Ntombi found herself sitting next to Alex. “Feeling better?” he asked.
“Yes, thanks,” Ntombi said, still looking out of the taxi window. Life in Jozi was so fast – it was like everything was happening at high speed. Suddenly she felt like this was all happening to someone else, that she had left her real self back in Cape Town. She would get back and this would be a wonderful dream she would have to wake from.
When they reached the nightclub, the twins pushed everyone aside to get out of the taxi first, knocking Ntombi’s face with their designer handbags.
“Now look what you’ve done!” one of them said accusingly to Ntombi.
“Promise me one thing,” said Dirk to Ntombi as they got out behind them. “That you’ll beat the twins. I couldn’t stand it if they won.”
“Hey, let the fun begin,” said one of the boys. He grabbed Alex’s and Ntombi’s hands and pulled them laughing into the club.
When she saw the mass of dancing bodies, Ntombi hung back. People were drinking and smoking at the bar and she was overwhelmed by the noise of shouting and laughing. Then a woman who had been chatting to the bartender turned around and looked straight across at Ntombi. She was wearing stilettos and had a Spin in her hand. For a second Ntombi froze. It was Priscilla! Any minute Mzi would walk up to her and pull her onto the dance floor. She had been right. He was here in Jozi watching her. But then the woman walked closer and she saw she had been wrong. “Thozi!” someone called, and the woman turned back and waved. Then Alex was next to Ntombi, concern all over his face.
“What is it? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“It’s nothing,” said Ntombi, pulling herself together.
“Hey, can I get you a drink?”
“Thanks …” said Ntombi.
Some of the contestants were already on the dance floor. There was Dirk, proving that white boys could dance. He was in the centre of a circle, with people thumping and clapping around him. He was a beautiful dancer – his moves were smooth and sexy. Ntombi forgot her worries and clapped and laughed. She had been silly. How could she be frightened with all these cool, funny guys around?
Next in the middle was one of the twins, with pouting, bright red lips, a short white skirt stretched tight over her thighs and extra-high heels. She jerked her hips as hard as she could, her hands behind her back. Boys whistled and cheered, but to Ntombi it looked like a dance of desperation rather than a dance of enjoyment. Then she joined the circle again and the next twin went inside. She was a better dancer. Or rather, thought Ntombi, she was just enjoying herself more. She moved with the music, her body rippling.
A young man came into the circle to join her. He was also a fantastic dancer, but not in the same way as Dirk. He was strong and supple, like a ballet dancer and a break dancer all in one, as he hit the floor next to the twin, and then spun himself up again. The crowd went wild.
“Do you know who that is?” Alex’s breath was warm in Ntombi’s ear. “That’s Lizwi, the guy who’s just released a music video. He’s going to be big time one day, you watch. The South African Michael Jackson, I’m telling you.”
Watching him twist and turn, Ntombi could believe it. All his movements flowed with the music – he was amazing. The twin was dancing next to him and soon they were in a kind of rhythm – she was swaying in the middle as he was jumping and falling around her. By this time Ntombi could hardly see what was happening as everyone was watching and cheering.
Then the other twin danced into the circle with her false, jerky dance. Ntombi for once felt sorry for her – she was obviously desperate to get in on the action. But Lizwi ignored her, almost bumping into her as he got closer and closer to the twin in the middle. The second twin quickly moved next to her sister, and they started dancing together, their braids flying as they jerked and gyrated.
Then suddenly there was a scuffle between them, and one twin pulled the other’s braids and scratched her face. Her sister screeched in pain, and Lizwi tried to pull the attacking twin away. But she was like a mad thing, swearing at her sister, struggling to get out of Lizwe’s arms. It was the weirdest thing, thought Ntombi, seeing these two identical girls screaming at each other. Almost like watching someone fight with their own shadow.
The music went off, and a huge bouncer came marching in, his muscles rippling down his arms as he took a twin in each hand. “Out!” his voice boomed.
“Shit!” said Alex. “We can’t get into this kind of trouble. The organisers will go crazy.”
“Just let those twins wait for us on the street,” said Dirk. “That will teach them. And let the organisers be pissed off with them. They’re asking for it.”
By this stage the lights were bright and the music had stopped, and people were starting to shout for the music to go on and the lights to go off. Ntombi could see smudged make-up, glazed eyes, drunken faces. She shivered.
But Alex had already met the bouncer. Ntombi could see him talking to him earnestly. Then she saw him taking hold of the twins’ hands. One had a scratch across her face, and was crying. The other still looked furious.
“We’re gonna have to call your father to fetch you if this carries on. You’re spoiling this for all of us,” said Alex. “If you have to go now we all have to go.”
The effect on the twins was immediate. One stopped crying, the other looked terrified. “Don’t phone our daddy, please don’t. We’re sorry, we won’t cause any more trouble,” they both babbled.
The bouncer looked at them, perhaps saw them for the two little girls they were. “Any more trouble and you’re all out,” he said to Alex, and turned to go back to the door.
Alex said something to the twins and then steered them to the bar. They sat there, each drinking a cooldrink. They didn’t speak to each other, or anybody else.
“Wow!” said Ntombi. “Can’t believe that happened. They always looked like two peas in a pod.”
“Well now there’s room on the dance floor,” said Alex. “Come on, baby, let’s do it.” And together they went onto the floor. Luckily there was no circle any more, just people dancing in a crowd. After a while she started to feel the music pulsing in her blood, and she forgot everything – the twins, the threatening messages, her father, Olwethu, even the gorgeous guy dancing next to her. She was lost in the dance.
“Well, I can see you’re feeling better,” Alex smiled. She laughed back at him and allowed him to buy her another drink. All too soon Dirk was tapping her shoulder.
“Home time, dancing dudes,” he said. “The organisers said we had to be back by midnight.”
The group trooped to their taxi where the driver was waiting for them. The twins had still not spoken to anybody, and they sat in the back seat, staring out of the window. Usually they were the ones shouting, singing, showing off. The ride felt quiet as they drove through the streets of Joburg. Ntombi felt a wave of tiredness.
When they finally arrived at the hostel people made their way back to their rooms as Alex locked the front door. He turned to her. “I’m still so wide awake,” he whispered. “Come with me to the rec room.”
Ntombi thought about Olwethu, far away, with another girl. She thought of the condom in her bag. All of a sudden she didn’t feel tired at all.
“OK,” she whispered, and together they tiptoed through the dark corridors to the rec room.