In Stockholm, you live on an island, you party under a bridge, and everyone is gorgeous. Or at least, such was my experience this weekend. Take my hand darling, we're headed north.
I met Sweden's DJ Pjotr in a blur of spaceships and birthday cakes in San Francisco, and for the week we were attached at the party-crashing, sleep deprived hip, I had to deal with an transparent uptick of gay scenesters calling me "just to see what I was up to." I've heard him liken his bushy red beard to a pair of massive tits -- fun to have, but liable to attract unwanted attention. On a less superficial level, he's also a banging house DJ we'd love to see more of in the States.
DJ Pjotr holds down island paradise // Rainbow photo by Emil Jonsson
When he invited me to visit him in Scandinavia's unofficial capital, I had no choice but to jog over from Berlin for a long weekend. Stockholm: land of immaculate subways, casual nudity, creativity bred from nine months of sub-zero temps, drop-crotch silk pants, and an exchange rate so unfavorable that only those first four things could ever possibly keep me fervently recommending that you get there, plus or minus sign on your bank statement be damned.
Luckily, I was well taken care of. Very little Viking history, mind you -- but Pjotr's tour guiding of the city's best shopping, art, and exuberantly set-designed nightlife of the city he moved to when he was 15 was so rad I wished I hadn't blown all my brain cells on vodka shots. Hence, this interview about what we did, so you can follow in our wobbly, Scandinavian-chic steps.
Damn, weekend. You politely suggested we go straight from the airport to a bar.
Oh my god, who even remembers that – I mean, it was like a 1000 years ago (five days). But I’m pretty sure it was Lilla Baren at Riche.
It was gorgeous -- granted that was my first vision of Sweden but it seemed like a very European mix of alterna culture kids and monied people trying to kick it (is that European?) Is Riche an institution in Stockholm?
It’s beautiful, isn’t it? The building is from 1893. The high ceilings, the bar made out of shiny metal, the mirrors, the stucco. Great staff. Did you also know that one of the stuccos in the ceiling, the octopus, is a temporary installation? They do art exhibitions there all the time. Like three-meter flying fishes with huge vaginas, custom-made toilets. It’s great. All fun people go here, a mad mix of artists, media people, poor fashion students, and old dirty business men who "accidently" fell in from the restaurant side of Riche. It’s crowded and great.
Then where'd we go?
Well, after a 100 beers and some Caitlin-style bellinis we hit F12 or Fredsgatan 12, that mad outside place with the stone steps and a terrace on each side of them. It's a classic summer place in Stockholm, clubs seven days a week full of young fame-hungry nightlife and hipster kids. And of course, the rest of us old drunks every now and then. I like to go there if I’m DJing, or if I want to smoke outside.
I think it was raining when you and me and our gang went, but we didn’t really care, right? I mean, my beard sucked up most of it. And a bunch of admiring straight guys too. WEIRD! But then you took care of those, so that was fine.
I try. Jesus, that beard. Don't ever go to a beer festival. Back to F12 -- what's up with all the bars in Stockholm that are in historic luxury buildings?
Actually, I don’t really know. There is a lot of that left and the spaces are being used for restaurants, bars, clubs – nightlife really.
And then suddenly it was Friday. I did some shopping. WHAT WAS THAT SECONDHAND LEATHER STORE YOU SENT ME TO?
118 Second Läder – it’s Stockholm’s best place for used leather. The woman that runs it has everything. It’s more fashion than fetish, but either way you will want it all.
I almost dropped $100 on this blonde leather newsboy cap. Which I'm glad didn't happen because my account was negative $200 by the end of the weekend, but I'm still in mourning over its absence in my life today.
Then we also went to check out some Nordic 1950s and '60s-style antique shops around the Odenplan neighborhood, at Västmannagatan street. There are some amazing ones, especially the 19th century -- I mean, 19th century in the US, in Swedish we call that period the 18th century.
Right. Anyway, the 19th century vintage store Old Touch. That place is like walking into an old movie set, it's cluttered with things from floor to ceiling. I can stay in there for hours. Then at the Acne Archives outlet we bumped into my stylist friend Christopher.
Who is adorable. Your friends made me feel the need to stay shopping whenever I wasn't creeping on them. I really loved all the fancy/stupid stick-and-poke tattoos, and those striped silk pants you had going on Sunday!? I die. That brings us to Friday night's dinner party at Hanna's flat.
Yeah that dinner party turned into a house party, as they always do. We were at my friend and set designer Hanna Ostrowski’s house. I do my new club GUMM4N with her, Staffan Lindberg, and Siri Hjorton-Wagner. Siri is an actor and part of all-girl creative collective ÖFA. Staffan is my DJ-partner in crime, we previously did the club The Black Banana Inn together. Staffan is also releasing some great productions, fierce house stuff. He recently did a remix for Steffi released on the Panorama Bar/Berghain label, Ostgut Ton. One to watch.
The word gumman literally means “old woman," and is frequently used in the gay world, both as something positive and negative.
You said it's like girrrrrrrrrrrrl. It's the only Swedish word I learned, in fact.
Exactly, it's our wet dream of a club night. Great, dirtyfun house music, hot people, ugly people, tons of booze, weird things like the lesbiska kåtan, our teepee for the lesbians run by Hanna and Siri, and all of our best and new friends in one. We do it at this club called Trädgården/Under Bron (The Garden/Under the Bridge), which is located under a bridge of a freeway so it’s kind of of insane. The party ends at 3am and we all go swimming in the lake just behind Trädgården with a boom box, and a lot of vodka, and folköl (people's beer, usually around 3.5 percent alcohol and available 24 hours a day in stores). It's pretty magical, cause it’s as bright as daytime at that point. It’s really nothing else like Swedish summer. As you now know.
True story, summer sun comes up way fucking early in Stockholm. And somehow we managed to make it out to drop even more money during the day on Saturday! Jesus, that secondhand store where I bought the powder blue khakis. Where were the stores you took me to?
I couldn’t let you go to Stockholm without going to Nytorget neighborhood in Sofo, Södermalm. It’s a made up name, Sofo -- kind of like Soho. We seem to love everything American here. You guys are popular when you visit or sure… The square Nytorget is where all the head-to-toe Acne, H&M, Weekday/Cheap Monday hipsters hang out all day during summer. But they also like the “powder blue khaki store” you fell in love with – Stadsmissionen on Skånegatan street. They give money and shelter to homeless people when you buy clothes, accessories, shoes, china, records, and furniture. So you turned Sweden-stylish and also helped somebody who really needed it.
They're actually a big chain with shops all over Sweden. Then you have the fancier Lisa Larsson vintage store around the corner. That is great for Dior bags and Pucci dresses, or whatever you fancy.
Weekday is the store that created the Cheap Monday jeans, you can find really great high fashion for not that much money. Once a month I come out with a bag full of things although I just went in to have a look. And on Götgatan street, close to Slussen it’s just so nice to chill and walk around during the weekends, lots of good shops and food. You always bump in to people you know.
... Which brings us to Saturday night. You started it off by saying we were going to a "fake lesbian party." Um, that's a concept you're going to have to explain to our American readers.
Haha yeah... the girls would kill me for saying that it’s fake lesbians. It’s not really, I guess, but they are getting accused of it. Donna Scam is meant to be a celebration of the female mind, body, and soul. And lesbianism. Or lipstick lesbianism, to be more precise. It’s where girls go to appreciate other girls, to flirt with each other, and maybe kiss each other. Maybe it goes further, maybe it doesn’t. It’s super-glamorous in this totally fake luxury way. The hostesses look so expensive, but... ultimate class but also ultimate trash in someone else's eyes.
Anna Uddenberg, the Russian girl admirer number one, just graduated from the Royal College of Art. Brandy Hanna is a Swedish-Finnish Amazonian woman who has been doing club nights for a few years, and Zhala is an amazing Kurdish princess singer [author's note: and Lykke Li chorist], who has a big hit in Sweden right now with her track “Slippin’ Around,” with a video made by cakegate shocker Makode Linde. The three girls make an amazing trio.
They go really far-out with the decorations. It was in a grand ballroom with big pillars and 20-meter ceilings, covered in the inside fluff from pillows and looking like some cheesy movie version of heaven, lit up in pink and blue. There was all these big transparent round tents where people were sitting inside, making out, having drinks. We were pretty blown away, weren’t we?
I was picking pillow innards and pink lipstick off my person for days. Thank you, Little Jinder.
I DJ’d there at the club's second night and I loved it. I went nuts, took my T-shirt off and tied it around my head and rocked the floor for like three hours. I never do that at gay clubs with guys, I hate it. And here I suddenly went nuts, and I thought I’d get beaten up by some chicks, but people just didn’t mind at all. It’s a really free place.
Couple hours in heaven at Donna Scam
The crowd is mainly women, but also a lot of guys too, mainly gay guys of course, but also straight ones who are friends with the girls, and the great thing is they really behave. No fucking, touching or groping, just admiring. Since I guess there are quite a few bi girls going there “straight action” might take place, but it’s all on the girls initiative, which is just so great! It’s such a free environment. Something that really should be the standard everywhere, when you think about it.
Plus, there's performances. My favorite on Saturday was with Italo king/queen Tobias Bernstrup, who was dressed as a cyborg creature with three boobs and major silver tranny heels, backed up on keyboard by his beautiful girlfriend Cajsa Von Zeipel, who makes some of Sweden's most interesting art at the moment. Wow, that was really intense. Total inspiration.
And the afterparty.
So, yeah, we went to Lilla Lovis release party, she is the princess of “genitalia rock” as we call it, she is super cute and sings about sucking dick without taking out her snus and shit like that, very funny and well produced.
Are warehouse parties a big thing in Stockholm?
Hmm, on and off. We had something called the Rave Commission at the end of the '90s, a civilian police force that shut down all the big raves. It was terrible. But since the mid aughts it's all started again, and really picked up. There is at least one or two good ones happening every week. It is great for the nightlife and creativity in the city, I think. I’ve meet all my best friends here through clubbing. It is really my church. I go out to get fulfilled and enjoy myself. It drains you of energy because the lack of sleep, but it fills you with all this inspiration.
We were inspired to get four hours of sleep and look at nail art.
Konstfack is the second-most respected art college in Sweden. I really love that place. We went to see the spring exhibition, which always includes a few mindblowing pieces. My favorite was the nail art for sure!
The artist Kakan is this radical feminist hip-hop R&B lesbian who is the best thing since sliced bread, really. She is an artist, TV and radio host, and DJ. Very, very frank, and very, very funny and very, very beautiful. Do you remember those nails? Huge fingers with these crazy ass, sculpted nail art on them.
The Destiny's Child-themed one was my favorite. I love how she elevated nail art, a feminine kind of creativity that's always dismissed as frivolous or worse, "ghetto." And the two-foot finger sculptures were amazing, I need one of those things for my house.
FIERCE: Kakan and her graduate school feminist nail art exhibition. Kakan photo by Isabelle Minou
And these messed-up beautiful vases, candle holders all in marble style, pedestals, lots of flowers. And the video -- a single shot from above on two pairs of hands: Kakan’s firm hand grabbing these other girls, cleaning nails, putting on new varnish, just this monotone endless thing rolling, no faces, no breaks, talking about everything from being tired, getting fucked, dealing drugs, all this shit you talk about with somebody you know doing your nails. Almost like therapy.
And the suddenly those two guest hands are replaced after a while with new hands, and a new anonymous conversation starts. It was so spaced-out and so calming to watch. Especially in our hungover-still drunk-mode. We were fucking hungry too, shoving down popcorns in front of that screen while people probably smirked at us from behind the nails…
We never got herring burgers siiiigh. But we ATE.
Did we eat or what??? Westermalms Sushi is really good, north side of town, pretty small and pricy place, but so delicious. Worth a visit just to see the guys who looks like a serial killer behind the cashier. He told you not to put your feet on the couch, I was so worried when you kept doing it.
I don't speak Swedish, and I don't pay attention to English.
Veggie lunch at Chutney -- note the Swedish love affair with the complimentary side salad.
Like 10 minutes away on the bus on the south side in Hornstull, you can get huge pizzas at Piccolo Del Angelo, typical Swede-ified Italian pizza. Perfect for hungover art apreciators. And if you are by Nytorget, and you are a vegetarian or just love great food Chutney has cheap prices (for Sweden) and a proper portion is coming your way. Also a pretty good place just to sit and watch people in the summer and have a fag.
Caitlin Donohue is the culture editor of San Francisco Bay Guardian, SF's 45-year old go-to for progressive politics, hawt parties, and general goings-on for freaks and weirdos. She has a crush on Europe, it turns out.
In Stockholm? LUCKY. Hit up Pjotr's party GUMM4N this Saturday, May 26, 11pm-3am, 100-150 Swedish crowns ($17-$25 USD, yes the exchange rate wants to kill you). Trädgården, Hammarby Slussväg 2, Stockholm. www.tradgarden.com; www.facebook.com/groups/GUMM4N.
- Category: Culture
- Published on Wednesday, 23 May 2012 09:53
- Written by Caitlin Donohue