Portrait no. 1
Sunday night, about 9pm.
Milonga de los Domingos, Counting House, Edinburgh.
I am standing at the DJ box, sipping a 12 year old Dalmore, while watching the dance floor.
The Counting House is an amazing venue. Its dance floor is without any doubt the best in the city. The room is warm and elegant. The soft colors of the walls and the red curtains reflect a voluptuous light. The mahogany-coloured furniture gives the room a sophisticated look. The dimmed lights add a touch of melancholy to the atmosphere.
There is an unusual imbalance in the crowd. Men outnumber women tonight. The energy in the room reflects this. When the music is playing, men fidget in their seats. Women have already mastered a pretend calm attitude. They scan the room for a dancing partner, slowly but effectively. They can take their time tonight. Time is on their side.
The last notes of an energetic tanda are left humming in the air. The Cortina plays. Frank Sinatra’s voice rises and quickly fades away. After a brief pause, the new tanda starts. The first few notes of El Adiós vibrate and break the silence. The music fills the space with the sound of the violin.
Two young dancers quickly stand up, looking around the room for a suitable partner. Too late, boys – I silently tease them - all tangueras are taken! They exchange a disappointed look, quickly glance away and then suddenly stare back at each other. One of them nods. Would you like to dance? They enter the dance floor. After a brief, clumsy exchange in which roles are decided, they start to dance together.
El Adiós is one of those tangos that you just can’t ignore. Its sadness is almost addictive.
I sip the whisky again. Dalmore is distinctively complex and peaty, with a hint of honey that lingers in the aftertaste. It’s the perfect drink for a Sunday night at the Counting House.
El Adiós – Orquesta Edgardo Donato
En la tarde que en sombras se moría,
buenamente nos dimos el adiós;
mi tristeza profunda no veías
y al marcharte sonreíamos los dos.
Y la desolación, mirándote partir,
quebraba de emoción mi pobre voz...
El sueño más feliz,
moría en el adiós
y el cielo para mí se obscureció.
In the afternoon dying in shadows,
Graciously, we said farewell;
You didn’t see my deep sadness
and as you left we were both smiling.
And the desolation, watching you go,
made my poor voice break with emotion…
The happiest dream, died in that goodbye
And for me, the sky grew dark.
Translations are my own. For full lyrics, please check: http://www.todotango.com/musica/tema/650/El-adios/