Monday, February 12, 2007

Danish Chair Smashing

As promised...

After the graduation ceremonies I talked about in my last post, there were various celebrations. Some were for parents and other family members. Others were more for the teachers and staff. But of course, the students had their own plans.

The BIG plan was a "Heavy Metal" party, complete with a death metal band who drove in from another town. They were not very good, but they sure meant it!

Aside from the band, everyone dressed up in what they figured was very "METAL" including dyed hair, head bands, Guns-N-Roses t-shirts, sleeveless jean jackets and lots and lots of marker tattoos. I even heard a little Iron Maiden at one point. But for the most part, they're not naturally very "metal" folks.

So the band plays for a while, and at some point I look around and get a feeling like I know this scene.

It's DALLAS!!! This is like every crappy rock show I've ever gone to in Dallas. Or at least the crowd looks the same. Difference is that these folks are kidding, while the Dallas crowds really mean it. I don't know which is worse.

The band is done, we all drink more beer, and then I see Emil (one of my students pictured in an earlier post) and another student standing on stage yelling for everyone's attention. The chair smashing is about to begin. People are screaming... crazy for it!

"FOUR TEAMS!", the second guy yells, "EACH TEAM HAS TWO PEOPLE!"

There are a couple of minutes while the teams sort themselves out, and some chairs appear. It's all so orderly! The second guy on stage is holding two frying pans which will soon be employed in some chair destruction.


The crowd goes nuts again! I'm way into it too, by now.

They go on explaining the rules... that the winner will be decided by applause and that there will be three rounds... etc. I think there was some kind of prize, but nobody cared about that.

In comes the ROCK AND ROLL!!! The first round starts and I see Danes let loose like I didn't think was possible. It's like there's actually rage in Denmark... and these chairs are catching the bad end of it. Two chairs get smashed to bits. People get cut and bruised, chunks of wood go flying off into the crowd, contestants jump on each other and play like they're about to start fighting.

Winners are declared, the next round goes off, then the next. One of my students, Mette (with the dyed red hair) made it through the second round and into the finals. Makes me feel like I've got a horse to back in this race. She's a tough little thing too.

They start the last round, and I hear somebody lament that it's a shame they're going to smash one particular chair. I look to see, and sure enough, it's a nice old antique looking chair with a red velvet cushion. "That chair probably lasted 100 years", the person said, "and now it's just gonna get smashed up." I wonder if someone should find a more expendable chair, but it's too late. That chair took a beating I wouldn't wish on Katie Couric! Including this well placed head shot by Mette's teammate....

You see all those little particles in the air? That was the chair taking one last shot at the world. The crumbling remains of fibrous padding in that velvet seat exploded into the air and quickly filled everyone's lungs. A few people stumbled out coughing, but the smashing went on!

Mette and her teammate won solidly. Go Mette!

I'd love to tell you this is some old Viking tradition that's lasted down through the centuries, but the truth is that some of the 4th year students (the ones that just graduated) used to get drunk a lot, and one time they started smashing chairs at the end of the night. Like most things, it turned into a competition and is now a tradition.

Clearly this isn't what I'd come to expect from the Danes. The non-jaywalking, coziness loving austere Scandinavians I'd come to know disappeared. Mad people took their places. I don't know whether it's more of the generational difference I've imagined before, or if it's just that these students aren't average Danish folk.

But it was awesome!

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