Don’t forget your bolaget bag

7 Sep

When walking around the city on a Friday or Saturday night, I noticed everyone has a little purple or blue bag. It is almost fashionable to have one of those small bags filled with hidden liquor. At the same time, it’s entertaining. In a country where beer can run you $100 in one night at a bar, people are very protective of their alcohol. And there’s some etiquette involved.

If you are invited to a party at someone’s house, you are expected to bring your own beer. (I’ve learned this the hard way) This isn’t the BYOB days at college house parties where the hosts were too poor to afford kegs for hundreds of people. These are nice birthday parties, house parties or even a poker night. Hosts expect you to BYOB, and literally it means beer or wine or cidre. No real liquor please. You could but then you would be seen as a true alcoholic who has money to spend. [reflecting that a 700ml bottle of Absolut costs $44]

So you get invited to a Swedish house party. Plan on bringing enough beer to last two or three hours. After that, the group will head out to a bar. You want to be buzzed enough before heading out to not drop $10 per beer at a club.

But, there are couple exceptions. If you are going to a formal dinner party, your hosts will probably have organized the wine and beer for the evening. Yippe! And most corporate engagements I have attended also cover the alcohol. Be sure to check.

Finally, Friday night: battled the cold, stood in long lines to get in the bolaget and out, and beaten the other crazy Swedes to get the last bottle of Stella. What happens next is weird. I get to the party, expecting lots of rambunctious swedes and instead get… people sitting, drinking beer, and minding their own business. Little purple and blue are placed securely between the owner’s legs for fear of grand theft beer by other guests. No one really talks to me and people just mumble a bit with each other. I compare it to a wake; without someone to mourn. It is really bizarre and yet reflective of the dependence (or perceived dependence) to get these funny people to socialize.

Eventually, people make it to their third beer. and OMG! life! The Swedes wake up from their comas and start chatting, walking around, mingling with others. Finally someone will say, “tjena! i heard you are from the US. how do like my country??” And there’s a chance you can speak to a male without him running away. Pretty awesome. But if you wait too long to talk to folks, you may end up having some very drunk conversations. And Swedes, as we all know, have some issues when it comes to human interactions.

And if you forget the bolaget bag…? Well, hope to god that some Swede misplaces his bag and you can steal that lovely Swedish beer and begin conversing with people. Like how you’re supposed to do it. With beer.

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9 Responses to Don’t forget your bolaget bag


Daniel Lampinen

September 7th, 2008 at 13:24

Yeah, a spirit of crowdfunding is big here. Everybody ships in – in this case, buy their own beer. People is comfortable with not being in guilt to anyone.



September 7th, 2008 at 15:54

Wah..your blog is alive again! About time is all I can say:-) But what you’re saying about the Swedes is a definite difference from what you find up here. Never worry about byob at any Icelandic gathering as long as you know at least 1 person there. Same prices as in Sweden though…but we’re just a bit more happy about sharing than they are I guess. As for the rest…sounds like we Nordics are all similar in that we seem half dead until we get at least a couple of beers in us:-)


smek this!

September 9th, 2008 at 10:11

Hear hear! That’s a Nordic behavior allright. Let’s not let the Swedes take credit for being half-dead alone :)



September 11th, 2008 at 18:21

Hehe, good to know!

@simmi- hi again! i know, my blog has been on a hiatus. lol.

@Daniel- Defn true. Guess, when in Rome…

@smek this!- who else should take the credit? =D


gbg girl

September 14th, 2008 at 20:55

oh yeah god, this is THE most embarrasing one of all Swedish habits. I mean usually it´s the same people who arrange our famous pre-partys so you shouldn´t make them pay every time. But what´s wrong with everyone bringing something and then sharing it all?



September 18th, 2008 at 13:23

@gbg girl- ha! you just cracked me up!

I am going to have a party next week and encourage sharing the bolaget bags…I will also be providing spirits to keep people happy.

Let’s see what the Swedes do…


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