Monday, 17 August 2009

Vicarious Ecstasy

A hot Sunday evening and music and cheering drift in through the window. I follow the sound down the stairs, out into the street and westwards, where the world once ended. Here a wrong turn, a dead end, no music in this neat private garden. Back out again, pulled by the rhythm, on to the gates of the graveyard. Still open even though it's well past dusk. But this is where the music is coming from, and the place is strangely alive between the sparse gravestones - not with ghosts of the dead talking to one another as in a writer's imagination, but with real, live, young people. Their bikes beside them, they sit in groups where by day the Wall casts its long shadow, quietly listening.

A break in the older wall, dividing the cemetery from the canal since the soldiers and nuns were buried here, reveals the source. Across the water, the back of a stage and a huge crowd of people, making human waves with their movements. We can see their heads and their arms in the air as they celebrate the music. Lights chase across the audience, clouds of dust rising above tightly packed bodies. I imagine the heat and discomfort, the feel of other people's limbs pressing against mine, but the white happiness of rhythms shared, moving as one. A cheer goes up at the first few bars of a familiar song, and then I know who's playing too. The boys behind the mixing desk jump and dance for the joy of it all. A few small figures are wandering around backstage, perhaps looking for the cool of the water. From over here the sound is clear and pure but for the creaking of crickets in the undergrowth to our left.

I leave again, satisfied but not wanting to intrude. Back home the sound wafts over, two encores and then all is over by ten. I come in from the balcony and look for a book and a CD:

Halbschatten and The Whitest Boy Alive.

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