(Originally published in The Los Angeles Review)
The mirror behind the stage is still streaked with handprints, smudges of sweat and body oil. The girls still climb up every few dances with spray bottles of glass cleaner and rags, wiping it up and down, back and forth, like slutty Cinderellas in their g-strings and bras. There are still black vinyl benches strewn about the room and tucked into dim corners that stick to bare thighs when you sit down. There’s that same odor of slightly rancid perfume, of roses blooming in a pasture of cigarette butts, even though smoking was banned here over a year ago. There are still wide-eyed college boys whooping it up in the front row; still solo men farther back, slumped low, their stares hard and needy; still bored girls sitting around the bathroom in slinky gowns, crushing matches into floor cracks with stiletto heels. Nothing has changed.