At a hostel in Edinburgh I coincidentally ran into Tim, an Australian economist I’d met the week before at a party in Belfast. I had plans to go out with a group of German recent college graduates that night and invited him to join; he invited a Danish couple he’d just met and they invited a British friend of theirs.
Our group’s first stop was a downtown Spanish night club, complete with mandatory body paint on all employees. After that we wandered the dark, wet streets searching for live Scottish music while beautiful Gothic architecture loomed imposingly above our heads.
Eventually, we found a small backstreet pub with a Scottish-sounding name. Inside it was quiet and nearly empty at street level, but murmurs were drifting up musically from downstairs. Our group of ten walked down a curving stairway which opened into a single basement room with standing room only as an old man in the crowd sang a Scottish folk song a capella while some stomped feet and others clapped. All joined in for the chorus.
After he finished, someone from the crowd took out a guitar and another grabbed a fiddle. The rest of the night had everyone stomping, clapping and singing in that tucked-away room in Edinburgh, surrounded by the heat of strangers and new friends.