- "Oh, that focus of splendour, that spearhead of progress, Dancing Plaza..."
- -- Spring Grass, Nexus poet
- "You want someone taken out? Sure, I'm your... oh... uhh... you want me to do what to them beforehand? Sorry, my friend, I don't go in for that sort of thing. I'll tell you what, though, I know someone who might. Go to the Dancing Plaza at midnight and look for the guy in purple..."
- -- Nexus gangster
The Dancing Plaza is a great square in the heart of the Nexus district. Around it stand many of the greatest banks, merchant's offices, restaurants, and mansions in the city. It is said that a man could make a fortune and spend it again without ever having to go anywhere else in the world.
Nowadays, the plaza is so busy that you'd be lucky to find room to skip, let alone dance. In the days of the Shogunate, however, it played host to regular starlit balls, masques, plays, concerts, tournaments, and other entertainments. This is the reason why the plaza has an unusual construction, consisting of a depressed central square surrounded by great flights of gentle steps in all four directions - originally, these housed the audience for the activities on show in the center. The lowest point is about sixteen feet below the level of the surrounding streets. The whole thing is built of fine marble, except for the "stage", which is tiled with black and white jade slabs. The stage is about a hundred feet across, while the plaza as a whole measures two hundred feet to a side.
Most people avoid the stairs by walking around the periphery of the square, leaving the central depression rather less busy and making it a popular meeting point for those with business or pleasure in mind. Needless to say, given that thousands of the wealthiest people in the world traverse it on a daily basis, Dancing Plaza is home to a great many pick-pockets. No-one with any sense would carry large quantities of valuables on the streets of Nexus, of course, but then, in Nexus you don't have to have any sense to have a lot of money, and many of the thieves make a good living. It's a dangerous trade, of course - pick the wrong pocket and you'll end up losing a hand, or your life.
Traditionally, the owners of each of the buildings around Dancing Plaza take it in turns, season by season, to decorate the area. Ever-increasing amounts are spent on this - what business wants to be seen as too impoverished to match last season's effort? Hence, the area is almost always wondrously arrayed. Recent themes have included: woven gold banners hanging from every building; ropes stretched from rooftop to rooftop, below which hung thousands of crystal spheres containing trapped fire spirits; and a single, titanic obsidian statue which, some say, is the image of one of the Council.
At night, the plaza is rather less busy than during the day, but still bustles with activity. High-class revellers going from restaurant to restaurant (or drug-den to brothel) mix with buskers, druggies, and all manner of illegal and immoral types offering their wares or services. It's a general rule that if you want it, and it's too obscene to be offered openly even in Nexus during the day, it'll be found somewhere on the Dancing Plaza after sundown.
During the Shogunate era, the plaza played host to an epic duel to the death between two powerful Dragon-Blooded over a question of honour. The battle raged from dusk till dawn, until finally both combatants were drained of Essence and staggering from multiple wounds. Neither was even able to swing his sword at the other, so in the red light of the rising sun they both fell on their own weapons rather than concede the fight. Every Calibration, their ghosts reappear in the square and battle yet again, a popular spectacle known as the Eternal Contention.
Buildings around the plaza include the Orinas Colors Academy, the headquarters of the Heavenly Transport Company, a major Guild office, and the School of the Flow, a sorcerous research school and artifact manufacturer specializing in Water magic and black jade.
- Bad weather never strikes Dancing Plaza. Even if the rest of Nexus is sodden with rain or cloaked in fog, the sun will be shining over the square and for a hundred yards around it.
- An enchantment placed on the plaza long ago means that anyone who is truly down on his luck and needs a few coins to get through the day will find it if he searches the floor of the square at dawn.
- The plaza is not a Manse or Demense, but some Essence flows through it and "pools" in the central depression. This is intentional, as it adds to the gravitas of any performance taking place there. Mortals find their emotions enhanced by the magical energy; many a legendary tryst or bloody feud has originated in a conversation in the middle of Dancing Plaza.