Change came to Banlieue 13 as gradually as Parisian winter melting into spring, but still it came.
Tao leaned against the brushed steel railing of the mezzanine and gazed down into the cavernous space that would someday become the lobby of a new high-rise apartment complex.
Where the projects of the old
had been decaying warehouses of human misery, this new building would be the cornerstone of a true community, with affordable and well-kept units for rent, small businesses on the ground floor,
and a park and school just around the corner.
But corruption and bureaucracy alike could still slow the progress of even such an admirable project, and for now, the building remained an incomplete skeleton of concrete and steel.
In the interim, the inhabitants of the
made the most of what they had.
A few days ago, word had started to circulate that a massive party was in the works - a good old-fashioned warehouse rave, taking place on the ground floor of the unfinished building.
It seemed to Tao as though the whole neighborhood had turned out to dance, to carouse, to see and be seen. The organizers of the event had set up a makeshift stage in the center of the lobby.
They had patched in electricity from somewhere outside to power the lights that cast vibrant colors in all directions and the enormous speakers that blared electronic music.
Everywhere that Tao looked, people danced ecstatically, sipped from bottles wrapped in brown paper bags, or slipped into dark corners together in search of a little privacy.
With Tao and other gang leaders turned community leaders clearly present and watching, everyone seemed to know better than to openly do anything more illicit than that.
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