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Any musically-oriented visitor in Finland could easily name what is there worth seeing: Tuska, Tavastia, Ville Valo father´s sex-shop and the new bar Inferno. But no tourist guide would recommend what gives a broader view of the Finnish alternative music scene.
STALKER has begun its journey through Finnish dark places last summer with the most northern Goth festival Lumous in Tampere. Since then the list became longer with a few more events run on regular basis around less known Helsinki venues: Club Anville (nightclub Lady Moon, opposite main railway station), Synapsi (boat-restaurant Waiski, Hakaniemi harbor), Lost Paradise (Hevimesta, Senaatintori square), Trauma (Lepakkomies, Helsinginkatu) or Radium (Club Liberte, Hakaniemi).
If you are coming to Finland to experience the local Goth culture, the above mentioned parties should not be missed. Usually there is one per week, or even more often towards the summer. Music is mostly electronic, industrial and old-school, so prepare a few pairs of ripped fishnets and a lot of hair-spray to celebrate Britain of the 80s!
But those kind of parties are only a warm-up for Club Schatten, by far the most popular Gothic party, and to get there most visitors travel from all over Finland to Tampere. Schatten is with about 300 attendants almost every time sold-out.
Tickets are available at reasonably prices (about 6 Euro, more expensive than in Germany but cheaper than other Finnish Gothic events), the queues outside can be long, especially bad in winter... So you better aim at arriving at Laterna before 22.30-23.00 with tickets purchased in advance.
Schatten exists for a little over seven years and usually happens once every two months. The German name signifies where the inspiration comes from, which is very pleasing and promising of course. Like already mentioned, Finnish Gothic style has very little to do with the way this subculture is perceived in Germany or rest of northern Europe, although might be closer to the British understanding of it. It is easily seen from the kind of visitors you will meet there, mostly Cyber and very old-school followers, so the DJ´s serve mostly those tastes.
Club Schatten is more than just a party. In Finland it is also the only Gothic magazine, comparable perhaps to Orkus or Zillo. The party often includes live bands, fashion shows, sea-cruise (during the days of Lumous) and other such creative happenings, depending on season or special holidays (Halloween-Samhain or Christmas). Therefore Schatten parties are always different.
The location Restaurant Laterna is simply lovely, in well-kept traditions of pre-revolutionary Russia. Small and low coffee tables accompanied with luxurious velvet armchairs in deep red shades, dimmed lights, carefully planted flowers and small trees in clay pots, old paintings along the staircases, hand-knitted napkins and table clothes, candle holders and velvet cushions, all so neatly and lovingly arranged. Among all this very dressed-up people float around, covered in fog drifting off from the dance floors – surreal, but weirdly aesthetic at the same time.
There are two floors. Downstairs is very small, more like a lobby with a bar, a sitting area for about six persons and a tiny dance floor with a DJ set that would not take more than 10-15 persons at a time. Under such circumstances you literally will have to fight for you your right to party! The second floor is more spacious, although the bar area is much smaller than below. There´s one big sitting area which opens to the dance floor, that is the actual restaurant in day-time. In a cozy set like this, it feels like it is just a house tea party, held around 1920s by former Russian nobles.
One smaller room next to the dance floor is setup with more intimate atmosphere, less noise and more decently socializing quests. As always, the dance floor gets more crowded into the night, more upbeat EBM, industrial and electro.
Neighboring Hotel Omena serves as the un-official host of most pre- and after-parties, meaning that you have to be invited to your friends´ gathering there, without being noticed by the hotel security. Most foreigners chose to stay there, although many Schatten visitors leave Laterna for the time of the first early morning train from Tampere. The club is open until 4am, so this saves you the trouble finding accommodation and spending extra on the hotels. After 1.30 am most guests are at the dance floor until the end, the others tend to leave already at this early hour. An unthinkable idea, as once you step into the dancing crowd, Gloria Estefan´s prophecy comes true and rhythm does get you!
Observing the visitors, I must admit that Lumous is more colorful and creative. At Schatten you will spot mainly old school Goths, as Finnish interpret it, many with the well recognizable death-rock inspired hairstyles, others in bondages and Cyber-wear, but no one a Victorian lady could really lay her eyes on.
Among the audience you will notice many musicians of the local dark scene, Suruaika, Silene, Machine Park and numerous known DJ´s (Schatten has its own official DJ´s with occasional guest appearances by touring celebrities). Having visited those Gothic parties at least twice, you will start recognizing the familiar faces, and even though you might not know everyone personally, with this home-made feeling and the setting of the party, it feels so comfortable and so familiar, you immediately know you will be back for the next one.
STALKER would like to thank the organizers, Kaitsu and Grendel for the invitation!