We were warmly welcomed with hot coffee (and hot showers!) and shown to our sleeping place for the next three nights, a studio room with wall mirrors. And the whole building was quite huge! When we were shown the sleeping room, there were two other bike tourers already in there! It turned out they were touring together long distance and were passing through Jönköping on their way to Uddebo, where we had just come from. Interestingly, they had reclining style bikes, which of course we all had to try out. The rest of the evening we chilled out and made dinner, making use of the well-equipped kitchen.
The next day some volunteers from the kulturhuset gave up their afternoon to give us extensive tours of the building. One half of the bottom floor is just dedicated to music with many band rehearsal rooms, a recording studio in progress, and a small stage. On the other side of the ground floor is a anarchist and socialist bookshop, a big café space with another stage, the studio room where we were sleeping, a small cinema!! and a big hall which is used for various things – for example a flea market that happened while we were there.
The second floor of the building was even more impressive – The whole floor was divided into workshops – there were many of them – such as a gaming space, sewing space, drawing, woodwork, painting, pottery and more. To use them, you paid a small amount and then you could use the workshop as often as you liked and all the tools, equipment and materials. And if the workshop you wanted wasn’t there, you were free to set it up yourself – such as screen printing which was in the process of being set-up. Although it wasn’t running whilst we were there because of summer break, we also heard that dance classes use the studio spaces and upper floor space up to 6 times a week!
What made the space different from other social and culture centres I have visited or been involved in before was the lack of alcohol. In the Jönköping kulturhuset there is no alcohol sold or allowed on the premises. I felt like this was quite a radical decision to make, drinking is quite a normal thing to happen, and social centres often rely on alcohol sales for income to keep running, so it was interesting that this place had found a way to have income without selling alcohol.
Our stay at the kulturhuset was complete luxury – we were given full access to use the cafe space, it was a really relaxing stay, much needed for the biketour. We had a chance to catch up on meetings, send email and even hold a workshop or two. We also tried out samba-style drumming using bike parts and cooking equipment. We held a workshop based on the zine “Gender Roles in Conversation” by Corrine Monet, which lead to some interesting conversations about how gender affects conversations between individuals and within groups and caused us to reflect on how this could influence our circle meetings and daily interactions with people around us.
And of course no visit to a city was complete without going to the local bike kitchen! Jönköping bike kitchen was in a warehouse near the lake, and they have managed to gain support from the municipality and a source of abandoned bikes. It was a handy stop for some of the bike tour participants who needed to fix their bikes before we left for another few days of cycling.
On the last evening, some people from the local anti-uranium mining group came to give us a presentation and answer questions about their struggles, we made a meal for them, ourselves, and the volunteers from the kulturhuset, and then ate 2 trays of homemade vegan chocolate coconut cake!