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[personal profile] beatriceeagle

So, last night, a bunch of kids on my floor decided to go to a goth club. Seven out of the eight of us had never been to a goth club, and the one who had, Paul, is from Hawaii, and had never been to the one we were trying to go to.

But uncertainty is the spice of life, so, with some help from [ profile] matociquala, I gothed myself up to the best of my limited abilities, and everyone else did to the best of theirs, and we were off!

...Well, not exactly. First, my roommate and I both locked our keys in our room, so we had to wait an hour for campus police to let us back in.

And then we were off!

You will recall, of course, that we were in goth clothing. I, in particular, was in four-inch heels. The sensible thing to do, when there is a possibility you will have to walk wherever you're going, is to wear sneakers and replace them with the boots when you get there. Sensibility was not with me last night (this will become very apparent later on).

So we were walking! Some of us in heels! About a block away from the dorm, we caught a bus, which took us about a block before we had to get off, because its normal route was blocked, because...the police were barricading the street.

Oh. Right. About that. So, those of you who don't live here and don't follow the news might not know that the G20 is in Pittsburgh this year. In fact, right now. 20,000 protesters have come to the city along with the conference, and the police are, perhaps understandably, a bit freaked out.

So! Our first obstacle. (Well, second if you count the keys. Third, if you count the boots.) There was a blockade across the middle of Forbes, which we had to get past if we wanted to get to the club. We turned right. We tried a block further up. Still blockaded. We tried a block past that, where we were allowed through...but not allowed to turn left. We tried a block past that, and finally, we found a police officer who let us through.

"Tell your friends I've reached my people-beating quota for the day," were his exact words. Perhaps we seemed a little off-put.

Anyway, we finally made it back to Forbes, and discovered we were...a block past where we had tried to pass originally. There was no quarantined area--Forbes wasn't off-limits--you just weren't allowed to use that intersection, it seems.

But we are reasonable people who were seeing our time at the club dwindling, so we continued. At this point, you may ask why the club was so important to us that we were navigating a police zone to get there, and I don't have a very good answer for you, except that it honestly looked like more police presence than real protest or conflict at all--and in fact, a few of us who had actively searched out conflict earlier in the day had been unable to find it. So we kept going.

We got about three more blocks along Forbes before we came to another blockade. This one, we were welcome to pass...if we wanted to get teargassed a block further. In my second police interaction of the night, an officer on a bike told me that there was tear gas further along the road, and that if we were smart, we might want to take a side street to wherever we were going.

Luckily, Oakland is basically one big grid, so that's what we did. We were about three blocks north and one block...west, I think...of the club when we passed downhill of the teargassed area. I didn't know this at the time--I only knew that over a hundred people were suddenly stampeding down the hill all around us. It's later experience that tells me why I had to jump onto someone's lawn to avoid being trampled.

But we were only four blocks away! We weren't going to turn back! And besides, what could possibly happen in four blocks?

Well, as it turned out, nothing happened in four blocks. Including a goth club. Someone, somewhere along the way, had copied down an address wrong, and the building we were at was not a club. It was a daycare.

All right, that was a bit disappointing. But we were still out with our friends! We were still dressed up in awesome and, in some cases, painful clothing! The night was still young!

We decided to find something to drink and head home.

We headed back up towards Forbes. On the way, we passed: people hanging from their porches, asking us if we were hippies; drunken frat boys "protesting sobriety"; and a group of people who were clearly together and clearly involved somehow in the protests, but who didn't appear to be protesting themselves. We would find out more about those last people later.

Forbes itself, when we got there, was a lot quieter than it had been half an hour before. The blockades and teargas seemed to be gone. Cars were passing through. There were no visible protests. Since it was the most direct way back to campus, and the likeliest place to find a drink on the way there, we decided to take Forbes.

A block down the road, teargas suddenly blossomed uphill and upwind of us. Cars were passing, making the street uncrossable. Oh, yes. We were caught in it. As soon as we realized it was actually going to reach us, we joined the crowd of people running downhill, out of the affected zone, but we still got caught in it. Not very strongly, thankfully, but enough that we coughed on the way home.

For you writers out there, teargas looks and, oddly, smells, a lot like woodsmoke, except more chemical. It smells sweet. And it is immediately obvious when you're breathing it in.

When we were out of the gas, we started talking to people. We talked to a couple of people who had been in the place where the teargas was actually thrown. Their story: the police were arresting a couple of protesters, and some other protesters started chanting to let them go, and they were teargassed. They claim they were also shot at with rubber bullets, which I can neither confirm nor deny, because teargas is pretty damn opaque.

We also discovered that the group we'd seen earlier was actually a group of free-range medics. They were certified in emergency health care, but they were not actually on-duty EMTs; they were simply a group of people roaming the riot zone, providing medical care to injured protesters. They were taking care of a girl who had responded badly to the teargas.

Eventually, we gave up on the drink and just walked home. I took off my boots about half a mile before we got there and spent the rest of the time coughing and scanning the sidewalk for used needles. We bought drinks at the on-campus convenience store, and then went back to the dorm, where my friend Reid--who is apparently the best person ever--saw that I was still coughing and made me peppermint tea. (By that time, I probably wasn't coughing from the gas, anymore. I think I was coughing because my throat was irritated from all the coughing I'd done before.) The tea more-or-less cured me, and because we were still a bit amped up, we ended up staying awake until about five am.

And that is the story of how I didn't go to my first goth club! Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention the best part. Most of what I just told you? We have it on film. *g*
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