Sunday, 15 August 2010

Joepie, 1976: ABBA is conquering Poland

A report from Belgian magazine Joepie about ABBA’s trip to Poland in October 1976.
“Within a few minutes, we will be landing in Stockholm, where the temperature is now 8 degrees Celcius. We hope to see you again soon on one of our flights...” Listening to the pilot’s voice, you can hear that a landing like this is just a formality to him. Just like we use the brakes of our car. Marcel is peaking through the window carefully to see how everything is going and together we sigh with relief when the plane puts its wheels safely on the ground. Flying is simply not our favourite hobby...

It’s very chilly when we step out of Arlanda airport, but we don’t mind, we have arrived. Sweden, the ultimate holiday resort, like we had been told. The city centre of Stockholm is approximately 40 kilometres from the airport and that bus trip already costs us 240 Belgian francs. You get tired of looking at the landscape pretty quickly, you don’t see anything else but trees and more trees. Stockholm itself is an impressive city: broad streets, large stores, monumental buildings. In short, a city that’s a couple of years ahead of its time. But also impressively expensive: you pay 80 Belgian francs for a coke in a random café. After a short walk through the city – within 15 minutes we are of course completely lost – we decide to get back to our hotel. The next morning we are having an appointment with ABBA. To fly along with them to Poland...

The appointment was at 8 o’clock at Arlanda airport. There were already a couple of people walking around when we arrived, because ABBA had invited some Scandinavian friends to the trip as well. Björn and Benny were fifteen minutes late, but they were excused. Traffic jams and things like that, you know. The duo plumped down in the relaxing chairs at the bar and welcomed everybody with a little wink. Benny asked us if we had brought along the most recent Joepies so that he could glance through them while waiting for the plane to arrive. “Oh yes, that interview about our European tour,” he winks. “Did I really say all this?” he asks us when he sees that – for him incomprehensible – text. It wasn’t until five minutes later that Anni-Frid caught our eye, who was reading something in a silent corner. “I don’t like all this fuss at the airport,” she told us. “I’d rather seclude myself to do some reading.” Anna was nowhere to be found, we thought. Anni-Frid must have read our minds. “Oh yes, Anna has left for Poland one day early. Björn and Anna mostly travel separately, for the sake of their children. If something goes wrong, they will still have their father or their mother. Anna travelled together with her father...” There was a Polish camera crew as well, to film the entire trip for television. To show as an introduction to the special that they were going to film in Warsaw.

Only minutes before we boarded the plane, Benny dropped in the tax free shop for a while. “He always does that,” Anni-Frid smiles. “He only smokes Swedish cigarettes and you can’t get them anywhere else...” The plane is full of Swedish guests. It’s a language that you can’t understand at all as a Fleming. There’s a communal laughter in the plane when the Polish pilot welcomed the group ABBABA on the speaker. “Definitely not a fan,” Benny joked. The motors started running and the second torture in the sky was about to start for us. During the entire flight, the new ABBA album was played, namely ‘Arrival’. But for the take off they had chosen an appropriate song, namely ‘SOS’. To put our backs up even more...

ABBA is extremely popular in Poland. You noticed this immediately when the plane landed and thousands of Polish reporters and fans were waiting for the group. Anna was there too, with her father. She was beaming. “I’m not afraid of flying myself,” she said when we got off the plane. “But I’m ever more worried about the flight of the other three. Even if the plane is only five minutes late, I’m biting my nails with nervousness...”
We wouldn’t see much of ABBA that day anymore. With a special taxi they were rushed off to the television studios, while we had some time to stay at our hotel. An hour later we were in the studio as well. There’s not much to say about that, because all television studios look the same, no matter where you are in the world. And the working method is identical: rehearsing, taking a break, rehearsing again and then filming. That first day ended with a press conference for Polish journalists, at the Novotel. You could tell by the questions that were fired at ABBA in the first fifteen minutes that ABBA’s success in Poland is still very fresh. There was even someone who asked if they had ever considered to enter the Eurovision Song Contest.
The atmosphere got a little more tense when they started asking rather offensive questions about financial and political aspects. At some point, Anna even replied resolutely that this was none of their business. The final blow was dealt to the atmosphere when an arrogant character remarked without batting an eye that ABBA was better at singing than talking. The president of Pagart, the Polish agency that’s taking care of ABBA’s business, decided to go ahead with the closing ceremony of the evening, namely handing over a couple of gold records. A busy day had come to an end and at the hotel we had the opportunity to talk to Anna about this first visit to Poland. “I think the people are extremely friendly over here, and although they are not as rich as us, they look very happy. However, I thought that the media were rather arrogant, I have to say. But it’s been an exhausting day, I’m very tired. I’m glad that we will be able to take a stroll through the city – just like a normal tourist – tomorrow.” You can see and read in our next issue how that visit to Warsaw passed off.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great article with some rare pics thankyou Micheal

JS

Monica said...

Interesting article and some great pictures that I have not seen before. Thank you for translating these aritcles.

Michel said...

Thanks for your kind comments!