from a different wild dancer, he broke free from the crowd and entered the space.
Then he saw her.
A young woman with short, bouncy black curls danced on her own, absentminded of the crowd surrounding her. Her pale skin glowed under the light of the silver metallic ball. She spun and kicked in ways that didn’t match the music in the room, but the one in her head. The same one, he assumed, that the disco ball could be dancing to as well. The avoided area no longer had the smell of the fog machine or human sweat. The air chilled his skin and brought goosebumps along his arms.
Her dark brown eyes caught him standing there and she made a twirl in her polka-dotted, navy blue halter dress; a vintage style from the fifties. The skirt flowed out in a graceful spin and exposed her knees before concealing them back under its ruffles. She stopped dancing to face him with her red lips breaking into wide smile. She extended a hand to him, bending her fingers up and down as an invitation.
As odd as it was to see a young woman, who had to be in her mid-twenties, dancing alone, Xander swallowed down all precautions. He allowed the invisible hands of encouragement to nudge his back until his hand pressed against hers. Her smooth palm was neither sweaty or warm, but rather chilly to the touch.
Then the music changed. It was no longer the pop and rap remixes or dubstep. Instead all he heard was the sound of a playful trumpet, followed by more trumpets, and then the rest of the percussion to form a fast-paced piece from the early thirties. He could now hear the song that was playing in her head.
With a wider smile, she stepped into his space, with her feet not too close but not to far from his. Her hands found their proper places on a leading dancing partner. Before he knew it, they were dancing away under the disco ball and stepping around the space no one seemed to consider entering or noticed existed.
Throughout the night, Xander and the mysterious woman danced in old styles his generation no longer appreciated like jitterbug, swing, foxtrot and even disco. Not once did she say a word, but happiness and pleasure beamed from her eyes and constant smile. She let out a few soft laughs when he showed off a move. He couldn’t resist smiling back, enjoying this moment with a woman he felt a sudden attraction for.
When the clock struck at two in the morning, a flash of bright light burned his eyes and he halted to adjust his vision, releasing her hands to press his eyelids with his knuckles. Then the DJ announced over her microphone to the remaining attendees that the club was shutting down and thanked everyone for coming out. Xander had been dancing so much with his whimsical partner, he didn’t realize it was already that late into the night.
When he opened his eyes, all the sweat-stained man saw was the scuffed black laminate flooring. He glanced around to see if she was already heading out, but over the heads of the herding crowd, he didn’t see her anywhere. Something else caught his attention and he looked up.
The disco ball disappeared.
Cursing under his breath, Xander questioned himself whether he might have been drugged, but that couldn’t have been possible because he ate at home before he got there. He didn’t even drink. Now his sanity was in question. How could he be loosing it at his age? He was only in his late twenties. His callused hands rubbed against his sweaty face fiercely, hoping an answer would come to him.
A light touch on the arm gained his attention and when the young man glanced over, shock knocked at his chest. A woman, who very much resembled the one he was dancing with stood here, wearing a semi-formal attire of a tight button-up shirt and slacks. Her voluminous hair had the same black color but straightened until the tips ended below her armpits. She gave him a sympathetic smile under her dark brown eyes, an uncanny resemblance to his mysterious dance partner.
“I’m sorry. The woman you danced with tonight can be quite mischievous,” She began, “She used to be the life of this club back in the day. She danced every weekend throughout the decades until the eighties. From time to time, we receive reports of her dancing with our customers before disappearing at closing time. Doesn’t happen often thankfully.”
“What do you mean? What the hell just happened? Where’s the disco ball? Where did she-?” Xander had more questions to pummel her with but paused when she lifted an oval-shaped picture frame in front of him. It was an old photo of a woman with short curly hair, beaming in a polka-dotted dress caught in mid-twirl; the mysterious dancing partner.
“That woman is my late grandmother,” she said, “She always had restless dance syndrome, even after death. Some habits never die.”