Friday, December 9, 2011

Vanhojen Tanssit Part 1

In Finland, schools don't have many big events like prom or homecoming. But they have one big dance in February, which is like their "prom". It is called the "Vanhojen Tanssit" and that translates to the Old's Dance. This is a dance for the second years (or juniors, in american high school) to celebrate becoming the oldest in the school. This is in February when the third years all leave to study for exams for the next months. And instead of the classic high school dance, in the Vanhojen Tanssit the students in the dance all get partners and perform traditional dances. They perform it once for the school and once when people can buy tickets and watch the dance. All the students take a dance class the whole jakso (school period of 6 weeks) where they learn the dances that they will perform.

This dance is a really really big deal, especially for the girls. Partners are made over a year before the dance. Hair dressers are booked up months in advance and dresses are bought usually towards the beginning of the year. It feels like a lot bigger deal than prom is in the US. But I have been told it is because they only have one of these dances in all of high school, so when they have it, they go all out. The girls in particular.

I had my first dance class for the dance last week. I don't have a partner because I was told that if a girl doesn't get one, then they have a guy from the navy to be her partner, and a lot of the girls don't like the idea of dancing with someone that they don't know, but I would be dancing with someone I didn't know anyways, plus they is nothing like that in the united states where you get a guy from the navy to dance with you if you don't have a partner, so I really wanted something different. But if there are guys that don't have a partner I may be paired with them before I get a navy guy, but fingers crossed!

Though, in class it really didn't matter that I didn't have a partner because we switched off a bunch with many different guys. I thought the class was very cool. There is not a class like this at my school at home, sadly and it was very cool, because I had never really done traditional dances before. We only really did the basics, we did some walking and some steps. And I am sure that the class may get more complicated as it goes on. I really did enjoy it though.

When I was in the class I was reminded of this spring, when I was a counselor at a camp for some local fourth graders, and they had a time at night when all of the girls and the boys had to "Dance" together (they really just had to run down a line holding each other's hands) and all the girls and all the boys freaked out so much. I mean, obviously, in this class the guys and the girls were much more mature, and acted a lot different from the fourth graders, but I couldn't help but think of that as we danced.

I also learned that it is kinda awkward to dance with a really tall guy because then you can't see their face, but it is more awkward to dance with a guy your height because then if you don't have anything to talk about, you are just dancing together and staring at each other while you dance.....a bit awkward when you literally just met the guy.....

I will have more about the dance as the class progresses and the dance approaches.....

1 comment:

  1. Hi! keep hoping that you'll get the navy guy. They are all REALLY good looking and the uniform is nice :D
    I'm doing an exchange year too, but I'm in England. I normally live in Truku, so I know all the places in your pictures and I got friends in the same school you're now going. It's kinda funny to read someone foreign talking about "normal" things when you're abroad yourself.
    I got a blog too, but it's unfortunately in Finnish.