Thursday, March 10, 2011

The World of The Event Horizon

No. It’s not the SF/horror movie by the same name. It’s The Event Horizon, an alternative club in my version of Cape Town, South Africa, that seems to crop up in most of my contemporary settings. Whether I’m writing as Nerine Dorman or Therése von Willegen, The Event Horizon is a venue that spans both my writing brands.

Situated on the corner of Long and Shortmarket streets, The Event Horizon is based on a pub that’s been there for donkey’s years: the Purple Turtle. The Turtle, as it’s affectionately known, has a bit of a patchy history and was a particular den of iniquity I frequented a lot during my late teens and on into my mid-twenties. During its heyday, students mixed with backpackers, bikers, goths, trance-hippies and metal heads. As can be imagined, a fair amount of less-than-legal activities also occurred at the Turtle and probably still does, though the place has changed hands now and a completely different crowd hangs out there.

Many bands used to play gigs here too, way back when. I saw the likes of Squeal, Springbok Nude Girls, Ravenwolf, Psychodeli, Mr Barleycorn, Hog Hoggidy Hog, Seven Head Scream, The Awakening, Chris Chameleon and others. These are all bands that will mean very little to my foreign readers but for a small segment of South Africans who lived during the early to mid-1990s, these are touchstones of a forgotten golden age, before our musicians could actually consider making a break for it overseas.

But now I’m talking more than a decade ago. I’ve totally lost touch with the music industry and the only bands I really go watch are when I’ve friends invite me to their gigs. So excuse me while I still experience a pang of nostalgia for this dirty and sometimes scratchy-behind-the-eyes time. There’s beauty in the grime and a narcotic green haze, of going back to a time when I felt immortal, when the world was full of magic and mystery.

Also, as someone who is still nominally alternative, I’m frustrated because people aren’t writing the stories I want to read. I’m tired of only occasionally reading about goths and metal heads written by people who have no concept of what it means to be part of a subculture. It’s not how much black you wear, luv, it’s HOW you wear it. And what you see in Hollywood is so not what it’s like in real life.

I’m quite upfront when I say I write fluff. My novels are pulp, the kinds of books you’d read while on holiday. While I do occasionally touch on social issues, my stories aren’t life-changing literature. They’re entertainment. I write the kinds of stories I want to read. They’re an indulgence.

While the Purple Turtle of my past is just there: viewed through rose-tinted glasses rendered fuzzy by the passage of time, I allow myself The Event Horizon to pay homage to the specter of the past through my fiction.

After all, life’s too short and brutal as it is. What harm is there in dreams?

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Carrie said...

The beauty of memory is that you can keep a place exactly as you want it. Nice post.

Nenad said...

Excellent post. Reading about the Event Horizon in your novels really made me miss the old place. Sorry to hear that it has changed.

Nerine Dorman said...

The Turtle's become very, erm... African.