Before you embark into the depths of darkness where avocado toast goes to rot, you’re required to put on the MILLENNIAL UNDERGROUND SPOTIFY PLAYLIST.
“It’s not safe here, you idiots.”
A boy stepped out of the shadows, puffing a cloud of Juul smoke in our direction. I recognized him instantly as an LA Teen: one of those kids who you knew grew up learning how to sneak into clubs and get paparazzi to slide them some extra dough to snap photos of celebrities. They were also insufferably fearless, having grown up in this lawless city unlike us sensible expats.
“You know vapes are killing people,” I pointed out, helpfully.
The LA teen just shrugged, taking another hit of some sort of raspberry-scented nicotine high.
“You’re not the only ones who have showed up here. There have been others. Looking for someone… and not in a friendly way.”
“This is dumb,” I said, pulling up my phone. “I’m going to see if Keke has Find My Friends turned on.”
Trigger stared at the kid. “What kinds of people?”
The LA Teen shrugged. “The kind you don’t wanna fuck with. I wouldn’t follow this white rabbit if I were you.”
With that, the LA Teen pocketed his Juul and walked away.
“Trigger…” I said, pulling on his sleeve. I showed him my phone: Keke had just posted a photo on Instagram that was clearly taken in the neon, foggy haze of an iconic LA Dance Club party at The Satellite Dance Yourself Clean.
Pre-Show Party, Get Clean With Me.
Keke wasn’t in the photo.
“We have to go.”
“You heard the kid, people we don’t want to fuck with are involved, here.”
“All the more reason to find Keke,” I said, pushing past him and walking down the rickety steps that led into the darkness of the green door, laser focused on the slowly spinning necklace.
Trigger followed, watching me as I hopped up on the railing and grabbed the necklace, gingerly slipping it inside my bag.
“You know who else is at The Satellite right now?”
Trigger watched me, knowingly. “It’s Saturday night.”
I nearly fell down the stairs. Fuck.
“I don’t care. We’re going.” I grabbed his keys, stalking over to his Prius — and mentally preparing myself for what we were about to walk into.
The pilgrimage to the land of smoke and laser cages is a well-tread one by my peer group. Ever since Dance Yourself Clean took up residency at The Satellite — named, of course, after the same song by LCD Soundsystem — Silverlake was changed forever.
As we arrived, we stepped inside to pay the $5 cover and get stamps.
Trigger leaned over to me. “Can I snag a $5?”
I shot him a look. “You just came off of a tour.”
“They haven’t paid me yet.”
“You just danced backup at the Hollywood Bowl. If you keep pumping me for cash like this, I’m going to kick your ass to the curb,” I said. Money flowed through his hands like water. I knew it was in part because of his hard-partying ways: it’s not just Ariana Grande who’s been known to date their backup dancers. Trigger might look effeminate, but that only helps him disarm the fairer sex. The champagne bottles still cost $500 at the places starlets like to go, though.
I slapped down a $5 and we got our stamps and headed inside. A layer of fog had already settled over the dance floor, the “DIRTY” and “CLEAN” balloons getting tossed around the forming crowd like volleyballs.
I immediately felt at ease, shifting into my second skin. There was something electric about the crowd, the way the lasers hit the disco ball, and the warmth of knowing I was with my peers listening to the songs that cracked the code of our youth. We were surrounded by beanies and flannel and a kind of effortless “cool” that comes with being poor but having taste.
And that’s when I saw him, onstage: Jedi. Short for Jedidiah, and long for his DJ name. Spinning the turntables — well, mostly the mac laptop — with a kind of precision as the light glittered off his gold Beats headphones as his hype man walked around onstage, yelling: “LOS ANGELES!” and the crowd erupted.
As if on cue, Jedi looked up, and locked eyes with me. His hands were still deftly dancing across his magnetic electronic instruments. But like the evil sonavabitch he was, he nodded at me and grinned — and abruptly changed the song.
It was Lorde and Disclosure’s Magnets. My favorite song, as Jedi was well aware. He was taunting me, as I knew he would.
Trigger saw what was happening. “Don’t let him get to you, Misty. We’re here to find Keke — “
But I couldn’t stand it. I stormed away, throwing a $20 down at the bar, snatched two shots of cheap tequila, and ran up the short flight of stairs and locked myself in the photobooth.
In the tiny photobooth, I downed both shots. I took a deep breath, trying to steady myself. I was never good with seeing exes out in the world, which was part of the reason I had avoided Dance Yourself Clean for all this time despite it being one of my favorite spots. Jedi and my breakup had been particularly bitter — and I was happy to admit that I wasn’t emotionally mature enough to see him since.
Suddenly a FLASH filled the photobooth — and I realized someone must have put money in the photobooth and it was taking photos. I tried to cover the camera but was too slow, and the photobooth happily printed three blurry photos of me looking way more drunk than I was currently on my way to becoming.
The curtain was pushed back, and I spat out:
“Get the fuck outta here, Trigger –“
But it wasn’t Trigger holding up the curtain. It was Jedi.
“It’s nice to see you, too.” His stupid British accent made him sound both smug and polite and dumb. I didn’t like it.
I stuck my head out. “If you’re here — ” Then, I heard the strains of LCD Soundsystem’s DANCE YRSELF CLEAN. “Oh.”
“I can’t mess with a classic. My hypeman’s got the crowd.”
I heard another “LOS ANGELES!” far away by the dancefloor. I rolled my eyes. “You shouldn’t be here. You’ve got a gig to DJ and great Glass Animal songs to butcher with overproduced remixes.”
“You love those remixes, don’t lie to me. Also, this song is nine minutes long, so I have just enough time to tell you that I miss you and want to see you.”
I felt like a lung had been punctured. I felt all the air flood from my body along with any witty comeback I had prepared. I saw Trigger hovering nearby, a look of disapproval on his face.
“I…” I didn’t know what to say, knowing that whatever I was going to try to say would come out wrong.
I knew Jedi. I knew that he was one of those boys who reveled in the chase, in the getting the girl — not keeping the girl in any capacity. In fact, losing the girl and neglecting the girl was part of the cycle of the chase. For him, it was a game. For me, it was like my heart kept getting ripped out and put in a blender. But I sometimes wondered if here, in this city, I would ever stack up to deserve more than to be shredded by those sharp blades.
My phone dinged. I looked down at it — and saw a notification from Keke’s instagram.
Another post, this time with a caption I knew couldn’t possibly be written by her — with the necklace I had taken from behind the Green Door.
I couldn’t stop myself from forming the next few words aloud. The realization hit me like one of Jedi’s over-the-top remixes:
“Someone kidnapped Keke.”
Eaten Alive by the Millennial Underground is a multimedia fiction series written daily by writer Amy Suto. Check out her blog here for more about her nocturnal excursions and writerly pursuits. Read the full Millennial Underground series as it’s coming out in the month of November at AmySuto.com/underground, and be sure to subscribe via email so you don’t get #cancelled.