"I want to make Skellefteå Sweden's capital of fun"

Adam Kline is a one-man whirlwind of energy, positivity and fun. I first met him at the start of the year and, since then, he's organised three events aimed at increasing the happiness quotient in Skellefteå - one for Valentine's Day, one for April Fools' Day and last weekend's Solar Power Souls disco.

Adam Kline strutting his funky stuff.

Adam Kline strutting his funky stuff.

Foto: Donna Richmond

Engelska2023-04-25 15:48

Last Saturday's Solar Power Souls disco was situated at the very, very summit of Vitberget, a venue so inaccessible my photographer needed a snowmobile to ascend to the disco. This high degree of remoteness may have accounted for the less than thronged dancefloor. ┣ ┣ ┣ ┣

But the fact anyone made it at all (in the middle of a snow squall and on the same night AIK were playing Växjö) is testament to Adam Kline's tenacity and almost indecent levels of enthusiasm.

Adam's vivacity is incredibly infectious, even if his schemes and plans sound a little barmy. He's also a creative and kind soul and a pleasure to spend time with. @@PC: So, Adam, I have one question - what the hell are you up to? ┣ 
AK: I'm trying to spark a bit of a creative community here and hopefully help push the culture in the direction of fun. Alla Hjärtans Drag, was a punny play on Alla Hjärtans Dag (Valentine's Day), and involved inviting passersby in the town square to play the beach game, paddleball and a warm disco dance party at Hubben Klubben. It was actually the most 'party party' of the events so far, 30 people out dancing on a Tuesday night! The April Fools' dance at the museum was just a bit of a dance party to encourage people to act and look foolish. 

Saturday's party came together in about a week. Unlike the first two, it wasn't really a conceptual party, although it was nominally meant to welcome the sun back into our lives. Thus the name Solar Power Souls. And we did a proper vårskriket from Astrid Lindgren's Ronja

Adam Kline in his green leggings of fun.

The idea actually started with a guy named Enar Nordvik, who runs the Rodel Sledding Club. He had an idea about having a disco in the snow on Vitberget. Of course, I figured the less accessible and harder the party was to find the better, and that it would be a good idea to have it at the same time as AIK was playing a game in the finals (against Växjö). Otherwise, you know, these events can attract more than 10 people and things can get out of hand. (Laughs)

PC: So far, so bonkers. Let's go back to the beginning. Where are you from? ┣ 
AK: I grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Huntington Beach, California. I'm spiritually Californian, I like to say, but with a lot of grandpa chic fashion inspiration from South Florida. Old people always have the best style because they don't care so much. I really felt at home when I moved to the northeast US for college. I went to Harvard, where I studied Social Studies. I discovered the seasons and making art. Then I ended up in New York City, where I started working in advertising. I loved the city and really thought I'd someday be buried there. But plans change, ya know? 

Adam Kline.

PC: From New York City to Skellefteå, then? I'm guessing it was love. @AK : As you might expect, it all started with ballet. When I turned 30, I started taking ballet lessons and, in one of the first classes I went to, I met a magical young woman from Skellefteå. I somehow convinced her to be together with me, despite her first impression that I looked like a living cartoon character. We married and promised that eventually we'd give Sweden a try. 10 years later, during Covid, we came to escape our tiny Brooklyn apartment for the summer. Our flight home got cancelled, and we took it as a sign. Now here we are. 

PC: What were your first thoughts of Skellefteå? @AK: I'd been to Skellefteå lots of times before moving here. My first trip was to meet the parents of the girl I was in love with, so it was all very rose-tinted. But I remember walking down the stairs of the plane, wearing my large Midsummer flower crown, thinking, 'Wow, this is a small airport.'

PC: What were the biggest culture shocks? @AK: Sandwich cake. I'm still not ready for it, and I'm not a picky eater. I can happily handle surströmming, especially if it's served with a bit of ice-cold akvavit. Non-food related shocks? My wife's parents live in Moro Bäcke, and I'm still struck by how the houses are right next to each other with no fences in between. That would NEVER happen in the US. 

DJ, Bill Magnusson, turning up the Vitberget vibe.

PC: What are the plus points of Skellefteå? @AK: I assume everyone's read the Time Magazine article about being in the 50 Best Places, so I'll spare you the bullet points. For me, personally, the biggest plus points of Skellefteå are living near my wife's amazing family and meeting a lot of really fun and creative Skelleftonians that have a sense of professional flexibility. The cost of living in NYC is so high that you're pretty much stuck with whatever industry you fall into. Here, I get so inspired when I hear about 40- or 50-year-olds deciding to go back to school or changing careers entirely. That is massive.

PC: And the negatives of life here? 
AK: (Laughs). Well, that's related to the flexibility thing. It's proving harder to find my way professionally here than I thought it would be. But I will start a summer job as a park worker in May, and I feel like sooner or later something more permanent is going to come together here. 

PC: What are you trying to achieve with your program of tomfoolery? 
AK: (Laughs). I love 'program of tomfoolery.' That's exactly what it is, isn't it? What if we could build a reputation as the most fun and welcoming town in all of Sweden? Why not? I've met so many fun, wild-thinking folks in Skellefteå and I think the sense of humor here is universal. People are funny in a great, slightly ironic way. I think this place could be a destination for lots of people who want to have a certain kind of fun. Like in Austin, Texas, where the motto is 'Keep Austin Weird.' That'd be my dream. 

Adam Kline's sense of fun is in 'rude' health.

Oh, and I want the penis sculpture near Swedbank in the town square moved to the center of the square, and I want it to be a proper fountain in the summer. Like an Italian piazza. That penis sculpture is a genuine monument to weirdness, and it's perfect. If cultural thinking can be compared to architecture, I'd say that penis sculpture is the cornerstone of everything I want to achieve here in Skellefteå. ┣@(The sculpture is actually called Lyftet: en ankdamm i utvekking or The Rise: a duck pond in progress by Bo Holmlund).


PC: How's it going? Are the locals biting yet? Why wear green leggings? 
AK: I think these things take time. It's not like you put some music on and 'voila'! I'm lucky to have some excellent friends who don't mind being on a dance floor with just a few other people. But I feel like I'm starting to bring some people together and meet lots of folks interested in doing weird stuff. As for the green leggings... I'm not sure how much I want a singular 'look' but I will say I got a very rare compliment from my 6 year-old daughter, Ruth, about them: 'Those pants are cool , Daddy.' So maybe they're working?

PC: Do you have any tips for Skellefteå newcomers on how to settle? Apart from wearing green leggings and dancing like a loon, that is. ┣ 
AK: Skellefteå isn't famous for being outgoing but, in my experience, if you make the first move and put yourself out there a bit, people really open up. This isn't exactly a revelatory tip, but I'd say break the ice, keep it positive, and then let the conversations go with the flow. People here want you to succeed.

PC: Finally, what is your secret Skellefteå tip? ┣ 
AK: Ooooh, yes! There's a really beautiful little dance floor in a ring of trees up at the top of Vitberget. But I hear they only open it once a year. Also, my friend Marina organizes the Flying Reindeer Comedy Club some Fridays at Taps on Storgatan. It's got a good vibe, and you can play shuffleboard afterwards on a regulation-sized table.

Adam Kline in a rare still moment
Adam Kline in a rare still moment