The day started off normal enough. I woke early and then hit the snooze button until about nine o’clock. I showered, had some coffee, checked email, and loaded a blog-post about last night. My only real plan for the day was a visit to the cemetery. I really like cemeteries for their historical value, and the cemetery on the southern side of Stockholm is interesting enough to have received heritage listing by UNESCO.
The tour guide explained the significance of the cemetery as a woodland cemetery, one of the few in the world. The integrity of the landscape has been maintained with few modifications, and by ensuring minor details are in keeping with the major vision. He also explained how the cemetery was designed with increasing secularism in mind, and with a trend away from burials towards cremation. Ninety percent of Swedes are now cremated, we were told.
As part of the tour we also got to go inside a number of chapels. “This is very popular with Catholics” our guide said at one point. He didn’t have to tell me , though, as I knew that even before he said it, as it was the only one which was traditionally Christian in any sense. Most of the chapels were entirely functional. And where there was art work, the imagery was fairly general, open to a lot of individual interpretation.
A large part of the tour group was made up from members of the Stockholm chapter of “Couch Surfing”. Couch Surfing, by the way is a not-for-profit organisation which allows people to sleep on each others couches (or beds I guess) as a low cost means of travel. When I got to chatting over a cup of tea with one of the blokes who was part of the group, I mentioned a friend of mine who had recently “Couch Surfed” for Swedish mid-summer at Dalarna. And guess what? So had he. He told me my friend was very very nice. But also fairly quiet, and “not a big party animal like many of the others who were there”, he said.
We met again later at the bus stop and he invited me to join him, as he planned to meet a friend for a walk around the cliffs of Sodermalm. There’s an excellent walk you can do which takes you along cliffs and allows you to sit on rocks which afford an excellent view of the city. We also visited some of the many back streets of Sodermalm. He was an excellent tour guide and very kind host. Anyway, the upshot of it all is that somehow we ended up at a hippy rave called Langholmen 07. By my guess, there was maybe 500-700 people in a forest setting on the nearby island of Langholmen dancing to groovy music, enjoying good conversation, and especially enjoying the Swedish summer.
The weather was great. There was a great vibe to the place, and there was a wide cross section of people attending. I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. Of course, it could also be because the whole event had a very “North Coast” feel about it all. Lots of dreadlocks, lots of incense. This was especially evident when a bloke wearing some kind of traditional South American clothing climbed to the top of the hill and then began to blow on some kind of sea shell in time to the music. I got chatting to a Swedish bloke I was introduced to, who told me he likes to go clubbing, but this wasn’t really his scene. “It’s more a lifestyle than anything” he said. In Australia, I told him, they’d be called “ferals”, and then asked him what they’re called in Sweden. He told me they’re called “woodland people” because they have lots of parties in the woodlands.
So that’s how I ended up at a hippy rave party in Sweden.