My Pride: Håkan Steenberg’s Stockholm

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New York GayCities Editor, JJ Keyes, just got back from a whirlwind tour of Scandinavia, where he met up with Håkan Steenberg, the treasurer of Stockholm Pride (July 27-Aug 2) to get the insider scoop on Stockholm, the pride festivities, and the lovely, gay- friendly capital of Sweden.

JJK: Are you originally from Stockholm?

HS: Yes, I’m born and raised right here in the city. So are both my parents, but my great grandfather was actually from Copenhagen in Denmark. He moved to Sweden in the late 1800s to open his own jewelery store.

JJK: What are a few of the events you are most excited about at this year’s Stockholm Pride?

HS: Well, since it’s a one-week event, there are lots to choose from. Our most popular night is usually the Eurovision evening, when we bring Eurovision winners and losers from all over Europe to our event. It’s a great tradition and I’m looking forward to it. I will also try to take some of the guided queer tours at the National Gallery. Our theme this year is “Hetero,” and each day there will be a “Hetero of the Day” in Pride House, so you can actually talk to a heterosexual person. That will be very interesting, they will talk about their life, and tell us what it’s like living as an open heterosexual. There will be time questions, and you can ask anything you want to know about their way of living. I’m also looking forward to seeing Marc Almond, one of the performers on Saturday. I want to hear him perform “Tainted Love,” that song always reminds me of the 80s so much. And finally, I might try to do a Bungee Jump, since we’re bringing a big Bungee Jump crane to our event.

JJK: What are your top three restaurants in Stockholm and why?

HS: Firstly I would definitely say Mälar Paviljongen, a very nice and extremely popular gay restaurant right on the water. They have an excellent cuisine, a very good chef and the whole dinner is usually an experience of it’s own. Secondly I would say “Le Rouge,” a restaurant located in a old cellar in the Old Town. In terms of design, Le Rouge is reminiscent of a French restaurant from the turn of the 19th century: a lively, warm, luxurious setting à la Moulin Rouge, with vibrant colours, heavy textiles and plenty of period detail. Thirdly I would have to say “Momma,” it’s just a small, cosy neighbourhood restaurant right on my block. They are very gay friendly. I usually eat there several nights a week.

JJK: If you had the choice of winning a shopping spree at any one clothing store in Stockholm, what would it be? What would you get there?

HS: I would love to spend my winning shopping spree at NK. It’s the big department store right downtown. They have everything, but I would get clothes from some of our Swedish designers like J Lindeberg, Filippa K and Tiger. All of them are very classy, stylish and typically Swedish.

JJK: Where do you like to go for a drink in Stockholm?

HS: I like to take a drink at Gondolen–it’s also a great place if you’ve never been to Stockholm before. It’s located on top of an old elevator from the turn of the century, so the view is amazing – you’re overlooking the Old Town with the castle, the sea and the Royal island Djurgården. I also like to have a drink at Grand, a 5-star hotel located right across from the Royal Castle. Their Cadier Bar is something very special.

JJK: What are your favourite attractions in Stockholm?

HS: Well, Sweden is one of the few Kingdoms left in the world, so don’t miss Royal Castle. With 600 rooms on 7 floors, it is one of the biggest castles in the world, and still used for its original purpose. If you want to follow the Royal route, why not take the boat out to the Drottningholm castle – it’s where the Royal family actually lives. Also, one of the gay beaches is located within walking distance from Drottningholm. Another great attraction is the Vasa Museum–it’s the worlds only surviving 17th century ship. And then I’ll recommend you just wander around in the Old Town, walking up and down those old, narrow alleys with someone you love – it doesn’t get much more romantic than that.

JJK: If a visitor wants to skip the hotel breakfast and go somewhere for a good brunch, do you have any suggestions?

HS: Of course! One of my favourite places to have brunch is Restaurant J. It’s only a short boat trip away from the Old Town, and the restaurant is located right on the water. They have a buffet brunch, and you can eat as much as you want. Don’t miss their smoothies, but stay away from their Bloody Marys. Another great place is “Cliff Barnes.” It’s a kind of funky place where they serve a great New Orleans Bloody Mary and great Mimosas. They also make their own “Cliff’s lamb salsicca” – don’t miss it!

JJK: Do you have a favourite “Stockholm moment”?

HS: Well, I would have to say it’s the opening of our very first Europride. None of us had done anything like that before, and there were people coming from all over Europe to our event. We were really nervous. The opening was held at Skansen, a big open-air museum on the Royal Island of Djurgården. Our opening speaker was a very well known straight politician, and we also had the mayor of Stockholm present at our event. For entertainment we had performers flown in from several European countries, and the whole thing was just a big gamble – so much was at stake and we didn’t know if we could pull it off. But when the last performer did the last song at the opening event, I knew we were home. I knew Europride would be a big success and that we could finally relax after all that work.

228553_729_488_1JJK: What do you recommend tourists do while staying in Stockholm?

HS: Stockholm has water all around, and it is a very clean city. So if you’re here during the summer, why not go for a swim? There are a few places where gay people go, like “Frescati” and “Kärsön,” so why not go there if it’s a sunny day. If you’re here with someone you love, take a walk in the Old Town and sit down in one of the old, small and very romantic coffee shops. Chokladkoppen is my favourite one, it’s very gay-friendly and you can pick up a copy of QX, our free gay magazine there. If you visit Chokladkoppen, look out for my daughter. (Pictured with her dad.) She’s not gay but she works there on weekends and during her summer vacation.

JJK: Stockholm has a great nightlife. What club/party is your favourite and why?

HS: In the summer I usually like to start off with drinks at Mälar Paviljongen, right on the water. Any other season people usually start of with drinks at “Torget” in the Old Town. If it’s a Friday I usually go to Paradise, a big club with several dance floors playing different kinds of music on each one. If it’s a Saturday, I prefer Zipper which is closer to where I live. There’s also a VIP-club called Guldrummet, which means the Golden Room. I mean, they call it a VIP-club, but I guess anyone can come in. Guldrummet is also a straight-friendly place, so it’s ok to bring your straight friends.

Complete GayCities guide to Stockholm

Stockholm Pride pic by jooon

Håkan Steenberg and daughter courtesy of Hakan Steenberg