It’s a typical day in Finland, I presume. It’s 4am. The sun is shining brightly, and the woods around us are alive with wildlife. The eight of us are stood at the dockside of a still, clear lake. We’ve all had far too much to drink. We are all covered in peat mud. And we’re about as naked as we can be without being lewd. And then, as the accordion plays its first slow, woeful notes, we all begin to dance.
This autumn I am presenting at several academic conferences and workshops in Cambridge, Leeds, Amsterdam and Boston. I will also be at World Travel Market in November in London.
At the end of a hushed dark alley several minutes past 3am, a naked 20-watt light bulb rocks to and fro inside a rickety wooden shed, spilling shadows onto the pile of cinder blocks and wood scraps in the corner. I enter the shed, knock once on the king-sized oak door and wait. The portal opens. The music erupts. And I am in another world - a thrumming speakeasy packed with the hip and the irreverently-dressed nursing tall lagers and chattering the night away, totally ignoring the fact that it’s a weeknight and that dawn is just around the corner. The entire room, illuminated only by candlelight, resonates with fantastic, bewildering music I can only describe as something a Turkish belly dancer might perform at a Russian wedding held in a Mayfair nightclub.