Few things are as representative of Danish working culture as the reputable company ‘Julefrokost’ (Christmas Party). This once-a-year event has become such a staple that many companies use it as a point of differentiation to attract applicants and cement a particular corporate identity. In the first weekend of December, William Demant hosted its 2017 Christmas Party. It was my first Christmas party in a work setting, and this party was, to many, a very big deal.
The first murmurs that something was coming started in early November. Overnight, signs featuring jukeboxes and grease memorabilia were put up in the canteen, advertising for the first time that this year’s party would have a 50’s theme. Instantly, this was a big office talking point. How should one dress up – Elvis or James Dean? Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn? What would the entertainment be, and what about decor? Employees with longer tenures talked loudly about previous years, and about which past themes had been their favorites. Some particularly liked the Bond theme, where management made Martinis for everyone, while others preferred the western theme, where people threw horseshoes and drank ‘moonshine’ in the saloons.
In the week leading up to the event, I personally went out and got myself a proper Greaser jacket. This would be my chance to bring out my inner John Travolta and show off my moves on the dance floor. For most of us graduates, the excitement was palpable. On the day of the party, the office building had already been transformed. A vintage car was parked inside the foyer, 15 pinball machines were placed around the main staircase, a stage was being set up in the open conference space and the canteen was closed off for refurbishment. All of HQ was buzzing with activity and anticipation. When the night finally began, the building was unrecognizable. A sea of leather jackets and hairspray melded with done-up hair, colorful dresses and cocktail waiters straight out of an old-school American drive-in. Food and drink was abundant, and during dinner, a famous Danish comedian performed. At 10 o’clock there was live music from the 50’s era spreading across the building from the dance floor, and anyone who wasn’t dancing was talking and laughing with colleagues. I myself danced my heart out, and I was far from the only one. It was quite amazing to experience this with colleagues and friends that you usually don’t see in such a setting, and I now fully appreciate why Christmas parties have become such a staple of Danish working culture.
To preserve the mystery and integrity of the night, I will not go into more detail about it. However, one memory that I will never forget is that of our CEO, Søren Nielsen, grooving to ‘Hound Dog’ with an amazingly accurate Elvis Presley look-alike. It was, truly, a magical evening.