The music thumped so loudly as they walked into Epicenter, that Astrid thought she could feel her internal organs bouncing around. The vast nightclub was filled with hundreds of teen-aged boys and girls, bouncing up and down to the throbbing beat. Strobe lights inside mimicked the spotlights outside. A few small tables and chairs sat around the perimeter of the dancers and a vast bar stretched across the back of the room, right below a metal catwalk which was just as full of twisting teens as was the dance floor.
“Come on!” shouted Penelope over the din. “Let’s dance.”
She grabbed Astrid’s hand and pulled her along through the gyrating crowd to the center of the club. Turning to face her niece, she threw her arms over her head and tossed her black hair, dancing in perfect time with the now louder-than-ever music. Astrid copied her as best she could.
“I don’t usually dance with girls!” Astrid shouted to make herself heard.
“What?” shouted back Penelope.
“You’re a great dancer!”
Astrid gave up trying to communicate and waited until the space between songs to talk. There was no space between songs though. The throbbing beat continued on right into a different track—this one the girl inventor recognized from her own MX-360 favorites list. She kept dancing and by the end of the second song, began to feel well-exercised. Though the thumping baseline continued, the next song was slightly less loud.
“I don’t usually dance with girls!” Astrid repeated.
She was loud enough this time that several other dancers around her laughed.
“I’m just chumming the waters,” said Penelope. “Look around. You have plenty of boys waiting to dance with you.”
The young inventor glanced around and sure enough, there were half a dozen boys forming a circle around her.
“How do I pick one to dance with?” she asked, but Penelope was already moving away through the crowd. A tall, dark-haired boy took her place as another song thrummed into existence. Without a word, he started dancing. Astrid followed along.
She couldn’t have said how long she had been dancing, but after seven or eight dance partners, Astrid was exhausted and dripping with perspiration. She waved off a disappointed-looking and rather short boy with blond hair and started through the crowd toward the bar. The counter was two or three patrons thick all along its extent. Apparently a lot of others had the same idea that she did. Reaching forward, she waved for one of the servers.
“Here, have a drink,” said a voice right beside her.
Astrid turned and found herself nose to nose with one of the boys she had danced with. He was handsome and about sixteen years old, with brown hair and green eyes. He pushed a tall glass with a red straw toward her.
“They don’t serve alcohol here,” he said. “All the drinks are just soda.”
“I don’t know you though,” said Astrid. “I don’t take drinks from anyone I don’t know.”
“Sorry,” she called to him, as he turned with a frown and melted into the crowd.