Entry was by invitation only. It was located in the ground floor of an unassuming building. The facade of peeling paint and rust stains providing the perfect camouflage. There was a single unmarked door at the foot of the staircase leading down from the sidewalk, guarded by a slight-looking man with greasy hair.
Like the building itself, his appearance was deceptive. His wraith-like build belied a disciplined body. His lack-luster eyes hid a sharp, alert mind that had the ability to record the minutest detail of every guest at the club and recall it years later to near perfection. The girls affectionately called him “Davey.” He was mute.
Business hours at the club were from seven in the evening to five in the morning. However, guests usually started pouring in only at around ten o’ clock to midnight. The girls themselves went off at two, save for a few whose hours were flexible. By ‘flexible,’ that meant they did more than dance for the customers.
The latest hour allowed was five-thirty, when the street outside was just beginning to wake up and commencing its daily grind. If the door was opened to let a late-staying guest or a club girl out and some early-riser happened to pass by at that exact moment, they would have caught a glimpse of neon lights flashing from inside as faint, muffled music drifted into the thin dawn. No one would have thought it strange.
The girls at the club all had one thing in common: they were beautiful. Not just body, but face, too. Many of them were students paying their way through one of them expensive sectarian schools. Most came from the provinces. Believe it or not, not all of them were from poor families.
SHE was known as the mestiza. She was not really. Her father had mixed Spanish ancestry, but so did most people in the country. It was just that she was born with fair skin and straight, narrow nose; people automatically assumed she was mixed. Sometimes even hawkers on the streets addressed her in English and try to sell stuff to her at a price higher than average.
They called it the ‘dollar’ tag. All foreigners received the same special treatment. The practice was based on the premise that foreigners could afford to part with more of their money than the average citizen; therefore, the former should be charged more. One can see easily why something as simple as shopping could exasperate her so much.
But at the club, things were different. Not better, by all means. In her world, there was no such thing as ‘better.’ To each, his lot of the world. Every person is exactly where he is supposed to be at that exact moment. Just because one’s skin is fairer than the next girl’s does not dictate the other’s preference. There were no false classes of people at the club. There was only them and the customers.
It was her turn on the stage that night.