So then there was that clubbing night in Stockholm…yes the one I promised to come back to. You see it was Friday evening, we actually had an invitation for a corporate party at PlayAd but as I was late (which woman with some self-respect isn’t?) I doubted the party was still in full swing when we got around to it. So instead we had a reservation at Fem Sma Hus (Five Little Houses) in the Old Town of Stockholm. It was actually brilliant as my father used to take me there. It’s a restaurant taken straight out of any medieval period drama and the second oldest restaurant in Stockholm, which has served as various taverns in the 17th and 18th century. if you are looking for good Swedish food and terrific ambiance this is your place. Ask for the alcove seat (in an old fireplace). It’s the spot you want for an intimate dinner with a close friend or take your spouse to.
However…. the night was still young (around midnight actually when we finished up) and we asked the very attentive sommelier for some suggestions to clubs. One on the list was Cafe Opera. A classic club I’ve actually have never been to (do remember I only get to Sweden for business since I left some 20 years ago). We arrive 10 minutes later. There is a line, but we are quickly whisked forward by the security personnel and can step in. Is this a good or a bad sign?
I leave my coat with R and place myself in a corner with a vantage view, taking in the atmosphere of the place. it’s an old place, with that I mean, high ceiling, cornices, marble. Those places have the best potential for something classy (which the name also allude to….Cafe Opera). I’m standing there for about 30 seconds, make it a minute and a half, and a guy in a striped t-shirt and pumped-up chest walks up to me. He could come out of an ad of Jean Paul Gaultier but of course alcohol and dim light is the great equalizer when it comes to beauty.
“Are you here alone?” he asks.
“No, I’m waiting for someone”. I reply politely
He walks off. I follow the trail of JPG Boy who walks to the bar and chats up another girl, then I loose track. It’s already getting full inside with an eclectic crowd. There is a constant pushing and shoving and as I don’t fancy toppling over like a Lenin statue after the Cold War, I decide to hit the VIP area. A group of well dressed gentlemen sit in a corner canoodling with women of all ages. I sit, sipping my Champagne when a marginally drunk man in his early 30’s decides to pick up our Champagne bottle. R gets really upset at this (after all it’s 120 euro’s) whilst I don’t particularly mind, given he probably needs it more than we do. If not to impress on the girl that is following him like a shadow.
Music is at best, eclectic. A few house tunes are mixed with, what sounds like a cavalcade of Top 40 hits. I start off dancing to a pretty good remix of Lana del Rey just to suddenly find myself in Hip Hop land. I try to adjust my moves, but they feel out of synch. So I go back to the VIP area where Champagne Charmer is once again pouring himself a glass on our expense. I now know why our bottle emptied so quickly and why I never felt even tipsy this evening. Most of the alcohol was clearly not consumed by us.
As I sit another guy comes up to me. He also wears a striped shirt. Are they fashionable in Sweden? Did Jean Paul Gaultier open up a store on Biblioteksgatan recently?
He starts with the full-frontal question “How old are you?”
“40” I reply for two reasons, to 1) discourage him, and 2) in case he thinks I look really old then I just happen to look my age. I don’t expect any compliments, in fact the contrary at this point.
He looks at me, although his gaze darts between me and something/someone behind me. I pretend not to notice.
“I never kissed a 40 year old you know.” he says as casually as asking for a cigarette. I can’t say I’m dumbfounded by his reply, but I am quick to retort. “I don’t think this is your night either Darling.”
He sheepishly walks away, perhaps to the object of desire he was only moments ago eying up.
We decide to make a move as this place is not where it’s happening. We end up at Stureplan. I try to ask the taxi driver what would be a good place but he is not very interested in further conversation. He just wants his money and leave the jammed traffic. I navigate my red sole shoes between drunken Swedes and piles of vomit. It’s a question of looking down rather than up.
We eventually end up at Sturecompagniet. I excuse myself to go to the toilets. All cabins are taken, but if there is any toilet activity going on, I am not so sure. Some are closed but eerily silent (did someone just died in there?). Others emit laughter and other dubious noise. A used condom lies on the floor. I stand towards one of the sinks (there are about four) when a drunk girl brushes past me. The fact I didn’t move, is apparently an invite for a quarrel. I continue to stare at my target: one of the toilet cubicals. She mutters something and then leaves.
We end up in a bar on the first level of this palace dedicated to vice of every kind. I have a water. Opposite us sits a group of men in their twenties and early thirties. They spread themselves out, among empty Champagne bottles, like they own the place. I find it rather amusing, especially since one of the guys starts to apparently make fun of me. It makes me more curious and I step up to him, telling him I love his impersonation. He wasn’t really prepared for that. He asks where I am from and I say Amsterdam. Suddenly I have gone from a low-class has-been to someone that is marginally cool. He asks what I do and I say consultancy. He is warming up. I just moved from low class to middle class (class society is very much a thing in this part of town). Perhaps I just have a bad day per style – ah well she is from Amsterdam….which he also blurts out to his friend. They invite me to their next hang out, but I decline. My evening is done.
I once again find myself in no-mans-land between vomiting men and women, a half naked man who lies on the ground and people that with one look seem to want to kill me. I smile. Because I find this testosterone culture highly amusing. I now know why I left Sweden years ago. I now thank God for having partied my pants off to DJ Marcello and Eric E (looong time ago) at the Roxy. Those were the days 🙂
I love Sweden, but club culture (unless I am on the guest list of V*****), is something I will give a miss.
Fem Sma Hus in Gamla Stan (Old Town)
Sancerre for the evening
View from the alcove
The bird for the evening
VIP – ALL access…to Champagne anyways
Selfie with R….my companion for the evening
Crashing in bed…
Breakfast in bed
Vi ses igen…