Thursday, February 12, 2015

Lumitango 2015

The 2015 Lumitango was to be held on Saturday 7th February. I watched the webcam to see how the snow was getting on in Tampere and it seemed that it would persist, so I booked a flight from Stansted to Tampere, staying at the Omena Hotel. I had breakfast in the Siilinkari cafe next door and looked at the papers. Lots of dances on the Saturday, a few on Friday. I went to the old Finlayson factory (now an art/museum complex, described before in these ramblings). I found a tiny stretch of rail from the old Little Ram railway that once brought fuel to the factory, which I hadn't noticed before. I was distressed to see  the snow was starting to melt.
The Little Ram in the 1950's

That evening, though the Tähti Nightclub is on the doorstep, I decided to go  to the Tapiola Tanssitalo in Karhunkatu (Bear Street), because Kauko Simonen, the first ever Tango King, was performing. There is supposed to be a bus there but I went by taxi and was glad I did, as it was through narrow suburban streets packed with parked cars on either side, nothing like any bus route I had ever seen. It was an excellent night, and I was asked for every dance during the naistenhaku (ladies’ invitation). Kauko Simonen has lost a considerable amount of weight. At the end of the evening I had to get the cloakroom lady to ring for a taxi, as my Orange phone could not access the number; even though I had been successful at getting other numbers.

The Ĺumitango was held in the town square next day. The snow was holding out; in fact a little more had fallen. Heidi Pakarinen was there to provide the music and greeted me in a very friendly manner. There was public dancing in the interval. I discovered that dancing jive in the snow is quite precarious.
Me with Heidi Pakarinen


Heidi dancing in the snow

After the Lumitango I went back to the hotel. Three young Swedish giants were in the lift. I got in, and the alarm went off. I got out again, but they insisted I stayed in and one of them walked up. Perhaps they thought I was old. In the evening I went by taxi to the Tessu in Tesomankatu. It is a big place with two ballrooms that can be used separately, though tonight the partition was pulled back. I had some excellent dances, including a rumba with a Nigella Lawson lookalike, and a tango with a lady who looked just like Angela Merkel. I didn’t know if she would be flattered or not if I pointed out the resemblance, so I said nothing. Frau Merkel is the most powerful woman in the world, but perhaps not the most beautiful. A man danced humppa with two ladies. A lady twerked in front of the sound man. All in all an excellent night.

The following day (Sunday) I went to a service at the Orthodox church. A very strange experience. The congregation had to stand in the vestibule while the monks did their thing. There was a lot of chanting in Russian, or possibly very old Finnish. The congregation didn’t join in. There were very ornate doors at the back decorated with pictures of saints. From time to time a door would open, a monk would come out, perform some task and return, and the door would shut. This reminded me of nothing so much as a mechanical clock, though of course the clocks are based on this rather than the other way round.
Orthodox Church, Tampere

According to the paper Saija Tuupanen was due to appear at the Kerhola in Nokia. Normally Nokia is well served by trains and buses, but not on Sunday so I had to get a taxi at the cost of 36 euros. The Kerhola is an old hospital. I arrived 10 minutes early but they wouldn’t let me in and I had to wait outside in the snow with other early arrivals. In the event Saija Tuupanen did not appear; instead there were the Pekkaniskan Pojat. Included in the lineup was Taisto Lunkka, who plays harmonikka at the Tangomarkkinat. He is very talented, but not so pretty as Saija. Nevertheless it was a good night, and I met many of the same partners as I had seen last night. The event was due to close at 22:00 but I left half an hour early after a sensational foxtrot with “Nigella” to the tune of Pink Panther.

There was no flight on Monday, so I spent the day in Hämeenlinna. This is where Jean Sibelius was born 150 years ago so naturally the town was making a big thing of the anniversary (2015 is also the centenary of Olavi Virta and the 50th birthday of Jari Sillanpää and Arja Koriseva). The castle is very bleak and forbidding in the snow. I tried to imagine being a soldier trying to get in in midwinter. There is a military museum in the castle but it is not open in winter. There is also a Brahe restaurant, but this is named after the Swedish nobleman Per Brahe rather than the better-known Danish astronomer Tycho. According to the paper, Arja Saijonmaa would be at the Helsinki Culture House on 19th March, but unfortunately I will not be able to attend.

Hämeenlinna castle

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