Five minutes to midnight and it's freezing in here, my breath coming in ghostly mist in the candlelight, my skin goosepimpling despite the blanket wrapped round me. But, regardless of the discomfort, I wait, eager, eyes straining to make out the dimly lit doorway, as keen as any here to finally witness this miracle. Moment pass, with no sound but the soft whisper of fabric as someone huddles closer into their clothes, the quiet breathing of those around me mingling with my own. We wait. And then, finally, the clock is chiming and midnight is here and all of us, as one, climb to our feet. Ready. Expectant. The last chime dies away into silence and the door opens...
Afterwards, outside in the cold light of a fitful November morning I stamp my feet in my inadequate thin trainers and make my way home. Head down like those around me, none of us wanting to make eye contact, our disappointment like a heavy weight upon our necks. I feel numb, abandoned. Cheated. I wanted so badly to believe.
It began two years ago, or near enough. I was in a bad place emotionally, a rocky break-up that coincided, unfortunately, with my parents' announcement of their divorce. I was at a loose end as well, ‘resting', which is a nice way of saying unemployed, but fooled no one. So you could say I was a prime candidate, depressed, bored, searching for meaning in a life that was looking increasingly gray and ordinary. And young enough to still hunger for something more. I was at the pub one night, with one of the few friends who had not yet gotten too fed up with my dull spirits to stop trying to cheer me up, when this band got up to play. Suddenly, this sound filled the room. Dancing, playful, the musical equivalent of children's games – at once innocent and mischievous. Then changing, evolving to become more sedate, grown up but still with that hint of childish joy.
‘This is incredible' I gasped to my friend. She grimaced at me.
‘Are you kidding me? It's terrible. I've never heard a worst racket in my life. Let's get out of here.' I stared at her, incredulous, then looked around the pub to confirm that others were enjoying it as much as I was. But they weren't. This amazing, incredible, joyful music was going on around them and they were...ignoring it. Carrying on their conversations. Some, like my friend, were actively wincing in horror.
‘Sarah? Come on, let's go. This music is doing my head in.' I pulled my arm out of her grip, shaking my head fiercely.
‘I'm staying' I insisted.
‘Fine then. Stay. But this is giving me a headache. I'm going home. Sure you won't come with me?' I shook my head again and she left. I barely noticed.
They were called Silent Paris and they became my life. I went to all their shows, bought their CDs from the bar afterwards, followed them on MySpace and YouTube. And I got to recognise others, who, like me, heard the future in their music and gave up their lives to dance along. There weren't many of us. Most, like my now abandoned friend, couldn't see the beauty, the sheer talent in that soaring sound. But we, the faithful, heard it and rejoiced.
For nearly eighteen months I followed them, getting to know their other fans, sharing the tidbits of knowledge we treasured about the band members.