Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

Cookie Tossing and other Norwegian Sports

Caledonien Dancing

The year was 1980. It was the end of a bitterly cold February in Denmark, and me, and five other unfortunate individuals, collectively known as APOLLO, were making our way across the Skaggerak to Kristiansand on the South Coast of Norway.

Now, when I say making our way, I mean we were being tossed around like a plastic duck on mountainous seas, creating the illusion that you were walking upstairs when in fact you were walking downstairs, and the gangways of the battered ferry were awash with more than just beer and seawater.

We’d just completed a gruelling two month tour of Danish towns and cities in sub zero temperatures, and we were looking forward to our first visit to Norway. With the benefit of hindsight, and twenty-eight years and thousands of sea miles later, I can confirm that this was the worst sea voyage I have ever experienced.

By some miracle, I didn’t toss my cookies. (I believe that’s the correct nautical term) Within minutes of finding dry, horizontal land, we got our first glimpse of the Hotel Caledonien on the sea front in Kristiansand. With the tall ship Sorlandet docked behind her forming an impressive backdrop, we made our way to the place that was to be our home for the next month.

The first time we walked into Caledonien Dancing, we were amazed. It was such a well-designed, futuristic looking club for a mainstream hotel; with strange “pods” hanging everywhere that contained seating. Sure enough, we had a fun month there.

One particular incident I recall involved our drummer and band leader, Jim Percy. The way the stage was laid out; there was a balcony above and behind us that accommodated a number of tables. A bunch of drunken Norwegians decided to encourage the very drunkest of their number to throw ice cubes over the balcony down on to the unsuspecting band. Being a multi-instrumental line-up, Jim rearranged us for the next number, with the keyboard player taking his place on the kit, while he sneaked off stage and up the stairs through the myriad of levels and alcoves to find the culprit.

Now, you need to know that Beer, and particularly spirits were, and still are, astronomically priced in Norway. Jim found the guy, and leaning over him in a mock friendly way, proceeded to upturn a full bottle of Jack Daniels, holding it down on the table while the entire contents glugged out over the man’s trousers. Still smiling, Jim explained that we’d very much like him to cease throwing the ice over the balcony, and waddaya know, he seemed to agree!

In keeping with my alcohol free lifestyle, (brought on not so much by a dislike, but an inability to pay) I was happy to find Caledonien dancing had a first rate coffee machine behind the bar, and I availed myself of it regularly. The small cups, especially designed for the Nightclub and the machine also caught my eye, and I decided to avail myself of one of those too, as a memento of our stay. (I know, Danu, I am incorrigible)

There was sadness there, too. I remember us performing on March 27th, towards the end of our month there, the night of the Alexander Kielland Oil Rig disaster, and we dedicated the songs to the memory of the victims.

The final death toll when the Alexander Kielland Accommodation platform collapsed was 123, mostly Norwegians.

We made many friends there, and such is the nature of my business, that you are usually destined to never see them again. But with the Hotel Caledonien, there was a bitter twist in the tale. Six years after our final stint there, it suffered a terrible fire and fourteen people died. We never did find out if any of the victims were people we knew.

Sadly, I can’t find my cup, but I’ve drawn it for you here, against the backdrop of Caledonien Dancing, from memory.

KEV MOORE, Spain (Albir)

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November 13, 2007 - Posted by | Art, Cafe L'Arte, coffee, culture, Entertainment, food, humor, Kev Moore's Cartoons, life, Music, personal, travel, writing | , , , , , , , , , ,

11 Comments »

  1. What an amazing story! That dancing cup is great 🙂 Cool lighting effects – how did you do that?

    Comment by shelleymhouse | November 14, 2007

  2. Yes, how did you do the lights? A great drawing for a one from memory! You hit the important points I’m sure.

    As for the experience, I’ve crossed that sea myself and added my cookies to it (or some other on the Norwegian coast anyway). And remember so well how Norwegian drinkers can lose all perspective and drown their sensibilities in the stuff. I enjoyed the payback of the ice cube thrower though.

    Comment by Susan Cornelis | November 14, 2007

  3. Shelley: thanks! The lighting? mm…well, I drew a power outlet on the back and linked it up to Miki’s Electric Guitar Coffee Cup!

    Comment by kevmoore | November 14, 2007

  4. Susan: Hope it brought some Norwegian memories back! I had two wonderful years touring Scandinavia.

    Comment by kevmoore | November 14, 2007

  5. Very interesting entry, Kevin, and I love the picture, it is so happy somehow..
    And so strange to read about a time when I didn´t know you.. did you already wildly jump on stage like you do now?

    Comment by Miki | November 14, 2007

  6. Strangely, I jumped around like a lunatic in the band I was in BEFORE this one, but for Apollo, I had to be a little more decorous….

    Comment by kevmoore | November 14, 2007

  7. Great story and I like those bright colors. They give the feel of a club atmosphere.

    Comment by wrjones | November 14, 2007

  8. What a remarkable, well told story. The graphics are well in tune with it, great as always. You seem to lead a life of many justapoxed events as you travel so much by the nature of your profession. Good account.

    Comment by Yolanda | November 14, 2007

  9. I did not toss my cookies? Sounds very English!

    Comment by Yolanda | November 14, 2007

  10. Thank you both!

    Yolanda, you describe my musician’s life perfectly. There’s an old TV show that used to begin “There are a million stories in the Naked City” Well…there’s a million stories in me, too, and I’m sure many will appear in the hallowed pages of our Cafe crem from time to time!

    I already had to explain to Miki the meaning of “Toss your Cookies”.
    Variously, it means, to lose one’s lunch; call for ralph and hughie; technicolour yawn…in short , to throw up!

    Comment by kevmoore | November 14, 2007

  11. Susan: I forgot to mention, there were several occassions when we were invited back to parties in Norway, and most of the locals, without exception, used to make their own alcohol to bypass the exorbitant costs of getting it legally. Basically, it was Moonshine, and could easily have doubled as an industrial paint remover. I have no idea how they managed to keep it down, but explains many things about how they used to dance!

    Comment by kevmoore | November 17, 2007


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