• Sweden edition
 
Abba - tracing the steps of the giants of disco

Abba - tracing the steps of the giants of disco

Published: 30 Jun 2011 10:42 GMT+02:00
Updated: 30 Jun 2011 10:42 GMT+02:00

A Tuesday evening in mid-June, and in true Swedish style, rain is absolutely bucketing down upon the intrepid little crowd gathered outside Stockholm's City Hall.

Guide Eva Palmqvist apologizes that her outfit isn't more historically accurate.

"I was planning to go for a more 1970s look - but with this weather a rain coat seemed more appropriate!"

Thirty or so of us braved the torrential downpour to convene for a two-hour walking tour through Stockholm, in a bid to learn more about Abba, Sweden's most successful music group of all time.

The meeting point is aptly chosen: Stockholm City Hall was the location of band member Benny Andersson's very first gig.

Following the popularity of similar themed walks in other tourist destinations, Stockholm's City Museum (Stockholms stadsmuseum) has given the concept a whirl.

Thus far the museum has reaped great commercial success and now have a range of city walks, including the ever popular Stieg Larsson walks, now running in their fourth year.

This summer the turn has come for Swedish disco kings and queens, Abba, to get a city walk of their own.

"'Location' walks are incredibly trendy right now," Eva Palmqvist explains. She is one of four guides employed by the City Museum who'll be taking turns to show audiences the way to Abba's 1970s Stockholm this summer, with tours offered in both Swedish and English.

"New York has Sex and the City walks, and London has Beatles walks," she says. "Why shouldn't we tag along?"

Abba, inventively named using the initials of band members Agnetha Fältskog, Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, was active during the seventies and early eighties, reaching worldwide superstardom as pop hits such as "Dancing Queen", "Mamma Mia" and "S.O.S." filled teens around the globe with disco fever.

With a whopping 400 million albums sold to date, they outsell all other Swedish musical acts by a wide margin.

Considering Abba's overseas success, Eva Palmqvist is counting on the tours attracting a large number of foreign tourists. In fact, the walk has been designed with visitors to Stockholm in mind.

"In planning the route, we've tried to present a look at 1970s Sweden for foreign visitors," she explains.

"Some things which may seem perfectly natural for a Swede may seem exotic and interesting for foreign tourists."

Even so, the walk doesn't disappoint even if you've been living in Stockholm for quite some time.

When The Local tried out the Abba tour, all but one of the attendees turned out to be from Stockholm.

Not necessarily for tourists alone then, the tour offers a chance to see some well-known city spots in a whole new light, flavoured by the guide's factoids and anecdotes.

Some of the connections between Abba and the locations visited are tenuous at best.

For instance, the stop outside Sheraton Hotel, chosen purely because one scene in the film "Abba - The Movie" was filmed in one of the hotel's suites.

But perhaps that is precisely what the City Museum intended.

"This walk is more than just Abba facts," says Eva Palmqvist.

On top of being navigated through disco-sparkling Abba flashbacks, attendees are also given a history lesson on some events that formed the decade's political scene.

Topics introduced include the demolition of central Stockholm's old Klara district, and 1971's vicious dispute over Kungsträdgården's elm trees.

These serious anecdotes are mixed up with some more light-hearted elements, as Eva Palmqvist intersperses her tour with trivia questions about the band - "With which song did they win Melodifestivalen?" as well as the odd musical number or two.

At the end of tonight's tour, the audience is drenched, but definitely better-informed, and possibly even infected with a touch of that old disco fever!

Starting on July 1st, the English-speaking Abba City Walk will take place on Fridays and Saturdays in July, August and September at 4 p.m. The meeting point is Stockholm City Hall's courtyard. Tickets cost 120 kronor ($19), and can be bought at the Stockholm City Museum or Ticnet. The duration of the tour is approximately two hours.

Editor's note: Abba won the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton, UK in 1974 with their hit song Waterloo.

Related links:

Clara Guibourg (clarabara@hotmail.com)

Your comments about this article

23:54 June 30, 2011 by dizzymoe33
Sounds like a great way to see different areas of the city.
04:03 July 1, 2011 by MichiganLady
hah! when I was a kid and a Swedish-American, pretty much all I knew about Sweden was St Lucia day and seafood (the non-Swedish parent rejected it) and Midsummer maypoles and the general dowdiness of the older generations. and then came ABBA, and it was cool to be Swedish. :)
18:35 July 1, 2011 by befree
Thanks for the article describing Stockholm's new ABBA walk.

Just sayin': Including the story's headline, the word "disco" is employed about five different times. Although they certainly produced several disco-oriented songs (e.g., 'Voulez-Vous'), I'd suggest that it's more accurate to refer to ABBA mainly as a pop music group. (As the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame does in its bio for the band.) Not "...disco kings and queens".

Top pop songs from ABBA's catalog such as 'S.O.S.', 'Mamma Mia', 'Knowing Me, Knowing You', 'Fernando', 'The Name of the Game', etc. weren't getting played much on disco dance floors that I recall....
08:41 July 2, 2011 by Dom har glömt
Well the bottom line, is that they still had lots of regular

playing time. If it was disco or not, they still had, and actually today still have playing time, and it still sells.

By the way dont forget Chiquitita.
Today's headlines
National
Sweden's benefit agency website still down
Sweden's Social Insurance Agency is experiencing problems. Photo: TT

Sweden's benefit agency website still down

UPDATED: Sweden's Social Insurance Agency website was out of action again on Tuesday, despite officials suggesting that technical faults that emerged on Monday would be fixed by the morning. READ  

Presented by West Sweden
Live Blog: West Coast lobster season begins
We'll be hoping for one of these later. Photo: West Sweden

Live Blog: West Coast lobster season begins

The Local's Oliver Gee reports live as he joins fishermen on Sweden's west coast seeking the first lobster catch of 2014. READ  

Swedish teenagers abused on Secret app
File photo: Fredrik Sandberg/Scanpix

Swedish teenagers abused on Secret app

Swedish police are struggling to know what to do with a new batch of criminal reports filed by teenagers upset about a controversial app that allows users to post comments and pictures anonymously. READ  

National
Swedish man beats bus in video challenge

Swedish man beats bus in video challenge

UPDATED: A Swedish runner who filmed himself beating his bus in Sundbyberg in north west Stockholm over the weekend is now planning to a similar challenge on the capital's Metro system. READ  

Regional
Rain causes power cuts across east Sweden
Strong winds are battering Stockholm and the east coast of Sweden. Photo: TT

Rain causes power cuts across east Sweden

Heavy rain and wind have left thousands without electricity in eastern Sweden, with ferries also disrupted by the storm. READ  

Elections 2014
Budget headache for new coalition partners
Social Democrat economic spokesperson Magdalena Andersson with Per Bo from the Green Party. Photo: TT

Budget headache for new coalition partners

UPDATED: The Social Democrats have been holding talks with the Green party to try and agree on a future coalition budget. But questions remain over how they will work together on issues including defence and nuclear power. READ  

National
US runaway banned from name change in Sweden
'Wanted' photograph of David Hemler used by US Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Hemler lives and works in Uppsala. Photo: Shutterstock

US runaway banned from name change in Sweden

A US airman who deserted from the military three decades ago and moved to Sweden has failed in his bid to get his old name back, because a Swedish court says he can’t prove his identity. READ  

My Swedish Career
Plucked out of Canada for love and guitars
Sharleen in action. Photo: Sebastian Bularca

Plucked out of Canada for love and guitars

For this week's My Swedish Career we meet a Canadian who came to Sweden for love and now works in Lidköping, custom-making guitars. READ  

Regional
Flood and high wind warning in east Sweden
Stockholm experienced heavy rain on Sunday. Photo: TT

Flood and high wind warning in east Sweden

After heavy rain broke off the September sunshine in eastern Sweden on Sunday, forecasters warn more bad weather is on the way. READ  

Tech
World car record on Malmö bridge

World car record on Malmö bridge

The longest electric car parade on a bridge between two countries was formed on the Öresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark on Sunday, with environmental campaigners breaking several other world records in the process. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Finest
Gallery
People-watching: September 20th
The 'black gold' of Sweden's west coast.
National
West Sweden prepares for the 2014 lobster premiere
Society
What's on in Sweden
Politics
How Sweden Democrats went mainstream
Politics
Scandinavia and Scotland: closer links?
Blog updates

22 September

Welcome National Geographic! (Stockholm in my American Heart) »

"What comes to mind when you think of the “The Arctic”? Crystal-encased cliffs jutting from the sea, baronial Polar bears scavenging over sheets of cracked ice or a lone explorer heading north into the night. The image my mind invokes is of three sparkling green lines splashed across the sky like graffiti— the Aurora Borealis— our..." READ »

 

19 September

Editor’s blog (The Local Sweden) »

"Happy Friday readers! It sure has been a exciting week in Sweden, where we’re set to get a new Prime Minister after Fredrik Reinfeldt stepped down following Sunday’s elections. The Local blogged live from the key political gatherings across Stockholm. Why not re-visit the action by taking a look at our photos, tweets, videos and analysis? Since the..." READ »

 
 
 
Gallery
Property of the week - Eskilstuna
Sponsored Article
How to start a business in Stockholm
Society
How I became a surf blogger when I moved to Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 13th
Society
Why is Stockholm's Södermalm so cool?
Gallery
People-watching: September 11th
Gallery
People-watching: September 13th
Politics
Five possible election outcomes
Politics
Sweden elections: How do they work?
Politics
Sweden elections: Who's who?
Gallery
Property of the week - Hornstull, Stockholm
Analysis
Five differences between the UK and Sweden
Welshman Jonny Luck is now a chef in Sweden
Society
How I opened my own restaurant in Sweden's Malmö
Sponsored Article
Stockholm tech fest: relive the magic
Gallery
People-watching September 8th
Photo: TT
Politics
Feminists fight for first seats
Politics
Immigration cut push from Sweden Democrats
Sheryl Sandberg says women have "low expectations"
Tech
Facebook exec talks women's limits in Swedish business
Politics
Left Party calls for justice and equality
Politics
Green Party wants 'better world' for kids
Sponsored Article
Introducing… Insurance in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Graduates: Insure your income in Sweden with AEA
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

848
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN