Janne Siironen

English

Helsinki's club culture is diverse and constantly developing

"I've thought about why I live here when I could live in, for instance, Berlin. The answer is that Helsinki is a decent-sized, lively European city, but at the same time small enough that it has a strong grassroots club scene.” 

The DJ and journalist Janne Siironen is originally from the Ostrobothnian coast. He has lived in Helsinki since 1997. "I feel this is my hometown. I would absolutely not move to a smaller city."   

Club culture and dancing started to interest Siironen already in the late 1990s, first through a customer's angle. "I came from the outside and had no network. It then shaped up very organically through nightlife." 

His first experience with Helsinki club culture was in gay clubs like Dtm, Lost & Found, and Hercules. Siironen still meets people from that community 20 years later. "I spent one winter in London and understood the scale of things. It is easier to organise events in Helsinki. In big cities the competition is tougher." Siironen has been running his own club nights since 2004. He first looked for inspiration in London's underground clubs.

Gay bars have been in decline in Helsinki over the past 20 years. Siironen believes one explanation lies in dating apps like Grindr and Tinder. Another possible reason is how society has developed.

"Nowadays queer culture is, in some way, always present in the best clubs in the Kallio district. Twenty-somethings find it natural to visit any venue. I still hope that gay clubs don't disappear completely. They serve a community purpose. Otherwise things are done on the mainstream's terms."

"Nobody wants to get stuck in the past"   

Siironen plays records in venues like Siltanen, Kaiku and Merikerho. They all attract a crowd with a shared love for music: techno, house and disco. 

"Helsinki is one of the most interesting clubbing cities in Europe. DJs visiting from abroad have been surprised about how cool it is here. Helsinki is not in any way backward."

Siironen's club community is marked with openness and equality. These features are also visible in programming. "There is better and better representation of different scenes and genders amongst the performers. I find it hard to imagine a club that wouldn't take an active stand against harassment. It is really essential for clubland to be a driving force. Nobody wants to be that embarrassing relic still hung up on old ideas."

Siironen is happy that diversity has also blossomed at the grassroots level. "One example is the new type of drag culture in Helsinki. No culture can survive on nostalgia. Renewal is needed because there are new people and new ideas popping up all the time." 

FACTS
Janne Siironen (DJ Janne X)
Age: Fortyish
Lives in: Kallio
Profession: DJ, journalist
What you didn't know about me: "I'm most likely the only person in the world called Janne Siironen. There are 93 male Siironens, but based on googling I seem to be the only one with Janne as a first name. Other Janne Siironens can report back to me if they are out there."

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