The issue of overworked, underslept, creatively drained young creatives in the big cities has been raised on numerous occasions all over the world. The fashion industry, which in Finland alone was worth 556 million euros in 2014, is especially well-known for the ruthless talent exploitation with its largely underpaid interning policies. And yet, the struggles of young workers not only in fashion are still not taken seriously, causing the millennials to effectively burn out during the week with no energy left to go out on a weekend.
While complaining that you do not have enough strength for clubbing on a Saturday night may seem like a first world problem, the long-term effects of this lack of energy are much more serious than one might want to believe. Not to mention inevitable health, relationships and work performance related problems, the economic implications of young people’s over working at the office and therefore underspending in bars are no less dramatic for the whole country.
The seeds for this problem are planted as early as high school. Aware of the job market’s tough selection criteria and emphasise on work experience as well as education, the millennials start building their CV as soon as possible. “I was working while I was studying all the time”, says Mari Sevonen, who works as a freelance stylist and visual merchandiser for the high street giant Bik Bok as well as developing her music career as a singer. “I worked almost all of the evenings and I did a million things in the short period of time just to make the ends meet, basically. And now when I only need to work it’s really simple”.
Salla Ceder, who is responsible for sales at the Finnish fashion company R/H and also studies design at the Kymenlaakso University of Applied Science, is experiencing a similar work overflow at the moment. “I am always working, so you just have to make a balance of everything”, says Salla. “Normally, I work from 10 to 6 every day at R/H and then I go home and I do my school work and if I have a day off or a weekend off I am always trying to do something creative because on my job I really miss that”. Therefore, instead of enjoying their studies and all the growing and creative opportunities associated with them, students spend their free time securing the job after graduating in order to be able to catch a break, which never seems to come.
Naturally, with such an intense schedule, hardcore partying is off limits. “If you go clubbing, and you get drunk, you always have a day off because you are hungover”, says Salla. “So I don’t really like that because I want to spend my day doing something interesting and productive instead of just laying in bed and do nothing”. Anna Myllyluoma, a Helsinki-based DJ, also belies that clubbing is just not that popular among the younger generation. “When I started DJing, a lot more people were going to the clubs just to spend time”, says Anna. “During my time DJing all around Finland, it’s been a real change because people don’t go out that much anymore”. This creates a huge problem for clubs whose profits are already brought down by rising rent and alcohol prices and advertising restrictions. Just a month before the publication of this article, the Helsinki-based club Tiger, located in the city centre, closed its doors.
Taking into account fashion and creative jobs’ generally low starting salaries, no surprise that even the ones willing to go out sometimes cannot afford to do it. But money is still not the main issue: the quality of activities spent during the precious free time seems to be the driving force behind the young people’s choices. The Internet generation has an access to all the latest music wherever they go with just one click and social media makes it easy to catch up with friends without leaving the house. “It would be nice to go and dance in the bars but the music is awful”, says Jero, who is a professional dancer himself.
Therefore, it has to be something out of the ordinary to attract young people’s attention. “What people are looking for is experiences”, says Anna. “That’s why if you want to succeed, you have to have these special events and special clubs or something like that… Just drinking and getting wasted in a club it’s not that popular anymore, it’s not considered cool anymore. So that’s kind of… I think it’s pushing us to figure out something new how to attract the people to come”. Some clubs do it very successfully: the underground techno clubs Kaiku and Kuudes Linja in Kallio seem to only get bigger and bigger thanks to their proactive choice of music and interesting variety of events.
Nevertheless, quieter socialising activities like eating out with friends or going for a couple of drinks clearly become increasingly more popular. Moreover, the healthy living has a huge influence as well. When asked what Finnish people tend to do in their free time, Marinella Himari, an award-winning lifestyle blogger and founder of Kaukokaipuu Travel Blog, lists exercising as one of the top activities. “They go to the gym or they stay at home, it’s very quite”, says the blogger. “But I’m pretty sure it’s going to change”.
Indeed, while the clubbing scene is dying out, relaxed pass time is becoming more and more common in Finland with a boom in restaurants and bars openings in the past five years. “It’s a European style of living. It’s not common for Finns to sit and socialise”, says Marinella. “We don’t have that after work culture here…. But it takes time, we’re getting there. There are so many restaurants that have opened their doors this spring. There are also a lot of coming in the autumn. So I think it’s one of the best years for the restaurants in Helsinki and Finland this year”.
Ultimately, it was inevitable that with the growing influence of convenient online entertainment, the appeal of a sweaty dancing in a loud packed room full of drunks will eventually loose its strength. Moreover, interesting night events and quieter, healthier evening activities hardly sound like a bad alternative. One can only hope that young people will manage to survive their intense working hours to enjoy these changes. As Salla mentioned, “a balance of everything” seems to be the key.
Restore your party spirit for HÄN guide to going out in Helsinki.
Words by Kira Kolosova.