Helsinki is perfect for night swimming, partying and napping outdoors.
“You should move to Helsinki if you like the balance between city and open space,” says DJ and dancer Sophia Wekesa.
The best things about Helsinki, according to Wekesa, is that nature is never far away and you can get around town fast by bicycle.
Wekesa is used to thinking about her hometown by its metro stops. She has lived in different parts of Herttoniemi, in Kruununhaka and for the past eight years in Kallio. According to Wekesa, each district has its own kind of energy.
“Kallio is nice because there are so many different kinds of people there. Anyone can feel that they could easily fit in there,” Wekesa says.
Helsinki is full of memories for Wekesa, who has lived her entire life in the Finnish capital. Over the years, the significance of certain places has changed for her. When she walks across Railway Square, she is reminded of her youth and hanging out at the station.
“Helsinki stands out from other cities mostly because my entire life is here,” she explains.
During the pandemic, Wekesa has taken a lot of walks. During these walks, she has noticed many new things about Helsinki, such as details in its architecture, that she had never before paid attention to.
Usually, most of her free time is spent training for her dancing, especially dancehall and street dance. In spring, once the weather warms up, her dance training moves outdoors. Wekesa likes to train with her dance group in such places as the Pengerpuisto park, in front of the Central Library Oodi, and in the courtyard of her apartment building. Any place will do, in fact, as long as the surface is suitable for dancing.
“Street dance is for the outdoors, like in Jamaica!”
I visit Mustikkamaa all year round these days. It’s a lovely place to walk in the woods or over the ice in wintertime, while in summertime I like the shoreline and swimming in the sea. I once went swimming there in the middle of the night all by myself. I’ve also enjoyed parties and picnics there with my friends and also celebrated Midsummer. You can do everything at Mustikkamaa!
The Complex comprises three clubs, Kuudes Linja, Siltanen and Kaiku, all of which are dear to me. I have worked as a producer and DJ at these clubs and enjoyed seeing hundreds of people smiling and dancing to the music. Our Mellow Yellow Club has been praised for the wide range of people it attracts.
Many locals identify themselves according to the postal code of the neighbourhood they are from. I was born and raised in idyllic Länsi-Herttoniemi. It was a very safe and communal place to grow up. I had a lot of friends to play with. I immediately connect with people who say they come from Länsi-Herttoniemi. It’s where my own story began.
I spend a lot of time in summer in the parks of Kallio. Pengerpuisto is lovely, as well as the close-by quaint Torkkelinpuistikko, which is actually my favourite. It’s really beautiful, often sunny, and sheltered from the wind – the perfect place to soak up the sun! Once, a friend and I carried our blankets and pillows to Torkkelinpuistikko and had a nap there!
When I was young, I used to take dance lessons at Itis. These days, I don’t have a need to go there on a weekly basis, but once in a while I like to go there for the excellent restaurants and nice atmosphere.
Finland's first event and performance space dedicated to dance opened in February 2022. I look forward to seeing street dancers appear in the Dance House program.
The Natural Beauty Shop is an important place for everyone with afro hair. It sells all the best products for afro and kinky hair. The shop has been located on Hämeentie for the past eight years. I think everyone should know about it! It is owned by the lovely Harriet, with whom I like to exchange small talk. I always end up spending time in the shop, as I can never stop talking with Harriet!
I often go to the Harju8 restaurant in Kallio. During the daytime, I like to work there on my laptop. When the evening arrives, I might order a glass of wine instead of coffee. On the best of days, I simply switch from working on my laptop to partying!