101 Star Bars (#16): Fingers, Edinburgh
Saturday 30 June 2007
Just off George Street in Edinburgh, the famous Fingers Piano Bar has long queues down the steps to the basement entrance; it's best to arrive no later than 11pm if you want to bag a seat. Open to 3am – or even until 5am during the Festival – the sunken, lit shopfront baits both locals and soft southerners like moths, hurtling by rickshaw towards the last remaining heat in the city's nightlife.
The resident pianist covers the ivories from about 10pm, slipping from pleasant jazz to Elton John singalongs, Prince and even Beyoncé in as many numbers. A self-appointed conductor will steer the cheering and dancing. Sleazy customers hit on one another, comedians drink away their memories of the evening, and it's not unknown for a full-voiced (or tired) punter to take a lie-down on top of the piano.
Comparisons have been made with the deranged alien patrons of the Mos Eisley Cantina bar in Star Wars. Entry is free, but order anything more than a beer and you're drinking £5 notes. It's a tatty joint – fingerprinted glass, sticky floors and packed to its low ceiling – but good, unclean fun. Fingers has that alluring drinking-den quality of seeming to be on everybody's way home; a place you visit when you haven't finished for the night – but clearly should have done. When the musicians tire and the piano lid comes down, all that's left is to potter home as the sun rises spectacularly above the city.
61a Frederick Street, Edinburgh (0131 225 3026)
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