15 March 2009

Stylish Bike Messengers

Here's a clip from an old Danish film featuring one of the legends of Danish stage and cinema, Marguerite Viby. She is addressing a group of 'svajere', which is the Danish word for bike messengers, long before Kevin Bacon appeared in Quicksilver and one trouser was rolled up.

The 'svajere' defined the urban landscape in Copenhagen for decades with their cargo bikes, their sharp tone, affection for swearing and whistling at pretty girls. The were urban legends. And well-dressed ones at that. Our day's bike messengers can learn a fashion tip or two from these chaps. If a bike messenger company started up with riders dressed like they did in Copenhagen in the 1930's, I'd be sending packages all day long.

There is no other country in the world where cycling and cyclists feature so much in literature, song and poetry as in Denmark.

Anyway, here's a very brief transcript of the dialogue and lyrics:

Ms Viby
What would Copenhagen be without you?

A Svajer
Bloody boring!


Ms Viby
I'm going to sing a song at a theatre tomorrow and it's about you. It means so much to me that the melody, which is the last song in the show, will be a hit. It's in your hands to help me make that happen. Because the melodies you all whistle are sure to be popular. You can make the whole city hum a melody if you want to! Will you help?


Ms Viby
I'll sing it once and you can whistle it afterwards.

Ms Viby - Singing:

Hi, you old city slicker
have a look!
Here's the asphalt cowboys team
with music.

Over the traffic lines
we race each other
the 'svajere' are a hoot
and the tone is sharp

Ding-a-ling me here
Ding-a-ling me there
and ding-a-ling for Copenhagen
and Frederiksberg...

Addendum: Remember the National 'Svajere' Championships in Copenhagen on April 18th.

Bloody hell... I love the internet... Here's the trailer for Kevin Bacon's Quicksilver. Man, I used think that film was cooool.