Have you ever done the Humppa to “Poker Face”?
Our first night in Sointula, after a fantastic wine and cheese put on by conference organizers and the village of Sointula, we move on to the Rub Pub. It’s the only pub in Sointula and they advertise live music. Conference attendees and locals mingle and I can hear Finnish being spoken all around me. When we settle into what became standing room only, the Finnish flag is the first thing noticed on the stage. Earlier, I had heard from locals that the Finns from Masala had been rocking the little town since their arrival earlier this week (I heard one woman laugh that it would take days to recover from their young guests). Story has it that locals heard them arriving – they were singing on the car deck as the ferry pulled into the dock. Up until Friday, karaoke had become the norm well into the night. Tonight was something different, though. The Masala Theatre group also perform as a band, and members of the troop take the stage and make introductions in English.
Ok, so when I arrived, I envisioned an evening of music like the kind my dad would listen to on Saturday afternoons – think “Polka Time” that used to air on CTV back in the day. I expected to hear the deep bartione of Finnish male singers, serious and earnest, and some accordion. The deep voices are definitely here but there is no accordion in sight. The band warms up with some upbeat (well, they are upbeat for Finns, I think) tunes sung in Finnish, and before long, people are dancing. That’s when the lead announces it’s time for the Humppa. I hear a few young people snicker -“Did he say hump?”- and I remember back to when I started to go to high school dances and my mom asking if everyone “did the Humppa?”. And Humppa we did – it’s a dance similar to the polka, a simple one step per beat dance, unpretentious and easily danced in pairs or alone.
Yes, they cover Lady Gaga, and a little “You’re the one that I want” from Grease. For me though, the highlight is “Hedelmäpommi”, a cover of a 2003 Finnish single by the artist Frederik (check him out! He looks like David Hasselhoff cross-bred with Kiss!). Apparently quite the summer anthem – the Finnish theatre crew took over the dance floor for this one, complete with synchronized gestures, ala the Village People.
For about two hours, while I lean against a pool table in Sointula’s village pub, Strongbow in hand, I am transported to a summer night in a small Finnish pub, somewhere north of the 60th parallel. The perfect start to this weekend conference on utopian dreams.
(In case your curious, here is my translation of “Hedelmäpommi” while you listen along!)
My mouth is always dry when I remember you
When there are rollerblading classes at the beach again
My mind on your apples, always loved the fruit cart
Hey baby do not be afraid beside me on the beach
Release the beach lions to get summer started, hot girls are waiting
Bikinis stick like a fruit bomb, man gets a pear again
Under a beach umbrella, above dusty fine sand
Taste the forbidden fruit
A summer cat couldn’t find better
My beach ball you can blow
I’ll bite you, just gently
Coconut milk on my skin
Hey, do not be afraid baby, I have everything for you.
Fruit Bomb, fruit bomb
Fruit Bomb, fruit bomb