Berlin, London or Amsterdam are usually the go-to cities for a great night out. Is Stockholm on the list? Rarely, yet somewhat undeservedly so.
When I first moved to Sweden and asked where to go for a night out, all roads led to Stureplan. (Un)fortunately, it did not take me long to realize that it could not give me the kind of a night out I would prefer (DISCLAIMER: this is an entirely subjective opinion). After a few less-than-enjoyable nights, I tried to convince myself that taking a long bath was the best way for me to relax after a stressful week. A few such weekends later, I reached the point of boredom where I realized that bathing myself to oblivion was not doing anything to help getting my mind off something. I needed to dance it off.
Since going to Stureplan was out of the question already, and most of my friends were also new to Sweden, I needed to start digging. I was hungry for new venues, new tunes, new people. The only criterion was not to hear a single song from the Top 40 list throughout the night. What I managed to find was a blossoming underground scene for any taste: disco, funk, house, trance, loads of techno and everything in between.
For a city this size, Stockholm has quite few established regular clubs dedicated to this scene. This is probably why ‘The Capital of Scandinavia’ has not made it to Europe’s party map just yet. Of course, there is always the trusted Under Bron (and its lovely seasonal outdoor extension Trädgården) or an LGBTQ-friendly Backdoor. Some clubs recently had to close their doors, but definitely not due to lack of interest (some more-anticipated events sell out weeks before). Most blame Sweden’s strict laws that make the alcohol license (the club’s main revenue source) past a certain time exorbitantly expensive (it is no secret that ravers stay up late). Others mention police raids due to its prejudice on drug use there or simply neighbours’ complaints.
“The one striking thing
about this movement is
its communal feeling”
Therefore, a night out in Stockholm feels more like an adventure. The underground scene largely functions on social media: there are dozens of pages (Aftermath, Management, Suburbia, Technostate to name a few), groups and accounts that notify you when the next so-called svartklubb (a black club in Swedish) is taking place, while the locations largely remain secret. You register under a provided link a couple of days in advance and receive the location, sometimes just before the event starts. Some locations are more permanent and regular than others, some shut, some reopen. There have been events in public saunas (fortunately not in use), abandoned warehouses, train carriages, forests etc. It can be frustrating in the beginning to plan a night out a week in advance, but it is more a matter of getting used to the Swedish passion to plan everything. Besides, the queues are rare because the guys who would start a why-did-we-not-get-in argument with the bouncer usually do not make it this far. If you have a ticket, you are 99% welcome. Everyone is.
The one striking thing about this movement is its communal feeling. A lot of promoters are doing this as a side job from the sheer love of music. They often coordinate among themselves not to book famous artists for the same weekend, letting each other at least break even. The crowd celebrates inclusivity and mutual respect (I have never seen a single fight happen) and I have met probably some of the most fascinating people there. Unlike in some places, they do not come to show off, they come to let loose and simply enjoy. How could you not if you are dancing your bottoms off to a brilliant 80s funk vinyl selection outside the city in Lighthouse while being offered watermelons and grapes and affordable beer?
So, a warm welcome to you, my fellow ravers and new converts. See you on the dancefloor. •