The Far North I: Solstice Suomi Style
Friday evening June 23rd was celebrated as midsummers solstice in Rovaniemi, the provincial capital of Finnish Lapland. It is a town of around 60,000 people, with two universities, located 6 km south of the Arctic Circle. The photo here shows the ritual bonfire that was lit in the Kemijoki River at midnight; below are photos of the display of music and folk dancing that took place on the riverbank, before a crowd of about 1,000 people who gathered to participate in the solstice ceremony, and the dancing that was taking place in the big tent set up for the Jutajaiset Folklore Festival.
The main attraction of the festival's opening night was the performer "Eini" of the group Eini and Boogie. They performed what appears to be a very convetional musical mixture for Finnish dance halls of the last 30 to 40 years or so. This includes Finnish "folk" dances, or Finnish versions of other European folk or popular dances, including the yenkka and humppa (both a bit like the polka), the polkka, the waltz, and the mazurkka (this last was not performed on this particular night); the distinctive Finnish tango, a local adaptation of the Argentine tango, idiosyncratic in both music and dance style; and a variety of North American and Latin American popular dances: fox trot, rock, swing, rumba, chachacha, salsa, and samba. Following are scenes from the dance, and finally, an image of the low-sitting, never-setting, midnight sun.