Today I read about Finnish dancing and I discovered various forms of traditional dances. And I discovered they have their own version of a very famous dance… read on!
Humppa is a type of music from Finland. It is related to jazz and very fast foxtrot, played two beats to a bar. Typical speed is about 220 to 260 beats per minute. Humppa is also the name of a few social dances danced to humppa music. All dances involve bounce that follows the strong bass of the music.
The name humppa was invented by Antero Alpola for a radio show in the 1950s. He picked it up from GermanOktoberfest where the locals used the word to describe the playing of the band. The band probably used a tuba, as the sound of tuba on the first beat is like hump, the second beat coming as a pa. (The related German style is known as oompah.)
The most popular humppa event were probably Humppa festivals of Lappeenranta. Lappeenranta isthe 13th biggest city in Finland. It is about 30 kilometres (19 miles) from the Russian border. It is situated on the shore of the Lake Saimaa in southeastern Finland, and because of that, it is also one of the most significant urban centers in the whole Saimaa region. (1)
These are some of the steps of this dance demonstrated by a couple of dancers:
This video I think shows the most common way they dance it as seen in various videos:
This dance, also known in short as the Letkis (nothing to do with kissing!) is a dance that was inspired by the steps of the Bunny Hop, a fad dance from the 1950s. It has been proposed that exchange students returning from the United States to Finland would have imported the steps of the Bunny Hop to Finland, as they had seen them on the TV show Bandstand. But in the Bunny Hop the dance starts with a right foot lead, in the Letkajenkka / letkis starts with a left leg lead. (1)
Here you can see students performing it in the gym at their school:
Looks like so much fun!
And here is what surprised me. Imagine that one of the favorite Finnish dances currently is the Tango! They have their own version of the dance and it is called the “Suomalainen Tango.”
Tango as music and dance was brought to Europe in the early 1910s by visiting Argentinian musicians and dancers. It first became fashionable in Paris, and spread rapidly all over Europe during the twenties and thirties. In many countries there were even specialized tango bands which attempted to emulate the style and dress of Argentinian tango bands. (2)
In Finland it acquired its very own colors starting in the 1930’s when composers discovered they could use lyric and melodic formulas borrowed from older Finnish and Russian waltzes. The Finnish Tango is more like ballroom Tango and tends to be slower than the original Argentinian Tango. The central themes of Finnish tango lyrics are love, sorrow, nature and the countryside. Many tangos express a longing for the old homestead, or a distant land of happiness. The changing seasons of Finnish nature are frequently used metaphors.
Incredibly, the world’s oldest tango festival is Finnish! It’s called the Tangomarkkinat. It is held early every July in Seinäjoki, Finland. It holds competitions to find the country’s best tango singers, composers, and dancers. There are other dances as well but Tango comprises the most at least at 40%. (3)
Here is a video of the Tangomarkkinat from 2017 in Seinäjoki, Finland:
Here are other videos related to Finnish Tango…
These were other videos I found of Finnish folk dances. sadly there wasn’t much in the internet about them:
It is a six couples dance:
Last but not least I’ll finish with some Finnish ^ ^ dancing Tango in the Snow!
Watch out for that wolf Little Red Riding Hood!
(1, 3) Wikipedia
(2) Virtual Finland