Tango, karaoke and lots of garlic

Dancing the tango in Finland

Picture: Visit Finland

And then there is the Finn’s love for the tango.

Tango?

The hot, sensual and passionate dance usually associated with Latin America?

Not exactly what comes to mind when you are thinking about a cold northern country.

Actually, the Finnish tango is a melancholy cousin in the tango family, with mournful lyrics and minor keys to match.

You can see (and hear) the tango phenomenon for yourself at the Seinäjoki Tango Festival, the largest annual Finnish summer festival.

The event gathers some 130,000 tango fans every year to witness the election of the new Tango Queen and Tango King and to have a tango on the streets. 

Sadly enough, all the festivals and happenings listed above take place a good distance away from Helsinki and thus are not available for all visitors.

Happily enough for those eager to study Finnish mentality, there are a couple of great places to go Finn-watching in the Helsinki area. 

You could try one the nation’s favourite pastimes, karaoke, at Karaoke Bar Pataässä (Snellmaninkatu 13).

The bar is one of the most famous karaoke restaurants in Finland.

The legendary bar offers you karaoke fever every night of the week.

Another popular choice is the centrally located and very busy Erottaja Bar (Erottajankatu 15–17).

The bar offers over 28,000 songs to choose from.

If you want to sing, make sure you are there early enough, because the place is often packed.

After the karaoke, you may feel a bit peckish.

Jaskan grilli (Dagmarinkatu) is highly recommended, with local celebrities, politicians and the hoi polloi alike standing in line for a greasy, extra garlicky snack in the middle of the night.

If you are lucky and original enough you can get an item on the menu named after you; there are quite a few named after local politicians and other frequenters to the place.

The place isn’t any old hot dog stand, but has become legendary during the years.

It has even earned an article in the New York Times!

Go ahead and visit it – you might even learn something more about Finland.

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