Clap dancing in Happy Hudik

 28 June 2007

If ‘clap-dancing’ was Sweden’s national religion, the Tre Bockar pub in Hudiksvall would be its Mecca.

The style of dancing whereby men stamp one foot and clap their hands enthusiastically along to R&B hits of the late 90s/early 2000 era, is practised by a higher per capita number of people in Hudiksvall than any other town or city in Sweden.

This owes partly to the high concentration of youth among the seaside town’s small population (most of whom consider tribal tattoos a viable alternative to t-shirts), and also to a desperate lack of nightspots (up to three on Saturdays), which would otherwise encourage a diversity of dancing styles.

Women also clap-dance, but the majority prefer instead ‘point-dancing’ – the same idea but pointing in the air instead of clapping, or else the ‘point and shake’, where they point at each other and shake their hips simultaneously miming along with the words.

On Wednesday nights in summer, colloquially known as ‘little Saturday’, youth from outlying towns including Ljusdal (literally ‘light valley’) and Delsbo (a hotspot for moonshine and leather vests) flood in to the comparative metropolis of ‘Happy Hudik’, population 20,000, to drink and clap themselves silly. 

The premier destination for doing this is ‘Tre Bockar’, which is an extremely hilarious play on words because it means Three Goats, and goat is slang for male slut. On the night I visited I’m not sure which three men were supposed to be the goats, but hopefully it wasn’t the guy with dreadlocks, vacant eyes and a t-shirt which stated ‘Dead Men Don’t Rape’ – a statement both profound and ironic, since people who wearing such t-shirts probably would.

The last time I’d been to Tre Bockar was in April 2006, and so much was the same that even that guy who once played guitar semi-well in a band semi-famous at the local high school seven years ago was still slumped between the entrance and the small alcove with the slot machines, which Swedes call ‘one-armed bandits’.

In fact I could count on one hand the changes which had taken place in Hudiksvall in the 14 months since I’d been there last.

- The installation of two concrete pot plants on one side of the main street.
- A new shoe store selling designer name brand shoes (it had to happen eventually!).
- A new buffet lunch/nightspot in the carpark of the Ahlens department store.
- A new Asian take-away restaurant, set to challenge the supremacy of local Chinese stalwart ‘Mings’ – locals are already singing its praises, and they do a mean chicken with cashew nuts. 
- One more close friend has left for Stockholm.