Depeche Mode & synthpop party in Tallinn, Estonia 19.12.2003 @ Club Opium

BKL and JWX attended a smashing party, saw Colony 5 perform "live" and danced until their feet bled.

Mother Nature has a problem with me and JWX visiting Tallinn, the capital of our southern neighbour, where people speak like they've tried to learn Finnish by listening to a faulty shortwave radio.

Our previous attempt was almost foiled by the weather, too. We were going to see Depeche Mode perform live during their Exciter Tour, but the seas were so rough we were forced to pay extortionate amounts of money to Finnair, and flew to Tallinn. And yes, the gig was worth every penny: Dave Gahan sang better than ever, better than on the records, in fact. And they performed I Feel Loved, which they didn't do in Helsinki.

This time round, we were trying to get to a Depeche Mode party held at Club Opium. No, Depeche Mode was not going to play live, but Colony 5 from Sweden was to appear live on stage. I wasn't too happy with their CD Structures, which had only a couple of nice tracks (Hate and the ultimate synthpop anthem Black, if you must know) but most of them sounded like fillers, with rather bland and unimaginative melodies.

Getting there

Much of the party's appeal laid on the following facts: 1) there were going to be lots and lots of Depeche Mode -fans at the club, 2) the music was going to be brilliant, and 3) there would be plenty of gorgeous Estonian women present - who were into Depeche Mode. If that's not a winning combination, I sure as hell don't know what is.

With the organizer of the party assuring me there was no need to purchase tickets for the party in advance, I started making reservations for the trip. Nordic Jet Line offered a business-class hotel room for a night in the very nice Pirita-hotel - approx. one kilometer from Club Opium - and return tickets on board their fast catamaran boats. But then arrived the morning of 19.12. and with it, a feeling of Deja-Vu.

The sea was acting up again, the bastard. First two ships from Helsinki to Tallinn had already been canceled, and the weather didn't look like easing up any time soon. Drastic (i.e. panic) measures were called for, so I immediately placed reservations with practically every company travelling to Estonia. Just to be sure, you understand. (Yes, I did cancel the ones we didn't actually use, so stop complaining.) In the end, we stepped on board the Finnjet, which was going to arrive in Tallinn at 21:45, just 15 minutes before the start of the party.

Floating shithole

If you've never been on Finnjet, let me tell you something: it's a floating shithole. It's floorplan has been created to lead you into dark corners and dead ends. The interior has been designed by the same folks who are responsible for 95% of all Finnish lower end bars. The folks travelling on it have been dragged kicking and screaming straight out of your worst nightmares - and then forced to sing karaoke. Badly. Loudly. And at you.

Having stuffed our faces with over-priced pizza slices, we set in seach of a bar. We ended up in the ship's disco - or whatever passed for a disco in this hellish alternative universe. Imagine the grubbiest, shittiest, the most unappealing bar you've ever been to. Congratulations, you're about halfway to this disco. The DJ spoke a dialect of finnish that has never been heard below the arctic circle and kept firing volleys of jokes no-one else but himself understood. None of his records were released later than 1990.

Then the karaoke started. This particular Japanese leisure activity is one I have never understood. What makes outwardly sensible people make a total ass of themselves in front of other people? You tell me. Anyway, we were in stitches. It's a small wonder nobody caved our heads in, because the folks around us were none too happy about our laughing and cracking jokes at the expense of the 'performers'. Granted, there's always one person who actually can sing: this time it was a rather nice-looking gypsy lady, who sang like a professional. Kudos to her.

JWX then had the brilliant idea of letting Keke, a team member, join in the fun. We knew that he was in France, touring with the Acid Kings, and would let the answering service take care of the incoming calls. So, we decided to fill his voicemail with a selection of Finnish karaoke hits. I'm sure he appreciates the renditions of Tsingis Khan and other mighty renditions he will be forced to listen through in order to erase them.

A while before arriving in Tallinn, we decided to place a visit to the Tax-Free shop, and buy something to get us in the party mood, if you get my drift. JWX decided on a bottle of Turkish Peber, a sweet concoction of dark and slimy liquid, with some 30+ % alcohol content. It would turn out to be the perfect choice.

A bladder about to burst

Having departed the ship, we were faced with a bloody long line at the passport checkpoint. It took effing ages to get through, and JWX was getting visibly uncomfortable. One could almost see the pressure building up in his bladder. He disappeared like a rocket to the nearest toilet after the passport checkpoint, and made it in the nick of time. We were then accosted by some rather shifty looking men, who were offering to be our taxidriver for the entire evening. Something in their appearance told me that the evening might end in somewhere we didn't intend to visit, so we took a regular taxi to Hotel Pirita.

As I mentioned earlier, Pirita is a very nice hotel; clean, modern and comfortable. I could easily see myself spending an entire week in Tallinn, staying in Pirita. By this time, it was already getting quite late, and the party had been going on for a while. This is where the Turkish Peber proved its mettle. We emptied the bottle in a couple of minutes flat and rushed downstairs to a taxi. Sure, Club Opium was less than a kilometer away, but we didn't have any idea in which direction, so we played it safe - and cabs are relatively cheap in Tallinn anyway.

Finally!

Some minutes later we were standing in front of the club. I felt strangely elated and overjoyed, almost misty-eyed. A huge club, filled with Depeche Mode -fans, dancing and partying to excellent music, all night long; heck, it's practically a heaven on earth. Or perhaps it was the Turkish Peber, lubricating my neurons with its sweet, sweet caress. We were in such a hurry, in fact, we tried to get in without buying a ticket. To be more precise, we didn't notice the ticket window in the foyer and walked right up the security guys, who sure as hell weren't going to let us in for free.

With the sweet sounds of Depeche Mode raining down on us from upstairs, we rushed to join the partying crowd. A quick visit to the bar produced some surprisingly expensive and rather flavourless drinks - if you don't count 'piss' as a flavour. We had a short tour round the club and soon returned to the womb-like warmth of the bar, to quaff numerous tequilas in quick succession. These had the desired effect of jump-starting our dancing feet, which then took control and led us both to the dancefloor.

Sooner than you can say "bloody hell I picked the wrong shoes and my feet are hurting", Colony 5 climbed on stage. It was a rather low-key affair, with the music coming from a CD or a DAT. At least the singer was doing his bits live, and not too badly, either. In fact, we were slowly gravitating towards the stage and joining the all-singing, all-dancing C5 fans in the front rows. They left my favourite tracks until the encore, by which time I was inebriated enough to join in the chant at the top of my lungs - which produces a not inconsiderable amount of raw, unadulterated noise. Forget the notes, buddy, decibels are where its at. Some guys in the front row obviously heard my singi... erm, shouting, as they turned around to see who the hell was making such a ruckus. After the gig, these same guys were throwing spontaneous high fives at my direction. Yeah, I sure had a good time.

It's all a blur

But all good things must come to an end. I was seriously running out of energy, not to mention consciousness, by four o'clock in the morning. Luckily for me, the crowd was thinning out rather fast and the organizer decided to close the party down ahead of schedule. My feet were hurting like hell (they still do, three days later) and all the drinks we've had were really taking their toll, too. It's a good thing we left the party when we did, since I'm pretty sure half an hour later I would've been lying comatose somewhere under a table. We catched a taxi, slurred the name of the hotel and found ourselves in our hotel room faster than you can say "I think I'm going to vomit."

Our boat back to Helsinki was leaving at 10:00 in the morning, but I figured a shower and a breakfast in the morning might be a good idea, so I set the mobile phone to wake us up at 07:30 - after which I passed out. Only to wake up some 2,5 hours later by the incessant ringing of the phone. I remember looking at it and thinking to myself, "What the hell... the damn phone must be broken or something", and passed out again. Luckily my phone has an automatic snooze of 7 minutes, so it tried again. Again I wondered what the bloody hell was wrong with the phone, and rapidly fell asleep again. By the 7th time it rang, I realized that it was trying to wake us up.

I don't think I've ever felt as sick as I did that morning. Someone - or someTHING - had replaced my eyes with two giant red balls, and, as an afterthought, created huge black bags under them. Rest of the face had been given copious amounts of white paint. There was also a storm of something rather volatile churning around in my stomach, and it wanted out, no matter the orifice. And yet, we soldiered on, towards breakfast. No, we didn't make a mess in the restaurant, though I was a bit worried.

Rest of the trip was quite uneventful. We got to the boat with some minutes to spare, got in, bought some spirits from the Tax-Free shop and fell asleep. At least the trip passed quickly that way.

All in all, the trip was a towering success. The party rocked, Colony 5 was a lot better than I expected, and we are both looking forward to the next Depeche Mode party in Tallinn. A million thanks to the organizer of the party and greetings to everyone who attended it. I hope to see you all the next time!

.: BKL :.