Beograd, October 21st 2017
Although we were set to spend a quiet night at home, after leaving a late afternoon birthday party my sister Jelena decides that we simply CANNOT go home and after winning my not very solid resistance, she drags me to my favorite club in the WORLD, the Strogi Center- Beograd. Belgrade for the foregneirs.
The vibe is incredible, you can feel it already while crossing the front door and starting climbing the stairs, there are several rooms in what seems to have been a huge apartment, Austro-Hungarian style: ceilings almost 4 meters high, wooden floors, large wooden-framed windows
The club has been decorated with huge paintings portraying Icons that go from John Lee Hooker to Sun Ra via Miles and Grace Jones. It’s all pretty RED, and it is just fabulous. The crowd is young and the energy is exuberant, the whole place groovy and relaxed at the same time; no place for yuppies and hipster, I would say it’s real Indie, but truth is that it’s just too real and creative to be forced into a definition.
I order on glass of wine, one only, I swear.
Problem is that the rest of them arrive on their own, one round on Marco, one of the club owners, one from a guy who declared something like I am the living demonstration that beauty is ageless. Which means that I really start looking old, the thought is dark enough to drink the whole glass in one gulp.
A street vendor tries to sell some hats without any luck, so of course my Sister HAS to buy five of them. She keeps a cowboy-looking one for herself and gives the others to some girls that immediately produce a countless number of selfies and one glass of white wine for me and one of Rakia for Jelena. Ziveli.
The band is good, performing a mix of Stevie Wonder, Vulfpack and even an old Robben Ford number, it’s just a fabulous night. After having screamed, talked, danced, sang aloud, discussed, smoked one million cigarettes and drank an unidentified number of glasses of white wine, it’s time to go home. The place is still in full swing but it’s already 3 am: time to preserve “ageless beauty” by going home and have a beauty sleep.
While we walk in the Beograd Night (and I couldn’t define myself as perfectly sober) I try to sing the bass line and the theme of Stand By Me simultaneously.
We suddenly hear a choir behind us. Four young and very pretty girls singing along, they keep walking with us for a while just for the sake of keeping singing.
A guy crossing the road in the opposite direction stretches his arm, points at the sky and sings his heart and his lungs out on “No, I won’ be afraid! No, I won’t shed a tear!”
We keep walking and people keep singing along.
At the beginning of Knez Mihailova, the main pedestrian street, there’s a bunch of cops monitoring the place day and night and I am not really sure weather it’s allowed to sing very loud in the city center at 3 am. I am debating this topic with myself (I seem to be a bit slow…) while keeping singing full power, Jelena gently elbowing me because indeed maybe singing that loud in the middle of the night in front of a police squad is not a great idea.
Then one of the policemen starts singing, and loud. And in tune. And with a smile that runs from his right to his left ear.
The others clap, and on two and four!
A whole chorus, then I go to coda and ending.
The Beograd Police Department is clapping, while Jelena is shining like a lighthouse.
We walk away in silence, goosebumps from our toes to our souls, after few steps Jelena says “Photo????”
I usually would say no, but there’s not such a thing as “USUALLY” in this night so, damn, YES, so we turn and RUN back and I ask the singing policeman if I can have a photo with him.
“No I am sorry I cannot. But you could give me a hug…”
Beograd’s night, I am hugging a cop as if I joust found back a lost brother. Maybe for this minute it is really so.
Beograd night, there’s so much light in a night like this.
We finally leave and we’re silent, no need for words in this incredibly luminous night, Jelena and I and Divali.