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      The glaring garish lights brought the adrenaline rush of performing but the blaring loud music was what turned me off. I hated loud noises yet night after night that familiar music made my ears ring. I'd been doing this for so long now that I didn't even listen to the music.  I just performed the movements from muscle memory feeling the beat course through my body. 

    

     I liked performing and dancing but not this life. I was a dancer not a contortionist, pole dancer or acrobat.  Being one of many extremely young girls in the Dark Dancers Erotic Performance Company, I danced in the cages. There was a time when we danced among the aisles however the excited men became too great a hassle.  Being behind cages opposed to in the audience didn't seem to reduce ticket sales.

     In the past we also travelled around, like a circus or something.  Now we had a stationary outdoor amphitheater to perform in.  This meant that we had to work almost every night. We often prayed for a storm.  The weather was temperate here, but if the props were in danger then the show got cancelled.  Because the audience was covered, rainy nights were the most popular. Our scanty, dark costumes clung to our bodies in the most uncomfortable ways. 

     The other girls and I weren't close or anything but we were friends.  The other performers formed tight little cliques amongst themselves. The dancer’s social structure was different because they were all so young and many were new to the company.  We huddled en mass for protection while being afraid that we might link ourselves with the wrong people. 

     Being older and around longer than any of the other dancing girls I placed myself outside this hierarchy.  Because I’m small my staying in the dance troupe wasn’t an issue. I'm only 5 ft. tall and weigh about 90 lbs.  I don't remember when I started doing this but it seems like it's been a long time.

     I have a picture of myself from when I was younger.  I assume it’s me otherwise I don’t know why I’d have it.  I look different in it; for one thing I’m quite plump.  I probably weighed more then, than I do now. 

     Most of the girls I dance with are between the ages of 12 and 15.  The more mature you look the younger they’ll take you.  I normally say I'm 16 or 17 so I don't seem that much older than the other girls but I really don't know how old I am. Most dancers graduate to more ostentatious billings, that or they leave the business.  I'm not that good at anything else so I remained a dancer.

    I usually had these sorts of thoughts while I was performing.  After the intense opening number the adrenaline rush subsided, letting my mind wander as I struck precarious poses.  This night I was thinking about Sue.   She was a new girl, Asian by the looks of her.  I wondered where she came from, jealous of her exotic beauty and petite frame. She'd probably persist to become a variety of pole dancer gaining a small amount of fame concerning the dark district. 

     Towards center stage a trio of older girls were mounting their equipment.  In my opinion the acrobats were the most skilled performers.  The lighting became a soft purple in contrast to their costumes and a bubbly pattern slowly ambulated across their forms. 

     The rest of the stage was dark, allowing the caged girls to assume a more relaxed pose.  This only lasted a matter of seconds before the music’s timing increased.  The rapid rhythm induced the lights to become brighter and the effervescent pattern to swirl across the view accordingly. 

     It also indicated that we had poses to strike and a few dance moves to execute simultaneously with musical crescendos.  I recognized the girl in the center, Jessica I think.  She was obviously the better of the three.  I had heard rumors of a promotion. 

     Genre didn’t dictate the company you kept but realistically girls performing the same pieces rarely ventured farther than to greet others.  Yet Jessica was one of those rare popular girls who acted nice to everyone and had an acquaintance from every degree of the social circle.  The dancing girls adored her. 

     Being a successful member of a dark district performance company wasn’t really something to brag about.  I’m sure it had its perks.  Yet popularity was such a commodity among our members it was reminiscent of high school.  Or so I’d heard. 

     Following the acrobats was the last dance.  The opening and closing numbers warranted that all the dancers left their cages.  The finale gave the audience one last sight of the provocative styling’s they’d paid for.  Special attention was given the most memorable performers. 

     The cacophony of applause and shouts was perhaps more unattractive than the music.  Thankful for the audience’s leave-taking I hastily left the amphitheatre.  I always hurried back to the complex, large buildings organized like a dormitory, directly after a show.  If I couldn’t get out of the theatre fast enough I would linger.  This ensured my walk to the complex was free of human interaction. 

     After an hour or so of smiling and flirting with an audience I was emotionally exhausted.  Niceties between my peers were surplus to my reservoir of sociability.  We all lived in the complex; it was part of the deal when we joined.  I preferred being among the first to return.  It guaranteed me hot water and a few moments of silence.  If not then I found walking alone in the dark pleasant.

     Safe in my room I unceremoniously dropped onto my bed.  There was space for little else in the small private room.  My eyes rested on three pink and blue paper flowers secured above the doorway.  They were pretty but I wondered how they got there.

     The upcoming week promised some rigorous rehearsals.  Not to mention the regular nightly performances.  Week night shows were shorter at least.  A big performance was scheduled for next weekend and we were expected to be flawless. 

     The thought added to my exhaustion.  Consciousness can be so oppressive.  Neglecting to remove my uncomfortable shimmering costume I lay on my bed in the tiny room of the complex, waiting for sleep to come.

The End

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