Fête de la Musique: Something for Everyone.

© Soma

When I woke up on Monday I had no idea what was lay in store for me. That that night Paris would turn into one huge pulsing street party I was blissfully unaware. I did however plan on attending the Midsummer soirée at the Swedish Institute in the Marais. Midsummer is a huge celebration across Scandanavia coinciding with the longest day of the year with light lingering all “night” long. The Institute opened up their garden to a massive traditional Swedish fête with singing, group dancing, girls with braids and garlands in their hair, hot dogs, Carlsberg beer, and smörgåsar (open-faced sandwiches usually topped with some sort of fish and dill sauce). Parents and children sang along to archaic drinking ballads and sprightly lullabies. Take for instance the moment when a crowd of thirty or so people ages ranging from 4 to 64 began hopping up and down croaking “koackackack, koackackack, koackackackacka” like “små grodorna” or little frogs. My cheeks ached from smiling so hard. The circle of frenetic dancers centered around a huge maypole covered in vines, flowers, and proud blue and yellow ribbons, the national colors of Sweden. After the dancers were thoroughly tuckered out, singer songwriter Anna Von Hausswolff from Gothenburg came on stage. She dubbed her first set as “artistic”. Slow and sad, the kind of music you’d expect from an angsty teenage girl who grew up listening to 90s American female artists. After a break she came back with her “rock-n-roll” set. What a thrilling surprise to see this blonde porcelain doll rock out, banging on her piano with fury and singing out with shrill cries that would make Robert Plant proud! It was a much-needed energy tune-up for what lay beyond the walls of the Swedish Institute.

Deeper in the Marais the sounds of pumping techno filled the air. Glitter, smoke, and greased up bodies abounded. Within moments my friends and I found ourselves pinned between blaring speakers trembling from the sheer force of sound  and gay men with enhanced pectorals grinding in their Dolce and Gabbana tighty whities. This was a far cry from the cherubic Swedish children dancing like frogs just around the corner. I couldn’t tell who seemed more excited, the men on platforms dancing and proudly wiggling their taut physique, or the lecherous older men in the crowd, watching and salivating. All in all it made for great entertainment. We continued to walk south, crossing the river, and entering the densely packed crowds of tourists and Parisian teenagers drinking cheap wine from plastic cups around St. Michel. Towards Odéon, the music changed to a more palatable kind of rock and roll with Bruce Springsteen and Beach Boys covers played by local bands. What a perfect way to round out this most musical of Parisian summer evenings.

© Soma

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