There was a palpable air of anticipation at the Pohjois-Haaga service centre in Helsinki as residents gathered for a surprise show. The coloured lights suggested that the seniors gathered in the dining hall were not about to be treated to the usual bingo or sing-along entertainment.
The front rows filled up quickly when word spread that the surprise performers were the hip-thrusting, biceps-flexing Scandinavian Hunks.
The 30-minute show did not disappoint the audience. It included slick dance moves and bare, beefy upper bodies that left an indelible impression on residents.
Shirts come off, audience goes wild
"It was so much fun that all my pain disappeared and I actually felt like I was getting younger during the programme. It almost made me want to dance myself," said wheelchair-bound Ulla Aalto.
At 98, another resident, Ritva, was still captivated by the young men’s gyrations.
“It was so good that I could have watched for however long. Dancing men is something you hardly ever see. I’d want to see more of this kind of show. You don’t need to be [stuck] inside four walls and watching TV when you have such appealing men dancing,” she enthused.
For Aalto, the highlight of the cheeky show was the Hunks’ trademark unveiling.
"It was taking their clothes off! Well, they didn’t take everything off, but at least the shirts came off!"
"Maybe they were expecting somewhat bolder show from what we offered," said Matias, one of the dancers. He added that almost as soon as the show started, he could hear cries of “Shirts off!” from the back of the room.
Crazy idea becomes a reality
Director Janika Karvonen was the one who came up with the idea of inviting the Hunks to perform. She said that it all began when she saw one of the hunks training in the gym and wondered whether she dared to ask the group to cheer up the home residents with a performance. In the end, she gathered up the courage and asked the member who was at the gym.
"He thought it was such a good idea that he gave me his contact information and here we are," she added.
According to Karvonen, very little thinking went into considering whether the Hunks’ programme was appropriate for an elderly audience. On the contrary, there was a great deal of support for the “crazy” idea. The response to the unexpected guests proved that her decision to ask had paid off, she noted.
"They said it was brilliant that we did this kind of thing for older people as well. You know, giving the elderly a chance to do the same thing that younger people do," said Matias.