Single "Up At Dawn" story

Memories are funny things. Some fade quickly and live as distant images on the edge of your mind whilst some feel like they happened yesterday. Some memories are so strong, you can still feel them in your bones, smell the air, hear the music and connect to every little detail that happened. Perhaps it is the fun we have, maybe the enjoyment of the music, but I am more certain that it is the people we share those memories with.

My most vivid memory is an old one but it was the most amazing experience of my life. I was in Germany, somewhere near Stuttgart when we heard about some underground parties in the Black Forest. These parties were starting to get famous amongst all the kids and musicians nearby. Nobody knew when a party would happen, but if they did, it would be on a Saturday. We didn’t have mobile phones or google maps back then so the only way to find out would be on the grapevine.

We went to a pub in the musician’s quarter in Stuttgart where they told us that the best way to find the party would be to travel to a roadside tavern in the Black Forest called “The Dove” and hang out there. If we were lucky, someone might turn up and tell a contact where the party would be that night.

We were young and adventurous and really wanted to see what these parties were all about so we decided to take a chance. The next Saturday, we drove out to The Dove. When we got there, loads of people were hanging out, drinking beer and looking cool. It was a complete surprise to find such a crazy bunch in a forest pub in the middle of nowhere.

After a few hours, it was getting near closing time when a guy in a brown cap, colourful striped scarf and green trousers walked in and whispered in the ear of a tall girl holding a battered trumpet case. I just happened to be watching the girl, when this happened. Her face lit up when he spoke to her, as she flicked her long blonde hair over her shoulders. I knew something was happening.

She then walked over to a short guy with long dreads sitting in a corner drinking a wheat beer. After a few words in his ear, he scuttled round the room like an ant, talking and nodding to various people. It was like he had shaken up a bee’s nest and in a very short time the pub was almost empty.

We got swept up in the madness and very quickly found that the party was just a few miles from there, down a thin track in the forest, just after an old quarry. Well, everyone jumped in their cars and sped off in search of fun. It didn’t take us long, following the other cars, occasionally stopping to listen for the music riding on the wind. It was like an exciting treasure hunt and the prize was the night of our lives!

We bumped down a dark track, the warm night air breezing in through the windows and parked in a clearing. We could hear the slow thump of a bass drum coming from deeper in the forest and see the glow of colorful lights flashing through the trees. We gathered our drinks, blankets, drums and instruments and followed the sound of the hypnotic music.

Electric lights and candles were strung up around the clearing, in jars and on lines. Pools of green and blue lit up the trees, as red firefly lasers danced through the canopy. There were hundreds of people there, laughing, smiling, dancing to the infectious music coming from the stage. A band was playing, and in the center of them all was Fat Cat, holding a sunburst Gibson, playing the coolest, funkiest music I ever heard in my life. It didn’t take me long to lose my friend. We both got caught up in our own adventures. She got chatting to some cool hippies who were dancing like they were on fire. I stood near the stage, entranced by the music.

It was like a fever came over me. My feet couldn’t stop moving to the beat and I threw all kinds of shapes across the dance floor. I kept looking up at Fat Cat. Everyone seemed to follow him. The musicians glistened with sweat, light in their eyes. I opened my mouth and started singing along to the melodies, as if I had heard them all before. Fat Cat played on, like he was taken by the spirit of the forest, as if nothing but the music mattered. Every now and again, I would catch his eye and we would smile at each other, until the next beat took us back into the music, him playing his guitar, me dancing through the crowds.

After a few hours, the band slowed down and Fat Cat jumped off the stage. Another group of musicians immediately jumped on in their place. I don’t even remember the music stopping. Suddenly, Fat Cat was next to me, smiling that smile, although I sensed a sadness in his eyes for a moment. We started talking. He asked me if I liked music, and I told him I love to sing and dance. Of course, he was carrying a guitar in his hand, and he asked me if I wanted to go to a cool spot he knew to sing some more.

We walked deeper into the forest until we came to a small cliff overlooking party. The moon lit up the trees below as we sat on a blanket and talked into the night. We talked of music, traveling, adventures and loss. He told me he had left his hometown a few months ago, in search of something new. He had lost some good friends but even though he was sad, it just inspired him to write more songs. He played me a song he had written about the experience. I listened with wide eyes as he poured out his soul.

We lost track of time and I even forgot most of the words we said. He got me to sing, and we sat there all night, playing guitar, singing duets, making up harmonies, and living a dream of freedom, youth, and music.

Eventually, the sky started to lighten, and I realized that the sun would rise directly in front of us. Fat Cat had taken me to a special look-out point. The party had gone on into the night, nobody had slept. We were singing the sun up, watching the world awaken. It was an amazing feeling to be up at dawn.

As the sunbeams touched my face, Fat Cat looked at me and said thank you, I had restored his faith in people. He said he had a better time singing with me than playing the concert, kissed me on the forehead, and walked off into the trees. I didn’t see him again that weekend, but he left me with a warm glow, the best, most vivid memory of my life, and a feeling that we would meet again one day.