In A Fairytale Land

The afternoon drizzle has just disappeared, and the sky’s blue lips are smiling through the cracking cloud cover; decaying industries smell fresh in the evening air. The paint factory stands like a proud nymph in the industrial forest. From her courtyard pours hipster disco music, probably Hercules and Love Affair’s song Blind, possibly Knuckles’ DUB mix; next to a makeshift DJ booth, about twenty people are smoking. The high black windows of the old factory look three floors down at the crowd consisting of architects, art students and dramaturgs. I imagine she is rejoicing in her resurrection at the centre of so many people’s hearts; a restaurant, exhibition space and watering hole for misunderstood artistic souls. Inside her restaurant sits our chattering company of superficial acquaintances with one thing in common: a passion for creation.

Our hands play under the table, sliding along wrists, nails playfully tearing and fingertips softly caressing. Busy in our own conversation across the table, every now and then, our eyes fall into each other’s to linger for a breath. In the middle of the conversation, you excuse yourself to the toilet, and when you get up without wanting to let go of my hand, I follow you out through the restaurant. Outside we are faced with a choice;  behind us, the restaurant sings. To the right, the fresh evening air washes in. In front of us is a crowd of toilet visitors stomping, and finally, to the left, a staircase leads up to the closed exhibition space. You smile at me and take a determined first step up the concrete stairs.

As the compact darkness envelops us, we instinctively merge; my arm forms around you and my fingers play in your neck. With a joint hand, we grope forward in the darkness until it is met by a cold metal double door. The fingers follow the crack in the door as music from the courtyard, the restaurant’s loud conversation, the clatter of cutlery and crockery are left behind for a magical fairyland of steel, concrete and wood. The desolate factory hall is painted by the greyish light of the evening sky that wanders through the skylights and down the white-painted walls. Our footsteps, breaths and heartbeats echo through the deathly quiet hall, and we take a couple of tentative steps into a crowd of knee-high concrete letters. My hand gropes along the rough surface of the letters that form the words ‘BUILDING BLOCKS’. 

Colourful arrows form a path through the fairytale land where everything appears in shades of grey in the evening light. Wandering through a city consisting of fantasy houses, we finally stand in front of an organic building in the shape of a human anatomical heart resting on a foundation of veins and arteries. Together we crawl into the soft heart of the factory. A pinkish light seeps through the velvet-clad walls and is reflected in a miniature disco ball suspended in the heart’s centre. Under the ball is a knee-high device in grey plastic. A black cathode ray tube screen observes us like a solitary rectangular eye. Small red LEDs and buttons fill the top of the device. Wandering curiously, my fingers can’t help but hit the ‘play’ button, and a crackling sound fills the room. The screen jumps to life with black and white graphics that draw from right to left the text ‘Rosa helikopter’, followed by the lyrics of the same song that plagued the summer of 2001. The song’s melody fills the silence, and you reach for a microphone buried in the soft surface.









I curl up on the floor, pull my knees to my chest and rest my head on your lap as you sing the lyrics as the words change colour from dastardly white to pale grey. Your voice rings and echoes hypnotically throughout the room. I kiss, lick and lightly nibble your exposed hip under the skirt. Finally, the song reaches its third verse, and the tickling feeling overcomes your self-control; the microphone lands with an electronically-amplified thud on the floor. Your grip on my sore scalp lifts my head to kiss me. ‘Rosa helikopter’ turns into ‘Tommy tycker om mig’ as our tongues meet and saliva mixes;  your tongue is caught, and I bite down as your lips twist into a smile. 

The closeness is interrupted by a ringtone. You dig the mobile phone out of your purse and press the ‘answer’ button. It’s your friends from the restaurant wondering with mixed concern and curiosity about where we went. Your tongue moves between my teeth as you try to answer, and a teasing smile spreads across my lips. Your eyebrows raise into a questioning expression, and experience tells me how this game usually ends; my eyes meet yours with a mock incomprehension. The hand sings through the air before it hits my cheek, and reflexes release your tongue as a welcome warmth spreads. I watch you talking on the phone for a few seconds before I instinctively seek to bury my tongue in your ear;  annoyed, your free hand pushes me away until the phone call ends. 

“They are going home now.” you say coldly, pushing me down on my back. “Give me your shirt, pleasure animals like you don’t have clothes.” you continue, and I pull the soft white cotton t-shirt over my head. Your legs are straddling my bare chest. “Stop smiling. Pleasure animals like you don’t smile.” Your hand is raised again and again; slowly and methodically, the slaps erase the smile and replace it with a ringing inside my head. When the first tear forms in the corner of my eye, you stop, stand up and beckon me to follow. 

Once again, out in our fairytale world, the evening sky has become night and stars twinkle high above the ceiling. Suddenly the silence is broken by the rattle of keys from the showroom entrance, followed by the lock slamming shut and a series of electronic beeps as an alarm code is entered. For a second, I relish the thought of spending the night with you before reality creeps in, reminding us that what we’re doing is illegal. You caress my hot cheek and whisper that we will find a way out. The far end of the factory hall is designed as an atelier; large drawing tables are filled with architectural drawings of the fairytale land and its fantasy houses.

A door to a stairwell leads to another choice, up or down. “Come on, we’ll go home.” you exhale and start to move downwards, but curiosity gets the better of me, and with a couple of smooth steps, I move upwards. My gaze sweeps over a dark wooden floor that, like an undiscovered moon, stretches out over the top floor of the factory. The walls are large dark glass windows from floor to ceiling, and Reimersholme and Hornstull paint the familiar silhouette of Södermalm outside;  beneath us, the paint factory sleeps, and we find ourselves in her dreams. Then, out of nowhere, the melody of Johann Strauss’ Blue Danube waltz arises within me. The first three notes grow from the chest and are sung out into the space of the hall. You know, the classic space shuttle docking dramatised in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Followed by three long-running steps and a weightless jump over the wooden floor. Your laughter rings from the top of the stairs when you look at me. Singing, my body runs further across the floor, encircling you closer and closer until we face the black windows. The night chill cools my sweaty back, which mists the thick glass pane when the muscles are pressed against it. Finally, the singing subsides into a communal hum as you land in my arms. Outside, the chattering voices of the last visitors can still be heard as we make love to Strauss’ closing string fanfare.