Each year Nordic larpers and folks from upwards of 20 countries meet up in Nordica to talk larp, play games, and argue a lot with one another at Knutepunkt. This year, I’m punching the ticket on my fourth and final KP country–Sweden.
But I remember my first time on this crazy Nordic larp tilt-a-wheel and thought I might offer a few tips for folks in the same shoes.
Come to A Week In
OK, so it’s maybe too late for folks this year, but remember it for next year: A Week is a really nice way to meet some intriguing other people and to get to know them before the big con. Also, you get to play games and games are FUN!
Go To the First Timers’ Guide
It’s a program item that tells you about stuff like the meaning of all the technical terms people are using. That’s super-helpful if you want to understand any conversation that happens.
There’s a long tradition of parties, secret parties, and “secret” parties. If you nab a flyer to a party, show up on time, as there’s an informal rule that parties only last an hour, to maximize social mixing. Feel OK about showing up to anything. There is also usually a midnight ritual on…Friday or Saturday, I think? It’s sarcastic, and it’s an experience.
Open Chair Rule
People are supposed to have empty chairs in their conversation groups, showing that it’s OK to join. Most folks are pretty good about this, so you can feel comfortable about joining.
It’s a weird experience if you come from a country that frowns on nudity, but there are people hanging out in there, and it’s supposed to be a nonsexual area. Both ladies and gents sometimes sauna together. Ask a Nordic person how to sauna properly–there’s a whole thing with going from sauna to shower and rubbing off your dead skin. I still don’t really understand it, but it’s a cultural experience.
There is usually an embarrassment of riches, content-wise. I think it’s nice to try both lectures as well as workshops. Lectures tell you about larp; workshops help you expand your toolbox. There’s great conversation to be had in the bar and lounge areas, though.
Sleep Before You Arrive
Restedness is a valuable commodity and prevents sleep-deprivation psychosis that can turn you into a Nordic cultist. Aim for at least two hours per night while you are there, but try to show up fully rested.
If Something Goes Wrong, Tell Someone
One of the things I love about Knutepunkt culture, is that you’ve got 300 best friends you’re just waiting to meet who are willing to pick you up when you’re feeling low. If something goes wrong, tell someone. The folks here are open and kind, and most of them will give you a hug and a sympathetic ear if you just ask.
You are responsible for setting your own limits at this convention. If you say “no,” in my experience, at least, people respect that. In the US, for example, we often rely on the group to set norms and behaviors that are OK. Of course, on some level, that’s true at Knutepunkt. But if you wait around for the community to enforce your unspoken limits, you might wait for a long time. It’s OK to say no, and sometimes you have to say no.
Drink Out of Your Own Cup
Dominika Kovacova: We all remember what happened in Finland (knuteflu). Also, cough syrup is often a hot commodity, so pack an extra bottle.
You Can Argue and Still Be Friends
Nordic larpers like to brawl about absurdly technical stuff like immersion, politics, and Freudian theory. But they can still be friends afterward. Keep your arguments friendly and don’t take it too hard. People tend to be pretty direct about disagreements, but still think you’re a nice person afterwards.
Everyone Feels Uncool Sometimes
It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that everyone feels uncool–even the people you’d least expect–for at least a couple hours. When your time comes, remember that you’re in good company, visit the sauna with a friend, or maybe just ask for a hug.
Be Open to New Things
Wagner Luiz Schmidt mentions that it’s good to go with the flow–wander off on cool new adventures with friends you’ve just met. Sarah Lynne Bowman reminds us that some of the best program items she’s attended are ones she stumbled into.
What cool tips did I miss? What questions do you have? Post in the comments.
Like this post? Want to read more like it? Become the government funding to my Nordic larpwright and Patreonize me.
Thanks! – I’m looking forward to putting all this into action in a couple of days.
(Apart, possibly, from the sauna. We shall see. I have a lot of Britishness to overcome first…)
I was there for the 2012 KP in Finland (Solmukohta), and witnessed the Great Plague that dropped designers and theorists left and right.
Taking care of your health will seem like it should be your last priority, but it ought to be a near second next to all the socializing.
Scratch that – the 3 a.m. conversations are the most enjoyable, and the most health-endangering.
Well, good luck anyway.
Great article! As for the sauna, Vincent Baker guide to the sauna for shy Americans is super helpful.