Saturday, December 15, 2007

Arja's Christmas Concert

So three months after leaving Tampere, I am back. It is late on Sunday night, nothing is open, so I make straight for the Omena Hotel. Next morning I checked out the location of Arja Koriseva's Christmas concert. It is to be held in the Tampere Talo: is this another name for the Tampere City Theatre? No it isn't - it's a very grand modern concert hall near the railway station. Having satisfied myself on where to go and when to get there, I rang Kati, whom I had met on my previous visit to Tampere. Would she like to accompany me to the concert? She would. She also said she was in town, and suggested we meet for coffee. As I was waiting in Stockmann's cafe, I was struck by a terrible thought. I had only met Kati once, and then she had been dressed in a glittering beaded gown, and had elaborately styled hair and full slap. Would I recognise her in civvies? Would she recognise me? But we found each other all right. Very nice lady. She told me her son had a Russian wife and her daughter had a French husband. We arranged to meet at the Tampere Talo at 18:30 for the concert.

I returned to the hotel and tried to log on to the internet. This costs an extra 9 euros for 24 hours, to be paid in advance, but I didn't get a signal. I reported this to the office (which is not on the premises), but there was no improvement by the time I had to go out.

The concert was truly excellent. Some of the numbers were on Arja's Christmas records, but there were some, such as Ave Maria, that weren't. Afterwards there was a big crowd of fans waiting in the lobby to see Arja. She recognised me and greeted me by name. She saíd she had received my Christmas card. So she reads all the cards she gets from fans! She said she was back in Tampere in September, when she is in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. I said I knew, and had already bought tickets. I asked if she would be at the Tangomarkkinat this year, and she said she would.

Kati and I then repaired to the Paappa bar near the town square, where live piano music is played. As well as Lapin Kulta and other Finnish beers, they sell something really exotic - Guinness. This is sold not in metric measures, but by the pint.

Next morning my internet link was still not working, so I reported it again. I went to Stockmanns record department and bought the latest from Anne Mattila, Saija Varjus, and Jenna Bågeberg. In this last one she is credited simply as "Jenna" and her surname is not given anywhere, not even in the sleeve notes. I saw in the paper that someone called simply "Jenna" is performing at the Galax in Turku on 24th January. Is this Jenna Bågeberg? Why has she suppressed her surname? Yes, Bågeberg isn't a Finnish name, but Johanna Debreczeny is happy to use her full name. In fact, I saw in the library that she and Tommi Soidinmaki gave a concert in a Tampere church yesterday, at exactly the same time as Arja's concert.

A daytime dance was held at 13:00 in the Pakkahuone. This means "warehouse", and is an old brick building behind the railway station. Dancing is held there every Tuesday afternoon. Most of the clientele is over 60, but I did dance rhumba with a solemn-looking young woman in her 30's. I thought she looked a bit familiar, and later thought I might have seen her at the Tangomarkkinat.

Back at the hotel, my 24 hours internet time was exhausted and I had never got a connection. I have used the internet at the Omena before without any problems, but now I cannot recommend it and would suggest guests go to the internet cafe a few doors away.

When passing the Tanssitalo in Hallituskatu, I noticed that Eila Pienimäki would be there on Boxing Day. Blast! I will be back home then. You will remember I have been to the Tanssitalo before, when the sparsely-attended Tango Thursday was held; about time I gave it another go. There is more - I went to the record department of Sokos and saw that Eila Pienimäki has made a new record, so naturally I bought it. I returned to the hotel and wrote a note to Eila, saying that I was sorry I was going to miss her performance but would console myself by playing the record. I left it with the doorman when I went to the Tanssitalo. Attendance was better than when I had been before, but still well down on the Hämeensilta. I hope it will be better for Eila.

On my last evening in Tampere I went to the Komeetta. Kati told me she would be there with her friends Irja, Maija, and Marja-Liisa. The Komeetta is under the same ownership as the Galax in Turku and like the Galax has a separate room for disco. There is a small step down to the dance floor. It is a curious fact that the more Lapin Kulta you drink, the more likely it is you will forget that the step is there. The Komeetta seems to have more utterly gorgeous women to the square metre than any other place; but I had to satisfy myself with the four I was with. The orchestra was Sunset, who had played at the Old Fire Station last time I was in Turku. Snow was gently falling as we left in the early hours. Kati and her friends went home in a taxi: I walked back to the Omena Hotel.


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