IETM Helsinki

Well, the conference was the main purpose of the trip, but it took me a while to get out of the traveller/tourist mindset, and into the conference delegate one. I think I got into the swing of it on Saturday, just when it was ending. The conference was called ‘Mobile Home’, and images of caravan parks in Skegness just kept forcing their way into my head every time it was said. But they were really talking about the mobility of artists to exchange and work within Europe.
The start and end of the Meeting was marked with a big party, and in between these I met some interesting people, attended a few organised sessions, and watched two performances.
I also got to know some people from the West Midlands – seems a bit perverse to have to go all the way to Finland to socialise with people from Cov, but it just worked out like that.
We stayed in two plush hotels (the environment themed Helka, and the corporate but sleek Radisson), and ate the best and most varied food of the trip so far: Thai, Tapas, and … well one night I did eat pasta with cherry tomatoes, so Italian food ever present!
We declined the dubious pleasures of the outdoor IETM sauna in an old army tent, on a busy street and with windows (and the Fins like to Sauna naked). Instead we took one at the Radisson – a bit more luxe, and with less randoms staring at you starkers (sorry, just too British for that whole concept).
So, just when I was getting the hang of it, it was time for the big closing party. Now, I’d been warned to expect dire europop and some pretty far out dancing from european delegates, so we’d steeled ourselves with considerable amounts of vodka (purchased on the ferry) before heading out. It still wasn’t quite enough, to be honest, to allow us to enjoy the band ‘Eternal Erection’, with a front man who bore more than a passing resemblance to Sam Gamgee from Lord of the Rings (he’s a hobbit, people). We ended up getting cornered by a well meaning food packaging salesman, and only escaped by saying that we were going to dance – so dance we did, along with the rest of the crazies.