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The street shook with the wide reverberations of circuit-board drums and pitch-perfect bass. Footsteps on the pavement were drops in an all-encompassing ocean. For music meant to induce ecstasy in a seething mass of people, it could make a man feel insignificant like nothing else - the speakers towering above with an electronic whip, the subwoofers roaring their commands designed to head straight for the heart and crush it beneath pink furry boots.

A few quid poorer, a paper band around his wrist, and he sidles in, a static, well-cut mannequin amongst the writhing bodies. After an age at the bar, he sits down amongst the ones too tired or embarrassed to dance. Nevertheless, they chatter in each other's ears excitedly, muzzled by the jackhammer drums, and he still feels wildly out of place.

After a while, an electric surge, a new kind of cold, rainbow community spirit forces the young to their feet, and they rush off with hands entwined, no longer outsiders. All that is left is a man sitting rigid in a suit, and a shapeless figure slumped on a table opposite. Despite the noise, there is silence.

Curiosity stirs him to investigate. Cautiously he approaches the table, and hails the stranger. With a start, a face shining blue with tears appears, and mouths What?

She never wanted to come here, he deciphers from her hoarse yells and sluggish gestures. Empty bottles of J20 stand testament to her enforced sobriety. And though in the end it makes sense, his heart is filled with sadness - that a social life is now just cogs spinning in sporadic, colourful lights - just as his mind is filled with envy and scorn.

He checks his glinting pocketwatch, and they leave, an arm clinging to a shoulder.

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