illustration: Raphael Achache
“Back in the day, these things used to send people proper mental,” he roared over the beat.
“Yeah. All the birds would be dropping their knickers, the blokes would beat each other up. Something about the place. Apparently. I read it online the other day.”
“I’ll be ready for it after a couple more of these Zombies.”
Cocktails for three quid in the Speigeltent down Nottingham Market Square, and the place was heaving. It was only going to be around for a few days, so me and Milo thought we’d make the most of it and get down to see Hallouminati. It was a Wednesday evening. Pretty dangerous behaviour for a school night, but it had to be done. It was like being transported back to the twenties or summat – the huge, round, wooden dance floor; the street light glowing through the stained-glass tile windows. It was proper. I’d been anchored to the bar for what seemed like an age, and could feel my jelly legs giving way to the trumpet, so I grabbed Milo’s hand.
“C’mon, we’ve gotta get in there.”
Barging past chucked-back heads, cackles and boot stomps, we found ourselves in the middle of the room, looking up at the flowing drapes and hanging onto each other as we let the ska-sweat drip down our foreheads. After some relentless skanking, we returned to the bar to top up the rum levels and took a seat in one of the booths.
“You’re right, this place does send people a bit mental. Probably summat to do with the tunes too, though.”
I supped on my straw and looked to the wooden pillar in front of us. There was a mirror hanging from it.
“People used to use them to flirt with the person in the next booth,” Milo said, clocking me staring. “Internet said so.”
“Looks like these two have skipped the formalities.”
I signalled with my thumb to the booth to the right of us. Me and Milo raised our upper lips as we glared through the mirror at a guy snogging his missus with crazy determination, arched over her and gripping the back of her head. Suddenly, the band slammed the brakes on their last tune, and the crowd erupted. Our eyes were still fixated when the man stopped and looked over his shoulder. Thick blood coated his lips and dripped from his chin. The girl was still.
“What the fuck are you doing, mate?” Milo knee-jerkingly screamed.
Every eye in the room swivelled in our direction. Silence. I looked at Milo, his chest heaving up and down, fists clenched, eyes locked with the psycho. He was ready to batter him. I grabbed the back of his hood and tugged, feeling his resistance lean forward.
What happens next?
A) Stay and fight.
B) Drag Milo away and bail.
Vote now in the comments section below. Voting closes on Sunday 7 February.