A PARTY IN PORTO, IN THE LITERARY STYLE OF F. SCOTT FITZGERALD*
A Party made of Encounters – Elegance and Glamor in Porto’s Nightlife
It was a magnificent summer night in the bourgeois city of Porto. The beginning of the 20th century brought with it echoes of the roaring '20s unfolding on the other side of the Atlantic. It was a time of post-war excesses and eccentricities.
The splendid Stock Exchange Palace, located by the river, was getting ready to host the elite of Porto's society. A grand party was expected, with people elegantly dressed, displaying not only their finest attire but also their warmest smiles. The party, organized by the enigmatic Count of Amarante, promised to be the event of the year. The gold details and opulence of the Arab Room shone even brighter that night, while fado filled the Palace with a dramatic and passionate lament.
The Count of Amarante was known for his immense wealth and unrestrained charm. He had always been what one would call a bon vivant (borrowing from the French language an expression that comprises so much), someone who lived life intensely in all its fullness. But in recent years, something had begun to change for Álvaro, our Count. Behind his deep and mysterious eyes, there were dilemmas that tormented him. Despite his high position in society, he sought something deeper in life, something that money and influence couldn't buy. He was searching for a purpose beyond the superficiality of all the entanglements of people and relationships that dominated his far-from-peaceful life.
Just arrived, Beatriz, the heiress of one of the most prominent families in the Port Wine trade, was the jewel of high society. Her sparkling eyes competed with the luminous brilliance of the decorated walls of the Arab Room. Her brown hair cascaded in soft waves over her shoulders. She radiated elegance and grace, accompanying a serene face and a sweet gaze. But the truth was that beyond the tradition and family obligations of a maiden in her time, Beatriz yearned for a life that was more than just meeting expectations, far from the paternal yoke imposed upon her.
Beatriz's respected and traditional family was at the center of the thriving Port Wine industry, with centuries-old businesses that spanned generations. Responsibilities fell on her shoulders, but her free spirit longed to explore the world beyond the wine cellars. Somehow, the party that night represented an opportunity to escape the shackles of tradition and dive into a different reality, one more carried away by passions and desires that she scarcely dared to admit to herself.
As he observed the party's guests, the Count of Amarante couldn't help but notice Beatriz's presence – her dazzling figure didn't leave anyone indifferent... They were old acquaintances, having crossed paths at other parties and receptions. He sensed a thirst for something more in her gaze, an encoded empathy, and he longed to get to know her more deeply.
Also catching Álvaro's attentive gaze was James, an English businessman established in the city. He couldn't miss the spark in James's eyes when he looked at Beatriz.
James Smith, a businessman also linked to Port Wine, had a remarkable presence. His blue eyes, as piercing as the ocean, could barely conceal an ancient secret: a sincere passion for Beatriz, since he had first seen her alongside her father, a respectable gentleman with whom he had business dealings. With a captivating smile and refined manners, he moved through the room with an aura of confidence. But beneath this façade, James carried the anxiety of an unreturned love and a silent determination to win Beatriz's heart. His eyes always searched for a glimpse of her in the crowd, eager for an encounter that could change the course of their lives.
Without hesitation, he approached her and paid her a warm compliment. "Beatriz, my dear, all these walls shine with gold, but nothing shines brighter than you tonight," James said with a cordial smile and a gaze filled with emotion.
From afar, Álvaro, noticing the exchange between Beatriz and James, decided to join them and add his own touch of charm. With his aristocratic composure, he greeted his guests and directed a more pompous compliment to Beatriz. "Beatriz, my muse, every time I look at you, I see the portrait of the most genuine beauty and elegance."
Álvaro suggested they raise their glasses in a toast to life and the search for authenticity in a time sometimes overly subjected to superficial imperatives.
The Count of Amarante was an inveterate bachelor, and no woman had ever captivated him long enough to deepen a relationship. What was he seeking in Beatriz? A friend unlike any he had ever had? And was James a threat or an ally in his quest for something deeper and more genuine?
Anticipating a slight discomfort or embarrassment between the two, Beatriz smiled enigmatically. "James, Álvaro, tonight is like a dance, full of promises and mysteries. Behind the curtain of cordiality, who knows what destiny holds?"
The three smiled, with a smile that seemed sincere, hinting at the beginning of a different kind of friendship in a changing world. Stealthily, they descended to the Hall of the Nations, where hundreds of candles illuminated the magnificent ceramic mosaic floor, giving this central space of the Palace an enveloping atmosphere of mystery and seclusion. Meanwhile, in the Arab Room, fado had given way to jazz, waltzes, and other more danceable rhythms, as the night was, after all, a time for celebration. But Beatriz, Álvaro, and James lingered there for some time, and the light in their eyes grew. Something was happening, and all of them felt complicit.
That night, the unspoken words weighed more than those uttered. It was a night of reflections and discoveries, where Porto's high society hid their secrets behind masks of elegance and courtesy, while the music continued to echo in the background, weaving the tale of hidden and worldly passions.
*In a collaboration between AI and human creativity, this text was written in the recreated style of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the renowned American author famous for works that captured the extravagant and effervescent spirit of the Roaring Twenties of the 20th century. Here, we sought to bring Fitzgerald's elegance, glamour, and introspection to an event at the Palácio da Bolsa, transporting readers to a night of celebration and encounters in the city of Porto.