Rhythm and steps that jog the memory – The Teatime Dance moves the body and the soul
As part of our corporate social responsibility – our obligation to look after the community we are part of – Tampere Hall organizes a Teatime Dance once a month. It is a popular, low-threshold dance event that anyone can participate in.
On a perfectly normal Monday, as the clock strikes two in the afternoon, the brass band lift their instruments to their lips in Tampere Hall’s lobby and start the overture to the Teatime Dance.
After the overture, it’s time for the first waltz. Some of the pairs take to the dance floor immediately, stepping into the middle of Tampere Hall’s spacious lobby. Others wait, letting the rhythm settle in first. Pair by pair, more bodies join the gliding sway, and by the end of the next waltz, “Elämää juoksuhaudoissa” (Life in the Trenches), almost everyone has claimed a spot on the dance floor.
The Teatime Dance is part of Tampere Hall’s community activities. It is a free dance event hosted in Tampere Hall’s lobby that is open to everyone. Its name comes from the tea that is served during breaks.
Mobility is also no barrier; the dance floor can easily accommodate wheelchairs, and the building is accessible.
Different dances, naturally all with a partner
The Teatime Dance has been a regular event since 2018, and from the very beginning, participants have danced to the music of the traditional brass band of the Tampereen Kotkat scout troop founded in 1927. Jouko Someroja, a long-time member of the band, remembers that the dances were originally hosted on Thursdays but were moved to Mondays to avoid overlapping with the Moomin Museum’s opening times.
The setlist for each Teatime Dance is selected by the band’s event committee, and the band rehearses for every event. Of course, the dances are not accompanied by the entire 50-person band. Instead, each event features a smaller ensemble of about twenty musicians.
“As per Finnish dance tradition, we play pieces in pairs: two waltzes, two tangos, two rhumbas, and so on. The audience has requested that we announce the names of the songs, so we have a host who always gives a brief introduction to each piece,” Someroja explains.
Some pieces include lyrics, but most of the music is instrumental, naturally relying mostly on brass instruments.
Afternoon dances are wonderful for retirees
One of the pairs that can often be found on the dance floor, Tuula and Heikki Nieminen, have been attending the Teatime Dance for several years now.
“When we were younger and touring the country in a caravan, we went to lots of the traditional Finnish open-air dances. Now that we’re both over 70, these Teatime Dances are just right for us,” the couple explains.
The Nieminens feel it’s meaningful and great that Tampere Hall hosts these kinds of low-threshold dance events that are for everybody. Another couple who has been coming to the Teatime Dance for several years, Tarja and Jalo Virkki, are of the same mind.
“Afternoon dances, specifically, are important for retirees because it can be hard to find the energy to go out in the evenings. There aren’t all that many afternoon dances, so the Teatime Dance is very welcome.”
The Virkkis are avid dancers who take various dance courses ranging from ballroom dancing to Argentine tango. On Mondays, they also instruct the dance class of Tampere’s senior citizens’ association, Tampereen Kansalliset Seniorit ry, in Ratina.
“On a few occasions, we’ve brought the whole group to the Teatime Dance, and everyone has always had a great time.”
Music jogs the memory
Even in the middle of the winter, the lobby of Tampere Hall regularly approaches the atmosphere of an open-air dance, which is an old Finnish summer tradition. Dozens of pairs of shoes glide along the floor, some couples spin around in impressive shows of skill and even the odd floral dress can be spotted in the crowd. Others sway back and forth to the rhythm in a more restrained manner. Less-crowded hallways branching off from the lobby give pairs the chance to dance larger patterns.
“Tampere Hall’s lobby makes for a good dance floor, and the tempo of the brass band is just right for older people, though as for ourselves, we would definitely enjoy the occasional faster piece,” the experienced dancer Jalo Virkki chuckles.
Although the majority of participants are senior citizens, Jouko Someroja from the brass band says the Teatime Dance makes for an excellent place to practice for a wedding dance or any number of other events.
During the humppa, a Finnish dance resembling a fast foxtrot, the dance floor clears somewhat as some participants take a break from dancing. This is when those with swifter feet get even deeper into the swing of things.
Others take the chance to rest and enjoy the atmosphere. Some even come just for the music and the mood and never set foot on the dance floor at all. The setlist is a familiar selection of dance music from different decades, which can whisk many participants back to cherished moments in their lives.
Music awakens memories and digs deep into your emotions. It’s easy to see, even for those of us playing the instruments, that the moments shared here mean a lot to many of the people who attend. It really brings our music to life when people dance to it.Jouko Someroja
Did you know
Tampere Hall’s Teatime Dance is a free, low-threshold dance event for people of all ages. Teatime Dance is part of our corporate social responsibility – our obligation to look after the community we are part of.
Text Sinikka Tierna
Photos Tampere Hall