When Finland survived the war, big dances were held at Rautatientori. Would it be time to come together again after a coronavirus pandemic?
Helsingin Sanomat the title of the revelation exuded both relief and celebration: “FROM PEACE TO JOURNEY”.
The announcement invited “the whole of Helsinki” to dance at Rautatientori on Holy Thursday, May 10, 1945, at 2 p.m.
Young people were attracted to the venue with trendy dances such as swing and conga. Older citizens were promised a slightly different kind of fun: a waltz and a polka to the beat of popular Helsinki orchestras.
“Everyone is involved in shedding the gray worries of the war years.”
Public in the market square event was soon renamed Peace Dances, as the long wartime was finally turning to peace.
Finland and the Soviet Union had concluded a ceasefire in September of the previous year, and the last Germans withdrew from Lapland’s arm on 27 April.
Also in the world, peace slowly flew over Europe. Leader of Nazi Germany Adolf Hitler had committed suicide in his bunker in Berlin on April 30, and Germany officially surrendered on May 8.
World War II had ended in the victory of the Allies, and it was celebrated in Finland with dances two days later.
Mass dances were a particularly pleasant way for Finns to celebrate, as Dancing was forbidden during the war. He had only been able to dance and look for spouses in hiding without legal protection. And now we would even dance on Holy Thursday, Church holiday. It was unprecedented.
In 1939–1948, up to 15,000 Finns were fined for dancing. A couple of cyclists were also imprisoned. The death toll was not avoided either, as the police at least once used bloody weapons to disperse the dances.
The dance ban was somewhat criticized because it was not based on wartime safety issues. More they wanted to keep the people chaste and reprimanded. According to Lotta Svärd, Dancing would have desecrated the memory of the heroes.
Railway market Peace dances were a bullseye and a blockbuster success.
An estimated 30,000 people gathered at the square. There were so many people that dancing didn’t really become anything. The elderly and children mattered little in the danger of being left on their feet.
Orchestras and choirs rose to the podiums around the market square. An attempt was made to amplify the sound by numerous loudspeakers.
The event began Our countryfollowed by the national anthems of the Soviet Union, the United States and England. Then we moved on to dance music. The flags of Finland and the Allies fluttered in the flagpoles around Tori.
According to press reports, people were in a very good mood in the market despite the crowds. Winning badges were sold to happy celebrants.
However, that time was not a mere joy. In the middle of the dance crowd were war invalids who had lost their limbs in their wheelchairs. Trauma wedged in the eyes of many. What was present was how hard the price of the war years had to be paid.
The dichotomy atmosphere of peace dances has been skilfully described by, for example, the author Kjell Westö in his novel Don’t go to night alone (2009).
Dozens of of course, the time of war that claimed millions of lives cannot be directly compared to this day. However, there are some similarities.
Europe is once again going through a crisis. There has been uncertainty, and many have feared. Livelihoods have suffered, human lives have been lost. There has long been a ban on singing and dancing in Finland.
Perhaps, when the pandemic sometime ends, it would be time again for dancing, crown dancing. It is worth attracting young people who are in their homes, for example, with the biggest Tiktok dances in the world. A more mature guard could be danced, for example, by those who gained new touring power from the corona break Checkmate and Teppo as well as an eternal favorite of dance stages Arja Koriseva.
A common and joyous rite of passage could once again begin during a tenacious reconstruction.