How ABBA jacked the Nieman Foundation Christmas Party


Rosita found what she was looking for when we played U2

On Thursday, the Nieman Foundation held our annual holiday party at the Lippmann House. It actually took a while to plan because none of us were sure about what kind of party we wanted. Catered? Pot-luck? Go to a party that another group of Harvard fellows were having? Have a talent show? When. We finally settled on a pot-luck on December 11. It would be cheaper and everyone would be able to attend.

For events like this, we are on our own. The Foundation provides us with wine, but the we are responsible for the food, set up and clean up. Food was aplenty. Everybody brought foods from their own countries. Kalpana Jain made a bean soup. Sapiet Dakhshukaeva made a rice dish from Russia. Jae Hyun Choi brought some alcohol from Korea. I brought egg nog. Alfredo Corchado, who works in the Mexico bureau for The Dallas Morning News, was in charge of music. Alfredo was in charge because he had the iPod and the Bose sound system. But after we had all eaten, Alfredo was having a hard time getting the party started. Alfredo loves to dance and is supposedly an accomplished Salsa dancer. But the salsa music wasn’t moving the crowd to the dance floor. I plugged my iPod in and set it for hip hop. That didn’t work either. I guess everyone was tired of hip hop after Wednesday’s master class on the genre. At that point I figured that music was not gonna happen. Then Karin, the wife of Fellow Peter Wolodarski, discovered that Alfredo had some ABBA on his iPod. For those of you who don’t know, ABBA is a Swedish, pop band who dominated international music in the 70s and 80s. Why Alfredo had a collection of ABBA songs on his iPod, I didn’t ask.

Did I mention that Karin and Peter are Swedish? Karin pumped up “Dancing Queen,” the dance floor suddenly got very busy. Andrei Zolotov, one of the more straight laced Niemans, even got on the floor. Along with is wife, Katya and their daughter. They are Russian. I am not sure how many times they played, “Dancing Queen,” but it seemed like a lot. Some more European pop followed. More dancing. At this point, Alfredo had totally lost control of the music. Katya and Karin now had the power. Katya asked me if I had some Michael Jackson and I told her yes. So she plugged my iPod back in and hunted for MJ. That was better, but it was the later, good Michael Jackson – Remember the Time & In the Closet. Not the great stuff from Thriller and Bad, although I “Smooth Criminal,” made an appearance, much to the delight of NPR’s Guy Raz. Katya then asked for George Michael. Then more ABBA. And more ABBA.  As the party died down and folks started going home, I was finally able to restore some sort of order. As we began to clean up I put on some James Brown. I put it on shuffle, but started with an opening fanfare from one of his live concerts. As fate would have it the iPod shuffled to a lot of his live performances, which was kind of cool. Someone eventually switched over to some Marvin Gaye and that was cool too. By now, all of the Europeans had gone home – except for Rosita Boland, who is from Ireland. Alfredo played “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” for her, before shutting down the music. It was raining so hard when I walked home that I didn’t even bother to put my iPod on. I just walking home in the freezing rain, humming “Dancing Queen.”katya

Published in: on December 14, 2008 at 5:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

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