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Concrete is a kind of drunken boat that lingers around Quai de la Rapée. For years, the barge has welcomed Parisians for minimalist techno nights. Like any electro venue in Paris, Concrete has had its glorious moments and its dark hours when it was overrun by a 19-year-old kid who has been taking “xseu” for three weeks and who incidentally thinks he’s the “coolest guy” in the capital. Concrete is moving. So the organization, along with its brilliantly tattooed bouncer, has decided to organize 48 hours of non-stop partying, similar to the last hours at 824 Oberkampf.
The problem is, I’ve been on vacation for three weeks, and being self-employed, I don’t receive any paid leave or any kind of benefits. And Concrete falls at the worst possible time, just one day before I go back to work. In a word, I’m in total “HASS” (a slang term for extreme frustration). The second problem is that my lifelong buddies are more into “movies” than “parties” at the moment. And my younger friends have already gone to enjoy the sun where the pavement doesn’t scorch. The third problem is that I’ve met an amazing woman of Latin origin who happens to be crashing at Concrete all weekend before heading back to a place where the sun doesn’t lie.
I’m hatching a downright diabolical plan. I take L. to Barbapapa, which is just a few meters away from Concrete. L. lends me some money. The rest, I’ll cover at my place, and we’re good to go! So, the first step is Barbapapa. The place is perfect for grabbing a drink in the summer. The bar floating by the Seine attracts a diverse crowd, from working professionals having an after-work drink to vacationers and more seasoned stoners. It’s a great mix of people, and there’s an open-minded atmosphere. After a drink, I suggest to L. that we head to Concrete. I don’t really need to insist. Filled with sudden motivation, L. gets up, and we make our way to Concrete.
We arrive in front of the bouncer. It’s at that moment L. decides to back out just a couple of steps away from the doorman who is eyeing us up and down. Finally, I let her know that I’ll pay for her entry, which reduces my budget to the legal minimum for a night out, which is 20 euros.
Once inside, it’s a success! Unlike the previous events on the barge, this final gathering clearly brings together everyone who has ever set foot on the boat and has come to bid it farewell. On the musical side, for the weekend, we have the crème de la crème of the minimalist scene. The atmosphere is top-notch, the music is on point, everything is set for an incredible evening.
But the club isn’t to L.’s liking, and she’s definitely in a bad mood. I order a pitcher of beer and we join a group of 25-year-olds. I try to engage my conversation partner but fail. He used to be a carpenter. Tough, huh! His friends are nice though. In this generation, I find a surprising thirst for freedom, while in our “societies,” even civilians spy on each other through “stalking.” It made me laugh when one of my acquaintances asked his friends to keep an eye on his girlfriend on Instagram. They would watch the ex’s Instagram story and give him detailed reports. Stalking should be considered harassment. L. is still sulking.
Finally, we order a second pitcher. L. gulps it down in 10 minutes without flinching. He gets up and tells me he’s leaving. At that moment, I feel like my life is falling apart. I have 2 euros left, and I’m all alone on a barge where everyone is drunk. At 25, I would have been seen as a “cool guy” who’s enjoying the music… with an extra thirst. At my age, I’m at best “a guy in a complete mess” and at worst “a creepy pervert.” So, I leave.
I look back and think about the youth I’m leaving behind. I wasn’t a die-hard fan of Concrete, but I spent a lot of time there. I left many memories behind. As I leave, I send a message to that “amazing girl” to let her know I stopped by Concrete. I receive an epic scolding because I didn’t give her a heads up. I despair…
“I DON’T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING ABOUT YOUR BEHAVIOR.”
As for myself, I realize that I didn’t just bid farewell to Concrete that night. I light a cigarette and walk along the quays. My shift is over.