Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Personal Space: Midnight Sun Festival Experience

Last Friday my hubby took me out to bars as there was Midnight Sun Festival. It's the "biggest" party here in Sodankylä. Every year people from different countries flock here to enjoy Midnight Sun and the festival itself.

My hubby had sent me pics of himself enjoying Midnight Sun Festival, but I had NO idea how it would be like. When I first asked him about what people did on Midnight Sun Festival, he said, "Mostly they just drink and drink and drink." So obviously there are more people drinking than watching the movies!!! I was a bit anxious about it as I had never really seen drunk people too much and because I had never danced before in my life. I was confused when it was already 7 pm but we were still at home. I asked him when we would go there. He said, "Later. It's still too early." Turned out we went to his cousin's house first and there they drank a few cans of beer already (so that they didn't spend too much money on expensive beer at the bars/restos). Then there were some friends of his cousin's coming as well. In the end we went to the "party" at around 10 pm (read: we walked there).

Note that the temperature was around 13'C at that time and I was dressed for such temperature. My body's not totally used to the weather yet, and I "forgot" that during the night the temperature usually dropped down a few degrees. My bad!!! Mind you, having been a tropical girl all my life, it's still confusing for me to find the best combination of clothes to wear here.

So we went to one jam-packed resto and Arttu's cousin ordered drinks for us. We struggled to find a booth for us. The resto was a small one, so no wonder it was so jam-packed. I was hoping that I'd meet "my own kind" as Arttu's cousin said that there would be people from around the world. But no such luck. At least I didn't find any Asians there. The only other person who stood out was a black, tall guy. I felt SO tiny amongst the people there (yeah, my being only 145 cm squashed by people over 170 cm tall!). It was SO hard to see where I was going so I held on tightly to Arttu. He warned me not to get lost. LOL!!!

After some time we found a booth. There was this girl who was waiting for a friend, but she offered us some space near the wall, so I slid my butt to sit next to the wall and Arttu sat next to me and the girl sat next to Arttu. There was still some space left for the girl's friend. Then Arttu's cousin's girlfriend and friends sat in front of us. It was SO hard to talk, obviously, as there was a live band. Our drinks came (I ordered orange juice) and we just sort of enjoyed the music. The girl sitting next to Arttu started a conversation. Apparently she was from Helsinki.

Then the girl and her friend moved and there was an old (drunken looking) guy sitting next to Arttu. When he noticed me, he started shaking my hand and smiling like an idiot. (sorry for that term, I just can't help it, he freaked me out!!!) He talked a bit with Arttu and then he started reaching out for my hand again. After some time, he did it AGAIN and this time he said, "We are frrrriieenndd!" I was thinking to myself, "Yeah, right, you must be SO drunk that you don't even know who you're talking to." Then Arttu yelled at my ear, "He's attracted to you." YIIIIKKKKEEESSS!!! The old man must've been around 60 year old and I bet he was either so drunk or a bit lunatic. After we went home, Arttu said that the old guy kept on asking the same questions, so he must've been SO drunk indeed.

Then another guy sitting in front of us started asking questions to Arttu about me. I began to feel worried again. I don't like being in the spotlight. AT ALL. I tried my best not to look at any guy's eyes too long (a friend of mine once told me that it would be bad to look at guy's eyes too long), but I could feel that the guy kept on stealing glances at me. I was SO glad my hubby was with me. During that time, the crazy old man still tried to look me in the eye again and smiled and said, "We are frriiieeennnd" and tried to touch my hand. Then Arttu said to me, "I need to pee." I told him that I DID NOT want to stay there alone!!! He said, "I don't want to leave you alone." So I decided to go with him to the toilet, since I thought it'd be good for me to pee anyway.

When we got back from the toilet (there were long lines in front of the toilets), our seats were taken, so we just stood for a while. The guy who started asking questons to Arttu about me stood close to us and he started asking more questions. I was seriously beginning to feel more uncomfy. The thing is, it was noisy there, so in order to be able to talk properly, you have to yell near one's ear. And that made me feel as though my personal space was invaded. I'm not a touchy-feely person. I'm not used to hugging people or touching people or anything (in my family we don't hug), except to my hubby. The amazing thing was that even the first time we met in 2004, I could kiss him and hug him comfortably. I guess since we had had a heart-to-heart connection, I didn't feel as though he was invading my space by being near me.

Anyhow, Arttu said that we'd change bar, so we did. The guy followed us and then he walked next to me. It started to get more chilly back then, so I shoved my hands to my jacket pockets. He said to me that it must've been hard to get used to the cold weather. I didn't want to be rude, so I answered his questions politely, but I was also a bit afraid. I kept on thinking, "Are these guys drunk enough so that they don't even know what they're doing?"

In the second bar, at first Arttu and I sat on the bar stools. Arttu said that he was getting drunk. I've never been drunk before in my life, so I don't know how drunk he really was. He could still walk straight, though I noticed that he had silly grins on his face, so I thought he must be tipsy or something. Then the guy sat next to me and started asking more questions. Whenever he talked to me, he used English, but whenever he asked questions to Arttu, he used Finnish. Again I felt that my personal space was invaded because sometimes he had to lean close to me in order to hear my words and he had to lean close to my ear to ask me questions.

I guess I felt sort of out of place there. People came and then hugged one another and then socialized. I'm not used to that kind of "party". Being the only Asian didn't help make me feel better. I enjoyed the live music, but I just wished that I had been invisible, you know? The only reason I feel comfy going around town during regular days is because even though some of them may stare at me, I KNOW they won't approach and talk to me, so I feel safe. My personal space is not invaded.

I told Arttu after it was all over that I would NEVER go to bars alone. Good thing is that now the government has banned smoking in public places, including bars. YEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSS!!! I dislike coming home with the stench of smoke all over me! YIKES!!!

When the live band started playing music, I began to get worried again. I knew Arttu liked dancing, but I'd NEVER done it in front of other people in my whole life. He didn't push me, though, and I TRULY appreciated it. However I also didn't want him not to enjoy the party, so I told him I'd do it if they played slow music. So we did slow-dance. It felt great, though after one song, I began to feel dizzy. Dizzy because he twirled me around and round and round. I'm the kind of person who can get motion sickness easily (drat!!!), so maybe next time it'd be better for me to dance with fast music instead of slow music. Hmmm...we'll see.

Anyway, I got a bit sick at the end of the party, because I had worn the "wrong costume" and I had been sitting near the door (it was drafty). So Arttu and I went home earlier than his cousin and friends as I was really feeling bad (it was around 1.30 am). Plus it was FREEZING COLD when we walked home. The temperature had gone down to 5'C. I told myself that next time I should've put on more layers of clothes. When we got back home, I threw up. I told Arttu, "Ironic. You're the one who's drunk, but I'm the one who got sick." (side note: I can't stand windy weather, especially if my clothes aren't wind-proof enough)

So that's my first Midnight Sun Festival experience. Hopefully if we go there again next year, it'll be a better experience to remember.


  1. POOR MEL!!! Being totally sober is painful going to festivals like that :[
    What I love about big cities is that most of the guys are polite, even when they're drunk. Being used to rejection of the snobby girls, when you raise a hand or say no, they leave you alone :D. But then again it differs per pub/club/festival...so don't loose hope!! An outside teras
    in the sun would be better :)
    Hope you're feeling much better now!! HUGS!!

  2. that sounded like my idea of a nightmare. I like fun and music, but crowds, very loud noise and people in my space? :-O NO!

    I get very grouchy and snappy in situations like that. I'd have been dashing for the door.

    One our honeymoon we met some old friends. They took us to this fancy "posh" casino and bar. Music so loud you could scream and no-one would hear you, these tiny little bar seats and nothing to drink but alcohol. It was awful. LOL My idea of perfect is a picnic.. or having everyone sitting outside on a warm evening with nice music playing softly so everyone can talk and laugh.. and no-one is in your face or in your space.

    Yeah.. I'm not keen on hugging strangers either. In South Africa strangers kiss hello too. I hated that! Ewwww. One thing I didn't miss when I moved. :-P

  3. He he he...I don't mind going to pubs/bars every now and then 'coz I LOVE live bands AS LONG AS nobody bugs me.

    On our honeymoon we went to Bali and we spent more time in the hotel room than roaming around the island. LOL!!!

    My idea of perfect party is just a house party where people can talk with one another. But I'm actually more of a one-on-one kind of person. It satisfy me more than being with a large crowd. When you're in a large crowd there's bound to be someone who distracts you from your thoughts or who cuts people off when they're saying something.

    So you also dislike hugging strangers? So I'm not the only one then he he he he...LOL!!!