I remember stepping into a club one evening after a time away and finding a strange odor in the air. It was stale and weathered, a little musty mixed with the day’s B.O., the showered and the unshowered as well as hints of perfume and cologne, all mingling in the dark neon of the bump bump nineties club scene. The patio was crowded with the others.

The puffers and burners, all dying to suck on a fag or two. It was a separate party and over the years the numbers began to dwindle as the popularity of smoking began to fade. The club air is still clean and the patio has become a lonely place, populated by the stubborn, the broken, the lonely and the diseased. We are better off for it, generally speaking, but those places that people populate didn’t need it, they didn’t thrive on it.

I miss the haze of a dim underground with smoke so thick it has become a part of the decor and now seeps from the furniture and the walls. It is a vibe so prevalent no one is aware, until one is without. A band is playing somewhere and you can just make them out in the dim light a few feet ahead, but never the drummer. Percussion is always lost in the back corner and swallowed like a fading heartbeat. The band plays jazz, reggae or rock and roll. Half of them fuming with the thickening crowd with ash falling onto the piano or from between the strings.

Jazz was the best, because jazz never needed anything except itself. No food, no drink could make it better. It could only accompany it. A glass of wine goes good with jazz. The only thing that made jazz better was the atmosphere.

A hot smoky red and blue lit room with smoke so thick the notes dance on the streams. They float in the fog and seem to come from everywhere before and after the note is played, ringing and staying true to the roots which bore them.

I miss the absorption and the tired slowness that accompanied a good late night jam. The misty smoke made everything feel like you’re awake in a dream. The only thing that could make jazz better was the smoke.

There are places that miss smoke.

 

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