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What were your initial impressions of the Power Big Meet?
"We wanted to focus more on the people than on the cars, and during three days we mainly wandered the muddy paths between tents, passed-out people, and empty beer cans. Here, we found the outlaws of the car show — with jalopies [they] called pilsner cars that looked like they wouldn’t make it another mile. Some pilsner cars definitely had given up. But for others, the style is a thought-through fashion statement, and under the hood there’s often a brand-new engine hiding. At night, we slept in my Saab and woke to Swedish songs with sexist, perverse lyrics, blasting from the after-parties that never seemed to have an end."
The crescendo of the weekend is a big cruise through town, lasting for hours and hours. For some, it’s certainly an opportunity to show off your car. But to most of the raggare, it’s a moment of strong belonging. Normally being an outsider, for three days you’re suddenly representing the majority.
Why do you think this sort of “vintage Americanism” is so popular in Sweden?
"I think we have always had some kind of big-brother complex towards the U.S. Growing up with American TV shows and pop culture, we look towards the West with big eyes. I believe this specific style of raggare connects to the American Dream. In a time where trends come and go, fashion, cars, the whole society is on speed, stepping into a time that has passed can be a way to escape this stress."
Do people who attend Power Big Meet feel like part of a community?
Yes, absolutely. But there are different communities within the raggare culture. There are the ones who spend tens of thousands of dollars to import an American vintage car, fixing it all up and making it look like new. Apart from having a very expensive hobby, they probably live a normal life. Then there are the ones who go full in and live the lifestyle, who wear their leather vests to work, who turn a piece of junk into a functionally working piece of junk (as long as it’s an American piece of junk), who spend their weekends cruising the streets in rust ships. Those two groups are both raggare, but while the first has the car in center, the community and sense of belonging is definitively the more important part for the second one.