STAR CYKL
    The day that Christine auditioned for the band I was the gatekeeper. Everyone had to work the gate. It was the first line of defense. Anyone who wanted personal contact with the band had to come through the gate. Theoretically you couldn’t get in without an Invite. The entire production team was involved in gate keeping. Everyone pulled a shift. Everyone had a different take on those who came to the gate. Visitors would often respond differently to the characters they would meet at the gate. I was called Tim when I was on gate duty, because I didn’t let many seekers through. I always had the ruthless questions like, “What’s your favorite color?”, along with, “What is the origin of species?” and, “ How many shoes do you own?”
     Christine’s favorite color was black. She said It was the color of the night, the time of day that you could see the stars.
     I said, “There are no stars to see back stage now.”
     She said, “Let me in and I’ll show you one.”
     I did, and looking back, I think I know why. She said she wanted to fill in for Josie if we were ready to let her. I tried to slow her down to see how she liked waiting. The band was not set up to have auditions, but the gear was set up for sound check and we all knew how to run the boards and computers. She said she heard the Noise all up and down the street and she would dance outside if that’s what it took. She started improvising some moves for me outside the gate. I was laughing now.
     Anyone who throws down on the street to get your attention was going to be rough and ready. It’s a good combination for a dancer to have. She had plenty of confidence, but that didn’t get her in the gate. There was something in her smile that eased your pain for a while. After the pressure created by Josie’s disappearance, and the tension of the first show after curfew, Christine was like the sun on a cold grey day. We had no idea if Josie was going to return. The doubts about her, and the guilt for having moved on were starting to pull us down. We didn’t say much after the last show. Nobody wanted to think about the possibilities.  Then, as the Noise pumped out of the subterranean sound system, Christine started dancing. She did a short warm up and ripped a wicked Charlie Chaplin impersonation complete with a bowler and cane, while The Little Tramp poured onto the street. She was the first person to make me laugh that day. That’s what got her through the gate.
     We walked through the club to the stage. Michelle “from Hell” was working on Haunted, so we could add it back into the set list. Christine waited for Michelle to finish her routine and then took the stage, and said she could nail the dance. She proved she was right. It was so close in appearance to what Josie did that it was unbelievable. Her hands , her smiles, even her looks were a mirror image of Judy Jetson’s style. Michelle had walked up to the sound board while Christine spun her web. She was beaming.
     “That’s unreal!” she yelled over the Noise.
     “ I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it,” was all I could say.
     Michelle cooed, “I think we have a keeper. We need to have a dance party.”
     “ Now hold on , Baby. We need to find out a little more don’t you think?”
     “That’s your mission, missionary man. We ought to be collecting video evidence”
     “Is that your passion, collecting evidence, Baby? I know you can do it. I know you can pull us through it. We need to be sure before we send out invitations.”
     Christine finished the dance beautifully. Michelle was going to videotape whatever happened next so the whole team could see what the audition looked like. Later we could compare the dancers without having to ask them to come back. I didn’t think we should waste the bits. I had been at every audition. Her first dance out of the gate was as good as anything I had ever seen. No audition was so close to a previous performance. It was Josie’s moves and Josie’s song, but Christine’s performance was more like a clone than an interpretation. A lot of dancers had attitude and brought confidence to the stage. Christine was dancing effortlessly like Josie, and anyone who could do that was gifted. We needed her on the team.
     I asked her “ Would you do another song for our timeless tireless glass eyes?”  
     She said she hadn’t had much time to learn our songs, but she was familiar with most of what Josie had done. She said she wanted to do Burning Man. Michelle had finished the camera set up, and I opened up the Burning Man file to do the sound and visuals. Burning Man was a fire dancer’s dream, with a bat out of hell meets the charge of the light brigade anthem. Visually, it was unlike any other song in the set. Christine called from back stage for me to stand in the middle of the stage and be a prop for her dance. I was hoping to see some more choreography of her own creation.
     She came over and said, “Be vewy vewy quiet and be very still,” like the character from the Demented Looney Toons Elmer Phd. “You’re my sa sa sa stwa man. Be my scare crow.”
     I waited for the clicks to count us in. The lights dimmed. It was warm onstage and it was show time. Christine came onstage with an oriental fan in each hand. She changed the whole look of the performance from four alarm fire to slow burn. She used me as the Burning Man and she was fanning the flames. I forgot I was part of the act and started to move to the Beat.
     She said, “You be the straw man and stand still for once, luv.”
     So I stood Christ like in the center of the stage and Christine danced for me. I felt alone with her, as if the room was suddenly empty and the two of us were the only people there. She came in close and covered my eyes with the fans.
     She whispered, “Be still.”
     I could feel her breath on my chest. She moved back behind me and covered my ears with the fans. I could feel her breasts press against my back.
     She whispered, “Don’t move.”
     I could feel sweat running down my back. She stepped away as if recoiling from a blast of heat as the first chorus began.
     She shouted, “Sing the chorus Count!”
     I felt like I should move again and went through the chorus singing, like I always did, along with the playback. I was the straw man again when the second verse started. She reached by me under each arm and moved the fans to the beat of the music. I could feel the breeze cool my face. She started fanning my sides as if brushing off a marble statue. She was giving attention to every part of me. I wasn’t just a straw man, I was her straw man. It was like being doused with lighter fluid. It all led up to the second chorus. My mind was made up. I was in the trap. The song reached its crescendo after my second vocal and a bluesy jam ends the song. The play back gradually gets quieter as the song fades out. I sang the chorus and then I stepped out of the lights and watched Christine do a nouveau fan dance to the fade out. It was spectacular. Like the embers at the end of a bonfire. Christine was winding down,  but still threw off a lot of Energy. I started to wonder how the other dancers would react. She had taken one of the most important songs in the production and given it an erotic new twist that no other dancer had explored. I was blown away.
     That was really great!” I managed to say after the song ended.
     Christine said, “I was hoping to audition with that tune. I had been working it up. It’s one of my favorites.”
     “Is there anything else you’d like to show us?”
     “Yeah, run the playback to Terminal Frost.”
     Michelle brought up the file. We weren’t doing this song  on a regular basis, because fuel was rationed bands didn’t tour often. Everyone had trouble traveling, so we changed the set list all the time. The show wouldn’t get old for people who had seen it over and over. Terminal Frost was on the hard drive, so It took several minutes to reload all the samples.
     “I don’t dance to the song , but the solo is a great place for some mime,” Christine assured us. I believed her.
      So the verses ran through to the choruses and Christine improvised some moves that looked like she was playing ceremonial drums. Then, the instrumental section began. The sound of the wind rises up behind a soaring lead synth. Christine stood against the breeze. She was the polar wilderness resisting the arctic wind symbolically pushing against the advances of man and all that means. The change of climate, the loss of habitat, the end of life as generations had known it were all part of the sadness of her silent performance. It was another solid interpretation of a Horrible song. During her performance, everyone could tell something was unfolding before us. I was completely taken in by the beauty of her dances. When Christine finished her moves, she had won. I wondered if she always won.