Sweden gets dancing with the stars

Friday night marks the season premiere of one of Sweden's most popular television shows, with viewers chomping at the bit for the chance to watch an odd mix of celebrities strut their stuff on Let's Dance.

Sweden gets dancing with the stars
Alexander Ryback; Hannah Graff; Andreas Weise - Andreas Kock/Cameralink/TV4

In the coming months, twelve teams of celebrity contestants and professional dancers will dance their way into Swedish living rooms in an effort to prove they can tango, quickstep, rumba, and waltz better than the rest.

The live broadcasts will be hosted by the time-tested duo of David Hellenius and Jessica Almenäs, who will do their best to help viewers get to know this season’s collection of celebrity dancers.

Among notables featured on this installment of Let’s Dance are 2009 Eurovision Song Contest champion Alexander Ryback of Norway, glamour model and TV host Hannah Graaf, bald-headed Swedsh Idol judge Anders Bagge, wrestling legend Frank Andersson, and world class horseback rider Helena Lundbäck.

Like its US-based counterpart Dancing with the Stars, Sweden’s Let’s Dance was inspired by the hit British programme Strictly Come Dancing and requires contestants to impress both the viewing public, as well as a panel of jurists led by English chairman, dancer Tony Irving – or risk getting booted off the show.

Joining the jury this year will be Isabel Edvardsson, a champion Swedish dancer and playboy model who won the German version of Let’s Dance in 2006.

Ahead of Friday’s season premiere, set to air at 8pm on TV4, betting companies have picked violin virtuoso Ryback as the odds on favourite to win Let’s Dance 2011, with horse riding champion Lundbäck also among the names odds makers believe had a shot at winning.

And should Lundbäck or one of the other female celebrity dancer’s be the last one to leave the dance floor, it would mark the first time in the programme’s seven year history that a woman is crowned Sweden’s Let’s Dance champion.

Want to see who’s who among this season’s contestants and dancers? Check out The Local’s photo gallery.

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#AdventCalendar: When spontaneous dancing was forbidden by law in Sweden

Each day of December up until Christmas Eve, The Local is sharing the story behind a surprising Swedish fact as part of our own Advent calendar.

#AdventCalendar: When spontaneous dancing was forbidden by law in Sweden
There's more to the story than you think. Photo: David Magnusson/SvD/SCANPIX/TT

If you've been throwing shapes of any nature over the festive season, spare a thought for the people of Sweden who were banned from spontaneous dancing until as recently as 2016.

We're not talking about an unwritten social code in a country whose people are known for a reserved nature; dancing in certain circumstances was banned by law for decades.

The law dates back to the 1930s and states that bars and pubs must have a permit in order for dancing to take place at the establishment. If the rule was breached, the owners of the bar risked fines or having their permits withdrawn.

Establishments were able to apply for one-off permissions for dancing events, but if spontaneous dancing broke out and no permit was in place, the owners were legally expected to break up the boogie.


Over the decades, there were dozens of campaigns from the nightlife industry, lobby groups, and people fighting for their right to party. In 2016, there were over 1,000 bars and restaurants in Stockholm, but only 100 of them had the coveted danstillstånd (dancing permit).

And in April of that year, Sweden's parliament voted to scrap the rules. The announcement was greeted with celebrations and, naturally, dancing.

But the story isn't quite over.

Although parliament voted in favour of overturning the law, the next step of a new law proposal still hasn't been taken. This means that police reports are continuing to be filed, and bar and restaurant owners still face consequences, for unlawful dancing.

Each day until Christmas Eve, The Local is looking at the story behind one surprising fact about Sweden, as agreed by our readers. Find the rest of our Advent Calendar HERE and sign up below to get an email notification when there's a new article.