It’s 18th century Sweden. The young men and women in the village of Hårga in Helsingland have gathered for a barn dance on a Saturday night.
It’s June. The night is bright. The air is saturated with the scents of summer.
Suddenly the music stops. The dancers look up and realize a stranger has entered the barn. He is clad in a large dark hat. From under the brim they catch sight of a pair of burning eyes.
The newcomer picks up his violin and suggests a longdance, a Swedish dance type where the dancers hold hands and form a long line which follows the musician who leads it.
Like a whirlwind the dance goes through all the houses. In through doors, out through windows. Nobody was able to stop.
A young man catches a glimpse of the stranger’s foot. It’s a hoof.
The man grabs his knife and jabs it into a door post in an attempt to pull himself away from the longdance, but the door slammed shut so hard it tore his arm off.
The dance continues, wilder all the time. The stranger leads them over hills and meadows, all the way up to the top of the Hårga mountain and seats himself in the top of a twisted old pine.
The legend says that the dance continued until all the dancers were dead and their bones worn down so that all that remained were the skulls jumping around, until also they were gone.
This is why the top of the mountain is smooth and flat like a dance floor today.
(And one should not be crass enough to mention the ice age here, that would just be rude…..)
One of the most famous old folk songs tells of this legend:
The Hårga legend ties into another one regarding Näcken, the Neck.
It is said that a person can be taught how to play the fiddle by the Neck, and if they are they will always draw big crowds to any place they play. The more they learn the more successful they will be. But the final tune the Neck teaches is a risky one. If you learn to play that one, no one will be able to stop dancing. The only way to break the spell is if someone realizes what’s going on and runs up and cuts the strings of the violin.
Well there you go. Music and dancing can be dangerous business!