Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
Last Friday, 16th September, was culture night (kulturnatt) in Trondheim, Norway. My husband and I hiked during the day, hurried home to shower and have lunch, picked up our kids from school, had a meeting with a teacher and then dashed back home again. I went alone into the city to start participating in kulturnatt while our children enjoyed afternoon tea.
My first activity was a free lesson of West Coast Swing dancing. It was great! There were at least 80 students in the ballroom of the Radisson Garden Hotel and two teachers with microphones. The taught in Norwegian and although I couldn’t understand everything I’ve learnt some swing dancing before and I simply followed what others did. The teachers divided is into men and women groups, taught us a move then formed the men into a huge oval. The men stayed in the same spot while the women moved on to the next partner.
Many of the men were friendly, none were licentious and best of all there were nearly equal numbers of men and women. About half of my dance partners introduced themselves to me and most automatically switched to English afterwards. Finally, I asked the 10th partner how he knew and he said the way that I pronounce my name is a giveaway!
After the 90 minute lesson I chatted again with the friendly young Norwegian man from the north of Norway. He’s studying for a masters in Trondheim and his English is excellent. He’s in a student choir and when he found out that I was going to see the Trondheim women’s student choir on Gamle bybro (old bridge) he walked there with me. We talked and laughed the whole way there. It’s amazing how easy it is to connect with Norwegians from the north of Norway.
The choir performance was lovely with perfect timing and harmony and the student told me that they recently won a competition in Italy. They formed in 1930!
From the choir performance I walked beside the cathedral, along the river to Marinen, a park beside the Nidelven river. I joined my family for a free circus performance. It was great! The circus school is run by the excellent Trondheim kultur skole (culture school). We are going to put our daughter on the waiting list for the circus school because she loved the performance. After the 30 minutes performance we had 30 minutes of trying adagio (floor based acrobatics), tight rope, juggling and unicycle. I had lessons at a circus school when I was 29 and it was fun to try some adagio with my kids!
After the circus beside the river my husband took our children home for bed while I went into the cathedral (Nidarosdommen) for a free organ concert. It was beautiful. There were over 100 people enjoying the concert. It’s amazing how the notes played on the organ resonated for so long. After the concert I went down into the crypt and looked at the amazing 12th century marble headstones with engravings on them. They are quite beautiful and it was a treat to see them for free instead of paying the usual fee to do a crypt tour. Afterwards I wandered around the cathedral admiring the architecture and looking at the high altar. Apparently Saint Olav is buried under the high altar.
Afterwards I wandered around the courtyard behind the cathedral and then into the city square (torget). I was waiting for a friend to join me and in the meantime I enjoyed the band that was performing on the stage. At 9:30 I went to a cute old house in Bakklandet that has been converted into a bar (skyddstassjon) for a free jazz concert. The lyrics were simple and naiive but the singer’s voice was lovely and musician was accomplished. It was completely packed in there and after their first set I was lucky to get a seat to wait for my Brazilian friend. I looked through their huge menu of types of aquavit and gave up and asked the owner to suggest something. She’s very friendly and fluent in English and poured me a glass of one of her aged aquavit, but at the standard price. Finally my friend arrived at 10:30 and just in time for the 2nd set. We talked and laughed for hours until 1:30 when the bar was preparing to close. It was a great night and I was glad that Trondheim had put together so many free activities for us to enjoy for free. It was probably the best free culture night that I’ve been to anywhere in the world and I felt comfortable and safe the whole time.