That was the phrase on our tickets to the new ABBA Museum and also on the expensive, limited edition T shirts which were piled high in the shop there.
We'd read about the opening of the new museum sometime last week and were enthused enough to go online and buy a couple of tickets for Wednesday morning. Arriving there to see this low key entrance, we wondered if we were in the right place - but yes, there was a small sign by the door.
Sweet of them to put the red carpet out for us, don't you think? ;-)
I'd read mixed reviews, but went with an open mind and felt sure that it would be fun, at the very least. I didn't expect to feel so uninvolved, however.
Entering through the shop, which serves both the ABBA exhibit and the Swedish Music Hall of Fame didn't feel quite right - surely, one exits through the gift shop? But let's not quibble - though our tickets were for 11am, we were admitted early through the bright and shiny doors to the flashing lights and...a concrete staircase. Two floors down, we're there!
Woohoo! A bright and cheery staff member welcomed us and spent just a wee bit too long explaining something complicated about our tickets, which have some kind of barcode on them. I was champing at the bit, wanting to get in there, but had to be patient! Eventaully, we were let go, through the doors into a video room with a huge screen. WELCOME!
But all was quiet. "Just a short wait". "It's about to begin"
Suddenly, the place came alive as the film began and we were immersed in Waterloo, Does your Mother know?, Voulez Vous? and so on. Wow! In an instant our feet were tapping, we were singing along and carried away by the sheer power and familiarity of the music.
..which finished as abruptly as it started.
The first few scenarios concern the early days of the four musicians and how the band came to be. Fairly interesting but ultimately, a lot of reading on the walls and not really a great deal more - though that wallpaper brought a few memories back! Whilst we wandered through these rooms, we could hear snatches of songs coming from elsewhere in the museum "Gimme gimme gimme....chiquitita...ring ring..." but no single song, just a muddled soundtrack of bits of familiar words and tunes coming from various videos and from other rooms nearby.
Video screens showed the band in performances from different stages of their career and yes, there were several fun activities too - we could have been filmed dancing to their music, done a karaoke recording or done some kind of virtual costume trying-on. We could even have auditioned to become the fifth member of the band and this, of course, was where the barcode on our ticket came in. Scanning the barcode before trying any of these features would mean we'd be able to access the recording from our computers once we were home and could input the code. Had there been any kind of atmosphere at all, had we been fired up by the music as in the first room, we might have been tempted to give it a go, to have had a laugh and make a fool of ourselves. But the place lacked any sense of fun or spirit on this morning at least, that there was no chance of either of us feeling anything like that.
Had we but had a pair of earphones with loud "Mamma Mia" or "Dancing Queen" in our heads, we'd have been away!
The memorabilia was fascinating. Oh my goodness, did we really live with platform soles? (yes).
There were interesting room sets with videos to put them in context - here's the costume designer's studio.
A dressing room from the World Tour 1989 with my perfume amongst the stuff on the table - another thing to date me!
All very interesting, but what was needed was music! A few blasts of the songs which stick in all of our minds would have brought the place alive, for sure. Sadly, there was an overall sense of rather gloomy nostalgia which seemed to be summed up by the photo in the newspaper we'd picked up on Tuesday.
Of course, ABBA are no more. Instead of sending us out with a blast of "Thank you for the Music", the final scene in the museum is this
A reference to the film/stage show Mamma Mia.
Oh well. We were there first!