Mosebacke: Observing the SoFo brigade

Mosebacke: Observing the SoFo brigade
Photo: Kathleen Harman
Kathleen Harman finds that Mosebacke's jazz brunch is a great place to observe Stockholm's alternative set.

Tipping Point

If some of Stockholm’s residents are known for being over buffed and over tanned, there is another, perhaps lesser known tribe, that wanders the streets of southern Stockholm, in a general state that could never be described as even approaching over buffed or over tanned.

I am referring to the residents of SoFo, a trendy acronym for ’South of Folkungagatan’, a large road that cuts through Sodermalm. It is here that people are trying to recreate a certain Left Bank of Paris circa 1960 meets Camden Market, London, circa 1980 type of environment – a meeting point between academia , art and alternative living. Key words are beards and Crimpolene.

Unlike their Stureplan counterparts, the SoFo brigade have eschewed the orange look for the pallor of the recently exhumed, no doubt a result of the hours spent holed up in dingy basement coffee shops, reading existentialist poetry and collecting interesting stains on their polyester turtle necks.

The word ‘smelly’ pops into my head but that is probably unkind, even if it is true. If SoFo fashion is done well, the sort of vintage French rockabilly thing, the results are great and a whole lot more original than the generic scrubbed look of the Stureplan lot. However, SoFo fashion is for the most part not done terribly well, and second hand beige Crimpolene slacks, which never looked good first hand, just look, well, even sweatier and more unhygienic in their pre worn state.

But the SoFo tribe seem a kindly, off the wall bunch, who probably don’t give a monkey’s about mainstream criticism such as mine. Imagine them, if you will, as a sort of quirky Sesame Street collection of characters – very appealing, even if you might want to wash your hands thoroughly after having your hand up one, so to speak. This is in stark contrast to the Stureplan lot who are walking talking versions of Malibu Barbie and Ken, that is Malibu Barbie and Ken after having been marinated just long enough in barbeque sauce to get the correct plastic-to-orangey-grease ratio.

And one of the most pleasant places to observe a SoFo resident in its natural habitat is to spend a Sunday at Mosebacke Etablissement’s Jazz Brunch.

Now, I realise that for some the concept of jazz is as painful as listening to fingernails being scraped down a blackboard so I must assure you that this is tinkly, mellow jazz, not squeaky, lock jaw jazz. The venue is a charming, slightly dilapidated theatre which in the summer boasts an amazing terrace that overlooks the city. Apparently, even Eartha Kitt and Arlo Guthrie have graced Mosebacke‘s hallowed halls, so you will be dining amongst the ghosts of the great.

Because the dress code is less than casual, it makes for a fantastic place to go when completely hung over. You could drag yourself in wearing your old flannelette pyjamas and a face like death, and you would simply blend in with the rest of the crowd, albeit in a non man made fibre sort of a way. I have spent many a morning after the night before here and can assure you that it is the best place in town to feel seedy. One gets the distinct impression that one is amongst friends.

The brunch buffet is excellent, ranging from salad stuff through to bacon and eggs, with falafels and pancakes along the way. They also do a great cauliflower cheese which must have a magic combination of carbohydrate and fat, because it makes the alcoholically-afflicted feel much, much better and able to face a little hair of the dog, courtesy of the theatre bar that opens at midday.

The Jazz Brunch does suffer, however, from being a victim of its own success. It is so popular that you really have to be there for when the doors open at 10.30 to secure a good seat in the room where the musicians are performing. Queues for the buffet begin to get quite long come 12.00 so you do want to have finished eating and be on to the drinking by then. This may well be an occasion when a bushy beard comes in handy, because you can always secrete a few chicken wings and bits of hummus in it to have with your beer whilst tapping your toes to the music.

But it seems that I may have been too quick to judge when it comes to beards, turtle necks and beige slacks. The next time you find yourself at a newsagent’s stand just check out the front cover of this month’s Plaza magazine, one of Sweden’s leading fashion tomes, because it features a beardy male model clad in said turtle neck and slacks. The chicken wings and hummus are missing but trust me, they are going to be this season’s hottest accessories.

Sunday Jazz Brunch:

10.30 -15.00, price 150 SEK

Mosebacke Etablissement, Mosebacketorg 3, 116 46 Stockhom, Tel 08 556 098 90,