It was by a pure chance we set foot into that café. We—my best friend Trish and me— were tired and thirsty, having walked the streets of that northern city since our arrival early in the morning. We liked the city, all sights to be admired and the proud people who had always stood up for their rights and did not bow and scrape. Trish already had several friends there. I was about to make a few.

“Who do I see?! Hi, Trish!” The first person we noticed on entering rushed up to us and embraced my friend.

“Tina, what a surprise! And this is Ivy, who I’ve mentioned to you not once. We are thirsty.”

Later, we were introduced to more smiling young people who became my dancing mates. The café was quite spacious but still felt cosy, and there was definitely some excitement and expectation in the air.

“What does it mean, the Club? I’ve heard it mentioned several times.”

A short silence followed before Tina answered. “Blues Club. Every last weekend of the month, the café turns into a Blues Club. We all are dancers here.” She made a circle including our new friends.

“By the way, we need a dancer. Not interested? Maybe you could be a part; you are so slim and move like a cat. We’ll ask Silvestre, our Know-All MSN. He’s a hall manager.”

Silvestre was a slender man in his mid-forties, his dark hair touched with silver.

“Like blues?” He addressed me.

“Oh yes, especially the King.”

“You’ll hear lots of him and the rest if you stay and have a look. We can put you both up for the night. Tomorrow morning, the folks here have a dance class. Interested?”

I looked at Trish and she nodded. At that moment, a man was coming towards us and everybody greeted him. His intense gaze made me very uncomfortable and I felt the blood rush to my cheeks. Why? Why should I blush at someone’s insolent stare? Again, that unquenchable urge to know and understand, the question that had brought trouble upon me not once. I still have fresh memories from the beginning of my school days when I raised my hand and in a clear voice in front of the full hall of students and teachers demanded, “Why should I love Lenin? I don’t know him.” I still see the naked fear in the eyes of our class mistress. (R.I.P.)

The man motioned and Silvestre joined him.

“Who’s he?” I had to know.

“The Boss. The Club is his. But you better not ask any questions. Let’s leave it at that.”

That sounded serious enough.

“Are you a dancer? You look like one.” It was Silvestre.

“No, but I’m a gymnast. I wanted to be a ballet dancer but was rejected. I’m dwarfish.”

Everybody laughed. “Doesn’t look that bad at all. You could manage! Alan is in need of a new partner at present.”

Alan turned out to be the one who attracted me most: not very tall, slim, with light brown, longish hair. As it sometimes happens, life occasionally brings together two very different people but they make a perfect match, exactly like Alan and me. At that time, I didn’t realize why I was feeling so easy with him from the very beginning. Understanding came later.

In the room given to me and Trish for the night, we found a pair of platform shoes that fitted me like a glove. They made me at least four inches taller! What a wonderful feeling understood only by the petite ones.

Next morning at breakfast, I mentioned the shoes. “Whose are they? They fit me perfectly.”

A short silence before Tina volunteered, “These were meant for Alan’s partner.”

“Where’s she?”

“She quit…”

Intuition held me back and I refrained from my all-time favourite monosyllabic, “Why?”


The place had changed drastically when we came back after our long stroll. Even the café sign was substituted by a new one that read “ERO.” A man in uniform was standing at the entrance. We exchanged glances. Will we be allowed in? But the man smiled. “The new dancer?” He pointed at me. “Good luck. Go in.”

The new dancer? My excitement on the rise, we opened the door and I was immediately struck by a streak of lightning in the form of blues. It overwhelmed me: first the clear sounds rolling from B.B. King’s guitar like a string of transparent pearls, and then his strong, sonorous voice. Ballet has rejected me as physically defective, but I could still go in for blues.

This was how it happened. That memorable night, I learned a lot about the goings on and the rules at the Club. The most important of them, though, was left for the very end. Both Tina and Silvestre were the ones to darken my joyful hour and lay a sinister shadow over it.

“We have something to tell you. Let’s sit here.” Silvestre led me and Trish to the table and motioned for coffee. “You can dance here as we need a girl, but you have to get acquainted with the Boss. Let’s put it like that.” Trish gasped.

“Get acquainted?” Something in Silvestre’s voice made me raise my eyes. Having always been quick-witted and sharp, this time I failed miserably.

“You asked about the shoes in your room. They were meant for Alan’s partner, but the girl decided to leave.” Silvestre was trying his best to make me recover my reasoning faculty. Slowly, the reality started to dawn upon me. Am I to lose the passion I’ve just found? To lose again, as it has been happening too often in my not-full twenty-year-long life.

“If you decide to stay with us, come for the next Club weekend, and then the Boss will take you home. He’ll bring you back in the morning. There’ll be plenty of time before your train leaves,” he added as a kind of consolation. “Think everything over twice and decide. We’d love to have you back.”

It was clear that the words didn’t come that easy from Silvestre’s lips. His eyes had a worried look. Obviously, he had to perform lots of tasks during the Club meetings, some more and some less troublesome.


We found the train half-empty and no familiar faces were on it, luckily. I felt tired, anxious, eager to doze off and escape reality.

“Well, will you?” Trish wanted to know. I shrugged.

“You do realize what it means, don’t you? You seemed quite confused.”

“I’m no fool.”

“He’s old and dangerous. I observed him. Past forty.”

“Tina and others have survived.” I settled more comfortably, closed my eyes, and felt a strand of hair over my face as if it wished to be a shield sheltering me from the harsh world.

No, I don’t need a month to decide what I’m going to do. I had already made a firm decision.


P.S. I stayed at the Club for nearly two years.

P.P.S. And I never married.