The Norwegian capital’s DNA is inherently futuristic, from its architecture to attitudes on sustainability and gender equality. But hip Osloites are also eager to embrace the past. At least when it comes to dancing.
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An unexpected Lindy Hop scene (and the vintage and retro outfits that go with it) has been thriving in Oslo since the mid 90s, transplanting the hedonistic mix of jazz, swing dancing and revelry from mid-19th-century Harlem to the cold Nordic capital.
This is largely thanks to the Winter Jump festival (20-23 February). Taking place in Oslo each February since 1996, Norway’s largest Lindy Hop festival is run by the local Bårdar Swing Club and has become a meeting point for the city’s vintage-loving community.
“We organise Winter Jump to invite old and new friends to Oslo and to give the local scene a taste of what’s out there in the big Lindy Hop world,” says organiser Anne Kristine Amble.
Over the past few years, the Lindy Hop scene has expanded into an all-vintage mania in Oslo. Stores with vintage clothing, coffee shops with mid-century modern furniture and American-style diners keep the swing dancers occupied between twists and turns on the dance floor.
Hopping mad for vintage Americana? We’ve gathered the best venues, shops and events from which to transport yourself to 1950s America, without leaving the Norwegian capital.
Taking place on 20-23 February this year, Winter Jump brings together more than 400 amateur and professional dancers for four nights of Lindy Hop partying. According to Amble, word of mouth is a big factor when it comes to the continuing success of the festival.
“Many who join for the first time have a friend who already dances, or they have seen us dance in one of the bars where we arrange concerts or social dances, and are curious to see what this dance is about,” she says. “The quirky and jolly feel of the dance may give a more welcoming impression than more ‘serious’ dances.”
Newbies are welcome, as the festival includes classes for all levels. You can choose between a full pass of £160 to experience the whole thing, or pay £75 to attend the parties only. Note that the exact locations of the parties and classes are only disclosed after you book your tickets.
Bårdar Swing Club
The team that runs Winter Jump also operates Bårdar Swing Club, a favourite of the Lindy Hop community in Oslo. The club organises events year-round, both at its downtown premises and at Aker Brygge (the hip harbour area) later in the year.
Check out Swiveling Sundays, their Lindy Hop dance that’s open to everyone. You don’t need to book your place beforehand: there is a 60 NOK (about £5) participation fee at the door, but if you bake a cake and bring it over you can enter for free.
“Fuglen is our go-to for great coffee and drinks, especially when there’s live jazz music,” says Amble. Located just a short walk uptown from Karl Johan, Oslo’s main street, Fuglen is a vintage institution with a modern twist. Bring your laptop (before 9 am to secure a good spot) to tap the day away, while nodding to subtle jazz tunes in a mid-century setting that could be your living room (if you grew up in the 50s). Once 5pm strikes, unleash your inner Don Draper by sipping on an inventive whisky cocktail, with a side of oysters.
Although the vintage spirit is alive and well all around Oslo, in no other neighbourhood will you be as spoilt for choice as in Grünerløkka. The uptown hood flanking the east side of Akerselva river is the perfect place to be transported back in time via quirky vintage shops.
Don’t miss Retrolykke Kaffebar in Markveien, where you can sit and plan your swing dance routine over a hot chocolat, in vintage cups that you can actually buy – along with jewellery, plates and other bric-a-brac on the walls and at the back of the shop.
Retrolykke recently opened a vintage clothing boutique a few blocks down the same road, called Retrolykkeherre, which sells everything from vintage ball gowns to old-school, everyday tops and cardigans.
Also located in Markveien, Manillusion is perhaps the best vintage and retro clothing shop in Oslo, with dresses from Norwegian and global brands that go up to a size 5X – great news in a country where inclusive sizing is still a rarity, especially when it comes to vintage and retro styles.
Here, cocktail dresses, dancing shoes and theatrical accessories – such as fascinators and long gloves – awaken your inner Old Hollywood star, while just stepping into the colourful store puts spring in your step.
The Nighthawk Diner
What would this list be without an old-school American diner? The Nighthawk Diner at the outskirts of Grünerløkka has served ‘a little America in Oslo’ since 2010. Come for the double decker burger with mushrooms and chipotle mayo, but stay for the buzzy atmosphere and iconic strawberry milkshake, as any 50s-loving person would. Don’t worry, you’ll burn it off on the dance floor.