Coincidentally, the effect of a nice, hot and freshly fragrant Finnish sauna on a person is just about the same.
Add to that some clever words sung to energetic tunes and multi-layered musical beats, and one becomes helpless to do anything other than follow a partner onto the dance floor and let loose.
In conjunction with the international film festival happening on Bay Street this weekend, on Saturday night the Finlandia Club is also the place to kick up oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s heels and swing those shoulders and hips to Latin-reggae beats with Finnish roots. Jah mon, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the way Conga Se Menne plays it and well, no worries, because this infectious reggae band from Marquette, Michigan knows how to keep it all nice and cool.
The Source spoke with one of Conga Se MenneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s charming ambassadors before the ensemble journeys north to play at the dance. It didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t take more than a beat or two in the conversation for a sunny mood to take hold. Derrell Syria is the groupÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lead singer and composer, guitarist, and he also plays a mean accordion and the mandolin. His musical talent is tightly interwoven with those of the other three band members on lead guitar, bass guitar, keyboard, another mandolin, and the congas. But the best and most entertaining aspect of Conga Se MenneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s music might be contributed to their lyrics; how could one resist a song with a title such as Ã¢â‚¬Å“Comma hava Sauna with meÃ¢â‚¬Â?
Syria chuckled as he spoke about how he and his musical pals got started, and how together theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve perfected their sound like so many talented coconuts clustered high up in a palm tree.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“My friend and I started playing in high school, and it turned into a three-piece reggae band. So, I started messinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ around with rhythms and one night combined a schodishe (a folk dance) with reggae, and the dancers didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t skip a beat. Well, that was it.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Syria said the groupÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s excellence in terms of musicianship comes naturally, but he mentioned that given various temperaments, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s learned not to monkey with the group dynamic. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I just figured that I would write all the songs and invite quality musicians to join me and come along for the ride!Ã¢â‚¬Â Syria also spoke about the universal language that is music, and the global popularity of reggae. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Our version is a mix of subtle humour and a blend of two unique styles, the traditional Finnish tunes and a catchy Latin-calypso-reggae. That pretty much puts it in a nutshell,Ã¢â‚¬Â he concluded with a laugh, Ã¢â‚¬Å“and by adding a little bit of that hot sauna stuff, it becomes irresistible.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Tickets for the Saturday night dance at the Finlandia with Conga Se Menne are $15 and available at lots of locations on Bay Street, with proceeds going toward the Finnish Heritage Building Fund.
Remember: you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to be Finn or even have any tropical island leanings to catch the contagious rhythms of Conga Se Menne, with maybe a polka or tango or two thrown in for good measure.
See you at the dance.