I was staring down at the blood-red shag carpet holding my breath. The entryway was accented with dim lighting and an enormous painting of a naked woman with her legs spread open. Billy was sweating profusely. We were both silent. The thick wooden door in front of us opened and small man in a suit walked out. In perfect English he said “follow me gentlemen.”
It had been a pretty good summer so far in Europe. I was touring several countries with my high school honor choir group along with my friend Billy. During the day our choir would perform in different cathedrals, and the rest of the day was free for us to do our own thing. We were both 15 at the time and had made a stop for the night in Salzburg, Austria.
The hydraulic brakes hissed and I jerked my head up from where it was lying on the seat in front of me. We had just arrived in Slazburg, home of Mozart. Outside the tinted glass I could see the other buses pull up next to ours at the entrance of the hotel. It was my junior year in high school and I was with about 300 choir singers from the Midwest on a European choir tour. Now we had to unload the busses.
Unloading the buses was a complicated process. The aggressive bus driver would jump out and unfold the two cargo racks on the bottom of the bus, and then he would take out nearly 100 suitcases and dish them out on the sidewalk. The other two busses would pull up next to ours and then there would be people shouting in multiple languages, suitcases everywhere, and hundreds of kids waking up from an eight-hour bus ride. Next came rooms.
Since we had been in Europe for practically a month, I had this routine down to a science.
1. Get bags off bus as quickly as possible.
2. Acquire room key and run to room before everyone else does.
3. Throw bags on floor and claim a bed (usually never a problem since all rooms had 2 beds.)
4. Open all windows, doors, closets and check who occupies the rooms next door, aka, who can we party with?
Billy and I had made it to step 4 in less than 5 minutes. As we opened the windows to our balcony we saw it together: a “Nightclub” sign in big pink letters.
You’d think the English would have been red flag. But no, we were two fifteen year-olds on a mission to have some fun. We looked at each other at the same time. “You thinking what I’m thinking?” Billy said.
I have never changed clothes so quickly. I pulled my black suit pants and white dress shirt on, as Billy changed into his bright red pants and dress shirt. We probably looked ridiculous, but it was all for fun. After sitting in a bus for eight hours straight, we wanted to go out and explore. It was nearing 10 p.m., which gave us two hours before we had to be back in our room by midnight for room checks.
Leaving the hotel lobby, we received a few strange looks from the other students, who were about to go to bed. Billy and I had never been to a club before, but we were definitely interested in dancing with girls. Instantly, we were the most popular people in the room. Some girls in our group asked us what we were doing. “We’re going clubbing,” we said.
It had now been twenty minutes since checking into the hotel that we were now walking out of. Some girls had followed us. We strolled up to that nightclub looking twice our age. The door was hidden behind a row of bushed out of view from the sidewalk. As we approached a small man stepped out from nowhere in particular and opened the door. He looked at us, then back at the girls. “No girls allowed please,” he said in broken English. Billy and I said goodbye to the girls, and walked in.
It was dark. After what seemed like 10 minutes of pure silence and anxiety, the man had asked us to follow him. I looked at Billy. He nodded and we walked down the long hallway. I was expecting music and dancing. Instead a row of girls walked up to us and introduced themselves. They wanted to know if we would like to go to a room with one of them. Billy and I awkwardly realized that this was not a club, but a brothel. We awkwardly backpedaled out of that place as fast as we could.
When we made it to the sidewalk, we couldn’t stop laughing. At the very same moment, our choral director spotted us, and asked us to explain ourselves.