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Núna (now) is a multi-disciplinary Icelandic cultural convergence that’s been an annual event since 2006. This year the celebrations are spread out throughout the summer, taking place in Winnipeg and Gimli.
One of the most unusual sounding events on the list is a Goolie Party – which takes place May 24, at 626 Sargent Avenue in Legion #1, the oldest legion in Canada.
SCENE asked Caelum Vatnsdal, one of the organizers of this year’s festival, to do some explaining:
What is a Goolie Party, anyway? For that matter, what is a goolie? The short answer is “Anyone with some measurable amount of Icelandic blood.”
Where the word came from, no one can say for sure. Is it some variant on the word “ghoul,” applied to the Icelandic immigrants to describe their ghostlike pallor? Is it a snarky play on their hooting, musical accents? Or is it purely nonsensical, like so many other pejorative racial terms? For that matter, is it pejorative at all?
There’s debate about all this in the Icelandic community, but whatever the case, the word is long overdue for cultural reclamation. And that brings us to the Goolie Party, which is part of that effort.
It’s not a Goolie Party because only goolies are welcome. Far from it: everyone is encouraged to attend. A bunch of goolies are putting it on, it’s true, and goolies are providing the entertainment, but really it’s a Goolie Party because it’s taking place in the very heart of what used to be called Icelandic Main Street, that stretch of Sargent Avenue between Maryland and Arlington.
This was the heart of the Icelandic immigration in Winnipeg, where the roar and yawp of the original Brennevin-fuelled Goolie Parties could be heard with deafening regularity. (Brennevin is the Icelandic liqueur of choice, and delicious.)
All of this probably sounds vaguely historical, maybe off-puttingly so. Rest assured, this is a modern Goolie Party we’re talking about here, with three DJs playing tunes that will cause your socks to crawl off your very feet and go curl themselves up in a corner.
Two of the wax-spinners have been imported directly from Iceland itself, and they’ve brought their cutting-edge Scandinavian sounds with them. It’s all part of the 2013 Núna (now) festival, The Goolie Party is only the beginning of this year’s festival, and what a beginning it is.
Núna (now) gets under way Friday, May 25 with The Winnipeg Icelander Panel: New Histories of the Urban Immigrant Community at the Royal Canadian Legion #1, 626 Sargent Avenue. The panel is followed by the Goolie Party. Entertainment by DJ J. Jackson (Winnipeg) and Kanilsnaeldur (Reykjavik). On Saturday, Gimli is hosting a social called “Hardfist + Whisky at the Viking Inn.