6 JAN 2017

Polished wood counter, cushioned bar stools, warm lamp light, and a chill atmosphere are all what set the mood at l’Agora on Rue des Tonneliers in Strasbourg’s city-center. That is, until I step through to the rear of the ground floor to a small room, pay my 5€, and walk down a flight of stairs. The basement must have once been a wine cellar at some point with its picturesque arched, brick walls and concrete floor. Now, however, you descend into the foggy haze of a smoke machine. The blue and green lights deflecting, reflecting, swirling, and strobing. The music loud and the bass, oh the bass, vibrating the room as well as my ribcage.

People can be seen in the ever so brief-but-frequent flashes of the strobe lights twisting this way and that. Hands in the air, because they clearly don’t care, and loving every moment. The blessing of this basement disco is the amount of space you have to move around in. There is no pushing or pulling or being squished into a wall to make room for more people. I am no dancer, though, so I situate myself at the tables with everyone’s coats and Corona-equivalents, Desperados beer. As well, I am no drinker, but the jus de pamplemousse suits me just fine. Add a quick red-bull, and I am good to go all night.

I do not deny that I miss the fun of an occasional party, but seeing all of this sober may be far more entertaining. I wonder if I ever danced like that. Is that dancing? I cannot be sure. Regardless, the energy, the bliss, is palpable. The joy of being able to let loose after a long few days of sitting in orientation lectures and standing in lines for registration is infectious. Even sitting at a table, drumming out the beat, I am having the time of my life.

I had planned on calling it a night when we all decided to switch up the venue and head back across the river. Bravely back out into the cold night we go. Cold indeed, the heat of Agora was no competition for the -9ºC weather. That is nearly 15ºF. We walk hurriedly to stand in line at Café des Anges. This building felt near to burst with bass and bodies, and that is viewing it from the outside. Shuffling our feet every so often until our time for entry had come, we are packed into the small anteroom that keeps out the cold from the heat inside. Once the front door was closed, the second door opened, and we were awash in a flood of music, lights, and the sea of people. Where Agora had room, des Anges had people. Let the pushing, pulling, and wall squishing begin. I had not been to a club like this since that one time in Montego Bay (or was it three or four times while in Montego Bay?).

The time, 3 AM, stares at me from the light of my phone. The tram starts at 4 AM, and the bus at 5 AM. I am planning my route back to the château. I can leave in about half an hour to catch the tram, then ride to Robertsau Église. It is about a 30-minute walk from there. I let Clarissia know that I am about to head out, because this particular near-30-year-old partier (me) is partied out. I must have been out of my mind thinking that the heat of des Anges would stick with me for a while after I left. No, the heat is gone as soon as I pass through the anteroom. Back out into the freezing weather, I go. Navigating my way via Google Maps (thank goodness for international roaming data), I find the tram stop. Sixteen minutes in -9ºC feels like a lifetime. At last, like a godsend, the light in the dark is the tram pulling into the station. About 45 minutes later, I am in bed and thankful for such an incredible evening/morning. I am pretty sure the red horizon in the distance is the sun trying to rise.


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