Julia Kolehmainen on Flakkande røynd

The day before I saw Falk Richter’s I Am Europe at The Royal Dramatic Theatre, a play that deals with questions about belonging. The German director has together with eight young actors and dancers from different European countries devised a piece about the participants’ personal stories and dreams. What’s holding Europe together? What’s tearing down communities? I left the theatre with an uncomfortable feeling. Numb but still broken. They sang Sandra Kim’s ”J’aime la vie”, Belgium’s winning song in ESC 1986. But this time the otherwise cheerful song left a bad taste in my mouth. It’s stuck in my head for the rest of the evening.

I haven’t slept well in the past weeks. The thing about insomnia is that it comes in periods. ”Don’t panic, it’ll pass.” I have a prescription for sleeping pills that I’ve barely touched. They make me sleep but I still feel tired the next morning. Still I decided to take one because I craved a whole night’s sleep knowing that I was about to see Flakkande røynd the next day. I woke up in a blur and chugged a Red Bull on the train, trying to fight off the sleeping pill from the night before. I bet my mom would scold me if she knew, considering she’s worked in the intensive care unit for over twenty years. (Sorry mom.) This makes me think of when I used to work late shifts at a restaurant. With my back hurting from carrying dishes I used to pour down painkillers with Red Bull. Night after night. Poor liver. Poor body.

The past four days I’ve been at four different theaters. I also went to a gala for audiobooks. I don’t even listen to audiobooks. Is this what’s called FOMO? I spend more time on trains than time at home. I’ve been commuting for the past four months and since day one I’ve thought that I should be more productive on the train. Maybe read a book? I only end up reading weird articles on the news. Browsing social media. Today’s ride was unusually calm. Usually I get really annoyed by my surroundings. Children screaming, people sitting too close to me, people talking extremely loudly on the phone about private matters, angry looks, men staring. Not a single ”I’m sorry”. Buses that are late, trains that are late, subways that are packed with people, roadwork that makes us move at a snail’s pace. I’ve stopped saying hello to the drivers. While waiting for my subway I notice the platform display board saying ”Crowding may occur between Odenplan and Globen about 15:30-17:30 and 19:30-20:30 due to the football game at Tele2 Arena.” Yawn. Luckily I manage to get to Weld without noticing any of it.

I Google Maps my way to the venue and see Isac walking in front of me, looking confused. Together we find the small (almost hidden) door and enter, and walk up to the other KKV participants. Over these past weeks I’ve grown really fond of them and it feels like meeting up with friends. We’re even socializing as friends. We walk down the stairs together to the stage and sit down next to each other as if it is obvious.

The audience is seated in four groups, spread out on small rugs in geometric shapes and tree stumps (made out of Norwegian birch). It’s a really impressive room, both high and wide. I feel invisible yet embraced by it. I look around in the room and recognize at least half of the audience from the performing arts field. Not anyone I’ve actually met but it makes me feel a sense of coherence. Suddenly two people with wet hair enter the stage, turning out to be the musicians. They place themselves by a Schimmel piano and a tuba. The two dancers enter the stage from my back, one dressed in a yellow-green-greyish suit accompanied by the other one in a red-purple-greyish suit.

It’s quite remarkable how the dancers manage to use the whole floor, considering how big it is. They’re thrusting with their hips slowly with such precision that I can see their bodies shiver. Sometimes they fall to the floor, *donk*. But they quickly get up. They carry each other crawling across the floor, clumsy but still with a clear interplay. They mix in steps of classic ballet. They put each other in position, almost like mannequins. They look tired. Understandable. They do not seem to dance at any set pace, making everything unpredictable.

Throughout the performance I hear an annoying sound behind me. I turn around and notice a man taking notes on an old receipt. He uses a birch stump as a table. Instead of asking him to stop, I just give him a dirty look (like the Swede I am). He just continues to scribble. I try to ignore the sound and feel grateful when the two musicians walk across the room to sit down next to me, where they have set up other instruments on a blanket. Their music makes the annoying scribbling sound drown out. One of them connects the tuba with a synth while the dancers untie their shoes. They change into a pair of home-made ones consisting of regular running shoes and a large wooden sole (which impressively enough bends in different directions). I think to myself ”Acne Studios SS20”.

I notice that I feel calmer than I have throughout the day. I’m delighted. I don’t feel in the way and no one feels in my way. Although both dancers come close on several occasions, even dancing around me, I have my own space. I feel protected, untouchable. I find myself smiling occasionally. I don’t know if it’s because of the performance or just because of how I feel. When the performance is over one of the dancers smiles at me, I smile back.

On the train back home I struggle to decide what music to listen to. I let Spotify shuffle it for me and the verdict is Daniel Norgren – ”Are we running out of love?”

”You feel good when you feel love.
You feel good when you feel love.
You do good when you do love.
You do good when you do love.
You give love when you get love.
You give love when you get love.
How long will it take for love to touch everyone?
How long?
Are we running out of love?
How long will it take for love to touch everyone?
How long?
Are we running out of love?
Your heart will never grow cold when you grow love.
Your heart will never grow cold when you grow love.
You show love when you know love.
You show love when you know love.
How long will it take for love to touch everyone?”

I look around on the packed train and all I see is green. Green t-shirts, green scarfs, green hats, green everything. I realize they’re all football fans coming straight from the game at Tele2 Arena. I hug my Flakkande røynd poster that they gave out for free at Weld. The green herd is loud. But I don’t mind. Because for the first time in a while I feel safe.

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