After a few drinks out in the balcony, Chico Rock and his friends are ready to hit the city, and he wants me to join them. So I go back to my room through our connecting balconies. I take off my flip-flops, put socks on and my black shoes and change my shirt. I dash to my closet and get my jacket. It might rain tonight.
When I get back, I learn that the girls are not coming out with us; they have some birthday party in Salamanca to go to. So it’s just going to be me, Chico Rock and his friend, who has not spoken a single word to me the whole entire night. He feels threatened, I can tell. And I like it.
We get ready to leave the house, and Chico Rock whispers for us to be quiet going down the stairs and out the front door. He lives with his parents and older brother and they’re usually asleep by this time, I gather.
I try hard not to make a sound, but it’s the Bacardi shortly before midnight that causes me to giggle at even the slightest distraction. This tipsy, even a subtle touch from a cute boy can make me lose my composure.
We get on the Metro and get off in Chueca. Our first stop is Rick’s, a discrete gay bar a few blocks away. It doesn’t take me very long to realize that the Mediterranean décor and photos of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman hanging on the walls play up an allusion to Rick’s Café Américain in Casablanca.
Chico Rock gets me a drink and hands it to me, then begins dancing to some trashy Spanish pop song. I take a minute and just look at him dancing slowly in front of me. I like the way he moves, controlled sways in one direction then the next, like a drunken rockstar on stage. It’s enticing. All I want is to dance up against him.
“Que haces aqui?” (What are you doing here?) his friend asks in a cold and condescending tone, disrupting my fantasy. It’s obvious that he is not very pleased that I have intruded on their boys’ night out.
“Estoy estudiando por unos meses,” (I’m studying for a few months) I’m short with him. It’s a defense mechanism, or maybe the thrill of the competition, that prompts me to blatantly treat him with indifference.
“Pero, tio, que no eres Latino? Sabes Español perfectamente.” (But, man, aren’t you Latino? You know Spanish perfectly).
“Eso no quiere decir que no pueda aprendar algo nuevo,” (That doesn’t mean I can’t learn something new) I say without looking at him. My sight is still fixated on Chico Rock. I down my drink, put the glass down on the bar and drag him to the small dancefloor a few steps in front of us, leaving sour-faced friend by himself.
What follows are a few minutes of getting up close and personal, of me getting so close to him that I can feel his breath on my neck.
“Oye, chico rebelde sabe bailar!” (Hey, rebel boy can dance!) Chico Rock yells to his friend, making sure he doesn’t feel left out. They have already given me a nickname, Rebelde, stemming from the time my ancestors beat the crap out of the Spaniards in the Latin American revolutions of decades ago (with the help of the French, let’s not ignore some historic justice here).
I don’t really know what to make of these two guys and their past. Obviously, there is some territory being contested, and we’re all looking to conquer. But the exact details of their friendship (or more) remain unclear. They’re both being intentionally vague whenever I ask.
Their night out turns into a night tour of real Madrid, not found in any gringo guidebook. I’m in the passenger seat; Chico Rock is my guide.
So after hitting some other bars, we end up at an infamous sex club not too far away. There are no signs and only locals know what lies behind the heavy metal door. I’m pretty wasted at this point, but I reject the thought of any frisky business going down. Despite my impulsive and often reckless behavior, I know how to take care of myself, and having a threesome, maybe even an orgy, in public with complete strangers does not sound that appetizing for this romantic. But would I say no to having a peek inside the underworld?
Look but don’t touch, Rebelde.
My vision is blurry, and it doesn’t help that the place is pitch black. Even after my eyes adjust, all I can make out are silhouettes walking slowly from one back room to the next—a Laberinto de Pasiones, Almodóvar would say. In the first room, an erotic film is being projected onto a blank wall. It flickers on and off. In the next room, the soft red lighting helps me notice that along opposite walls, there are booths with thick, red velvet curtains to conceal what’s going on inside. But I can still figure it out. Noises can often tell a fully story, especially this dark.
Finally we get to the very back room. A chandelier shines some light on maybe 12 or 15 bodies, touching and moaning, laying on a giant circular table, and a crowd of spectators gathered to watch the intimate exploits and ecstasy.
We decide that, for us, showtime is over; time to wake up. It’s pouring when we leave the club, and the street lights are so bright compared to the dungeon we just walked out of that it takes a few minutes for our eyes to adjust back to reality.
Chico Rock guides me to the nearest Metro stop and tells me how to get home. And right before I run down the stairs to the station, he grabs my face and kisses me as we’re getting drenched—the beginning of a beautiful friendship (or more).
But as I wait for my train, I remember that Chico Rock lives right next door. Why aren’t we taking the same train home? Why isn’t he coming with me? Where is he spending the rest of the night?