My first trip to gay Stockholm was in 1998 to perform Twisted at an underground club promoted by Swedish producer Per QX. While there, my friend and hard house legend Tony De Vit died. This led to hysterical, drunken grief and pill-induced sleep. Needless to say, my memories of that period are hazy. Sightseeing was minimal. In fact, aside from ogling a sunrise while sat in a gutter under a concrete flyover, I saw little but illegal raves and the inside of my own eyelids.
My return to Stockholm last month for Pride 2017 proved a refreshing contrast. It was a whirlwind of gastro thrills, queer history and cultural highlights. Upon arrival we were whizzed straight to Mälarpaviljongen, a semi-floating riverside restaurant that looks like a decadent party in a verdant fairy grotto. It was the aesthetic opposite of wet bus stop in Luton, which I’d experienced a few hours earlier.
Mälarpaviljongen is gay-owned and collaborates with Regnbågsfonden, an organization supporting LGBTI rights worldwide. They serve a rainbow-bottled rosé, which contributes to the charity with every sale. While getting lashed in one of their many ornate gardens, it’s cheering to know that by drinking, you’re helping.